'It makes me so angry': Polly Klaas kidnapping remembered 30 years later

October 1, 1993: the date Polly Klaas, 12, was kidnapped during a sleepover at her home in normally quiet Petaluma. She was found dead two months later. 

Her killer was sent to Death Row, where he remains today. 

"It makes me so angry, you know, it really does," said Polly's father, longtime child advocate Marc Klaas. "You know, I’m still dealing with major anxieties, 30 years later."

As her mom slept in the next room, Polly had two girlfriends over at her home. A man suddenly appeared in the doorway with a knife. He told the girls to lie on the ground and asked who lived there. And when Polly answered up, he took her and left. 

Klaas says the pain has subsided, but will always be there.

"The whole idea, when people tell you to get on with your life, or to get over it, is ridiculous. It’s absurd, because you can’t leave something like that behind you," Marc Klaas said.

Cherished photos on hang on his walls, replacing the ones once plastered on "missing" posters across the Bay Area, a painful reminder of the tragedy that will always be part of Petaluma’s past.

"Just a lot of more ‘stranger danger’ and lots of doors locked," said Shannon Russell of Petaluma, who was 10 when Polly was kidnapped. The two had been in the same soccer league.

"It definitely defines Petaluma," Russell added. "I’ve traveled all over the world, people would hear Petaluma, and they’ll say, ‘Oh, Polly Klaas,’ and they live in other countries, other places."

Polly’s killer Richard Allen Davis was identified after investigators realized Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies had contacted him hours after the kidnapping when his Pinto got stuck in a ditch. He’s been sentenced to death, but the death penalty is now on hold in California.

"If there was any justice in the world, he’d be in the ground, and she’d still be walking around," said Vail Bello, a retired Petaluma police detective sergeant who worked the case.

"The fact that Davis is still here, the fact that he’s still alive and being taken care of, by our state dollars, you know, it doesn’t just bother me, it bothers a lot of us," Bello said.

Davis led investigators to a shallow grave near Cloverdale where he had left Polly's body. 

"He was smoking a cigarette with his hands cuffed in front of him, like he didn’t have a care in the world," Bello recalled.

Bello says he actually thought about shooting Davis right there.

"I started to reach for my shoulder holster, I had my pistol there," Bello said.

 But his FBI partner told him it wasn’t worth it. 

Polly’s case has spurred many changes throughout law enforcement.

"There’s kidnap protocols now, there are things like Megan’s Law, which notifies the public about sex offenders living within their communities, so they can use that information," Klaas said. "We have an Amber alert now."

KTVU legal analyst Brian Sobel, who was vice mayor of Petaluma at the time said Davis deserves the death penalty. 

"He’s a sociopath. He’s a walking embodiment of why you have the death penalty," Sobel said. "And, of course, this case spawned the ‘three strikes law.’" 

Sobel visited Davis at San Quentin Prison, where he refused to admit that he had sexually assaulted her.  

"At one point, he got very frustrated, and he said, 'You know if I ever admitted to that, I’d be dead.’ And I said, ‘Rick, you’re dead anyway,’" Sobel said. 

Sobel and Klaas say California has yo-yoed with respect to its criminal justice policies, from three strikes to progressive district attorneys calling for reforms.

"It’s not just DAs, it’s politicians as well," Klaas said. "Politicians seem to be doing everything that they can to empty out the prisons, and that includes putting dangerous people back on the street."

In some ways, Petaluma seems to have gone back to its small-town reputation.

The Polly Klaas Community Theater opened in time for the 30-year anniversary.

"She wanted to pursue acting. That’s what she wanted to do. And she was pretty good at it. She was really coming into her own as a human," her father said.

Polly would have been 42 this year. But she will forever be 12.

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and www.facebook.com/henrykleefan