david childress

I met David Lee Childress (who prefers to be called “Dave”) several months ago through Austin Eversole. Dave is serving a 40-year sentence at the same prison as Austin for killing his mother at age 14. We have not even begun to explore the issue of whether Dave or his accomplice received a fair trial.

Unlike most of our other kids, there are no pictures of Dave growing up. You will have to use your imagination. If there was ever an unloved child who was groomed and coerced by his parents into killing, Dave was that child. If there has ever been a child who has been failed by the System, Dave was that child. If there were ever worse parents who evaded responsibility for their roles in what eventually led to one of their deaths, Dave’s parents make the recent story of Clayton Moss pale in comparison. Why doesn’t Oprah tell more stories like Dave’s?

I have asked Dave to tell you his own story, in his words. I haven’t checked on the facts as recounted here (there are almost none on the Internet), but I have no doubts that they actually occurred.


I started getting abused very early on. I have memories from Kindergarten. My earliest most explicit are of wanting death more than living like I was. My father and mother at the time were less violent which I assume at that age I wouldn’t handle the “rough stuff.” It was in the form of being neglectful, emotionally unresponsive, and demanding.

We had food in the house, but they wouldn’t feed me often, only when there was a special occasion to my parents. I attempted to copy how I saw my mom, Meda Childress, boil Ramen Noodles, but when she came into the room, she slapped me around and told me how stupid and useless I was. She told me I was unable to do it without her and she didn’t instruct me. My father, Danny Wayne Childress, was usually sleeping as a result of his working night shift. So I didn’t think I could do it and I was scared of trying something more difficult like frying an egg. I only had the school lunch provided to “impoverished families” which I got because my parents would discuss how to lie on the paperwork. My father never spoke or spent time with me then. My mother was there when I came from school.

Now at school I wondered what was going on when I saw other kids’ parents smile, hug and kiss them. I didn’t get that. I craved my parents’ love, but didn’t know what to do. So I hugged my mother’s leg and said, “I love you, Mama!” copying other kids. She shoved my face and looked angry, to other parents’ disgust. She said I embarrassed her. I felt like crying, but I was reluctant in front of people, so I went to class. I would find stuff I thought was interesting like crystals or flowers with different colors and take it to Mother as a gift. Each time she said it was stupid and threw it away, or she would ignore me altogether.

I wasn’t good with math and it’s extremely hard for me to learn it. I brought bad grades like a C or B- and my father, who was good at math, was furious. They yelled in my face and shoved me around the kitchen calling me stupid and that I would be nobody. I was terrified and began to question every little thing. “Can I tie my shoe right?” “Can I pass school?” “Can I talk to people or make friends?” I thought my parents hated me because I was dumb or a flawed thing, not even human. I didn’t have confidence in myself and had no initiative. I was terrified of my parents. To this day I panic when I hear yelling or hear objects slam, and have to calm myself with every ounce of discipline so I don’t freak out in public.

I felt like an alien at school. I was raised in San Antonio TX, which is predominantly Hispanic on the west side. I am Filipino/Irish-Dutch—the only non-Hispanic to my knowledge with the exception of one girl. I was called a Chink, weirdo, four-eyes. I have a repaired cleft lip. I was always told how ugly I was and was asked cruel questions like, “Did someone with a big dick break your lip?” I felt terrible. I wondered if I killed myself, where would I go? I wondered if I would be born as another kid? I was forced to pray the rosary by Mother. If I got one syllable wrong, she slapped me hard and I had to start over. I begged this God I didn’t feel heard me to help. Seeing my life get worse, I thought God hated me, too.

As I grew, so did my troubles. My mother didn’t show others her real self, and would smile and pretend around my apartment tenant neighbors. My father was stern and cold. Things were bad when Mom and I were alone. She would instruct me to perform oral sex on her. She would also place her fingers and phallus-shaped objects in my anus. I was compelled to obey, and told it was normal. I instinctively knew it was very-not-okay, however. Sometimes my dad would use very explicit language at me and my mother about how he needs sex and stuff.

As I felt rebellious, I yelled back at my parents. A couple of times, I was stuffed in a large cloth bag which was tied. I was then beat and locked in a closet in a fetal position in the bag. I don’t know how long precisely I was there, but I was having to go to the restroom on myself. And of course, the lifetime norm of not getting food. Only now I was told not to eat it and still didn’t know how to prepare any. I had so much anxiety about not being able to do it that I screwed some meat on noodles and got beat up for it. I resorted to (scavenging food from) the trash. At times, some kids I knew had nice parents. I would go over and stay for dinner. I told a neighbor why I had a voracious appetite, and she told my mother (who) beat me on the back and head with an extension cord.

My father started being more active. Once when I was about 7, he was helping with my math. I was unable to learn how to conceive of more than 4-digit numbers. He told me to say “10,000.” I couldn’t. So he punched my face and knocked me out of the chair, calling me a “stupid bitch.” At times he would get into rages over who-knows-what. He would yell at me at the top of his lungs and thrash me around the whole apartment. He’d choke me and slam me into the walls.

I was utterly helpless and scared for my life. I was always underweight because of malnourishment. I was maybe 5’8”, 90 lbs. at age 12 or so. He was about 6’5”, 250 lbs., and an ex-military man (Navy). He was a Tae Kwon Do practitioner as well. Even if I struggled, I stood no chance. He was never anything more than a provider of shelter. I got a lot of free health care because of military benefits.

At age 10 I went through a procedure. It was to break my jaw and put in a big stabilizer thing to hold it in proper place for 8 weeks. I was in excruciating pain. The first week was in the recovery room. I only ate soup and protein milk. There was a handle across my whole face that was affixed with 3 screws that were on both sides, an inch into my skull. I walked in front of the TV while my mother watched soap operas. She yanked the device and shook my head like a doll. I passed out from pain. She said I deserved it.

About the same time, I had to get a piece of pelvic bone removed to place it in my jaw somewhere, leaving a 2½-inch incision to heal. After 3 days I could go home, but it was very fresh and I could not walk well. Again, I had to pass the TV to go around the house. She kicked me in my injured hip, and I dropped crying. She yelled at me to shut up and stop acting like a sissy wimp. I didn’t know what to do, who I was, who could help.

I told the counselor at Woodlawn Elementary School in San Antonio and showed them the bruising. They only called my parents, who said they don’t know anything and took me home. They threw me down and kicked me around. My mom said I would die if I told anyone what was happening, and I would go to Hell for being nasty. She said I deserved it. I am still confused at times over who I can trust. I always question and doubt my abilities. If anyone says anything positive I don’t believe them and am suspicious all the time. My morals guide me, however, to try and give people trust.

Gangs became a problem. I would fight a lot to protect myself. I would get called worse things, as teens can be much crueler and inventive. My quietness and odd voice got me teased also. I was called a faggot, bitch, and people would hide my stuff or spit on me. They drew penises on my shirts or schoolwork. If I got in trouble or below a B+ I would get beat by my father. I once came home and looked at the restroom door and wept. I wanted to die. My father taunted me at the door and said, laughing, “Why don’t you kill yourself, bitch?”

I tried to hurt myself to feel something. I filled a bucket with boiling water and shoved my arm into it. I felt the burn and forgot my emotions. After I figured I didn’t like recovering, I stopped. I started to watch porn when my parents were gone. I tried to lose my mind in it. After all, I was desensitized to it from my mother’s sessions. I never told, scared of going to Hell and I thought it was my fault, that I was sick. I got frustrated once because I was hungry. My mom left a dirty (sanitary) pad on the tub. She later rubbed it in my face and told me to eat it.

At 14 I ran off with my new neighbor and girlfriend. Well, the cops got me. I got my ass kicked. I was on my father’s PC. He told me to “get the fuck off” and yanked me out of the chair. I grabbed his collar so I wouldn’t fall. He then threw me 10 feet. He let out what I can only call a battle cry. He picked me off the floor and slammed my head into a hard object (don’t know what). Then he grasped my neck, lifted me again, and started smashing my head on the dresser, calling me a “weak pussy” and slobbering on me. I couldn’t hope to win this. I eventually lost track and woke up on the floor with stuff in my room all over and around my body.

