ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Jamie Wright wishes she could have shielded the children from the crime scene she was called to on a Friday morning in January 2019.
"I think that was the thing that stands out the most to me were all the little ones headed out to school," Wright said.
As the school bus pulled up to the Centennial East Apartments in unincorporated Arapahoe County, investigators worked behind yellow tape. The body of a 48-year-old father of six rested on the ground.
"We were there to keep everyone safe and find out what was going on, but you know, who knows what these little guys think when they see that," Wright said.
Wright, an investigator with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office (ACSO), still thinks about Jan. 18, 2019, and what happened to Mark Davis.
“It was cold-blooded," she said. "He was ambushed, shot, left for dead.”
Crime scene photos show Davis' cane laying beside him in the grass. Whoever shot Davis multiple times and took his life left everything else behind. Wright said Davis did not appear to be robbed, and the motive behind the murder is unclear.
“Sometimes you can’t let it go," Wright said. "Sometimes, you know, you’re at home with your family and thinking about, 'okay, what did I miss? Where else can I look? What else can I do?'”
An investigator replays that day over in her mind and so does Dawn Brown.
“I think whenever you see something like a senseless murder, it kind of leaves something on you," Brown said.
Brown met Davis years ago working for the California Conservation Corps.
“You’d leave early in the morning in a big truck and you’d come back, you know, in the evening nice and dirty from the great outdoors," Brown recalled with a smile.
Brown befriended Davis, who she described as quiet and friendly, but also withdrawn and in need of friends.
“I had to protect him because everybody thought it was okay to mess with him, so I’m like, ‘no we’re not going to do that,’” Brown said.
The couple grew closer and eventually bonded for life. They had six kids together and settled in Colorado. While the pair drifted apart over the years, Brown said she always felt like Davis' protector, even as he struggled with his mental health and homelessness.
Brown was asleep when the sheriff's office called on a Friday morning in January 2019.
“Sometimes, I think like if I was there, would it have happened?" Brown said. "You know, like would it have been different?”
Investigators said Davis was up early the morning he was killed. He was on his way to the bus stop.
At 5:43 a.m., someone called 911 to report the sound of gunshots at 14400 E. Fremont Avenue. Deputies responded minutes later.
“They didn’t locate shell casings," Wright said. "They didn’t locate anything that would have been suspicious.”
Deputies left, but returned an hour later. The sun had come up, and someone found Davis' body.
Wright said she started knocking on dozens of doors in the apartment complex to ask people if they saw or heard anything.
“We knocked on all the doors," she said. “It took most of the day to canvas the area."
Investigators weren't able to identify a suspect, and more than two years later, Wright is still searching for answers.
“If we can’t solve this, and if this can happen to someone just walking to the bus stop, it’s extremely frustrating," Wright said.
Brown misses the man she wishes she could have protected.
> Video below: Watch the 2019 9NEWS report about Mark Davis' murder.
“Even though he couldn’t love me the way I needed to be loved or you know, take care of our family, because he was human and he was the father of my children, I still loved him for that," she said.
Wright and a team at the sheriff's office are counting on tips to break the case.
“We want to bring him justice," Wright said. "We want to bring his family justice and every single person deserves that.”
Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
“I’m just, you know, hoping and praying that somebody, you know, comes forward with some kind of information or the person who did it own up," Brown said.
Anyone with information on the case can reach Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
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