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Suspect arrested in Appanoose County body investigation

Ethan Landon Davis, 27, of Promise City, Iowa is charged with First-Degree Murder. (Photo: Iowa DCI)

UPDATE --

Ethan Davis made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Appanoose County District Court. He was informed of his charges, appointed state public defenders and waived his preliminary hearing. His bond is still set at $1 million.

Curtis Ross' family also released a statement thanking law enforcement officials for their work in this investigation. They also ask for continued privacy during this time.

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Iowa authorities have made an arrest in connection with the body found in rural Appanoose County last month.

Ethan Landon Davis, 27, of Promise City, Iowa, was charged Wednesday morning for the murder of 30-year-old Cedar Falls resident Curtis Ross.

On November 25, 2017, Ross was reported missing. He had been hunting around Independence Township.

Authorities later found his body near Lake Rathbun along 115th Avenue close to Sandy Branch. An autopsy report revealed Ross had multiple stab and gunshot wounds, and authorities ruled his death a homicide.

Since then, the Appanoose County Sheriffs Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, along with many other local law enforcement officials, have searched over 800 acres of land.

Near the location of Ross’ body officials found spent rifle casings that had Davis’ fingerprints on them.

After a search warrant was executed for Davis’ house, officials found a vehicle that tested positive for blood as well as other incriminating evidence.

“During the search of the property at Ohio Road, law enforcement also found a rifle that had been concealed under farm equipment and located in a remote area of the property. Fingerprints belong to Ethan Davis were identified on the rifle as well as several traces of blood. A DCI criminalist firearms expert matched the casings fired from the rifle to the casings that were found near the body of Mr. Ross, where he was located,” said Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson.

Davis was charged with First-Degree Murder at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday. He was already in custody at the Wayne County Jail being held on unrelated charges. Online court records show he was being held for willful injury, child endangerment and burglary. His bail has been set at $1 million cash only.

Sheriff Anderson says the DCI is still processing other items of evidentiary value.

“We’re relieved at any time we can to close a case, especially a high-profile murder case." said Anderson. "It makes the public feel more safe, also gives the family some peace. And, of course, we like having that arrest made.”

As the second weekend of Iowa's shotgun season is approaching, law enforcement officials are still encouraging folks to be aware of their surroundings. If you see anything that seems unusual or out of place, call the local law center.


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Authorities have arrested the man they say is responsible for killing a southeast Iowa deer hunter who was found dead last month.

Ethan Landon Davis, 27, of Promise City, Iowa, has been taken into custody and charged with First-Degree Murder in connection with the death of Curtis Ross on November 24, 2017.

According to a press release from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Davis was already in jail on an unrelated charge in Wayne County. Online court records show he was being held on charges for willful injury, child endangerment and burglary.

The investigation began after Ross was reported missing when he didn't return from hunting near Lake Rathbun in rural Appanoose County. Ross' pickup truck was later located near the entrance to the Lake Rathbun public hunting ground.

An autopsy performed on November 27, 2017, determined the cause of death to be multiple stab and gunshot wounds.

The subsequent investigation turned up magazines, ammunition and spent rifle casings, some of which bore fingerprints identified as belonging to Davis. During a search of Davis' home and property, investigators found a vehicle that had been concealed behind Davis' house with blood inside. Officials also found a rifle that been hidden under farm equipment on a remote part of the property. Fingerprints belonging to Davis and several traces of blood were also found on the rifle.

The DCI matched the casings fired from the rifle to the casings that were found near the area where Ross' body was located. Other evidence is still being processed at the DCI Criminalistics Laboratory.

Law enforcement is still asking the public for assistance. Any hunters who find anything that seems out of place are asked not to touch the items and contact law enforcement for further investigation.


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