This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Steven Davis loved Waffle House and he made friends with everyone he saw there. His family found this out when an overwhelming number of people attended his funeral.
In the early morning of August 26, 1998, in Pensacola, Florida, Steven was getting into his car when he was ambushed by a man who was in the vehicle waiting for him. Steven ran out of the car to escape but was shot while running away.
He died at the scene and his murder has never been solved.
Growing up in Pensacola, Steven had three siblings: a brother and two sisters. Being close in age, the siblings always had a tight bond. Steven and his brother were certainly the closest. The two boys were often described as a dynamic duo.
In high school, Steven attempted to play football. He quickly realized that he had more of a love for art and hung up the cleats for good.
Steven also participated in ROTC in high school. After graduating, he would join the Army and serve in Thailand during the Vietnam War.
Steven was truly a simple man. He never married despite being engaged once. Material things weren’t important to him – except his guitar. He loved to play his guitar all the time.
He was also a wonderful uncle to his nieces and nephews. He would always have a little gift for them every time he saw them.
After the war, Steven returned home to work as a banker. He wore a suit and tie every day, and his sisters quickly realized that wasn’t the life for him.
“He was an artsy type of person; he was a real hippie. He liked things that were different,” Beth Castner, Steven’s sister, recalled.
After working for the bank, he started driving a cab in Pensacola. He did that for many years but often would have to face robbers because he traditionally carried cash in the cab.
After a few of these situations occurred, he decided that he no longer wanted to be out on the road as a cab driver and started to work as a dispatcher for the cab company.
But it did not keep him out of harm’s way.
For his personal vehicle, Steven drove an old taxicab. It was easy to mistake him for an active taxi.
On August 26, 1998, Steven was out at 4:00 am at the local Winn Dixie. When he entered his vehicle, there was a person in there waiting for him.
As he rushed to exit his car, he was shot in the back.
There was video footage of the event. However, the police never solved the crime.
Steven’s family was frustrated following his murder. When the police informed them about his death, they prefaced it by saying they will most likely never find the man who did it .
“That’s when they told us there was nothing they could do, and it was probably never going to be solved. How do you lose hope before the day is gone?” Beth recalled.
In the days following the murder, a detailed flyer circulated that described very clearly the man who was seen in the area around the same time as the murder. The flyer also described a man who was applying for a job at a place nearby or had already been employed there.
These types of details left Steven’s family a mess. According to Steven’s sisters, knowing how much information was available for a case that went cold was a struggle.
The day of Steven’s funeral was somber. His sisters said there were so many people who attended, more than they ever could have imagined.
Numerous people that his family had never met approached them to compliment Steven’s kind heart and how he always helped everyone around him.
The cab company he worked for shut down for the day and everyone attended. Dozens of cabs lined up and down the roads where the funeral took place.
People wrote letters to Steven’s sisters describing what an incredible man he was to them. They still have those letters to this day.
If you have information on this case, please call the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 436-9630. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward call Gulf Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP, or call toll free (877) 433-TIPS.
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