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A 30-year-old Waco murder mystery comes to an end: Man indicted on murder charges

After a series of advancements in forensics, 30 years later a murderer has been brought to justice.
Credit: Waco PD
Mugshot of Harold Givens, 65.

WACO, Texas — Harold Givens, 65, has finally been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges after officers say they found the suspect centered around a 30-year-old murder case. 

The Waco Police Department identified Givens in June 2022 as the man who murdered 28-year-old Rita Davis on Sept. 22, 1991. Her body was found near 7th Street and McKinney.  

Medical examiners conducted a 1991 autopsy and learned Davis died of blunt force injuries to her head and a hemorrhage to her neck, according to police. Examiners also found sperm following a sex assault exam, police added.

Police conducted interviews with Givens and the two friends, but found that the friends gave conflicting information at the time. One friend said the fight happened on Sept. 17 while the other friend said the fight happened on Sept. 21, the night before she was found dead, police said.

Police took a sample of Givens' blood and saliva, but forensics technology available in the nineties couldn't help determine if he had something to do with her death.

In 2006, a detective ran additional tests on the samples using advanced DNA technology and found minor samples of Givens' DNA, police said.

Police did not explain why an arrest wasn't made that year or why the case went cold again.

In 2022, however, Givens was re-interviewed after a cold case detective and a special crimes detective told him his original statement about what happened wasn't true, thanks to the DNA results.

Initially, Givens told detectives the two had oral sex, but tests showed otherwise, police said. When re-interviewed, Givens told detectives he got angry with Davis because she wanted more cocaine, so he reportedly hit her with a closed fist a few times. Police did not clarify if Givens sexually assaulted her, too, despite sperm samples being found originally.

Givens was then arrested at his home in Waco on June 21 without incident.

"The Waco Police Department would like to acknowledge the previous work done by the assigned detectives in 1991, 1992 and 2006. Without their initial investigative work an arrest would not have been able to be made today," police said in a news release.

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