This is a cold case — an unsolved murder that happened in Racine just south of the 17th Street beach in 1973 — that has haunted me every time I ran across it while researching Racine history. So, today, I’m going to see if we can put our heads together and get more information on this murder.
Tina Davidson was a 15 year old girl who was stabbed 61 times and left dead against a cyclone fence on the lake front on March 27, 1973. She had been missing for 10 days before she was found dead.
There are a number of articles online detailing her case, including a long, disturbing story from an older acquaintance enrolled at Walden III: http://fraterbarrabbas.blogspot.com/2010/03/dark-times-in-home-town.html
The Journal Times has listed her among the police department’s cold cases: http://journaltimes.com/news/local/racine-police-set-to-reopen-old-files/article_933d8a94-34a5-11df-ad4c-001cc4c002e0.html
Gannett Wisconsin Media lists her among its cold cases: http://php.wisinfo.com/mktg/unsolved_apc/
City of Racine link here: http://cityofracine.org/Police/Dynamic.aspx?id=2404
Tina M. Davidson, 15
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
On Tuesday morning March 27, 1973, the nude body of Tina Davidson was discovered lying against a cyclone fence. The cyclone fence was next to a pathway, which was south of the beach off of 17th Street, on the lakefront. Tina often hitchhiked in this area. Tina was stabbed 61 times in the neck and chest, and was last seen alive on Monday evening, March 16, 1973. Tina was wearing a worn leather jacket, a dark sweater over a white blouse, brown baggy pants, and construction work boots. The clothes were never found.
Tina was a white female with long straight hair that was brown in color. Tina also had a slender build.
Here is Tina’s address — 2810
The Milwaukee Sentinel – March 28, 1973
Body Discovered on Beach
By Sentinel Staff Writer
Racine, Wis. – The nude body of a 15 year old Racine girl, with 61 stab wounds in the chest and neck, was found Tuesday on a Lake Michigan beach on the city’s South Side.
Police said the murder victim was Tina Davidson, of 2810 20th Street., who would have been 16 Sunday. Authorities said she had not been reported missing.
An autopsy disclosed that the girl died as a result of massive hemorrhaging caused by a stab wound in the heart, Racine County Coroner David Cunningham reported.
Cunningham said that she had apparently been hit on the head first with a blunt instrument and knocked unconscious, “as indicated by the fact that there was hemorrhage of one eye.”
He added there were no clues and no suspect had been picked up.
The coroner said earlier that it appeared that the body had been dragged to the rocky area where it was found.
A 44 year old woman walking a son along the beach discovered the body about 10 a.m.
The victim was a pupil at The Academy, a South Side school for pupils in the Racine Unified District with disciplinary problems. She formerly attended Washington Park High School.
The girl’s mother, Mrs. Kathleen Davidson, told a report that she last saw Tina about 7:30 p.m. Monday.
“She was here with a friend with whom she had been going from time to time when I got home,” said Mrs. Davidson.
“A little later he left – he had a bicycle last night, but he does have a car.
“Right after he left, Tina went to her room and came out with a canvas bag. She said she had some clothes in it and was going to take it to a friend’s house.
“I didn’t get worried when she didn’t come back because she often slept overnight at homes of her friends.
“The next thing I heard about Tina was about 4 p.m. today when the coroner and police came here and told me her body was found on the beach.”
Tina’s girl friend told police that Tina left her house about 8:30 p.m. Monday, saying she was going to another girl’s house. She never arrived there, Cunningham said.
He added, “She hitchhiked all over town. That was her mode of transportation.”
Mrs. Davidson said that another daughter, Bonnie Jacobs, 23, lives with her. Mrs. Davidson said that she last heard of her husband “several years ago.” She said that she believes that he is living in the Washington (D. C.) area.
