What happened to Joshua Davis? South Texas Crime Stories, Episode 1

The 18-month-old Joshua Davis disappeared on a cold night in February 2011.

NEW BRAUNFELS – It was a cold night on February 4, 2011, 18-month-old Joshua Davis was inside a trailer home in the 2600 block of Savannah Hill Circle in New Braunfels.

Sabrina Benitez said she was with her son in a room watching Toy Story shortly before 8 p.m. when Joshua left the room heading toward the front of the house, where six other adults and another child were.

About 10 minutes later, when the toddler didn’t come back, she said she started to ask the others where he was but, no one else saw him.

Benitez said there’s no way Joshua could have gotten out of the trailer by himself because he wasn’t tall enough.

Listen to the podcast episode below.

At some point that night, Joshua’s grandfather called 911 to report the child missing.

New Braunfels Police Department started looking for Davis right away but did not issue Amber Alert because there wasn’t enough evidence that an abduction happened.

Several different agencies helped NBPD search for Davis in the days after his disappearance. Unfortunately, there was no sign of him.

The police then turned their attention to the family members who were home at the time of his disappearance.

Authorities began to suspect someone in the house was involved or knew something about Joshua’s whereabouts.

Investigators told KSAT 12 they believed that time was spent getting rid of drugs in the house before calling 911 to report Davis missing. The family has constantly denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation stalled.

‘We don’t believe the information they are giving us is fully truthful’

Fast forward a year to 2012, police issued a statement saying that, “their child is probably deceased” but have not made an arrest and have not offered an explanation as to why they believe the boy is dead.

Four years later in 2016, Joshua’s mother spoke with KSAT 12 and she firmly believes her son is still alive.

“I have no doubt in my heart. I’ve never had a feeling, mother’s intuition, that my son is gone,” Benitez said.

Benitez told KSAT that while there was marijuana in the house the night Joshua disappeared, but that disposing of it took only 10 minutes as the family searched for the boy outside.

Meanwhile, police said that while family has been cooperative, they doubted the information they were given.

“We don’t believe the information they are giving us is fully truthful,” David Ferguson, NBPD spokesman said.

Benitez said the family isn’t hiding anything.

“I’ve told them everything that I know. I’ve been nothing but truthful with them,” Benitez said.

Unfortunately, the renewed attention didn’t bring answers and the case remained cold.

New details emerge

In 2019, the case started getting attention again because police released the 911 call made the night that Davis disappeared.

Also, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released a photo of what Joshua might look like at age 8.

The proverbial standoff between police and the family remained, with police urging them to be honest and the family saying the police weren’t doing their job.

Davis’ grandmother, Natalie Vargas, released a statement to KSAT: “We as a family do what we can to bring Joshua’s face and story to the forefront. We hold on to hope because we love him and want him home. We will not give up on doing so. The case may still be open but we don’t believe it’s actively being worked. Until there is evidence we cannot deny, speculation is just that. NBPD will need to prove to me how they know so matter-of-factly what happened to Joshua. The only thing we agree on is that he did not leave the house on his own.”

On the 10-year anniversary, New Braunfels police announced on social media they have been frustrated and disappointed in the level of cooperation from some members of the immediate family who have repeatedly lied and misled detectives.

10 Years Later: Investigation into Disappearance of Joshua Davis Jr. Continues February 4th, 2021, will mark the 10th...

Posted by New Braunfels Police Department on Tuesday, January 26, 2021

“We firmly believe that someone who was in the home the night of the disappearance knows what really happened,” Ferguson with NBPD said at a news conference.

Detectives are still following up on new leads but continue to accuse the family of sending authorities to investigate theories they knew to be untrue.

At that same news conference, it was revealed that the family’s initial claim that they called 911 immediately was false. Investigators confirmed about 45 minutes to one hour passed before that 911 call was made.

Regardless of the years that passed, NBPD says the case is still open.

“The hope is always to find baby Joshua alive. Unfortunately, the investigation points to that being unlikely,” Ferguson said.

Courtesy: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

New Braunfels police said the key information needed to solve the case lies with those that were in the home at the time Joshua disappeared.

“They’ve already made up their minds that they know what happened and that my grandson is deceased, that there was an accident in the house or that somebody was responsible. Basically, what they’ve said is, ‘You all need to tell us something,’” Vargas said.

Police are asking anyone with information about the toddler’s disappearance to call Crime Stoppers at 830-620-TIPS (8477), leave a tip online HERE, or send a tip via text message using the “P3 Tips” smartphone app available on iOS and Android devices.

Read more on the South Texas Crime Stories page.

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

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