The younger sister of a Washington State chiropractor who vanished with her husband under mysterious circumstances is worried that the man’s dark past—and the kindhearted opportunities he now graciously offers others who are down on their luck—could have somehow contributed to the couple’s disappearance.
“My brother-in-law was giving a lot of people second chances in life,” Pauline Dutton told The Daily Beast. “That may now wind up being to their detriment.”
Karen Koep, 62, and Davido William Cannizzo, 68, who legally dropped his middle and last names in the 1990s and only goes by Davido, were reported missing on Monday, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Deputies were sent to the pair’s home to conduct a welfare check after Koep, a well-loved chiropractor in Lacey, failed to show up for work. The last time anyone heard from the two was that Friday, according to Dutton. Their gray four-door Toyota Yaris hatchback was missing from their driveway and was later found abandoned about six miles away.
The Thurston sheriff deemed the situation “suspicious,” and the car was thoroughly searched, Dutton said, adding that police told the family they have “no official leads” as of Friday morning. However, Dutton—who is a full-time caregiver for her and Koep’s 88-year-old mother—has had plenty of time to think about various possibilities. And although Davido’s troubles with the law “seem so long ago,” Dutton said she has “watched enough TV shows” to understand that “it’s always someone you frickin’ know.”
“It just seems off, as far as, like, these things never just kind of ‘happen,’” Dutton said.
Sharon Cannizzo, Davido’s sister, told The Daily Beast, “It’s pretty surreal and shocking and it’s just one of those things you never think is going to happen to your family.”
Dutton said Davido’s experience with the criminal justice system—he spent six years behind bars beginning in 1993, on a drug distribution rap—has given him a great deal of empathy for others facing similar issues. Davido and Koep, who live in Lacey, own a separate rental property in the area, with “multiple people” living in a house and an RV sitting atop a fairly large piece of land, according to Dutton.
On Monday night, authorities detained a tenant of Davido and Koep’s, who was allegedly in possession of an unknown item belonging to the pair, but released the person without charges. It is unclear what the item was, though Dutton said cops told her the person was initially picked up on suspicion of identity theft. (The Daily Beast is withholding the name of the tenant, who Dutton believes was doing construction work on the home in lieu of paying rent.)
Davido and Koep have been married for more than three decades, and he long ago “cleaned up his act,” according to Dutton. He is now “a family man, a man of faith,” she emphasized. However, Dutton acknowledged, things weren’t always this way.
In 1993, Davido was nabbed as part of a federal investigation into passport fraud, according to a 1998 appeals court ruling denying his petition for his sentence to be shortened. Agents homed in on a South Seattle apartment Davido had rented under the name “John Peterson,” the ruling states.
The police described the apartment as “looking more like an office than a home,” noting that a friend of Davido’s was also there when the cops arrived. The front room served as a “filing [area], with charts on the wall and with numbers on the charts,” the ruling says. “These charts [corresponded] with boxes which were spread throughout the living room.”
One of the officers observed multiple passports with different photographs, and express mail envelopes scattered about, according to the ruling. It says Davido appeared “panicky,” as the cops turned up passport applications, checkbooks, and mailbox records “from around the country [in] a number of different false names.”
When agents opened a blue cooler in the living room, they found an express mail envelope addressed to a “Mike White,” from a “George Adams.”
“Recognizing these names from other documents in the apartment, they opened the envelope and found a video cassette holder,” the ruling states. “Inside this box was about five grams of cocaine in a vacuum-sealed bag. Agent Kircher testified that there is a ‘very definite correlation between… passport fraud and drug trafficking.’ The State charged Davido with one count of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.”
Acting as his own defense attorney, Davido claimed he had only been at the apartment to “observe” his buddy’s family’s drug operation as research for a book he planned to write, and insisted he knew nothing about the cocaine in the cooler, according to the appeals court ruling. Rejecting his arguments, a jury convicted Davido and the judge imposed a 72-month sentence to reflect what the court considered a “major violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.”
“Specifically, it found that Davido had occupied a high position in a sophisticated drug operation covering a broad area of distribution,” the appeals ruling affirms.
It has been nearly a quarter-century since Davido was released from prison, and Dutton does not think he is still involved in anything illegal.
“It does seem so long ago,” she told The Daily Beast.
“My fear is that he has helped people who were down-and-out on their luck and who maybe haven’t turned their lives completely around, and they took advantage,” Dutton said.
Investigators have gone over the rooming house with a fine-tooth comb, and have interviewed everyone there, according to Dutton. She said police and K9 units have also searched the couple’s car and the area in which it was found, without apparent success. Thurston sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Mike Brooks told The Daily Beast on Friday afternoon that investigators did yet not have any updates to share publicly. Nevertheless, a group of concerned locals plan to canvass the area themselves on Sunday, pending permission from the cops.
Before hanging up to tend to her and Koep’s mom, Dutton’s voice caught for a brief moment. She is hoping for the best, but steeling herself for the worst.
“I pray it’s some sort of misunderstanding,” Dutton said. “Our elderly mother is really confused. It’s Thanksgiving next week and she still thinks they’re coming.”