Lancaster murder investigation to be featured on America's Most Wanted

David Rollins Cauthen, Jr
David Rollins Cauthen, Jr

(Lancaster) February 1, 2006 - America's Most Wanted will feature the case of a Lancaster murder suspect in a segment to air on Saturday, February 4th.

41-year-old David Rollins Cauthen, Jr., is wanted for the October 17, 2004, murder of his girlfriend, Brenda Steen. Steen died of multiple stab wounds and her body was found in a culvert beneath a rural highway in eastern Lancaster County.

A murder warrant was issued for Cauthen on October 19, 2004, and he was last seen at a homeless shelter in Marshville, North Carolina, three days following Steen's murder.

The America's Most Wanted segment will include a re-enactment of events surrounding Brenda Steen's murder and interviews with local residents and officials associated with the case.

Case investigators allege that on Sunday morning, October 17, 2004, David Cauthen attacked Brenda Steen near her Woodcreek Apartment home and stabbed her repeatedly as she fought for her life. Defensive wounds were found on her arms, leading investigators to believe she fought back.

After killing her, investigators say Cauthen put Brenda in the trunk of her 1992 Mazda. Brenda's car would not start, and witnesses describe seeing Cauthen working frantically on the car as it sat in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Brenda lived.

Cauthen was also seen wiping blood from the rear bumper and throwing articles in the dumpster near the car. Cauthen was eventually able to start the car, but drove less than a mile from the apartment complex before the car stalled.

Investigators say David Cauthen left the car beside the road and tried to steal a wrecker from a nearby car dealership. When that didn't work, he phoned a friend who had one. Investigators believe the friend agreed to tow the car, not knowing the body of Brenda Steen was in the trunk.

David and his friend towed the car to David's parents' home near Thompson Road in Lancaster County. His parents were out of town on vacation.

David caught a ride back into town but eventually returned to the car, trying to make repairs. Investigators believe Cauthen pushed the car out of his parents driveway and down the road a couple of hundred yards. Investigators allege that he then pulled Brenda's body from the trunk, dragged her body into the woods and into a culvert.

Hours after dumping Steen's body, Cauthen walked to a church in nearby Union County, North Carolina, where he asked for water. A church member gave Cauthen bottled water and made calls to local shelters to find a place for Cauthen to stay.

While Cauthen waited, he fixed a ceiling fan for the church member and went to the church alter for prayer. The church member arranged for Cauthen to stay at Christ Bible Teaching Shelter in Marshville, North Carolina. A representative from the shelter drove Cauthen to Marshville where he stayed for a day and a half.

By this time, deputies had warrants for David Cauthen and his photograph was aired on local television stations. On Wednesday, October 20, 2004, Cauthen left on foot from the Christ Bible Teaching Shelter and he has not been seen since.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office has investigated various leads concerning the possible whereabouts of David Cauthen since October 20, 2004, but none of those leads have proven to be credible.

If anyone has information concerning the whereabouts of David Cauthen, or knowledge of Brenda Steen's murder and have not given their information to investigators, they are urged to contact the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office.

Posted 9:25am by Bryce Mursch