I called 911. After maybe 10 minutes a cop talked to my dad for a long time. They were in the military together or something because I heard snippets. The cop said not to call, ever, and I deserved it. I felt doomed and that I could never escape this. My dad said he should kill me. I was ashamed, scared, and alone. My future crime partner, James Hartman Gruber, also aged 14, saw this.

Drawing to a conclusion, me and Jimmy (the neighbor) were watching TV in my room. My mother burst in wanting to vent, I guess, and started slapping me and hitting me with a phone. When she left, Jimmy suggested that I “do something.” We collaborated on a murder. I felt like I had no recourse. I felt like I was going to be killed any day. I exhausted help. So that night, I killed my mother. I do feel remorse, regardless.

To this day, I still have the problems with loud noises, trust, etc. I have no real concept of love, and don’t receive compliments in my heart. I always reflect on beatings, sex abuse, and emotional scars. I have no hope of things being “fine.” I am continually reminded of this when people talk of how nice their childhood was. I’ve been in prison since I was 14, and I’m 23 now (24 on February 26th). I am serving a 40-year sentence. Pretty much learned life on my own. I’m confused and don’t have confidence in myself. I do things, expecting the worst. People interviewed by the papers were, incidentally, kids who tormented me and made me out to be a crazy killer. I just want a sense of normalcy and want to feel loved. I just don’t know what to do.

I took on future payment for College Trades for Drafting here in prison. I’m in Toastmasters, a public speaking program. I am trying to find peace. It is my fondest wish that someone out there would love me for who I am. People to “fill in” for my parents, to share true friendship and write me letters. I want to feel connected and feel human, not like a beast or alien. I think connecting with people “out there” will help, if they’re truly interested in getting to know and believe me. Prison is NOT the place you meet the right folks.

There are kids out there being abused. I wish I could love them all and teach them. But I can’t. I wish people could hear MY side of the story and that others suffering could be pulled out of darkness as well.

I value honesty, loyalty, purity, love, and support. I try my best to live opposite of my parents. I want to be a good friend and will give everything to people who are my friends in truth.

Dan, I hope this was a good enough view. Of course, there are other incidents, but these stand out and emphasize the periods of my life from 5 to the present. It’s truth as much as I can tell it.


On Wednesday, September 22, 2004, David Childress and Jimmy Gruber, both 14, were seen dragging the body of Meda Childress, 47, down the stairs of an apartment complex by the legs. The body was found dead in the complex’s parking lot. Police say it appeared that Childress died from a physical assault. David and Jimmy fled the scene before police arrived, but that evening they turned themselves in to the sheriff’s department in neighboring Bandera County.


Groove of the Day

Listen to the Chapin Sisters performing “When Will I Be Loved?”


37 Responses to “david childress”

  1. 1 eliseo valdez
    February 6, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I went to school with David. I was one that never stood up or said a word for him. I am a pastor now and would like his mailing address in Prison.

  2. 3 evey
    February 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I grew up with David. We lived in the same apartments and always hanged out everyday. Last time I saw him was during an orchestra competition.
    We were best friends, I was shocked when I had learned what happened. I knew david wouldnt ever hurt him parents even is they mistreated him.

  3. 6 sam
    February 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I knew David since middle school. I never knew what he was going through and I really regret not saying anything when people were mean to him. I sat next to Jimmy in AP Geography. People would tease him and I’m glad I tried to stand up for him when I could. They were both really sweet guys.

  4. 7 cher
    February 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    is there a petition to get him a new trial!? ANY person in his situation should get therapy or see a counselor. he needs to know that this is not his fault. the problem lies within the trash that hurt him.

    • 8 long time family friend
      May 7, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      You are so misled, I’m sorry to say. This is a one sided story and unfortuneately Meda does not have a chance to defend herself

  5. 9 Karina
    February 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I went to middle school with David. I recall having the same lunch period as him and defending him on several occasions against other boys who would make fun of him. He would try to defend himself but they would only mock him or call him names. I often told kids to leave him alone. Now I wish I would have done more for him. Like the story says, this school was predominately Hispanic and like so I grew up in a Hispanic home. I did what I could but I was raised to mind my own business. What he did wasn’t the solution and he deserves to have his story shared. I wish him all the luck and hope and pray he can find peace within himself.

