Having once again avoided prison, 39-year-old John Wayne Strawser Jr., of Terra Alta, West Virginia, remained free to roam the streets in the beginning of 2014.
Up to that point, Strawser had been accused of stalking numerous women but escaped any serious punishment, but he had not been charged with murder.
That was about to change.
Shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2014, 28-year-old Timothy Davison, of Maine, was shot and killed on Interstate 81 outside of Greencastle in Franklin County.
The bullets that struck and killed the man affectionately known as Asti were fired by Strawser and were intended for another person — Jamie Breese, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
“I’m sorry that anyone had to be a victim that night of his,” Jamie’s wife, Courtney Breese, said while choking back tears. “ ... I’m sorry that (Davison’s) mother lost a son and anybody and everybody that (Davison) was friends with, or was important to, suffered the loss that they did because of John’s actions.
“But, I’m not sorry we weren’t murdered that night.”
Tears began to flow down Courtney’s face when talking about the case with The Sentinel in August.
There is no way Davison could have known what would happen that night as he hopped into his silver Mitsubishi Montero that January day.
He may have thought about getting back to work or reminisced over the time he had just spent with family during the holiday season as he made the 1,500-mile trek from Florida back to his home in Poland, Maine.
He could never have known that trivial decisions like where to stop for gas, when to leave his family’s home in Florida and how fast he should drive would put him on a collision course with Strawser.
Davison made it more than 12 hours into his trip without incident, passing through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. That all changed quickly as he made his way through West Virginia.
As Davison drove, Strawser was on the hunt. He had become obsessed with Courtney, according to the Breeses, who live in Waynesboro.
Strawser and Courtney grew up together and went to school together in Terra Alta. They had lost touch, but reconnected in fall of 2013, just months prior to Davison’s death.
It started out innocently enough, Courtney said. The two exchanged small talk, telling each other about their lives, their family and their children.
Strawser has at least one child to a woman who filed theft charges and sought a court order for protection against him in 2010, according to court records.
Courtney later told police she had a short-lived extramarital relationship with Strawser shortly after they reconnected.
“Jamie knew nothing of John until I brought him into our lives, unwittingly and not knowing what was going to happen,” Courtney said.
The Breeses welcomed Strawser into their home with their two young children. Courtney was excited to reconnect with a friend from her childhood.
“I mistakenly befriended John and allowed him to be close, and I never should have,” Courtney said. “I had known his family even before kindergarten and up and, honestly, he was the most approachable and nicest of all of them.”
Jamie, however, had his apprehensions about Strawser from the start.
“I couldn’t trust him,” Jamie said. “I guess it was from growing up as a kid that you could just see that something just wasn’t there, something wasn’t right. I could pick it out right away. In the beginning, I told my wife ‘stay away from him,’ but she didn’t listen, and I guess that’s what got us where we are now.”
Courtney and Strawser hung out when she would visit her family in West Virginia.
Around the same time the two reconnected, Courtney began receiving text messages from a person she referred to as her stalker. Strawser told Courtney that he would protect her whenever she came down to visit her family, since Jamie usually was not along for the trip.
On one trip, Courtney’s stalker urinated on the family vehicle.
Jamie began to suspect Strawser was Courtney’s stalker. The language Strawser used in texts was similar to that of the stalker, Jamie said.
So Courtney confronted Strawser, but he vehemently denied the allegations. He had excuses for why he could not be the stalker and said he was only trying to be her “protector,” Courtney said.
She believed him.
“But that’s what a stalker does,” Jamie said of the denial.
“I’ve never been stalked before,” Courtney responded.
“They manipulate you,” her husband said.
The friendship continued and Strawser was welcomed into the Breeses’ home more than two hours away from Terra Alta for Thanksgiving in 2013. Courtney said Strawser was alone and had no one to spend the holiday with.
“I felt bad, because he was my friend, and I didn’t want anyone to be alone on the holidays,” Courtney said. “I thought it was the saddest thing ever.”
The two cooked together and Strawser even attended a Christmas party hosted by Jamie’s family. The friendship turned dangerous only a few weeks later.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s 2013, Courtney and Jamie went on a date to Cloud 9 Night Club in Bunker Hill, West Virginia. It was a night for the Breeses to get out of the house and spend time together without their children.
“We were sitting there and the next thing you know, he comes walking out of the men’s bathroom,” Jamie said.
This came as a shock to the Breeses since Strawser’s home was more than two hours away from the club.
Things became tense as the night progressed.
“He got (mad) at you because you weren’t paying attention to him,” Jamie said.
“Because I was with my husband and not him, which is ridiculous,” Courtney chimed in.
The two left the club, and Strawser began calling and texting them.
Around 1:30 a.m., Strawser showed up at the Breeses’ home demanding that Courtney come outside to talk to him.
“I said ‘You’re not going out there,’” Jamie said.
Strawser finally relented and left after Jamie threatened to call the police.
After that night, the Breeses attempted to sever ties with Strawser.
Roughly a week later, on the night Davison was killed, Strawser contacted the Breeses, attempting to find out where they were. The couple had again made a trip to Cloud 9, but decided to leave early for the night.
Strawser then began calling and texting them, demanding to know where they were. They responded, but did not tell him where they were.
“That’s when I said ‘back the (expletive) off John. She’s not your wife. She’s not your girlfriend,’” Jamie said. “’She’s nothing more to you than a friend from high school.’”
Strawser had his .44 caliber Rossi Ranch Hand in his truck when he started hunting down Jamie, the man he saw as standing in the way of a relationship with Courtney, police said.
Jamie said Strawser began to make what Jamie thought were hollow threats by text and phone messages.
“He said he was going to kill me,” Jamie said.
