Janesville25.4°

Neighbor who found victim: 'That could have been me'

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
July 14, 2011
— Casey Strain was hanging out alone in his apartment at 31 S. Main St. above Carousel Consignments late Tuesday when he heard a man yelling and stomping in the apartment unit above.

He'd heard shouting and banging before, and it was nothing new. William Davisóhis neighbor from upstairsówas at it again. Strain, 22, said he dialed the police and loaded a cassette tape into a hand-held recorder. He figured he'd get a recording of Davis having a run-in with the cops.


Little did he know the tape recording would end up chronicling an arrest of a suspected killer.


Davis, 53, is now in custody on suspicion that on Tuesday night he used a knife to kill his neighbor, Joseph Hanson, 40.


Strain said he saw police arrive at the apartment Tuesday night. He saw Davis, who he said was naked and bloody, rush at police. Police used Tasers to subdue Davis and removed him, Strain said. After the struggle, Strain went upstairs to look at some blood Davis had left in the hallway.


That's when he looked down the hall and saw the door of Hanson's apartment ajar. He smelled an awful odor.


Strain peeked in the apartment and saw Hanson about 15 feet away lying face down on a bed with blood all over him. Strain said Hanson was dead.


Strain called 911 again, and someone there asked him to check the body. He said he just couldn't do it.


"I can't get the sight of that corpse out of my freaking head," Strain said in an interview Wednesday night.


Police were investigating at the apartment all night Tuesday and all day Wednesday, Strain said. They searched Strain's apartment, too.


Strain, who has lived in the apartment on the second floor since December 2010, has known Davis and Hanson since he moved in and had even hung out with Davis a number of times.


Strain said he knew Davis and Hanson as two people who had psychological problems. Strain knew they both got help through the same agency, and he was aware that Davis went on and off his medication.


He said he knew Davis to occasionally yell and bang around his apartment at odd hours of the night, but he always thought of Davis as a "kooky, funny guy."


Strain said Davis sometimes said "loopy," strange things, mostly comical comments about his missing teeth. Strain made about 10 tape recordings of conversations he had with Davis, and he said only one bothered him. In the recording, Davis reportedly talked about "chopping up mommas," Strain said.


Strain said Jesse J. Fehr, 20, a friend who'd been living with Strain for a few months, had urged Strain to lock the door of the apartment because Davis made Fehr uncomfortable.


Still, Strain said he never once imagined Davis as a violent person. And he always knew Hanson as a meek, almost skittish man who avoided conflict.


"I can't believe this. That's not Bill. That's not William Davis," said Strain, taking a drag off a cigarette. "And if it is, I'm scared. Because that could have been me."



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