There have been several other similar unsolved slayings in south eastern Wisconsin and Madison in recent years. The victims include:
Miss Teri Lee Erdmann, 15, whose body was found June24, 1971, in an open field near the Moreway Department Store at 10130 W. Appleton Ave, Milwaukee. She had been stabbed about 50 times and sexually assaulted. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Du Wayne L. Erdmann, of Milwaukee.
Donna Willing, 9 year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert P. Willing, of Milwaukee, whose body was found in a garage on Milwaukee’s North Side on Feb. 26, 1970. The girl had been strangled and sexually assaulted.
Miss Stephanie Casberg, 17, whose dismembered body was found in northern Racine County in July, 1969. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Casberg, of Milwaukee.
Miss Christine Rothschild, 18, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, whose body was found on May 26, 1968, in a clump of bushes on the UW campus. She had been stabbed 14 times in the chest and three times in the throat, and strangled. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel Rothschild, of Chicago.
Miss Cheryl Ann Packard, 22, of rural Pewaukee, and Miss Sharon Malone, 25, of rural Hartland, who were stabbed a total of 31 times. Their bodies were found April 23, 1967, in a New Berlin farm field.
Miss Mary Ellen Kaldenberg, 17, whose frozen body was found Feb. 13, 1967, in an abandoned hearse in Kenosha. She had been stabbed 12 times. She was the daughter of Mrs. Daniela Kaldenberg, of Kenosha.
Miss Diane June Olkwitz, 19, who was stabbed nearly 100 times on Nov. 3, 1966, in the Menomonee Falls factory where she worked. Miss Olkwitz lived in an apartment at N56-W13777 Silver Spring Rd., Menomonee Falls.
A Milwaukee man has been charged in a similar slaying, that of Miss Susan Lyn Kleist, daughter of Mrs. Helen Kleist, of Oak Creek. Miss Kleist had been stabbed at least 39 times. Her body was found June 17, 1972.
Richard L. Greenier, 3033-A S. Clement Ave., Milwaukee, has been charged in the murder.
The body of Rose Mary Ahnen, 7, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Ahnen of Racine, was found in an abandoned freezer near Union Grove on March 4. She had been strangled with binder twite and sexually molested, according to Cunningham.
Jack Douglas Baily, 34, of Caledonia, has been charged with her murder and is awaiting trial in the Racine County Jail.
Cases that stay open — Police continue to probe unsolved homicides decades later
By Rachel McCormick Jul 17, 2005
During the initial investigation, police found that Davidson’s whereabouts in the hours before her murder appeared to be normal for a girl her age.
She left her home in the 2800 block of 20th Street at around 7:30 p.m., after telling her mother, Kathleen Davidson, that the backpack she was carrying was filled with a friend’s clothes she had to return.
Davidson left her friend’s home in the 1500 block of Quincy Avenue around 9 p.m. She told three of her friends she intended to hitchhike west on Washington Avenue.
It was not uncommon for young girls to hitchhike in the early 1970s, although police warned them it was dangerous, Macemon said.
When Davidson did not return home, her mother said she thought her daughter was spending the night at a friend’s home.
“She did that sometimes,” Kathleen Davidson told Journal Times reporter Alice Anne Conner in one of the first stories on the murder.
Some 15 hours later, Kathleen Davidson found out her daughter was dead. Davidson would have turned 16 on April 1 of that year.
Tips didn’t pan out
Several tips came in over the next couple of days about the Davidson murder. Journal Times reports indicate that police had several different descriptions of possible suspects and their vehicles.
One description was that Davidson had been seen with a man, aged 35 to 40, at an ice cream shop on Durand Avenue at about 9:30 p.m. the night she was killed. The man was described as about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, about 170 to 180 pounds, reddish hair and green eyes. Police said his car was bronze or gold in color.
A few days later police said they were looking for a blue car, with two white juvenile males inside, that was seen leaving the lakefront area before the body was found.
Tina’s mother, Kathleen’s obituary:
Tina’s killer may still be alive in Racine. Maybe we can dig up some more information that will help reopen this case.