  6. February 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I was in orchestra with David. We preformed a few times. He taught me how to punch and defend my self. I saw him before he turned himself in. We were friends. I never got to say bye to Sam. I’d like to find her. I plan to write him. I’ve been following his story for a while now. This article is what I was looking for. Thanks.

  7. 11 Jessica
    February 7, 2014 at 3:55 am

    I went to elementary and middle school with David and had several classes with him and exchanged a few words and every day I saw him get picked on. I would have never thought in my wildest dream that he was going through all this at home. Everyone including myself are guilty for not saying anything as he was being bullied or even being the one doing the bullying. My heart broke reading this article and as much as we’d like to change the past we can only better the future. I hope he finds the strength he needs to understand that he was a great person regardless of what his parents would tell him.

  8. 12 Aciano Torres
    February 7, 2014 at 6:41 am

    I ws lokkd up with david in da bexar county jail he ws in ba leftside protective custody n i ws in ba lefyside which nebody from san antonio knows tht tanks r only seperated by glass in our jail at the time i mada a quikk judgement bout the lil kid who killd his mama…i hated him hus like evryone else but like evryone else i never knew this side of tht story n now i am ashamed for the judgement i made…david holds the record in our city for the most time spent in bexar county jail by an inmate…i hope u find peace david…my prayers n heart go out to u…

  9. 13 Rosemarie
    February 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I believe that David needs GOD in his life Only God can give him all the things he needs and deserves like love, forgiveness, and healing of his scars(emotional and physical)God was with him every minute of his life in the evil that was done to him too, he was holding him as he cried I did not know him but if I would have I would have helped him.Find It in your heart to look for the LORD again.he’s is right where u left him.May the lord help you heal and give you peace sweet child of God.the hurting children have a special place in heaven ask the lord to help u I’ll be praying for u.what don’t break u makes u stronger .Every one gets a second chance .

    • March 17, 2015 at 1:31 am

      Just an update sister David did give him self to The Lord and is a reborn Christian. We’ve been writing and he sends me scriptures and how he’s trying to bring other lost inmates to Christ. He goes through tribulation still in prison so keep him in prayer. Thank you

  10. 15 anonymouse
    February 9, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Don’t take on too much personal guilt, folks, you couldn’t be expected to see or know what he did not want you to see or know that he was thinking. Whether out of shame/embarrassment, fear of reprisal or the unknown, or just a stubborn determination to take care of things on our own, abuse victims will often not tell anyone of our situation, and some of us may go to great lengths to hide it. We want people to see, to know, and yet we remain silent. It is a perplexity!

    If you want to help David, don’t offer him pity and regret, but rather lift him up through your supporting correspondence. You don’t have to be elegant, anyone can write a letter, and the mere fact that you took the time to write tells him that he is not forgotten . . . that you (old friend or stranger) care.

  11. 16 Mrs. N
    April 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I am a parent that did see alot of what he is saying of his parents. I worked at the school and tried very hard to help him but his parents were a HUGE deterrent and those were the days that nobody could fight the parents to help the child. The more you reported them, the worse it was for the child. My heart goes out to him and to James because my daughter went through the same (but nowhere as bad because we did show love at home). She too was a “mixed” child (white and Hispanic) and it was not easy for her. I do not condone what these two boys did but I truly, truly believe that the whole story should have come out. We tried to tell the media, but no one wanted to hear it. They wanted to believe the worst in them. I will show this to my daughter and ask her to write to David. Does anyone know how James is doing?

