By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
In March, 1975, a few miles from Warrington, Virginia a motorist traveling along State Road 44, discovered the nude body of a man that had been dumped off the thoroughfare. Soon it would come to light that he was murdered in another state.
His head was inside a plastic garbage bag. The body was covered with a sleeping bag and part of a rug. He'd been stabbed over 30 times, and his throat was cut. The body was tied in a fetal position with coat hangers.
Police departments across the country received notification of the body that was found.
Soon after, a rental car with a Michigan license plate fled from Virginia police. The car was crashed into a house, and two persons were seen running away after the accident. The girl was described as petite with red hair and freckles, and the male had long, blonde hair.
Then another link was made when a Tampa police office recalled that a few days before he had stopped a vehicle that matched the description for "suspicious activity." He conducted a field interrogation of the occupants, taking their names and descriptions, however he let them go.
The first person the authorities sought out was Billy Isley, 27. They found him in the psych ward of St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.
After the interview with Isley, the Hillsborough State Attorney said that "two self-proclaimed 'wizards' and a 'witch' had apparently come to Tampa shortly before a 'satanic occult' killing to hunt a 'female witch companion' for one of the occultists."
The three had rented a house at 4412 No. Melton Ave the day before the murder.
Supposedly "one of the wizards and the witch were mated to each other, and the other wizard was on the outside waiting to get in." In order not to lose his "witch girl friend" to the "outsider" the mated wizard was helping to find a female companion for the other man.
The state attorney said several "satanic-type drawings" were found on the walls of the house depicting, "a person holding a head in his hands and a woman with snakes wrapped around her."
It seemed police had found a link between a report of a "witchcraft slaying" in Tampa and the discovery of the man's body in Virginia.
According to Billy Isley, 27, he described where a few days prior a male witch or "wizard" who had been staying at his home, slashed a sleeping man's throat, chased him through the house while screaming "Die, satan! Die, satan!" He stabbed the man to death. Afterward the victim was wrapped into a fetal position with coat hangers and stuffed into a black garbage bag. This all matched up with the remains being held in a Virginia morgue.
Tampa police checked on the story and went to the home where they found four garbage bags that had blood-soaked clothing, a machete and two knives inside them. They also found the birth certificate of Dee Lou Davis, a Virginia native, who would soon become one of their suspects.
After the incident, Isley had checked himself into St. Joseph Hospital.
According to him, the motive for the murder stemmed from the "wizard" accusing the other man of casting a spell on him to cause headaches, and of trying to take his girlfriend away.
Within a few days, police in Florida and Virginia were seeking not only the man reported to have committed the murder, but a teenage female companion. Their names were David Nyberg, 19, and Dee Lou Davis, 18. He was a former Washington D.C. mental patient and she had dropped out of high school in 10th grade.
Within a week, Nyberg and Davis were brought back to Florida after they were arrested in Oklahoma City. His father was Rev. David E. Nyberg, rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City. He told authorities he had not spoken to his son since December.
The so-called witness Billy Isley, was removed from the hospital and booked on a murder charge. It seemed that his part in the crime was quite different from what he had described.
The three were accused of the slaying of Kenneth Robert Houston on February 28, 1975.
The three were indicted under Florida's capital punishment law which meant if convicted they received the death penalty. The jury could recommend the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Isley told police he picked up Houston, Nyberg and Davis, who were hitchhiking in Ohio as he was returning home to Florida from a trip to Detroit. It turned out he was the one who rented the house on Melton Avenue on February 1. The three of them stayed with him at the house.
After the murder, Nyberg and Davis left with the body to Virginia.
In May, 1975, two court-appointed psychiatrists testified that Nyberg, Davis, both from Arlington, Virginia, and Billy Isley from Detroit met the legal requirement to stand trial on the charge of first-degree murder.
One of the doctors described that when administering a psychiatric test, both Nyberg and Isley were attempting to make him believe they were insane.
Nyberg told him he had been injecting a hallucinogenic drug five times a day, for about five days before Houston was killed.
This was the same month that Joe Wiezycki, a producer for Sterling International Films discounted the theory that his motion picture Satan's Children in any way "inspired" Houston's murder. The film was completed a week before the slaying just a few miles from the murder site.
He said, "We just don't see any connection between this senseless murder and our picture, other than the fact that these satan cults do exist and they worship the devil as opposed to God."
In July, the Satanic Murder Trial as it was known was moved to St. Augustine. Nyberg and Davis wanted to marry but the judge did not grant permission, despite Davis' pregnancy.
In September, Dee Louis Davis pled guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, and agreed to testify for the state. She faced a maximum 15-year sentence for her guilty plea.
By September, two doctors testified that Nyberg suffered from a mental illness. Dr. Signey J. Merin, a Tampa-area psychologist told the jury that Nyberg "to use a layman's term is profoundly crazy." He said Nyberg suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and that he should be hospitalized. Another psychologist concurred that Nyberg suffered from acute schizophrenia.
Dee Lou Davis testified that Isley started talking about the need to kill Houston after arguments with two persons he suspected of being drug agents. He started calling Houston the devil, and constantly urged Nyberg to plunge a knife into Houston's neck.
After Houston died, she said that Isley plucked his guitar with bloody fingers, danced in circles and sang, "It's time to celebrate. Satan is dead."
Davis said that Isley tried twice to kill Houston, and failed until he got Nyberg to kill "the devil".
Isley had injected large amounts of MDA into himself during the previous week. All four of them had been taking the drug.
On September 13, 1975, David Nyberg was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, and he would not be eligible for parole for 25 years. Two months later at a hearing he was declared a mentally disordered sex offender and sent to the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, where he spent the next four years. In 1980, he was sent to a minimum security prison to serve the rest of his sentence.
In late September, 1975, Dee Lou Davis gave birth to a 4-pound baby boy. Later she would go on to marry Nyberg.
It wasn't until October that Billy Isley was tried in Tallahassee.
Like Nyberg, a psychologist testified that Isley was legally insane when he killed Houston because he didn't know right from wrong, which was the legal test of sanity in Florida. He said Isley suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and that taking MDA worsened his condition.
During the trial Davis testified that Isley announced immediately after the killing, that he would plead insanity if he was caught. She said, "Ken was lying there (dead). We were standing over him and Bill (Isley) said that if he was caught that he could always plead the Baker Act."
Isley had entered an insanity plea for the court proceeding.
In November, 1975, Billy Glenn Isley was convicted of first degree murder. He was sentenced to life in jail. Soon after, his lawyer said he was denied a speedy trial because he was not tried by September 14, which was the 6 month threshold since his arrest.
In 1978, he won a new trial and his public defender was allowed by the judge to quit defending him since he was unhappy with the way his client was behaving. Isley did get another trial and was convicted a second time in 1979, and sentenced to life in prison.
The last to be sentenced was Davis who received an indeterminate prison term which called for her to serve at least six months in jail.
In the late 1980s, Nyberg testifed against a Florida corrections officer and claimed the DOC retaliated against him performing strip searches and transferring him to another prison.
He brought several lawsuits against the department. Eventually he was transferred to the Marion Correctional Institution which he alleges led to correction officers planting a knife in his cell.
In 1992, he was transferred to Idaho for his protection and then he returned to Florida in 1995, due to overcrowding.
In 1996, he transferred to Nevada where he remained incarcerated until 2015, when he came up before the Florida Commission on Offender Review.
Some time after this he was paroled. His whereabouts are unknown.
Isley died in 2006, serving his sentence.
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Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer