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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release:  
December 6, 2017  

Arrest Made in Investigation of
Body Found in Rural Appanoose County

-- The Appanoose County Sheriff’s office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation have made an arrest on the homicide of Curtis Ross on November 24, 2017.  Law Enforcement personnel arrested Ethan Landon Davis, 27, of 3326 Ohio Road, Promise City, Iowa.  Davis was taken into custody at the Wayne County Jail in Corydon, Iowa, where he was being held on unrelated charges.  Davis has been charged with Murder in the First Degree.

On Thursday, November 23, 2017, Ross arrived in Appanoose County (Independence Township) to hunt and retrieve hunting equipment he had previously set out.  At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 25, 2017, Ross was reported missing after he failed to return to the residence where he was staying. Ross’s pickup was later located in a remote part of Appanoose County near the entrance to the Rathbun Lake public hunting ground.

The Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny, Iowa, conducted an autopsy on November 27, 2017.  The autopsy determined the cause of death was from multiple stab/incised wounds and multiple gunshot wounds.  The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Since November 25, 2017, Law Enforcement agencies have conducted several interviews and have searched several areas looking for evidence of the homicide.  Items of evidentiary value, to include ammunition magazines and ammunition, were located during these searches and have now been transported to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Criminalistics Laboratory located in Ankeny, Iowa, to be forensically examined. Also found during the searches were several spent rifle casings near the area where Ross was located. Some of the items of evidence have been forensically examined and resulted in the development of fingerprints that were identified as belonging to Ethan Davis.

A search warrant was then executed by Law Enforcement at 3326 Ohio Road in Promise City.  A vehicle, that was attempted to be concealed, was located approximately ¾ - 1 mile north of the Davis residence.  The vehicle was identified as belonging to Ethan Davis.  The vehicle was transported to the Division of Criminalistics Laboratory in Ankeny for forensic examination.  Several areas inside the vehicle have tested positive for blood.

During the search of the property at Ohio road, Law Enforcement also found a rifle that had been concealed under farm equipment and located in a remote area of the property.  Fingerprints belonging to Ethan Davis were identified on the rifle as well as several traces of blood.

A DCI criminalist firearms expert matched the casings fired from the rifle to the casings that were found near where the body of Ross was located.  Items of evidentiary value are still being processed at the DCI Criminalistics laboratory.

Law Enforcement is still asking the public for assistance.  If any hunters find anything that is out of place they are asked to not touch the items and to contact law enforcement to come and look at the items.

Arrest Warrant, Complaint and Affidavit

Previous Release:

On Saturday, November 25, 2017, the Appanoose County Sheriff’s office received a report of a deer hunter missing in Appanoose County.  A body was found in a remote rural area of Appanoose County in the public hunting land around Lake Rathbun at 115th Avenue near Sandy Branch.  The body was identified as Curtis Ross, 31, of Cedar Falls, Iowa. 

The body was transported to the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny, Iowa for an autopsy.  The autopsy is being conducted today, November 27, 2017.  The full autopsy results are pending laboratory tests.  The death is being investigated as a homicide.

The suspect(s) are still at large.  The suspect(s) should be considered armed and dangerous.  As shotgun deer season is approaching, law enforcement is asking for the public to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to their local law enforcement entity.

The case is currently under investigation by the Appanoose County Sheriff’s office, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Appanoose County Attorney, Appanoose County Medical Examiner’s office, Office of State Medical Examiner, Centerville Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff’s office.

The public is being asked for help in the investigation.  If you have any information on the case you are asked to contact the Appanoose County Law Enforcement Center at (641) 437-7100.

Media Contact: Iowa DCI Special Agent in Charge Michael Motsinger at (515) 729-3706.

Curtis Ross Photo|
Curtis Ross

Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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