Police: 2014 I-81 shooting death was case of mistaken identity
A West Virginia man has been charged in the January 2014 shooting death of a driver on Interstate 81 in Franklin County whose car police say the shooter mistook for the vehicle driven by the husband of woman he'd been having an affair with.
State police announced Monday that John Wayne "Boo" Strawser Jr., 38, of Belington, West Virginia, had been charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Timothy Davison.
Davison, 28, was driving home to Maine after visiting family in Florida when he called 911 from I-81 near the Maryland line in the early morning of Jan. 4, 2014, to tell them someone in a dark-colored pickup truck was shooting a gun at his car. He was forced into a median before the assailant circled back and fired several rounds at him, police said.
The shooting occurred in the southbound lanes in Antrim Township, Franklin County, about 10 miles north of Hagerstown, Maryland, according to police.
Davison, who had been shot in the head, hand and leg, died at a York Hospital following the 2:10 a.m. attack.
At the time, police released traffic camera footage to the media and asked the public for help in tracking down the killer. More than 1,000 tips poured in as officers investigated Davison's past in Florida and Maine to try to find anyone who had an issue with him and reconstructed his route through Maryland and West Virginia, where he'd stopped for gas a couple of hours before he died, said Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Jonathan Mays in a Monday afternoon news conference.
The investigation yielded a few details, but only a few. Police were able to figure out what kind of gun was used - a Rossi Ranch Hand pistol - and from the paint and decoration found around the shooting scene, police figured out the model and approximate year of the shooter's truck, a late-'90s Ford Ranger.
It was a tip 15 months after the killing that allowed police to zero in on a suspect..
Mistaken identity: State police say it appears Davison was not Strawser's intended target.
In April 2015, Jamie Breese of West Virginia contacted Pennsylvania State Police, telling them he suspected Strawser killed Davison, thinking Davison was him, according the charging documents filed against Strawser.
Breese told police Strawser "gets in rages" and may have been "hunting" him and his wife the night Davison was killed, documents state.
"He was looking for them that night," Mays said.
Breese also told police Strawser used to stalk his wife, with whom Strawser once had an affair, and that Strawser said he would kill the couple, police said.
On the night Davison was killed, the Breeses were at a Martinsburg, West Virginia, dance club, and Strawser, who knew the Breeses frequented the club, began texting and calling Jamie Breese, going so far as to threaten him, documents state.
The Breeses own a similar-looking SUV to the Mitsubishi Montero Davison was driving when he was shot and killed.
After leaving the club, the Breeses got on I-81 and headed north to Pennsylvania, the same route Davison was traveling.
Information pulled from Davison's GPS unit showed he accelerated to speeds reaching 100 mph just after passing the Martinsburg exit, near where the dance club is located, documents state.
Police interview: During an interview with police, Strawser said he was working as a truck driver the night Davison was killed and was hours away in West Virginia, police said.
When police asked Strawser if he was on I-81 at the time of the shooting, he replied, "I don't remember," documents state.
Police said they later found that Strawser was not working that night.
Police also learned Strawser had his pickup truck repainted and front end damage repaired after the shooting.
Another witness led police to a field frequented by Strawser where they found a handgun that police linked to the slaying. Strawser's DNA was also found on a shell casing found at the scene of the shooting, documents state.
Authorities also found that Strawser's cellphone was used near Hagerstown, Maryland, about 15 minutes before Davison was killed, police said.
Jamie Breese told police they had seen the shooting on the news the day after it happened and had some suspicions that Strawser had done it, according to documents. But it just seemed too crazy, Breese thought.
"They didn't think he was capable of this," Mays said.
That is, until he was charged in a different killing. Then, they called police.
Other charges: Strawser is facing charges for a second killing, this one of Amy Lou Buckingham in Kingwood, West Virginia.
Strawser had been in a relationship with Buckingham that was ending when he allegedly shot and killed her in her driveway, The Preston County (West Virginia) News Journal reported.
Court records don't list an attorney for Strawser in the I-81 case, and it's unclear if he has retained one.
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sean Cotter at email@example.com.