Richard Davis: Drugs and Murder
Though their lives could not have been more different, Richard Allen Davis and River Phoenix had a few things in common. Drugs helped to lead both to death; River to his own premature death; Richard to the kidnapping and murder of 12-year old Polly Klaas. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Richard Davis was born in San Francisco on June 2, 1954 at 6:34 P.M. PDT. The reporter included the hospital where Davis was born, so the data looks authentic, and the chart fits a life on the edge. The data reached me through Lois Rodden’s Data News.
Davis was the third of five children of an alcoholic truck driver. He was exposed to fighting and abuse at home, and as a child entertained himself by pouring gasoline on cats and setting them on fire. He started on drugs early and alternated between menial jobs and jail for such crimes as burglary. He was given 16 years after police picked him up in March 1985, but paroled for the third time on June 27, 1993. Just three months later, on October 1, 1993, he took Polly Klaas from her bedroom where she was having a slumber party with two friends, strangled her, and left her body near Cloverdale, CA. Her body was found on December 4, and Davis was arrested two days later.
Polly was born on January 3, 1981, probably in Petaluma where the family lived, but we have no birth time for her. Her kidnapping was widely publicized with posters disseminated and huge numbers of neighbors and strangers joining in the search for her. She became a symbol of the fear of crime which has moved to the top of American’s list of worries. It shocked the country that a child was not safe in her own home in a relatively small town that seemed remote from the gangs and drugs of the big cities. Davis was reportedly loaded with drugs when he kidnapped and killed Polly.
Davis’ chart is clearly dominated by the principle of Scorpio. He has it rising; Pluto is conjunct Juno, a female Pluto, and they are widely conjunct the MC to add to their prominence; and a Cancer stellium with 6 factors is in the eighth house. With Jupiter, one of the keys to identity as a ruler of Sagittarius in the first house, in the eighth house, and with the Sun, a key to our ego-strength and self-esteem, in the seventh house, there is an obvious possibility of projecting one’s personal power into other people. Such feelings can lead to giving up, to trying to gain power over others, or to retreating. On the positive side, we can compromise and share power. We can have “healthy,” game-playing competition, and we can help people to reassure ourselves that we have some power.
Davis mostly alternated between using power to take advantage of others and retreating into drugs and alcohol though for a time he had a female friend who participated in his robberies. The one-eight combination such as Scorpio rising can be a challenge. Scorpio wants a mate but also wants power. Properly handled, letter eight gains self-knowledge through the mirror of the mate and self-mastery partly out of respect for the rights of the mate who may be a marriage partner, a business partner, a therapist, etc. Mutual cooperation permits mutual pleasure. When not properly handled, letter eight tries to control others for personal gratification. Letter one (Ascendant, Mars, Aries, etc.) wants the freedom to do its own thing. It doesn’t need anyone else, and sees no reason to compromise the personal will. Obviously, the preceding are abstract principles. Real humans are always a complex mixture. When one of the forms of letter one is combined with one of the forms of letter eight, the desire for control is reinforced and there is usually ambivalence about the need for emotional closeness.
Both River and Richard had Scorpio rising, but Richard’s loaded eighth house showed much more vulnerability where other people were concerned. Both men also had a ruler of the Ascendant in Leo with a square to the first house. For River, it was Mars in Leo square the first house Neptune in Scorpio. For Richard, it was Pluto in Leo square the Ascendant. Squares between two forms of letter one indicate inner conflict. The most common manifestation of the Leo-Scorpio conflict involves power issues. Leo identifies with the role of the King, with supreme personal power. Scorpio is theoretically learning to share power, pleasure, possessions, etc., to be an equal with a mate.
Also, like one-eight conflicts, five-eight conflicts involve a confrontation between fire and water as well as between two fixed sides of life. The instinct of fire is always to do what we want, freely, openly, and spontaneously. The instinct of water is always to check for security, our own or that of others; to delay until we can process the situation, and to hold back or hide feelings, motivations, or actions until it seems safe to proceed.
The fixed sides of life are alike in possessing enduring self-will. They tend to keep on until they reach the personal desire, so when two fixed desires are in conflict, the result can be stalemate and impasse. Periodically, the person may explode but when the dust clears, the same impasse is still there. Explosions may unleash violence against others if the fire urge is stronger, or the violence may be internalized against the self in some form if the water urge is stronger. Richard’s went out. River’s turned in. I don’t think that any one could have predicted the direction of the emotional intensity from the horoscopes. In light of Richard’s heavy water, he could have manifested a fatal illness instead of attacking a helpless child.
There are two other similarities between the charts of River and Richard. In addition to being identified with both Scorpio and Leo, they are both also identified with God and the Law. As was discussed in River’s chart interpretation, the two extremes of the one-ten mixture are “my will is Law and I can do anything I want,” versus “the world has all the power. I might as well not try. I would just fail or fall short.” River shows the one-ten combination with Mars in the tenth house. Richard has it with Mars and the Antivertex in Capricorn.
