DNA solves 1986 Liberty City strangulation murder, police say

Rickey Davis mugshot
Rickey Davis mugshot
Courtesy of Miami-Dade Corrections


Nearly three decades after a woman named Joycelean Burrows was found strangled in a vacant Liberty City lot, her killer has been arrested, police said.

The suspect: Rickey L. Davis, 52, who was booked into jail early Saturday on a charge of first-degree murder.

Miami-Dade police homicide detectives cracked the long-unsolved case after submitting crime-scene evidence for DNA analysis earlier this year, according to a police report. A match came back to Davis, a convicted burglar whose DNA had been entered years earlier in a state law enforcement database.

Police found Burrows, 26, on Jan. 17, 1986, in the vacant lot on Northwest 59th Street and 22nd Avenue. Hers was a little-noticed murder in a particularly bloody year — the 13th of 438 homicides recorded in Dade County.

Homicide detectives suspected Davis even then. But with only tantalizing clues, there was not enough evidence to arrest him.

That day, a witness told police, Davis was seen covered in blood, using a hose to wash blood from the back of his truck. But Davis denied having had any recent contact with Burrows, according to the arrest report.

DNA technology was not available in 1986. The case remained unsolved for decades.

Davis is no stranger to the law, having racked up a slew of arrests over the past two decades, including for robbery, burglary and battery.

His DNA was entered into the state database in 2001, after he was convicted for burglary. He wound up in state prison a decade later, finishing a sentence of more than a year for burglary.

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