Kiplyn Davis

PROVO — A year after Kiplyn Davis vanished, four men emerged as chief suspects in the eyes of investigators who were probing her disappearance.

Three of the four were later indicted by a federal grand jury, charged with lying to investigators and changing their alibis regarding where they were and what they were doing on the day Davis didn't come home from school, May 2, 1995.

The fourth man, Jesse Tyler, was never charged in connection with Davis' disappearance and presumed death.

The stories he told to police, however, were scrutinized Friday by defense attorneys for Christopher Jeppson and Timmy Brent Olson, who are charged with Davis' murder. Friday was the fourth day of their preliminary hearing in 4th District Court.

Rucker Leifson, the other man, has been indicted on multiple counts of perjury but is not charged in Davis' death.

Tyler, who was not in court on Friday, attended Spanish Fork High School with Davis and had asked her out on a date for the Friday after she disappeared.

"Jesse Tyler had become a presence in Kiplyn's life, according to your investigation?" Jeppson's attorney Scott Williams asked Spanish Fork Lt. Steve Adams, the main case officer, who took the stand Friday.

"That's true," Adams said, but added that family rules prevented 15-year-old Davis from dating until she was 16.

Williams began questioning the story Tyler told police. Tyler said that he had left school on the day Davis disappeared, got a ride home from his friend and then helped that friend change a tire.

Only the friend said that never happened, Williams said. Adams agreed.

"Another problem that Jesse Tyler had — he originally claimed that he went to class after lunch on May 2," Williams said.

"You learned Jesse Tyler had asked that his attendance record be altered to show that he attended fourth period, when in fact he didn't? And that he was missing the exact same time that Kiplyn Davis went missing?"

"True," Adams said.

Williams also pointed out that Tyler told police he called the Davis family after Kiplyn disappeared, but the Davis family says that never happened.

"Despite all the things you know, all the things you've gone over, that's not solid evidence creating a suspicion in Jesse Tyler ... (about) Kiplyn Davis' death?"

Adams said: "There are things that did not indicate that he was involved," but added there was enough said about Olsen and Jeppson to implicate them.

But that's the problem, Williams says. All of the so-called evidence, he said, has come in the form of statements from other people.

Investigators can't confirm any suspicions with physical evidence. There's no body, no murder weapon and no eyewitnesses.

"At this date, (you have), at best, what you believe to be true stories," Williams said to Adams, "because you don't have a single bit of forensic evidence that indicates Kiplyn Davis is even deceased."

"Correct," Adams said.

"No one has been a witness to her death," he said, which Adams disputed and Williams clarified, "in the first person."

"Both defendants today," Adams said, "they're indicating that they participated in her death."

"Chris Jeppson never told you that," Williams said. Adams replied the story of Jeppson's confession had come from someone else.

"It's those people's story that's your evidence?" Williams asked. "(And) sometimes the method of prove or disprove is another story?"

"Yes," Adams said.

One story police didn't believe was that of Chris Butterfield, who testified Friday that he had told police that while at a party, he overheard Olsen talking about killing someone.

Butterfield said that he hadn't paid too much attention to the conversation and didn't give vivid details to the police. Later, though, his story expanded.

"Then in a sworn statement under oath in the grand jury and Timmy Olsen trial, you added details," asked Heather Harris, one of the attorneys for Christopher Jeppson.

"Correct," he replied.