Local Metro Park cast into national spotlight
By Stephanie Kist
CUYAHOGA FALLS — A worldwide news story gripped Summit County June 23 when the body of Jessie Davis, 26, of Stark County, was discovered on Metro Parks, Serving Summit County property.
Davis’ body, along with that of her unborn daughter, was recovered that afternoon by investigators in the case, which had been national news since shortly after her disappearance from her Lake Township home two weeks ago. Her body was found in the Top O’ the World Area of Hampton Hills Metro Park, many miles from where a large-scale volunteer search had been taking place in northern Stark County. The Top O’ the World Area is located at 1285 W. Bath Road and within the boundaries of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP).
National Park Service rangers, at the request of FBI agents, blocked off West Bath Road on the afternoon of June 23 while investigators searched for Davis’ body.
“We were essentially assisting with securing the area,” said CVNP spokeswoman Mary Pat Doorley, adding the CVNP then contacted Metro Parks when it was determined the area is within Metro Parks’ jurisdiction.
Like Deep Lock Quarry and O’Neil Woods metro parks, Hampton Hills is within the boundaries of the CVNP but not considered a part of it. It is entirely owned and managed by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, Doorley said. She said CVNP rangers continued to assist with securing the scene as members of the media and public began to arrive.
Metro Parks spokesman Nathan Eppink said rangers were on the scene until after midnight, when news reporters left after doing live broadcasts. At least one ranger will continue to closely patrol the park.
Davis’ body is now with Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler. At press time, the county medical examiner’s office had not released the cause of death and said it might be quite awhile, as the investigation continues.
Canton police officer Bobby Cutts Jr., 30, with whom Davis had a relationship, has been charged with the murder of Davis and her unborn baby, who was due to be delivered in early July. An alleged accomplice, Myisha Ferrell, 29, has been charged with a felony count of obstructing official business. The two were arraigned June 25 in Canton Municipal Court.
Cutts’ bond was set at
$5 million and Ferrell’s at $500,000. Both will
appear at a preliminary hearing
The Stark County Sheriff’s
Office is continuing to accept tips at (330) 430-3684
or electronically at www.sheriff.co.
stark.oh.us. Click on “Jessie
Davis Page” to be directed to additional information.
The Top O’ the World area
reopened to the public on the morning of June 24, according
to Eppink. The rugged and scenic Adam Run and Spring
Hollow trails remained open and continue to be open,
On June 25, Eppink said a ranger
would be stationed at the park for several days to answer
visitors’ questions. Park visitors are instructed
to abide by park rules and to stay on trails.
A makeshift memorial to Davis
has been growing at Top O’ the World, beneath
a silver maple tree near the parking lot.
“Just wanted to pay our
respects,” said John Watts, of Stow, as he visited
the memorial with his daughter, Amanda, 12. Watts said
he and his wife participated in the search for Davis.
Eppink said the memorial will
be allowed to remain, possibly for several weeks. He
added that, on behalf of Metro Parks staff, “We
express our condolences to the family.”
While items left within the CVNP
will be given to the Davis family, memorials in the
CVNP are not encouraged, as memorials in national parks
are not permitted, Doorley said.
Donations can be made to a memorial
fund in Jessie Davis’ name at National City Bank
branches. Both Doorley
and Eppink said that to their knowledge nothing of this
magnitude has ever occurred in the CVNP or Metro Parks.
Eppink said it is amazing that
the culmination of the search for Davis landed in a
“It’s pretty far
removed from the place where everyone was searching,”
he said. “We’re not sure, and we’re
not sure if investigators even know, why that park was
chosen. Maybe there’s no reason.”
UPDATE: Calling hours for Davis and her baby
are scheduled for June 29 from 2 to 8 p.m. and June
30 from 10 to 11 a.m. at The House of the Lord, 1650
Diagonal Road in West Akron. The funeral will be June
30 at 11 a.m. at the church. Both the calling hours
and funeral are open to the public. Burial will take
place at Greenlawn Cemetery on Romig Road.
Soon after the body of Jessie Davis was discovered in Hampton Hills Metro Park, passers-by began placing flowers, notes and stuffed animals at both the entrance sign to the park, shown at left, and at the base of a large silver maple tree near the parking area.
Shown above, Glenn Heath, of
Cuyahoga Falls, brought flowers to place in memory of
Davis. John Watts and his daughter, Amanda Watts, 12,
of Stow, also visited the memorial, shown above. Watts
said he and his wife took part in the volunteer search
for Davis, which drew thousands in Stark County. Photos: