An auto shop owner disappears after he receives a call for help from a stranded motorist.
Weight: 130 lbs.
Dale found torn photos at his shop
On July 4, 1999, a family in Montrose County, Colorado, taking a Sunday swim, discovered a pick-up truck in the muddy water. The Sheriff's Department responded to the scene. The truck belonged to Dale Williams, who had not been seen or heard from for six weeks. The pickup and the crime scene gave no clues to Dale's whereabouts.
Forty-two year-old Dale Williams was a devoted husband and father of two teenage daughters. He owned and operated an auto body shop in the town of Nucla. The night he disappeared, Dale didn't make it home for dinner. At first, his wife, Diana, assumed he had just lost track of time. But by bedtime, she was worried:
"I called the shop a couple of times and no answer. So I thought, 'Well, maybe he just didn't hear the phone 'cause he's using the air ratchets or something. I went to bed about 10, I laid there and I felt like something's wrong. I tossed and turned all night, woke up several times and he still wasn't home."
By dawn, Dale had not returned. As soon as she got her kids off to school, Diana drove straight to his garage:
"When I first walked in the shop, the door was unlocked. The hood was still up on the van. His tools were just lying around the vehicle like he'd just walked away from it for a few minutes. I went over to my mother-in-law's and she hadn't heard from him the day before or that morning."
Who was the mysterious stranded motorist?
They searched for hours before calling the police. Investigators learned Dale made a brief stop at family friend Tami Lowrance's office about 12:15 P.M. the day he disappeared:
"I had a windshield that I needed repaired on a truck of ours. I thought it was strange that Dale stopped in, because he didn't have to stop and tell me. He could have called me."
Dale was in a hurry. According to Tammy, he told her he was on his way to help a stranded motorist:
"Maybe he felt uneasy about who he was going to give a tow to. I really don't know. That was the last time that I saw Dale Williams."
Investigators also found out that Dale's friend, Pastor Tom Ross, and his son, had stopped by the body shop late that morning. Tom told the police that Dale received distress call while he was there:
"It was getting close to the noon hour and he said, 'I'm real busy today, got a full shop.' 'But,' he said, 'I got time for one game of darts if you want to, if you got time.' I said, 'Yeah, sure.' And a phone call came in. They said they were broken down about three-quarters of a mile east of the Bedrock Colorado Store, just a little country store."
Dale's shop did auto body repair. He wasn't a mechanic. Tom Ross thinks it was strange for him to receive a call for roadside help:
"I did feel it was odd that they called Dale for assistance. But, at the same time, Dale was willing to go and help somebody if they were broken down. We said our good-byes at the shop door. That's the last time I ever saw Dale."
Dale's friends and family printed missing posters and put them up all over town. Dale's wife, Diana, explains the strange events that followed:
"We had missing posters up. And I'd noticed, I put some in the post office and about two days later they were all gone. So I put some more in there and in two or three days, they'd disappear."
A surveillance camera hidden by police captured a photo of the man who tore down the flyers. He was a former friend of Dale and Diana Williams. Lt. Greg Hiler of the Montrose County Sheriff's Department:
"The individual depicted in the photographs was questioned and he denied any involvement in Dale's disappearance. He also was able to explain, to give us an alibi, for the 27th of May 1999. For the most part, that alibi is consistent and has been confirmed."
Twelve months before Dale vanished, he and Diana had helped move the man's ex-wife to another state without his knowledge. Diana thinks this was the basis for a motive:
"He was angry at Dale for helping his ex-wife move. And then we wouldn't tell him where she was or anything like that. And I feel like he was really angry with Dale for that."
A month after the move, Diana said that Dale found some disturbing items outside his shop:
"He went to work and he noticed some pictures torn up there. Just lying all over the ground."
The torn photographs had been stolen from his shop. They were pictures of Dale and Diana with their now divorced friends. Several .22-caliber rounds were scattered on the ground. A few days later, Diana made a strange discovery in the drop box at the video store she managed: a .22 caliber revolver. The gun -- like the torn photos -- had been stolen from Dale's shop:
"I was really nervous 'cause I didn't know what to think. And Dale just told me to not worry about it, things would be okay and things will settle down. Whatever happened, it was more to scare him, he felt like, than anything."