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Spanish Fork family is still 'lost'

SPANISH FORK — For every Elizabeth Smart there are numerous Kiplyn Davises, children who mysteriously vanish and never return home.

Richard and Tamara Davis exulted in the news that Elizabeth beat the odds for the vast majority of lengthy kidnap victims. The Spanish Fork couple hopes her safe return will spur a renewed investigation into their daughter's disappearance.

"I'm so thrilled for the Smarts," Richard Davis said. "I can't even tell you how much."

At the same time, the Davises shed tears for Kiplyn, who was presumed abducted from Spanish Fork High School nearly eight years ago at age 15. They also admitted to being jealous of Ed and Lois Smart.

"I can only imagine what that would be like, to have her come home," Tamara Davis said, her voice quavering. "I'm a bit envious of them. Over in my mind so many times I've imagined a reunion, having our family together again."

Richard Davis, 50, said, "I just hope someday that can happen to us. But it won't happen to us. She's dead. We know that for a fact."

Both parents strongly feel Kiplyn died soon after not returning home from school May 2, 1995. Tamara Davis, 49, reluctantly shared those feelings with Ed Smart when they talked for the first and only time last July.

"For some reason, we have just had a feeling from early on that Kiplyn was no longer alive. We could sense it," she said. "I told him that. I didn't want to discourage him and have him lose hope. But he said, 'You know what? I've never had that feeling.' I think you'd know. I'd think as a parent you'd know."

The Davis family held a memorial service and erected a marker in the Spanish Fork Cemetery on what have been Kiplyn's 20th birthday July 1, 1999.

Even if the Davises never see the third of their four children again, just knowing what happened to her would ease the pain in their broken hearts.

Spanish Fork police have kept the Kiplyn Davis case open, despite no new leads the past few years.

"It's been on our minds a lot stronger" since Elizabeth Smart was found, Lt. Brad Stone said.

Detectives are trying to get the FBI to re-examine the case. "This might help them take a second look."

Stone said he doesn't know whether a stranger kidnapped Kiplyn or if she willingly left school with an acquaintance or if something else happened. She did leave her purse and make-up in her locker.

"There are so many possibilities," he said.

The Davises say they have strong suspicions about what occurred that day, but police have never found evidence to support the couple's theory.

While they have criticized the police in the past, they say they feel good about their latest efforts.

"I think (Elizabeth's return) happened at a good time from our perspective," Tamara Davis said. "I think it will help our investigation."

Still, she said she doesn't want to get her hopes up. "It's just a roller coaster."

Seeing Elizabeth go home brought a flood of anguish over the Davises along with a wave of questions that have been gnawing at them for years.

Kiplyn's disappearance initially received no publicity. Spanish Fork police treated it as a runaway rather than a missing-person case. The FBI was not immediately apprised. It wasn't until two weeks later that police made a public plea to find the fair-complected redhead.

"We had to push real hard to get anybody to do something for us," Richard Davis said.

Posters of the missing girl only went up in Spanish Fork, Springville and Payson. "And we made our own," he said. A community search was cursory. There was no statewide hunt. No AMBER or Rachael Alert.

No television, radio or Internet broadcasts, all leaving the Davises to wonder: What if?


E-MAIL: romboy@desnews.com