Is it in the genes? Davidson’s uncle murdered elderly woman in the 70s
WHITE CO.—The man who is accused of murdering a Gibson County grandmother over the weekend has lived with murder haunting his family his entire life.
Thomas Davidson, 25, accused of murdering Sandra Burkhardt, 58, is being held in the White County Jail on a $2 million bail. And while his court records show he has been fairly active in the criminal realm for the past several years, those criminal cases didn’t come close to murder.
Instead, it appears Davidson has had the specter of such a thing hanging over his head since before he was born.
As it turns out, Davidson is a nephew of Lester Niehaus, who, when he was 23, committed a brutal murder of an elderly woman in Mt. Vernon, Ind.
Neihaus was convicted in the December 24, 1973, murder of Lilly Scudmore, 78, in Posey County. Court information shows that Niehaus (who was the brother of Thomas Davidson’s mother) beat the elderly widow to death at her home, a trailer on Holler Road in rural Mt. Vernon. Niehaus used a blunt instrument to beat the woman; that instrument was never recovered. Preventing Niehaus from being arrested for nearly an entire year after the incident was the fact that numerous family members told investigating officials that Niehaus had “been with them all evening” when the murder took place (some time between 5 and 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve).
However, what ultimately sealed the conviction was that Niehaus also sexually assaulted the elderly widow, and at one point bit her breast, leaving a deep indentation of his own teeth in the flesh. When it came time for trial, an odontist testified as to impressions left on the woman (who was bitten several times over before her death) as well as impressions taken of Niehaus’ teeth. The match was ultimately what nailed him, despite the fact that the odontist hadn’t been certified as an “expert witness” before his testimony.
Our sources in Crossville advised us of the relationship between Niehaus and Davidson, as Davidson had lived in Crossville as a child and many people were painfully aware of the murder of Scudmore and the impact it had on the family.
Niehaus was sentenced to life in prison, but was later paroled and went to live with his mother Mary in Louisiana. He died earlier this year while still in Louisiana.
Whether this had an impact on Davidson or not can only be surmised. However, those in Crossville who’ve been getting ahold of us about this past weekend’s case say that Davidson was a very erratic guy who had no respect for anyone, including the two or three kids he bred, and tended toward abuse of dope, alcohol, and was inclined toward violence.
The general public may learn more of what prompted the actions that lead to the death of Mrs. Burkhardt this past weekend on September 9, when Davidson is set for a preliminary hearing at 10:30 a.m….hopefully, he’ll be a little more subdued this time than yesterday, when his outbursts and claims of “not understanding what was going on” caused a delay in the reading of his charges: Those of four counts of First Degree Murder, Aggravated Battery by Discharging a Firearm, Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm in or from an Occupied Vehicle, and Aggravated Vehicular Hijacking while Armed with a Firearm.
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