Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Miranda Jones of St. Petersburg have never met, but both are haunted by the March 1994 murder of 11-year old Kimberly Waters of Lakeland.
Both anticipated the July 10, 2014 execution of 45-year old Eddie Davis, convicted and sentenced to death in 1995 for the homicide.
"This is something that's probably going to follow me for the rest of my life," Jones told FOX 13 News. "Just because it was my friend growing up."
Judd commented while traveling north to witness Davis' execution, a first for the sheriff.
"This is one of the most sadistic, horrific murders and rapes that I have ever seen," Judd said, emphasizing that the experience fueled his passion for pursuing crimes against children.
"If you had seen the damage that he did to that child, and the amount of time that he spent with her before obviously suffocating her, killing her and then to dispose of her in a dumpster," the sheriff recalled.
That is what hurts Jones the most.
"It's scary to know the feeling that that baby was feeling at the time that man was doing that to her," Jones said.
Waters was abducted, digitally violated and fatally smothered, then her body was placed in a commercial dumpster and covered with trash. Twenty years later, a sense of loss still consumes Jones.
"Most people grow up with their childhood friends, and they stay friends for a long, long time and then their kids are friends," she explained. "We won't have that."
She would, however, like to meet Sheriff Judd for his role in solving the murder. In 1994, Judd was a major, overseeing detectives, but not directly involved with the investigation.
So before Davis was taken in for questioning "I befriended him, if you will, in advance," Judd said. "So when he wouldn't talk to [detectives] in the beginning, and they closed the cell door on him, I walked past the cell door and he looked at me and saw a familiar face."
Davis said he really needed to talk, and dropped his request to speak to attorney.
"I opened the cell door and said what do you want to talk about?" Judd said. "And he sat there and broke down and cried, and I hugged him and he confessed."
Jones read those details in court documents, which is why she would like to thank Judd personally.
She also said she inquired about attending Davis' execution, but her father convinced her "...that's not really something you want to see is someone actually die in front of you, you don't want to see that."
She expected no closure.
"It's not going to change anything. It's not going to bring her back," she said.
Sheriff Judd felt compelled to attend Davis' execution, one of only two he ever plans to witness.
"There's no glee, there's no happiness to this afternoon" he told FOX 13 News. "But there is the satisfaction that you've done the full measure for Kimberly. That you've done all that you could for that beautiful child."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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