The one-nine or one-twelve combination can range from “I am God and can do anything I want” to “I ought to be God and since I’m not, I’m worthless.” Obviously, a place in the middle is needed. Both extremes are destructive. We can seek to become more perfect but accept our humanness and enjoy the journey. We can recognize that there are limits to our personal will and power and live voluntarily within those limits. River had a double statement of both the one-twelve and the one-nine with Neptune in the first house, Jupiter ruling it and in the twelfth house, Jupiter conjunct the Ascendant and Antivertex in Sagittarius. Richard had a double one-nine with his East Point in Sagittarius and Pluto in the ninth house.
These charts are good examples of the futility of trying to guess the details of a person’s life. It is true that River had more harmonious aspects—many sextiles and trines, along with his T-square in fixed signs and cardinal houses. In addition to his T-square in fixed signs and mostly mutable houses (Pluto-Juno square Ascendant and Vesta), Richard had many cardinal squares and oppositions which were mostly in fixed houses. The power struggle tendencies were present in both charts, but River expressed it with success in a very competitive vocation. Richard failed to develop job skills and turned to crime.
Richard’s progressed chart provides a clear picture of the potential for violence when he killed Polly Klaas. If prison boards used astrology, he would not have been paroled in 1993. His P MC was square his Mars-Moon opposition and octile Pluto which had remained octile Moon and trioctile Mars all his life. The MC is like Saturn. When square to Mars, the personal will is facing the limits of personal will. We can fight the rules, try to ignore or run away from them, or learn to live with them voluntarily and do constructive things. Richard’s P Moon aspected the cardinal T-square and was also quincunx his natal Moon, square P Juno, and trioctile P Uranus. Almost immediately after the kidnapping, P Moon reached an octile to P Neptune which had held a square to P Uranus for years. Where there is a network of aspects such as this, all of the factors are connected by the network even though one pair may not be within the one- degree orb used in progressions. P eighth house cusp was also included with a conjunction to P Uranus and a square to P Neptune. P East Point was also included since it was in orb of a trioctile to Pluto. The combination of aspects pictures a man in a state of intense inner conflict and rebellion. His ingrained habits led him to express his frustrated anger against others. His insecurity led him to pick a helpless victim who could not fight back.
As I have written in the past, in cases such as this one where an individual demonstrates an almost total alienation from his fellow humans, I expect to find a strong Vesta. Individuals with a prominent Vesta can range from magnificent healers to ruthless monsters. Richard’s natal Vesta was opposition his Ascendant, just inside the sixth house. As already indicated, Richard’s work life was mostly a disaster. P Vesta was conjunct his West Point, an alternative Descendant, quincunx his Antivertex, and octile P Sun when he killed Polly. The patterns fit his personal (East Point and Antivertex) sense of separation and alienation from others. There was also a yod from P Antivertex which was quincunx Jupiter and Pallas as well as square Saturn: conflict between personal action (Antivertex) and the Law (Saturn plus Pallas in the Saturn house), and morality/empathy involving others (Jupiter in Cancer in the eighth house), and social justice/fair play (Pallas).
One of the most striking features of Richard’s chart is the fact that his P Saturn has remained conjunct his natal Part of Death in two Scorpio for his whole life. Richard also had his P Ascendants in his birthplace and in Cloverdale in trioctiles to his P Parts of Death for the two places. The latter were square natal Saturn for the initial kidnapping and were retrograding holding squares to Saturn and the natal Part of Death during the two months that Polly’s family and friends were frantically searching for her. An aspect which some traditional astrologers might find hard to explain was P Venus on the local MC. It did have tension aspects including a quincunx to Chiron and octile-trioctile to the P lunar nodes which fit the conflicts involving morality and relationships. The Venus-MC conjunction could point to pleasure in wielding power over a helpless victim—which most of society would regard as a sick form of pleasure, to put it mildly!
There were also some interesting asteroids. The enormous publicity over the case and major efforts by Polly’s father played a role in passing a very tough crime bill in California. A discussion was already under way in Congress and in many states, considering a bill which would impose life imprisonment on anyone convicted of three “violent” crimes. The final form of the bill which was passed in California and signed by Governor Wilson included many crimes in which violence was not really used, but the public frustration and fear resulting from the case of Polly Klaas helped to pass the bill. Richard’s P Ceres, the parenting asteroid, was opposite natal Wilson and P California at the time of the crime, and P MC moved into oppositions to the two asteroids before the bill was passed. P Wilson was conjunct natal Columbia (for the District of Columbia where Congress is considering a similar bill and for the country which provides many of the drugs that facilitate crime in this country). P Wilson was also square both Gaea (earth) and Uranus whose presence in the eighth house matches the death that upset the state and encouraged the bill.
Other asteroids included P Phaethon (overreach) on Richard’s natal Sun, P Columbia opposite Saturn and the natal Part of Death, P Hestia (the Greek name of Vesta) on Vesta for a double statement of the alienation, P Karma on the south lunar node (the unlearned lesson produced consequences), P Venus square Niobe (who had all of her children killed by a vengeful god), P Vesta square Medea (who killed her own two children), P Icarus (overreach) trioctile Venus, and more.
Character creates destiny. Habits produce consequences. Astrology shows us the issues being faced by the individual. With insight plus a lot of effort, we can change the habits which are producing painful consequences. Growth is a long, slow journey for most of us, but the voice of the Infinite is always there, calling us to experience oneness. For those who have felt the oneness of Neptune’s union with the Absolute, there is love and peace. For everyone, there is always another chance somewhere, sometime.