Oberlin Man Murdered in Apartment


Xiaoqian Zhu

Twenty-four-year-old Steven L. Davis was found shot to death in his apartment last Tuesday, Nov. 24 — the first murder in Oberlin since a 1999 stabbing.

Oberlin Police Department officers received a 911 call at 12:12 p.m. by a man who claimed to be Davis’ cousin. He reported that Davis was bleeding and requested an ambulance to 40 Locust Street, Davis’ home address. Police confirmed Davis as the victim on Friday.

The initial responding police officers observed a single gunshot wound to Davis’ chest. Dr. Stephen Evans, Lorain County coroner, told the The Chronicle-Telegram on Wednesday that Davis died of multiple gunshots to both the chest and the head.

Craig Robinson, one of Davis’ neighbors, said he didn’t hear any shooting during the time the murder took place.

But he said that the woman who lives in the front apartment with her boyfriend did.

“She said she heard three loud noises that night,” Robinson said. “But she just thought it was her uncle who fell out of bed or something.”

The investigation by the Oberlin Police Department is in its preliminary stages. Police Chief Juan Torres confirmed that they believe the case was a homicide but stated that the officers do not currently have any suspects or persons of interest.

“We are trying to determine the victim’s movements prior to the incident,” Torres said. “We go talking to neighbors and different people, and we send some evidence to be processed, and that’s where we are right now.”

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification, which runs the state crime lab and provides crime scene units to local law enforcements across the state, is assisting the local authorities in Oberlin with the Davis case.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, unlike many large cities like Columbus or Cleveland which have their own crime scene units, smaller communities like Oberlin often do not have the resources.

“The other issue is one of volume,” said Dan Tierney, an officer from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. “[Larger cities] have unfortunately larger crime rates that would result in there being experienced officers in the situation. But in small towns, there might not be a shooting for five or ten years at a time, so as a result you want somebody who has experience to assist the crime scene or the investigation. … Quite frankly, when the law enforcement agency doesn’t have the experience, they go to the [Bureau of Criminal Identification] for assistance.”

A total of three murders, two of which happened in 1998, occurred in Oberlin in the years between 1995 and 2000, according to Office of Criminal Justice Services Crime Statistics and Crime Reports in the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

During the first five years for which records are publicly available, 1995–1999, 16 murders occured in Lorain County. The number stayed nearly constant at 15 for the next five years, before tripling to 43 in 2005–2009. Murders peaked at 13 in 2009 and have declined since then, although figures have not been released for 2014 or 2015.