12-year-old Kacie Woody was a typical pre-teen girl living in Holland, Arkansas, a rural area in the center of the state. She lived with her father, Rick, and older brother, Tim, in a modest house on the outskirts of town. When she was 7, Kacie’s mother had died in an accident when the family car had collided with a horse on the road while driving at night.
Kacie’s father Rick was a police officer, and would often spend his evenings out on patrol, while Tim was taking night classes at college. Kacie was often left home alone, though capable as she was, she sometimes got lonely. Their home was somewhat out in the sticks, and Kacie had no friends nearby to drop in and keep her company. So Rick allowed Kacie to use instant messenger to stay in touch with her friends.
Claimed he was 17
But eventually, she decided to seek a company elsewhere. On New Year’s Eve of 2001, Kacie and her friends ventured into an online chat room for the first time. They entered a room for Christian teens, where Kacie soon began chatting to 17-year-old David from California.
Soon, Kacie and David were in contact almost every day. She confided in him about missing her mother, and he, in turn, shared his worries about his aunt, who was in a coma following a car crash and in hospital in Arkansas. They bonded over their shared connection, becoming a shoulder to cry on when the other was in need. After a few months, they decided to take their relationship offline and began to talk on the phone. Rick was aware that Kacie was talking to boys online. But when Kacie told her Dad that David had just celebrated his 18th birthday, his opinion of their friendship changed. He told Kacie that she had to stop talking to him at once.
Assures family of no offline meetups
So Kacie went looking for a new friend back in the Christian teen chat room. It was then that she found Scott, a 14-year-old football fanatic from Atlanta, Georgia. In October of 2002, Kacie and Scott became an item. But despite her Dad’s orders, Kacie was still speaking to David, who insisted he wanted to stay friends with her even though she had a boyfriend. He was coming to see his aunt in hospital in Arkansas and suggested that he meet her. But Kacie had assured her friends that she had no intention of meeting up with either David or Scott in real life.
Photo sent through mail
Kacie’s friends started to take notice of her new relationship, concerned that things seemed to be moving too quickly. At school, when Kacie’s friend Sam noticed a photo of a teenage boy in her locker, she was concerned to find out that Kacie had received the picture through the mail. They had been speaking online for only a couple of months, but Scott now knew where Kacie lived.
On December 3rd, 2002, When Tim got home from class, he realized that his little sister wasn’t in bed and called Rick at work to ask where she was. Kacie had called her Dad from home at around 7 pm that evening, and he had no reason to believe she was anywhere else. So Rick raced home in his squad car to try and find out what had happened. When he returned, he saw a chat window open on the computer screen which Kacie had abruptly left mid-conversation. He found her glasses, bent and with one of the lenses missing, as well as her jacket and shoes. Wherever Kacie went, it seemed she hadn’t gone of her own accord. A search immediately ensued and continued into the next day, with police, sniffer dogs and volunteers combing the local area for any sign of Kacie.
The police also began to speak to Kacie’s friends to try and get some insight into where she may have gone. They soon told them about her online boyfriend, Scott, who she had never seen or met in real life. The FBI began to look into Kacie and Scott’s conversations online and managed to trace his computer to an address in Atlanta, Georgia. They went to the property, where a woman answered, and asked if they could speak to Scott. The boy from Kacie’s photo appeared at the door. He was who he’d said he was and was in Atlanta at the time she disappeared.
Police track David Fuller to hotel
Meanwhile, Kacie’s friends at school suddenly remembered a vital detail that none of them had mentioned to the police. Kacie had also been talking to David online, and he had said that he was coming to Arkansas. If Kacie had given her address to Scott, who was the say she hadn’t given it to David too?
Police began to drive around the area, checking local hotels and motels for any leads. In the car park of one motel, they noticed a car with a California number plate and went to the reception desk to find out to whom it belonged. The vehicle registration matched a man named David Fuller; he had booked a room at the motel for a week. The receptionist was also able to provide the police with some troubling clues. Fuller requested no maid service during his stay and also complained about the speed of the internet.
Officers entered David’s room to find no one inside, with a bed that didn’t appear to have been slept in. They also found camouflage clothing and rubber gloves. They took the phone number listed at the motel and compared it to the one found on Woody’s phone records. It looked as though they might have found their man.
Gunshot rings inside a storage unit
‘David,’ as it turned out, was no teenager, but a 47-year-old former used car salesman and married father of 2. Police got hold of David’s credit card records and saw that he had recently used it at a storage facility in the area. So at around 6 pm on December 4th, less than 24 hours after Kacie disappeared, police arrived at the storage unit David had rented with his card. The door was down, but unlocked, suggesting that maybe someone was inside. But as they opened the door of the storage facility, a gunshot rang out. A SWAT team arrived at the unit, where negotiators spent almost 3 hours trying to communicate with whoever was inside.
Eventually, after receiving no response, the SWAT team entered the unit. Inside, they found the bodies of Kacie Woody and David Fuller. Kacie was inside a rented minivan and had been dead for several hours by the time police found her. Fuller removed the back seats and bound Kacie to the floor before raping her and shooting her in the head. David Fuller’s wound was self-inflicted.
Police soon discovered that Kacie’s abduction had been meticulously planned. David had come to Arkansas before, to scope out the area and the storage unit where he and Kacie would eventually die. Police believe he may have also taken the opportunity to spy on Kacie at her home. Fuller brought chloroform with him on December 3rd, which he used to subdue Kacie when he abducted her. According to a report from the medical examiner, Kacie may have been unconscious right from the moment he took her until the moment she died.
Today, Kacie Woody would be 30-years-old. Instead, her life was callously cut short by someone she believed to be her friend. After her murder, her father Rick set up the Kacie Woody Foundation. On the non-profit’s website, Rick explains:
“It is my goal to educate as many parents and children as I can about the dangers of internet predators, so this does not happen to someone else’s little angel.”