GREAT FALLS — The Montana Attorney General's Office announced on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, that it is charging Edmund Davis with two felony counts of sexual abuse of children, following an investigation into the case of a previously missing Arizona teenager.
The teen had shown up at the Havre Police Station on Sunday, July 23, 2023. She told police that she had been reported missing and wanted to "clear her status." Police said she appeared to be fine and in good health. When interacting with police, she was said to be in bright spirits, the same happy and healthy girl who mysteriously vanished from Glendale, Arizona, years ago. She was reportedly apologetic for what she put her mother through.
A news release says that agents from the MT DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation and the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department arrested Davis on Monday in Chinook on the Hi-Line.
The child sex abuse material was found on his cellphone, according to the MT DOJ, which was seized when a search warrant was executed in Havre earlier this year.
Davis, 36 years old, is being held in the Hill County Detention Center on a $1 million bond as ordered by state District Court Judge Kaydee Snipes Ruiz.
The MT DOJ said that in July, the Havre Police Department served a search warrant on Davis's apartment after learning that a young woman, who was reported missing in Glendale, Arizona as a 14-year-old in 2019, was living there.
When she answered the door, officers saw Davis in the kitchen behind her throwing a cellphone into a trash can and placing items on top of the phone as if to hide it.
Dozens of images of suspected child sex abuse material were located on the device, confirmed to belong to Davis. Following their protocols, Glendale police selected ten images from those found and brought them to medical experts. The review determined the individuals depicted to be under the age of 13, with two images of children under the age of 5.
The phone and other electronic devices found during the search were transferred into the custody of the DCI Computer Forensics Unit in Helena. DCI agents then obtained a search warrant for the electronics and identified a known child sexual abuse material photo series and other evidentiary images. The phone contained images of infants and toddlers and other computer-generated or animated content showing children being sexualized.
The first count of sexual abuse of children for knowingly possessing electronic communication images of a child or children under 12 years of age or younger engaged in sexual conduct carries a 100-year prison sentence, 25 of which may not be suspended or deferred. The second count of child abuse can result in imprisonment for life with a minimum sentence of four years.
“A series of search warrants led to a search of an apartment in Havre, which led to the seizure of a number of electronic devices,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told MTN News. “One of which Mr. Davis attempted to hide from law enforcement. And upon a further search warrant to enter that device, multiple, multiple, multiple images of child sexual abuse material were found.”
“There’s a lot of dotting T's and crossing I's,” Knudsen said, “We really wanted to make sure that the warrants were done correctly. There's always a concern when an out of state law enforcement agency comes into Montana. In Montana, we have higher privacy standards and higher search and seizure standards than both the federal government requires under Miranda, but also more than most other states require.”
Between July and his arrest, Davis and Navarro were reportedly living on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, about 50 miles outside Havre. This added to the challenges and time it took to arrest Davis.
“Anytime you've got multiple jurisdictions, there's challenges here,” Knudsen said, “This was made even more challenging by the fact that Mr. Davis appeared to be attempting to hide out on one of our Indian reservations here in Montana. So we had a federal jurisdiction issue there as well.”
While Davis only has two charges to his name right now, Knudsen believes there could be more in the future, potentially connected with Navarro as well.
“These crimes that we've got him charged with here in Montana are alleged and they are quite serious,” Knudsen said.
We will update you as we get more information.