Authorities Confirm Joan Davis Died from Blunt Force Trauma, Stab Wounds
Bergen County Prosecutor's Office setting up reward for information on Davis murder case.
Township activist Joan Davis died from blunt force trauma and stab wounds, and not in the August fire at her Alpine Drive home, county authorities have confirmed for the first time.
But who killed the vocal gadfly remains an unsolved township mystery, and the brutal murder has stumped investigators. Prosecutors and township police have been tight-lipped about the probe, offering few details and even fewer answers.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said Tuesday that authorities will offer a reward for information leading to who murdered the 74-year-old.
“We are setting up a reward program that will pay up to $10,000 for anyone that supplies us with material information that leads to the conviction of any person for her homicide,” Molinelli said in an e-mail Tuesday night. He did not provide additional details and did not return a call for comment.
Police Chief Robert Wilson would not say if any suspects had emerged but said tips received by police haven’t yet proved fruitful. He too declined to detail the information investigators have looked at. He would not comment on the specifics of the crime, including whether the killer broke into Davis’s house, where she lived alone.
“We get information periodically coming in, but nothing has yielded any value,” Wilson said. “We are very concerned that a murder occurred in town and that it’s unsolved.”
Maureen Parenta, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, said Davis died from “blunt force trauma and sharp point injury.” Davis’s body was found on the night of Aug. 17 after emergency workers responded to a fire in her home. In the days after the murder, The Record cited unnamed sources who said Davis was stabbed and beaten, but authorities had not publicly said if she died from the attack or the fire.
Police and prosecutor’s office detectives regularly review the case, Wilson said. But as the investigation continues, and more and more times passes, residents wonder if the killer will ever be brought to justice.
“People are just surprised that it’s gone unsolved,” said Councilman Elie Y. Katz, who would often drive Davis home from council meetings.
Former Mayor Jacqueline Kates, who spoke at Davis’s memorial service, said she hoped the case would remain a priority for investigators.
“It was an incredibly horrific crime and it’s just hard to fathom that the police wouldn’t have any clues,” Kates said.
Some community members have collected donations to fund a reward through the Crime Stoppers program. Kates has worked with Rev. Oscar McCloud on the program. McCloud said some money was collected but not as much as he had hoped for. Donations can still be sent to the Crime Stoppers program.
McCloud said he was happy to hear that the prosecutor was working to set up a reward, but hoped county investigators would release more updates on the case to reassure the public.
“People are nervous. People are suspicious,” McCloud said.
Wilson said anyone with information should contact authorities, no matter how insignificant they think the tip could be. Calls can be placed to the police department, prosecutor’s office or Crime Stoppers hotline.
“It’s always a great benefit to us when we have community members offering up information,” Wilson said.
Anyone with information can call:
- Crime Stoppers at 201-833-4222
- Bergen County Prosecutor's Office at 201-226-5500
- Teaneck Police at 201-837-2600