Bud Kennedy

Tapes, lawyer help ‘48 Hours’ retell Davis mansion story: ‘A case that will never die’

Cullen Davis in a 2016 interview.
Cullen Davis in a 2016 interview. Star-Telegram archives

At least O.J. Simpson vowed to help find the “real killer.”

More than 40 years after a man and a 12-year-old girl were shot to death in a Stonegate-area mansion, Cullen Davis hasn’t even promised that much.

The saga of Fort Worth’s infamous 1976 “mansion murders” and Davis’ acquittal was back on TV Saturday, retold for a new audience by CBS’ “48 Hours.”

“The younger attorneys really have no idea that before there was O.J. Simpson in California, there was Cullen Davis in Texas,” defense attorney and former county prosecutor Christy Jack said Tuesday.

“Here’s someone sitting at the defense table who had more money to work with than the state of Texas.”

Jack was a McLean Middle School student then. But on “48 Hours,” she helped a new generation view the case of the murder of estranged wife Priscilla Davis’ boyfriend and daughter, with both Priscilla Davis and family friend Beverly Bass separately naming Cullen Davis as the suspect in a dark wig.

“I’ve never seen the grieving mother of a child be so vilified” as in her cross-examination during the trial, Jack told CBS.

“Andrea Wilborn [Davis’ daughter] was forgotten. Her death was forgotten. There was one person and one person only that was prosecuted at that trial. And it was Priscilla.”

The story of the Davis case has been told in a 1995 made-for-TV movie starring Heather Locklear and Peter Strauss, “Texas Justice,” and in books and reality TV episodes.

Don’t marry somebody like I married.

Cullen Davis’ “lesson” from the death of his stepdaughter and years of trials.

But “48 Hours” was one of the few recently to show FBI surveillance video of Davis in a later murder-for-hire case — he was acquitted again — and to discuss Davis’ paying a county investigator during a trial for insider information from prosecutors.

Davis, now 83 and living in Colleyville, was shown playing pool.

He said the payment “wasn’t a bribe … I was willing to take information from anybody.”

Davis also told CBS the lesson he learned from the death of his stepdaughter and years of trials was: “Don’t marry somebody like I married.”

Davis was acquitted in the death of Andrea Wilborn, 12. Nobody has ever faced charges in connection with the other shootings.

Nobody has ever faced charges in connection with the payments to the investigator. Nor has anyone faced trial in connection with the killing of Priscilla’s boyfriend, Stan Farr, or the two other shootings that night.

According to overnight ratings, 4.06 million viewers were tuned to “Murder in the Mansion.”

“This is a case that involves wealth, that involves sex, that involves vengeance and that involves murder,” Jack told CBS: “It’s a case that will never die.”

But the ending never changes.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Now 82, Davis says he was at a movie on the night of Aug. 2, 1976 when two were murdered at his Fort Worth mansion. Davis, who was acquitted, says several people conspired to accuse him.

Davis, 82, explains that he doesn't think any more about murder victims Stan Farr and Andrea Wilborn.