Government Gadfly Found Murdered Was Terrified ‘People Were After Her’
Joan Davis, an outspoken community activist in the quiet town of Teaneck, New Jersey, was bludgeoned, bound, and stabbed numerous times. Her 2010 murder remains a mystery.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Aug. 17, 2010, Teaneck, New Jersey, resident Angela Bombardi smelled something burning. She checked to make sure it wasn’t coming from her own home, then stepped outside to have a look. That’s when Bombardi realized the tidy Tudor-style house directly next door was on fire and she called 911.
Firefighters were eventually able to beat back the blaze, which had started in a first-floor bedroom. But when they discovered the badly charred remains of 74-year-old Joan Davis inside, it soon became apparent that the fire had been set intentionally—in an attempt to cover up a murder. Davis was burned beyond the point of recognition and authorities had to use dental records to identify her. Before being set alight, Davis, who lived alone and didn’t have many friends, had been bludgeoned, bound, and stabbed numerous times.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, whose office formed Bergen’s first dedicated cold case unit in 2002, helped lead the investigation.