Sexual predator held without bond in kidnapping, sexual battery, auto theft

Murder charge also expected against Donald Davidson

Middleburg, Fla. – Donald Davidson Jr. made his first appearance in court Wednesday and was ordered held without bond on charges of kidnapping, capital sexual battery on a child and grand theft auto. Charges of murder in the death of 37-year-old Roseann Welsh could be added soon.

The 34-year-old sexual predator, who was on controlled release from prison, cut off his GPS monitor late Monday afternoon, and within hours had stabbed Welsh, according to Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler.

Davidson then took off in a stolen minivan with the girl. She was able to get back home within the hour, but Davidson managed to elude a manhunt by sheriff's deputies and U.S. marshals for about eight hours.

Davidson remained in the Clay County Jail and appeared before a judge via video monitor.

Thomas Crews, who was friends with Welsh, said she didn't deserve what happened to her. Crews said he's known Davidson for a long time.

"I never would have thought nothing like that," Crews said, adding that Davidson didn't seem dangerous.

Brandy Saylor, who works at a nearby convenience store, saw him differently.

"He was weird. He would come into the store with a creepy look in his eyes," Saylor said. "I don't know, you know when you get that gut feeling when someone walks in and you're like something's not right?"

This isn't the first time Davidson has been in trouble. He has a violent past. He went to prison in 2010 after being convicted of sexually assaulting a girl younger than 12. Also in 2010, deputies arrested Davidson for strangling a woman at her Middleburg home. She was four months pregnant at the time.

A 22-year-old woman who said Davidson sexually harassed her had to break out of the house and jump a fence to get away, investigators said. According to a sheriff's office report, Davidson admitted to attacking her, saying he was using cocaine and deserved to go to prison for what he did.

"He recalled telling her to get away but had no control over what he was doing," the report reads.

Davidson got out of prison in September, registered as a sexual predator and moved to a home in Middleburg. He was one of dozens of sexual predators living within walking distance of a home on Mayflower Street, where he is accused of killing Welsh and abducting her daughter.

There are 32 sexual predators and 62 sex offenders within a three-mile radius in that area.

"It's alarming," said Sophia Baker, a teacher and babysitter. "I know it is a hard thing to talk about, but I mean, it is getting worse, I guess. So they are kids and they are innocent, but you do need to tell them what is right and what is wrong and instill that in them now."

People in the rural Middleburg neighborhood still can't believe what happened in their quiet community.

"The little girl was so young. And for the little boy to just walk in and find his mom like that, I couldn't imagine. It's sad," said Brooke Hygema, a neighbor of the family. "Just seeing the girl screaming for her mom, knowing that you won't be able to talk to her anymore, it was really heartbreaking actually."

News4Jax looked into the history of the Middleburg home where Welsh's 13-year-old son discovered his mother's body Tuesday night. Police have been called to that home about 200 times in the past dozen years. The majority of the calls were for medical reasons because a person in the home had a medical condition, but there were also calls for suicide threats, assault, a fire or explosion.

The most serious call came just after 6 p.m. Monday, initially listed as a suicide and stolen vehicle. It turned out to be the killing of Welsh and the kidnapping of the 10-year-old girl.

Beseler wondered if new and harsher sex predator laws came too late to stop the tragedy, saying that Davidson had done everything required of him by law since his last arrest in 2010.

"There is always second guessing and armchair quarterbacking about whether or not somebody had been in prison for a crime to have occurred, and if we had a crystal ball, we could look into it and tell who's going to do things, and we could prevent everything," Beseler said. "But unfortunately, he had complied with everything that the law currently requires for sexual predators."