A one-woman crime wave

Having noticed that Newspapers.com had loads of back issues of the Austin American-Statesman, I decided to start researching Austin, Texas cases. I have updated several on Charley, and learned a great deal more about the disappearance of Gracie Nell Nash and the one-woman crime wave that is Naomi Easley Moore.

Our story begins in May 1983, when Melvin Davis broke up with his girlfriend Naomi Easley. Almost immediately, the trouble started. Let’s have a list, shall we.

  1. Easley writes letters to Melvin’s boss trying to get him fired.
  2. Melvin and John Davis’s shared house is burglarized, and someone slashes the tires of John’s car and trailer.
  3. Melvin catches Easley pouring sugar and syrup into his gas tank.
  4. Easley and Melvin get in a physical confrontation inside his house, she pulls a gun on him, and he takes it away from her. She runs out of the house, then returns to ask for the gun back. He refuses to give it to her, and calls the police. Easley is put on a bond to keep the peace.
  5. Someone breaks into the Davises’ house, slashes all of John’s clothes and tries to start a fire in the bedroom.
  6. Someone sets the Davis brothers’ garage on fire, destroying one of John’s race cars.
  7. A third brother, Ronnie, is shot at by an intruder in Melvin and John’s house. He is uninjured.
  8. Easley shoots Melvin in the wrist. She is arrested, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and bails out.
  9. Three days later, someone fires several shots at John and misses.
  10. Gracie Nash, the Davises’ sister, disappears, apparently abducted from the parking lot of her workplace, the day after Christmas.
  11. The next day, the Davis parents get a call from someone who tells them if they ever want to see Gracie alive again, Melvin has to drop the charges against Easley.
  12. Gracie’s car turns up abandoned with Nash’s coat and evidence of a shooting, including a large amount of blood. Her body is never found.
  13. John is shot to death outside his house.
  14. Easley goes to trial for shooting Melvin, but the jury deadlocks, and she takes a plea and gets probation.
  15. Four and a half years later, Easley (now married and using the last name Moore) shoots her husband to death and is FINALLY sent to prison.

I have several questions about this:

  1. Is the Austin Police Department really so incompetent that they can’t put a case together against Naomi for any of the other burglaries, arsons, attempted murders, and two murders she obviously committed?
  2. Did Naomi stop her campaign of terror against Melvin Davis and his family after she was put on probation, or did it just drop out of the news at that point?
  3. Is anyone in the Austin PD still bothering to investigate John Davis and Gracie Nash’s murders? I looked her up, and Naomi Easley Moore is very much alive in prison right now. In fact, she became eligible for parole in 2004. And, um, Texas is a death penalty state.
  4. Did Naomi Easley have a pre-1983 history of launching into psychotic crime sprees against other ex-boyfriends?
  5. If it’s ever legally verified that Naomi Easley murdered Gracie Nash and John Davis, along with the third murder of her husband in 1989, would that qualify her as a serial killer?

Honestly, I obviously don’t have all the information, but I’m getting the impression that the police just didn’t care about what was happening. I don’t know if it was a race/class thing or what; the Davises were black children of sharecroppers and there were 17 kids in the family. They seem to have been respectable people but no doubt they were poor.

At her trial in the shooting of Melvin, the jury wasn’t allowed to hear about the murders of John and Gracie, and I’m not sure how much they heard about all the other stuff that happened. Three of the jurors wanted to convict her of attempted murder. Six opted for aggravated assault, and three wanted to acquit her.

One of the ones who voted for acquittal said he wasn’t sure Melvin could see Easley clearly as it was getting dark at the time of the shooting. Another said he thought Melvin was “going out on” Easley, which seems very improper to me — whether Melvin was being unfaithful or how he treated her was not at issue, the issue was whether or not she shot him.

But even if the jury couldn’t hear about the murders, the court knew about it. And she somehow managed to get PROBATION, after all of that. And the story ended in another man’s death.

Flashback Friday: Gracie Nash

This week I’ll be profiling Gracie Nash, who disappeared 30 years ago last Thursday, in 1983, from Texas. Gracie, an employee at an Austin nursing home, was last seen after she finished her shift at 11:00 p.m. Authorities found her car abandoned, spattered with large amounts of blood. There were other signs of a violent struggle. As a result, Gracie is presumed deceased.

Six weeks later, Gracie’s brother John Davis was murdered. A few weeks after that, John and Gracie’s brother Melvin was shot by his girlfriend. He survived. The girlfriend, Naomi Easley, was convicted of aggravated assault and also convicted of murdering her husband. She was doing time last I knew, though she was supposed to come up for parole in 2009. (I last updated Gracie’s case in 2006.) I can’t find out whether she was paroled or not, but given that this is “lock ’em up and throw away the key” Texas we’re talking about, I doubt she was. Authorities believe Melvin’s girlfriend might have also been involved in Gracie’s disappearance and John’s murder, but she has never been charged for lack of evidence.

I hope Gracie and her brothers’ parents were not alive to see this. I cannot imagine losing three of your children to violence in the space of two months. Assuming Easley killed all three of them, I wonder what her motive was. Eliminating witnesses perhaps? Four Three deaths (including her husband’s) would technically make her a serial killer. This was a black family, and from the sounds of it they were working-class. If it was a middle- or upper-class white family, I’m sure there would have been a lot more publicity. But what’s done is done.

You can read a few more more details about Easley’s husband’s murder case in her appeal, which was filed in 1992.