Three charged in Wappapello woman's death

Saturday, August 17, 2002

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- As officers continue their investigation into the events surrounding a Wappapello, Mo., woman's death, charges were filed Friday against three local residents in connection to it.

Clifford Mitts, 71, of Poplar Bluff was charged with second-degree murder by Butler County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Barbour. The complaint on file with the court alleges that sometime in January Mitts shot Porisha K. Davis, whose decomposed body was found by a fisherman in the Black River on Aug. 2.

Daniel Adam Canania, 42, and Laura Lee Hawkins, 39, of Poplar Bluff were charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence.

"According to the witnesses, investigators believe the victim was involved in an altercation with suspect Mitts over some missing money," said Poplar Bluff Police Capt. Dennis Long, the spokesman for the Butler County/Poplar Bluff Major Case Squad, which is investigating the case. "Mitts shot the victim in the chest with a handgun."

The alleged altercation is believed to have taken place at Mitts' residence, "the best we can figure, somewhere around Jan. 7," said Long.

According to probable-cause affidavits filed with the court, Canania and Hawkins were present at the scene and heard the gunshot. The affidavits allege that they wrapped Davis in plastic and put the body in another room until it could be disposed of.

It is reportedly not known when Davis' body was put in the Black River or by whom.

Suspect in hospital

Canania and Hawkins remain the Butler County jail following their arrests Wednesday on unrelated warrants for distribution/manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance. They are being held on total bonds of $30,000 cash.

Long said Mitts is currently in the hospital being treated for a serious illness and will be transferred to the Butler County jail on his release. Mitts' bond has not been set at this time, but it will be determined when he is remanded to the sheriff's department.

The Black River, which had been in flood stage over the last several months, began to recede about a week before Davis' body was found. Her body was identified by X-rays and dental records.

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