Lakeland Man Shot 3 Times During Home Invasion
May 8, 2008
A part of Annie Davis died the night her son was shot.
It was shortly before 3 a.m. June 4, 2007, when at least two men broke into Davis’ house at 2934 Kathryn Ave. They came in through the kitchen wearing masks and grabbed her from her bedroom, she said. She tried to yell for help, but they covered her mouth.
The next thing she heard was “pop” of gunfire coming from inside the house.
The men left, and she ran to the kitchen hallway to find her son George Cox lying on the floor.
The 42-year-old was bleeding and couldn’t breathe. Davis said she screamed for him to wake up. She needed her son to be alive.
Finally, Cox took one breath and started moving. Davis ran to a neighbor for help. The next thing she remembers is the paramedics taking him out of the house on a stretcher.
Lakeland police said Cox was shot three times, including once in the head. He survived almost a year before dying from his injuries May 8, 2008, police said. He had just turned 43.
As part of a continuing series and a partnership with the Lakeland Police Department, The Ledger is profiling many of the city’s 37 unsolved homicides and cold case murders, such as Cox’s.
Lakeland police detectives say they hope that with a little extra time to focus on the unsolved homicides and with help from the community, they’ll be able to solve more of the cases. And, in turn, bring closure to many more families.
“Closure won’t bring him back, but I need it,” Davis said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
When George Cox was born, he had perfect brown skin and was tiny, like a peanut, Davis said. From then on, Peanut was forever his nickname.
He was one of six children, who Davis raised by herself in Lakeland, and without a dad in their home, Cox took on a father figure role for his younger siblings.
“He’d say, ‘Get a job. Be a man. Stand on your own two feet,'” said Terry Pearson, his youngest brother. “I never had a real father in my life to teach me stuff like that, but my brother taught me those kind of things.”
He was hardworking and lovable, Pearson said. Cox would always try to help his siblings through any problem they were having.
“I try not to pick and choose because I love all my sisters and brothers, but Peanut was my favorite,” Pearson said. “For him to die like that, it’s just not fair.”
Pearson said Cox worked with the Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department and had only been staying with his mother for a few months.
Davis said her son planned to move in with a girlfriend soon, and he had recently started rebuilding a relationship with his only child — a daughter, who is now 18. He loved to take her shopping and have daddy-daughter time.
His death was hard on the young, Davis said.
His death was hard on the whole family.
Detective Brad Grice, who has helped investigate Cox’s case, said it appears Davis’ house was targeted for the home invasion and attempted robbery.
However, he said it appears Cox was not the intended target.
Cox’s family said they have their own ideas about who broke into the house that night and why. Pearson said he thinks it had to be someone who knew their family. Someone who knew that the back door was broken and all you needed was a butter knife to pry the lock open. And someone who knew which bedroom Davis slept in.
Grice said the detectives don’t have a lot of solid leads right now, but they do have evidence being analyzed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He said he’s hoping that evidence will give them the information they need to move forward.
Davis said she’s unsure whether she ever wants to meet the person who shot her son.
She said she isn’t angry anymore, and she forgives whoever it was. But she needs to know justice is done for her son.
She needs closure to move on.
“Down inside of me, I feel like I’m dead, but I’m still walking,” Davis said. “By the grace of God, I’m still walking, but it hurts so bad.”
Stephanie Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7550.