Murder in the Cathedral

Carol Bledsoe's alleged killer had a long criminal record and deep psychological problems. Church volunteers didn't know how big a threat he posed.

"I was shocked to learn at a luncheon sponsored by the chief of police that Michael Davis had been arrested more than 80 times," Clingenpeel says. "That's amazing. How can somebody be arrested that many times? Eighty times. Where's the justice system? How can the system not do something to help that person?"

Under state law, a person can be involuntarily admitted to a mental-health facility for a 96-hour evaluation if he or she is regarded as an immediate threat to himself or herself or to others. Admission requires a signed affidavit, approved in court; the patient can check himself out after four days if doctors no longer consider him an immediate threat.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce refused to comment on the case, except to confirm that Davis has been charged with first-degree murder and to speculate that Davis' mental health would become a significant issue before trial. Don Tyson, the assistant circuit attorney who is handling the case, also declined comment.

Carol Bledsoe, a secretary at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, was murdered in the hallway outside her office on December 19.
Carol Bledsoe, a secretary at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, was murdered in the hallway outside her office on December 19.
Michael Davis has been charged with first-degree murder in Bledsoe's death. Davis has a 20-year history of violent crime and mental illness.
Michael Davis has been charged with first-degree murder in Bledsoe's death. Davis has a 20-year history of violent crime and mental illness.

Davis is being held in the St. Louis jail without bond. His next court appearance will be determined after a psychological evaluation.


Last month, members of Michael Davis' family, including his brother Art, met with the staff at Christ Church Cathedral to offer their sympathy. And on January 26, a Sunday when millions were glued to the Super Bowl, the church remembered Carol Bledsoe.

Several hundred people attended the memorial service, a musical Evensong service to commemorate the third Sunday of the Epiphany season. The Reverend Gary Hamp of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Carol and Jack Bledsoe's home church, presided along with Clingenpeel and the Right Reverend George Wayne Smith, bishop of the Diocese of Missouri. The Christ Church Cathedral Choir and the congregation sang a new hymn, "How True Christians Live." The church's choirmaster, William Partridge, set words by F. Pratt Green, about the Christian obligation to serve the needy, to a tune he composed for the occasion.

A handful of Club Cathedral patrons were in the congregation, sitting next to church members who had driven in from the suburbs.

Near the end of the service, Jim McGahey walked down the aisle and stood near the altar where Michael Davis had once put his shoes, beneath the same towering statues to which Davis had prayed often.

McGahey read from Paul's letter to the Romans:

"What then are we to say about these things? ... As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.'"

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