Murder victim's father says Gilyard was planning to help care for ailing mother

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
KANNAPOLIS — The father of a 52-year-old man murdered and left in the trunk of his car this week said the victim was preparing to move back home to help care for his ailing mother.
Davis Gilyard Jr. planned a return to Reading, Pa., to take care of his mother, who is suffering from dementia.
“That’s what he was going to help me with,” 80-year-old Davis Gilyard said Thursday. “This is a very hard period for me.”
Pennsylvania authorities went to Gilyard’s home Wednesday to inform him about his son’s death, he said.
Until that notification, Gilyard said he wasn’t aware his son had roommates.
“He was kind of secretive about information that he gave you,” he said.
Gilyard Jr. and his father spoke often on the phone, usually two to three times a week, he said. But they never spoke about Kannapolis, where Gilyard Jr. moved following his discharge from the Army.
“He had been down there for a while, since he got out of the service,” he said. “That’s when he moved down there. He started working for S&D Coffee.”
Gilyard said he couldn’t remember when his son left the military, but knew he had a few jobs between his time in the Army and his latest job working as a machinery operator at S&D Coffee in Concord.
“He was nice. He was a worker. That was one thing — he always tried to have a job,” Gilyard said.
Representatives from S&D Coffee could not be reached Thursday afternoon.
Police responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle Tuesday evening found Gilyard’s body in the trunk of his 2004 Chevrolet Impala, which was parked at 2501 Lane St.
They had already determined the car was linked to a missing person call that had come in around the same time. Investigators were already at Gilyard’s house on Akron Avenue just a few miles away.
Police issued a notification to local law enforcement agencies alerting them to look out for a green Isuzu Rodeo, the vehicle his roommate, Jasper Joe Whitman, was driving.
Whitman and his girlfriend, Misty Dawn Hernandez, were stopped Wednesday afternoon on Interstate 85 in Davidson County after they left an East Spencer residence, authorities said.
Officers took both to Kannapolis Police department and quickly charged Whitman with first-degree murder. Police have not identified a motive in the killing.
After hours of interviewing Hernandez, police released her Wednesday night.
Kannapolis Police Capt. Pat Patty said Hernandez was not charged, but police plan to interview her again.
Whitman’s estranged wife, Katherine Sides, lived with Whitman and Gilyard Jr.
Before being arrested on disorderly conduct charges, she told the Post she believed her husband was involved in Gilyard’s death.
“I realized Davis was missing about 3 o’clock” on Tuesday, she said. “He gets up and leaves early for work, so I just thought he had gotten up early for work.”
Gilyard Jr.’s father was working with funeral services Thursday to have his son’s body transported back to Pennsylvania.
“It was a shock. I was totally shocked,” he said. “His mother needs help. He was going to help me with her.”
Police ask anyone with information about the crime to call 704-920-4000 or Cabarrus County Crime Stoppers at 704-932-7463.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.
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