Jamie and Courtney did not know Strawser had left Terra Alta to pursue them. Strawser began chasing what he thought was the couple’s silver Honda Pilot SUV around Martinsburg, West Virginia, which is about 20 minutes from Cloud 9.
Strawser was following the wrong vehicle. It was actually Davison’s Mitsubishi Montero, an SUV about the same size and color as that of the Breeses’ Pilot.
Davison, heading north on I-81 in West Virginia near Martinsburg, was at the wrong place at the wrong time, stuck in Strawser’s path, according to police. Police said Davison accelerated his SUV to more than 100 mph in Martinsburg, apparently attempting to elude Strawser.
Around 2 a.m., Davison called 911 in Washington County, Maryland, not too far across the border from West Virginia. He told the operator a dark Ford Ranger was chasing him and a person had begun firing shots at his vehicle.
Police were dispatched, but as Davison approached the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania, the call dropped.
Shortly after that, Davison again dialed 911, this time in Pennsylvania.
In February 2014, investigators released a portion of that call made to 911 in Franklin County.
“Were you the one that called about the Ford Ranger?” a Franklin County 911 operator asked Davison.
“Yeah, the one that just hit me,” Davison said.
“What do you mean they hit you? They hit you with the car?” the operator asked.
“Yeah, smashed me with the car and pushed me across the median,” Davison replied.
Those would be some of Davison’s final words.
Less than 2 1/2 minutes after Davison redialed 911, Maryland State Police arrived on scene and found Davison shot multiple times in the arm, leg and head, according to police.
He later died as a result of his injuries.
Gunshots and the sound of tires accelerating away were heard on the call recording, police said. Police said Strawser shot Davison and fled down Interstate 81 south before they arrived on scene.
When Jamie heard the news of the shooting the next morning, he grew suspicious.
Jamie raised concerns to Courtney that Strawser had been involved in the shooting.
“I never once considered the fact that he could hurt anyone,” Courtney said. “I watched him with his son. I watched him back home with his son and my children playing together in the park. … You never think that somebody who could feel those kinds of feelings could do that to anyone.”
Eventually, the Breeses chalked up the angry text and phone calls from Strawser the same night that Davison died as a coincidence and nothing more.
In April 2015, just over 15 months after Davison’s death, Strawser’s former girlfriend, Amy Lou Buckingham, was murdered. Strawser was convicted of that murder in August.
The Breeses went to police with their concerns about Strawser after hearing about Buckingham’s murder.
“All that time, we’re not safe, unbeknownst to us,” Courtney said. “…That is when it hit both of us. Truly, up until that night, at that moment, I never truly considered it.”
Cellphone tower data from around Greencastle placed Strawser near the scene of Davison’s murder, evidence with a partial DNA sample that matched Strawser was found at the scene, and ballistics matched shell casings found at the scene to Strawser’s Rossi Ranch Hand, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Davison’s death kicked off a manhunt that would span Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia and include help from the FBI.
Despite this, Strawser was able to move in and out of the criminal justice system, again largely unscathed.
Four days after Strawser allegedly killed Davison, he posted a message to Facebook.
“Looks as if my world is going 2 crumble,” he wrote. “The things that I well (sic) miss…”
The post came on the same day he was in court in Garrett County, Maryland, to approve a final protection order filed against him by a former girlfriend.
A little more than four months later Strawser was arrested for reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and DWI in Garrett County, Maryland, some 120 miles away from where Davison died. According to West Virginia motor vehicle records, Strawser was driving the same Ford Ranger Davison described the night of his death.
Just after midnight on April 26, 2014, Strawser was seen by Garrett County Sheriff’s deputies doing doughnuts in his truck in the parking lot of a park when they attempted to stop him. Strawser had two other people in the vehicle.
Strawser led police on a high-speed chase that lasted only a few minutes before he crashed his truck, and then he took off on foot. He was attempting to make it across the nearby border to West Virginia, according to police.
At the time Strawser was on probation and didn’t want to go to jail.
Strawser only made it about 200 feet before he was subdued with a Taser.
“Just shoot me,” Strawser said to police after falling to the ground from the jolt of electricity from the Taser.
Strawser fought with police but was eventually taken into custody. He was released the same day, according to court records.
That arrest in Garrett County triggered a probation violation, causing Strawser to spend one week in jail in September 2014 in Preston County, West Virginia, where he had been convicted of stalking in 2013.
That was the first time Strawser spent any time in jail following a conviction, according to court records.
In October 2014, Strawser pleaded guilty to resisting arrest during the April DWI incident where he had been subdued by a Taser. He spent five days in jail in Garrett County, and all other charges were dropped.
Information about the arrest did not make its way to investigators in Pennsylvania, and according to Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal, Strawser did not become a suspect in Davison’s murder until the Breeses came forward April 2015.
“Please understand that on the date and time of his arrest for DWI, the defendant was not a suspect in any other known case that we had been made aware of by any other agency,” Garrett County Sheriff Rob Corley told The Sentinel in September 2015.
Early in the fall of 2014, Strawser apologized for the initial falling out with the Breeses and Courtney again let him back into her life. She again visited with him when she traveled to her family’s home in West Virginia.
But, Strawser again became jealous and possessive, she said.
The Breeses finally cut ties completely with Strawser in January 2015 following a fight that resulted in Strawser damaging Courtney's mother’s car parked in her parents’ driveway.
Fogal declined to say if anyone other than the Breeses presented Strawser as a possible suspect in Davison’s murder, but when asked if he felt Strawser would have been apprehended without the Breeses, Fogal said, “I can’t speculate about hypotheticals, but I know that (state police) would never have given up their pursuit of Mr. Davison’s killer.”