    • 17 pablo trevino
      June 27, 2014 at 12:09 am

      im a friend of david we did two years together a our friendship got strong he don’t have anybody now that I left prison I do belive his story 100% and I and a other guy in looking to put in for a time cut it is to get his time cut in half and I plz ask if someone can talk to the lawer if he need info on this matter Pablo Trevino is my name look me up on facebook just message me why thank you

  12. 18 long time family friend
    May 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm


    • 19 pablo trevino
      June 27, 2014 at 12:12 am

      look if you know the real story why don’t you tell it so until then shut up

      • 20 family friend
        June 27, 2014 at 7:29 am

        “Shut up”? You are so confused and only know as much about David as he wanted to tell you. You are right, there are 2 of sides to a story, unfortunately you were only told one. You werent present in Davids life before, during, or after the whole shpeal, youre just another inmate peer. My family and many other friends of Mida could vouch and tell you how much of a stronly religious and heavily Filipino cultured woman Mida was and how David was just a wanna-be badass all the time thinking he had something to prove. It pained me for years until I had the courage to forgive David, of course I dont want to scrutinize the kid foe what hes done wrong because hes paying for it now. And I’d be happy to clear some of the smoke for you and let you know “the real story” because I think a lot of you people are misled and need to know… but instead of putting my time explaining a story that has already been proven in court, which I dont believe anybody in this blog was present in, I’ll just let his conviction speak for me. I’ve said what I had to say, and bottom line David lies a lot, always has and he only wants your sympathy, and attention. I’ve moved on from Midas death and it was hard, maybe you should try spending your time productively and not focusing on some guilty kid…

    • 21 Daryl Watton
      August 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      I am David’s friend and loyal advocate. I have decided to support him as best I can. If you have a story or information I need to know about, please identify yourself and share. It would be much appreciated.

  13. 22 pablo trevino
    June 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

    My name is Pablo Trevino and me and david are real good friends we did time together at clemens unit when I frist saw dave I knew he was hurting deep in side his heart. At the time dave was doing bad no food are friends I ask him if he would like some coffee and every day after that me and him hanged out every day starting at 6 am in the day while he would wait to go to work tell this day dave is still getting pick on, made fun of and talked about . I would do anything for my boy dave my love for him is so strong that if I can i would do half his time for him Look yall there is always two sides to a story and I belive dave 100% I was abused as a child to just like dave and I want to fight to stop child abused around the world and whit GODS help It can happen all I ask is to pray for david and ask God to be whit him and have favor on him if anyone would like to ask me more about david just look me up on face book pablo trevino corpus Christi texas and i’ll let you know he needs help he got tell a other ten years tell parole

  14. 23 N
    August 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I also went to school with David for a number of years (elementary, mostly separate/middle as friends) and actually got to visit his family’s apartment on one or two occasions. It’s very easy for me to believe the stories of his father, who seemed like an overly-entitled, hypermasculine, horrible human being, but like others have commented, Meda didn’t display any of the noted behavior openly. She very well may have done these awful things, but it’s difficult for me to think its anything other than his personal exaggeration of Meda’s indifference and Christian strictness, and based on the sometimes gruesome images David would conjure up about other things, I’m not sure what to think. Horror happens, though, and I afford David the sympathy his stories demand.

    By defending Meda, I don’t mean to hurt David any further. He’s obviously needed intense therapy since he was a child, and his parents neglected that need to everyone’s detriment, and I think that’s very difficult to forgive. Details jump out at me about his life, and I think about them a lot. The awful presentation his dentists gave us in grade school that I thought was nearly state sanctioned child abuse, spotlighting how he was different. How he bought new games, then traded them in after a week or so, instead of collecting used games like everyone else. How I taught him how to emulate some games and introduced him to IRC, and how he helped accommodate me to a new school after I transferred: a familiar face in the crowd. And I even remember him talking about the abuse his father inflicted on him and the throwaway statements I made about telling someone but never pressing further–or I would at least get rebuffed by “he would just beat me worse” and of course I feel like a cowardly 12 y/o in retrospect for not bringing attention to it to someone. The only parts that mattered to me at the time were the ugly insults and (as far as I knew) empty threats flung at me by a scared kid, and so I left there hating David. I apologize for that, and my heart is with him as he navigates the rest of his life.

