The disappearance of King Jay Davila; South Texas Crime Stories

‘One of the most horrific child abuse cases that Bexar County has seen in probably the last 30 years’

. (KSAT)

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The staged kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby angered the entire San Antonio community.

The details of the case shocked many and three people ended up behind bars.

In this week’s episode, we revisit the killing of King Jay Davila, labeled by an investigative reporter as “one of the most horrific child abuse cases that Bexar County has seen probably the last 30 years.”

King Jay missing

On January 4th, 2019, police get a call from a man that his car was stolen from a West Side gas station and his baby was inside.

Christopher Davila, the child’s stepfather, told them he went inside briefly but left the car running and the door open.

Surveillance footage from the gas station shows a woman in a hoodie walking up to the car, getting in, and driving away.

The San Antonio Police Department and multiple other agencies get involved in the case and the search was on for 8-month-old King Jay Davila.

The following day we learned that Christopher Davila had been arrested for child endangerment.

Baby King Jay’s mother, Jasmine Gonzales, spoke to KSAT 12 soon after. During the interview, Davila called from jail upset about the police investigation.

“Since day one the police have been doing the same thing and they are not getting anywhere. Their focus is somewhere else. They just need to focus on where the car was located,” Davila said in a phone interview.

Details do not add up

Police at the time were starting to realize the details of the kidnapping weren’t adding up.

SAPD Chief WIlliam McManus said during a press conference: “The story of the kidnapping was made up, made up to cover foul play.”

It was also revealed that the woman who apparently stole the car at the gas station was Davila’s cousin Angie Torres.

Torres was allegedly picked up by Beatrice Sampayo, Christopher Davila’s mother, and the two disposed of the baby’s car seat.

At no time that night the car was stolen was the baby ever inside.

More arrests

Six days after King Jay disappeared police revealed they arrested Christopher Davila, Beatrice Sampayo, and Angie Torres.

But then came the tragic news nobody wanted to hear — investigators had found baby King Jay’s body.

“We found what is believed to be the remains of King Jay Avila. We recovered his body last night. His father Christopher Davila led us to him after he was arrested for tampering with evidence,” McManus said. “Christopher has said that King Jay’s death was an accident. He panicked and did not call 911. Based on that information we charged Christopher Davila with injury to a child by omission.”

King Jay was found under a bridge off Castle Lance Dr. on the West Side.

His body had been wrapped in a blanket and put inside a backpack that was buried.

Davila told police that while he was watching King Jay, he put the baby in a car seat that was unstrapped on top of a bed.

While he was playing video games he sat on the bed, which caused the car seat to become unbalanced, King Jay fell out and possibly hit his face on the dresser.

He said the baby had swelling around his eye and later died.

The medical examiner later revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Sentencing

Davila has since taken a plea deal in the case and was sentenced to 40 years.

Angie Torres also took a plea deal on tampering with evidence and was sentenced to 8 years.

As for Beatrice Sampayo, she’s still awaiting trial, her next scheduled hearing date is Sept. 12.

Investigative reporter reflects on coverage

For this episode we brought in our KSAT Investigates Reporter Dillon Collier.

Collier followed this case closely and got his hands on documents before other media did.

“It’s one of the saddest things that I think a lot of us have covered in our time here,” Collier said. “Turned into one of the most horrific child abuse cases that I think Bexar County has seen probably the last 30 years... “I got involved when it became more than just a search for a child and really an investigation of this family.”

Collier pointed to some of the unique factors of the investigation.

“The scrutiny of this case was incredible. If you remember, every time they would search a house related to the family, the neighbors would tip off the media. And we were actually there for these searches as SAPD lined the street with vehicles and carried out these search warrants. And then after the arrests were made in the case, the two women, the two family members, Beatrice Sampayo, and Angie Torres, were both assaulted within days of being taken into custody by other people at the Bexar County Jail. Sampayo was spit on by another inmate. Torres got beaten up. They had a mug shot where you could tell that she’d been beaten up by other inmates. So this was really a case where the public turned against his family and was disgusted by what had played out.

Leigh asked Collier about the most illuminating part of his reporting.

“Getting the arrest warrant for Davila, which explained how the baby had gotten hurt, the steps he had taken to conceal the injuries, and the fact that you know, he carried himself as the baby’s father. So he acted like the baby’s father to be able to take an eight-month-old, wrap him in a blanket, put him inside of a backpack, and then to bury him in a field. It was just almost unbelievable to read that on the pages that he would admit to such a thing,” he said.

“Also as a father to hear that that must be hard to report on something like that and to see the whole public image of this family shift. That’s not something we normally see.” Leigh said.

“No and again, it was odd to see how angry the public acted towards his family before any of them had ever been criminally charged. And I think, you know, it’s tough not to get angry as someone in the media. We’re supposed to be unbiased. We’re supposed to sort of stay out of it emotions-wise. But when you start realizing that something terrible happened to this kid and this family has gone out of their way to try and hide that, it’s tough not to get upset about it. But, you know, you just kind of use it as motivation to try and learn as much as you can about the case,” he said.

Collier said he was surprised that Davila took a plea deal.

“His attorneys had rejected the initial one, and I think that was for 50 years. And he ended up taking a plea deal to 40 years. So if you’re going to reject the plea deal for 50 years, why turn around and then be okay with one that, you know, at the end of the day, if he’s going to serve about half that time, it’s a real similar amount of time that he’ll stay in prison. So I thought that was sort of a really weird move to reject the first one. Set yourself up potentially to go to trial and spend the rest of your life in jail and then come back and sign on for 40 years. Almost like they gave up in a way,” he said.

Torres took a plea deal as well. But Sampayo, his mother, is still scheduled to go to trial later this year.

“And I try not to cast too many aspersions on her. She’s in enough trouble as it is. But if you recall, she carried herself as being terminally ill with cancer. So here we are now three and a half years later. And I guess, you know, she has a different definition of terminal cancer than what I would, because, you know, we are years and years removed from her arrest and she is still healthy enough to go to trial at this point,” Collier said.

“Where does this case fall for you?” Erica asked.

“I think it’s sadly the latest in a long line of horrific child abuse cases in San Antonio. This one may have been an accident. I’m not sure Chris Davila meant to hurt his child, but he certainly didn’t care enough about the child to get medical attention and do the right thing. And I think that that, sadly, is a trend that we see a lot in Bexar County. I don’t know why that seems to be how things are here, but I think this is the latest in a long line of instances like that,” he said.

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About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 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 South Texas Crime Stories.

Leigh Waldman is a news 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.