A teenager from Tennessee went on trial for murdering his mother with a sledgehammer and setting the whole house on fire. Zachary Davis was only 15 when he committed this crime. Reportedly, he bludgeoned his mother’s skull multiple times while she was asleep and even set his family home ablaze to kill his elder brother, Josh.
So, what was the reason for him murdering his mother, and where is Zachary now? Read this article till the end to find out.
Zachary Killing his Mother – A Bone-Chilling Incident
The incident took place on the night of the 10th of August, 2012. After spending an evening at the cinema with his mother and older brother, Zachary waited until she had fallen asleep. He went into her room and swung at her head with a gigantic sledgehammer. Zachary’s mother, Melanie Davis, has been raising her two sons on her own since the death of her husband six years before his incident took place. She woke up after the first blow to the head, but Zachary didn’t stop and kept hitting her as she gasped for air and began experiencing seizures. He struck her as many as 20 times. Drenched in blood, he then closed the door, went to the family game room, and drenched that in whiskey and gasoline to set it aflame.
Zachary shut the door and fled the house. He had intended to kill his brother Josh in the fire. However, as he closed the door of the game room, the fire did not spread much, and his older brother woke up by a fire alarm. When he went to retrieve her mother, he found her covered in blood. Josh had no choice but to flee the house.
The most horrifying and unsettling part of this event is that Zachary didn’t show any remorse for committing the brutal act of killing her mother. He was found by the authorities 10 miles from his home. He smiled and told them, “I didn’t feel anything when I killed her.”
The Police Interrogations
Zachary was eventually convicted of first-degree murder after a four-day trial. When he was taken into police custody after the incident, the officials carried out detailed interrogations on him. Zachary said that his one regret from that night was that he didn’t kill Josh with a sledgehammer too.
The then 15-year-old stated that the reason behind killing his mother is that his elder brother had been sexually abusing him, and his mother’s choice was to ignore all the abuse and do nothing about it. However, Josh later claimed he was unaware that his brother had made these false and unsupported claims until his trial. In reality, Zachary was experiencing rounds of psychotic delusions occurring as a result of untreated mental health difficulties.
Zachary’s Interview with a Television Personality
After the incident, Zachary was taken into custody. During the same time, he was interviewed by a television personality, Dr. Phil, which made a deeply disturbing watch for some audiences. During the interview, Zachary calmly told Dr. Phil how he went about murdering his mother. His voice was calm, monotonous, and emotionless.
When he was asked why he decided to kill his mother, his answer was, “She wasn’t taking care of my family.” He even described the murder scene in detail with a smirk.
“I could just hear the hammer hitting her hard. It was this wet thumping sound.” When asked if he laughed while hitting her, he replied, “I just thought she deserved it.”
The Real Reason Behind Zachary’s Behavior
Whether or not the allegations made by Zachary against his brother and mother were true, there is another reason why the teen committed such a heinous act. Reportedly, he was a quiet boy who had a history of mental illness from his childhood. When his father, Chris, died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2007, he was only 9. The child went into a tailspin.
As per Zachary’s paternal grandmother, the boy was so affected by his father’s death that he had to be taken to see a psychiatrist. He suffered from a mental defect which was aggravated with his age. Zachary claimed to hear voices and he was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and depressive disorder. He was normally quiet but became more withdrawn after his father’s demise. In one of his sessions with the psychiatrist, he told him that he would hear the voices of his father.
The Trials after His Mother’s Murder
When the case of Zachary murdering her mother came to the Court of Law, the justice system and 12-member jury grappled with it. According to them, Zachary had premeditated his mother’s murder. Moreover, it was apparent that he was unwell. His psychiatrist tried to extend compassion towards the teenager and stated when he looked into his eyes, he didn’t see evil but lost.
Per his paternal grandmother, “Every teacher, every guidance counselor should have to stand trial with Zach. He is not a monster. He’s a child who made a horrible mistake.” As per her, Zachary’s mother failed to get him the help he needed and eventually paid for the mistake by losing her life.
The psychiatrist further told the court that Zachary’s judgment was driven by his psychosis, and because of his mental illness he could not have possibly premeditated the murders. However, the thoughts of the jury and judge didn’t align with these claims.
After his trial, the jury and judge sentenced him to life in prison. He was pronounced guilty of killing his mother. A life sentence in Tennessee includes a minimum of 60 years with the possibility of parole after 51 years. By the time he could get out of prison, Zachary would be in his mid-60s.
The family’s tragic story destroyed everything, especially Zachary’s childhood.