    I remember the good things about him, like how open he was to making friends, but I also remember the innate bitterness that eventually pushed me away from him, and now the context of everything makes it so much more understandable. I won’t write to him because I still have reservations I can’t quell, and a return address would give him the ability to possibly harass me. Maybe you can communicate all this to him, and maybe it will help give him closure with me. I never wanted to lose him as a friend–I just didn’t have the tools or knowledge to deal with an abused child.

  15. 25 fury
    October 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    We used to talk to David in an irc channel devoted to gaming. He always talked about how oppressive he perceived his father to be. I played counterstrike and interacted with him for several hours over the course of a year. I was 17 at the time. He fell offline and a family member signed onto his aim screen name and told us what had happened. We found the news article with his picture and was shocked. He was an odd guy and definitely had issues at home. I hate his crimes but he was a child at the time. It’s something I think about to this day. I randomly Google him and found this post. It’s still surreal.

  16. 28 Joel
    March 17, 2015 at 1:15 am

    I currently write to David and I knew David by his sister. He was like a little brother to me
    We would watch dragon ball z and play the super nes together. I can vouch on his testimony his father was pretty strict but I don’t know personally what went on behind the scenes of course. He’s a re born Christian and he has gave him self to The Lord Jesus Christ. He asked The Lord for forgiveness and he writes me scriptures in his letters. I’m a Christian as well and I actually wrote him as Jesus had put it in my heart. David doesn’t get any letters from his family well only family he has was his sister and father his father hasn’t forgiven him yet. I encourage friends to write to David that’s what keeps him going he cherishes letters from anyone. God bless every one

  17. 29 Sam
    January 22, 2016 at 4:35 am

    Wow. You tell a good ztory. But read it in detail and there are flaws in your ztory. Hugh lie is the size of you father. He is nowhere close to 6’5″. The fist part of healing is be honest with yourself. Exhausted all you help… really. Request medical records, He indicates he got a lot of free medical yet no doctor found anything wrong g with him…..

  18. February 3, 2016 at 12:04 am

    That is so true of David he lies a lot. I know for a fact he was not abused if anything he was spoiled rotten at home he wanted for nothing Meda and Danny did not deserve any of this. The story he told is trash!!!!! A family member

  19. 31 Joel
    February 13, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Sam your writing skills ain’t to great so can’t understand your statement and opinions. I use to spend the night at their residence so I think I can vouch more fact then your opinions based on one action he did vs the why and reason. I saw a lot that went on in the house. Did meda deserve what happened of course not. Does David deserve judgement when we don’t know his mentality and reason behind the scenes no he doesn’t. I stand with David as a brother. His whole childhood gone and can never get back and have a normal life or childhood ever again and people still want to toss stones smh.

  20. 32 Michelle garza
    March 22, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    I lived in the same apartment complex as this family,and though I didn’t know them well,I felt bad for david..I remember him climbing the side of the apartments to the roof which was right near my window,and just sitting there in the dark starring at the sky,he never saw me nor did I ever catch him trying to look into my window,he seemed lost..always with a sad look on his face,I used the laundry room a few times with his mom there,she was washing also,and I remember her always being rude and unfriendly,I would smile and say hello and she would just give me this mean look,e few occasions I remember her screaming at him and hitting him and him crying,I thought it was outta frustration or he might have done something wrong,those apartments weren’t so great,and usually ppl who had very little money lived there,so I knew there was struggle and ppl were probably frustrated,I don’t believe me da deserved to die and David will have to answer to his true father one day and until then he shouldn’t be judged..I also suffered abuse and no one really knows what was happening to him or what was going on in that apartment unless they actually lived there everyday,I just know I saw a quiet kid who always looked sad

  21. 33 Inge
    July 13, 2016 at 6:21 am

    I write to Dave and I feel very sorry for him. I think he is a very nice young man and
    care for him. best regard Inge in the Netherlands

  22. 34 Joel
    December 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you Michelle garza I knew David personally I would be at their apartment often I too also write David he’s not getting the best treatment in prison either so he’s had a bad childhood and adult hood. He’s a great friend and thank you all who keep writing him. Any questions or address to write David please contact me joellimon493@gmail.com thank you

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