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Standing over his mum's bed, 15-year-old Zachary Davis seethed with rage.
Watching her chest slowly rise and fall as she slept soundly, he silently lifted a huge sledgehammer over his head, and with both hands gripped on its wooden handle, brought it powering down onto her head.
The impact of solid metal against skull and flesh created a sound that Zach would later smile at the thought of.
He later laughed: “I could just hear the hammer hitting her head. It was a wet thumping sound.”
As his helpless mum, Melanie, writhed and gulped for air, he continued pummelling her, smashing her head at least 20 times with the huge hammer he had dragged up from the garage.
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Melanie, who had raised her sons alone since their dad died six years earlier, woke up after the initial blow and began having seizures. Zach claimed he looked into her eyes as he continued to club her to death.
He didn’t say goodbye to her, either out loud or in his head.
The murder is made even more appalling by the fact Melanie had taken Zach and his older brother Josh, 16, to the cinema earlier that night.
After they got home at 9pm, Zach had gone upstairs and packed clothes, a notebook, toothbrush, gloves, a ski mask in a backpack – nestled alongside was a claw hammer.
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Once the family was asleep he put his plan into action. He would murder Melanie and set the house on fire, destroying the evidence and hopefully his brother, too.
Zach opted to use a sledgehammer to kill his mum rather than a standard hammer as he was worried that he’d “miss” – and that using a tool of that size and weight gave him the "highest chance of killing her".
It was the night of August 10, 2012 when Zach decided his mother deserved to die.
Her crime? According to Zach: “She wasn’t taking care of my family.”
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Zach claimed that Josh had been sexually abusing him and that his mum had turned a blind eye.
These claims were never proven, and instead are taken as more evidence of how deeply disturbed the younger Davis brother was.
Zach didn’t think that his mum would reprimand his brother or that she would do anything to protect him so he decided to kill her. He claimed that he was told to do it by the ghost of his dead dad, whose voice had been echoing through his head since he passed away.
Zach had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression shortly after his dad died, and according to sources close to the family, had become more withdrawn and isolated as he entered his teens.
Now he had snapped.
After killing his mum he tried to set the family home, in Sumner County, Tennessee, alight using a mixture of whiskey and petrol as accelerant.
He hoped to burn his brother alive, but his plan failed – Josh smelled smoke and escaped to a neighbour's house.
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Zach too fled the house, covered in his mother’s blood and chunks of her flesh, and was later picked up 10 miles away.
The next morning he wrote in his journal “I killed Melanie and left Josh alive to suffer. I didn’t feel anything when I killed her, even when her blood splattered on my arm and her brain matter was thrown on to my shirt.
“I didn’t feel remorse, hate, or even satisfaction. My only true regret is that I didn’t give her a quicker death. I didn’t want her to suffer.”
More disturbing insights in to the teen killer’s mindset and actions came in a 2015 interview with US TV chat show host Dr. Phil, two months before he stood trial.
Filmed at the Tennessee jail where Davis is serving a 71 year sentence, the stocky teen speaks in a low, monotone drawl, his hands secured in handcuffs.
Dr. Phil, who has spoken to hundreds of disturbed individuals over his career, appears wary of Davis, who stares at him with dark eyes, sometimes twitching or slowly rocking his head back and forth in lieu of vocally answering his questions.
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Most chillingly he admits that he has no remorse for killing his mother or leaving his brother with no family. He adds that if he ran someone over in a road accident, he would feel nothing.
At his trial the court heard that he had apps on his phone relating to serial killers and torture devices, and had written dark statements in his notebook including "you can't spell laughter without slaughter.”
But although Zach admitted to killing his mum, went on national TV to talk about it, and was found guilty of it, there is one person who believes that the sickening killing wasn’t the troubled teen’s fault – his nan.
Zach’s paternal grandmother Gill Cron said that the blame laid with Melanie.
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Gill claimed that her daughter-in-law had been estranged from her husband’s family since his death, and that she had failed to get her youngest son the mental health treatment he needed when he was first diagnosed with depression.
She said: "Every teacher, every guidance counselor should have to stand trial with Zach. Zach is not a monster. He's a child who made a horrible mistake.
“I would like for Zach not to be forgotten here today like he has for much of his life.”
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