Gaylene Taylor and Mary Hyde opened the jewelry store as usual at 9:00 a.m. on an overcast Wednesday in October. Taylor, 52, and her coworker Hyde, 55, were longtime, trusted employees at Mulloys jewelers, which in 2009 had been at the same location for 22 years, on State Street in Carlsbad.
Taylor put her lunch in the refrigerator, and then she had a little trouble opening the tall safe in the back. Finally, she got it opened, and Hyde took several trays of jewelry to the front to set up the displays. While Hyde arranged the diamonds and gold, Taylor took the jewelry that needed cleaning into the “steam room.” The women chatted as they worked.
“And I turned around and he was there,” Taylor remembered. It was so upsetting that when she recounted the event months later her voice faltered and she choked up. “He was all covered. He had a mask on.” The man was right behind Taylor in the back of the store. He wore dark gloves and a mask and a hooded sweatshirt. In one hand he held a black gun that was pointed at her, and with his other hand he reached out toward her and said, “Come with me.” But Taylor resisted. “He tried to take me to the front and I wouldn’t go.” The woman threw herself to the floor and began to scream out the Lord’s Prayer. “I just kept screaming it and screaming it and screaming it!”
Hyde heard the uproar. “All of a sudden Gaylene was screaming.” Hyde hurried to her friend and coworker. “I saw someone with a gun on her, grabbing her arm.” Hyde said the man was tall and slim and wore a mask. The robber ordered Hyde onto the floor, too. While the women cringed in fear on the floor, they could hear the robber going through the safe.
After a while, the robber was gone.
Hyde said her hands were shaking so badly she could hardly dial 911.
Carlsbad police arrived. They were at the scene for a while before they learned of the hole in the roof. The sheriff’s helicopter, hovering overhead, had spotted it. The hole was next to an exhaust vent over the women’s restroom of Mulloys jewelry store. Carlsbad police officer Trevor Winters went into the women’s restroom and saw that the porcelain sink was broken. Investigating further, he poked his head into the crawl space above the sink and could see daylight through an opening in the roof. Jewels and a black bag were strewn about on top of the pink insulation.
Winters climbed up into the crawl space. He found a black backpack, a mask, and a gun. The semiautomatic handgun was later identified as an “airsoft gun” and as a Powerline 159 pistol. The scattered jewelry included set pieces and loose stones. When Winters crawled out onto the rooftop, he found more jewelry and empty boxes around the rim of the hole.
There were 11 video cameras in operation at Phil Mulloy’s jewelry shop. They caught the robbery from all angles. The video confirmed that the robber came out of the women’s bathroom.
Nearly all the valuable jewelry was put into the safe at night. Around the safe were multiple infrared motion detectors, which were connected to an alarm system. A technician was called to double-check the alarm system. This technician showed Phil Mulloy the wiring in the crawl space above the ladies’ restroom where someone had disabled the alarm.
Mulloy examined the ceiling in his shop. Too late he noticed the small, carefully cut hole directly above his safe. The opening was about one inch by four inches. He wondered if somebody had watched from the crawl space to see what time the safe was opened.
Mulloy said his cost for the 20 pieces of jewelry stolen on October 21, 2009, was $84,724.
The Marquise-Cut Diamond
Three weeks later, on November 12, a tall, slender man walked into a Vista pawnshop. The elegantly dressed and well-spoken customer had an unusually high-quality diamond. “He wanted to see how much we would buy the diamond for,” said Jason Postelnek, the pawnshop employee who is a diamond grader certified by the Gemological Institute of America. Postelnek remembered the half-carat, marquise-cut diamond because it was of rare quality. “It was brought in as a loose gemstone.”
Postelnek graded the sparkly rock VS1 for clarity (about midway on the grading scale) and F for color (on a scale of D to Z, with D being the best clarity). The pawnshop did not offer enough money to interest the man in selling the stone; instead, he decided to take a $175 loan. The man filled out the paperwork, identifying himself as John Leslie Davis Sr., 51; then he pressed his inked thumb on the pawnshop form and left his diamond at the shop.
This marquise-cut diamond might have been taken from a platinum ring stolen from his store, Mulloy said. A missing ring had multiple marquise and baguette diamonds. Mulloy said he paid $2365 for it.
The DNA Match
Investigators collected DNA from the mask and pistol abandoned at the crime scene. The DNA profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The name that came up was John Leslie Davis Sr. His DNA profile was in the system because he is a previously convicted felon.
Detective Patrick Preston said that Carlsbad police learned Davis’s name in January 2010 and put him under surveillance for a while. On February 5, officers stopped the red 1998 GMC truck that Davis was driving and arrested him. Inside the truck, in the driver’s-side door, they found a headband-mounted flashlight, useful in dark crawl spaces. A black velvet jeweler’s bag with drawstring closure was tucked into the driver’s-side visor. They also found black cloth gloves and a pawn slip.
Officers swabbed Davis’s mouth to confirm the DNA match.
Davis was charged with two counts of robbery. He posted $145,000 bail, paying a premium of $14,500 to a bail bondsman, and got out of jail two days after he was arraigned. He was free on bail for more than a year before his trial began this May.