A young man disappears from Madison, Wisconsin, then two days later he’s found dead in Chicago.

Smiling Chad Maurer with blond hair

Chad Maurer

A man lifting a garage door open to find a car inside

He was found dead in his car


In the spring of 1990, 19-year-old Chad Maurer was working in a bike shop in Madison, Wisconsin. A popular student and well-rounded athlete, Chad hoped to save up enough money to move to Colorado for college and snowboarding.

An investigator holding a shirt with blood stains on it

Chad’s clothes were bloody

On the afternoon of May 19th, Chad returned home to grab a quick lunch before returning to work. Everything seemed normal, including Chad’s request for gas money. Chad’s mother, Dolly Maurer, remembers that day vividly:

“There was nothing about him that was different. He wasn’t on edge. He was just so excited about the job. And he had a big smile on his face, as usual.”

Chad’s father, John Maurer, noticed nothing unusual either:

“I was standing right outside saying good-bye to him and I didn’t notice anything different either, about anything or the car. It was kind of cool out that day and I just don’t think he intended to go anywhere else or he would have had a jacket with him.”

But Chad didn’t make it back to work. He ended up 150 miles away in the south side of Chicago, one of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. That’s where a maintenance worker found Chad’s car abandoned in the garage of a housing complex. Inside the car, Chad lay dead, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning. The Chicago police contacted the Maurers with the tragic news that their son had committed suicide. Chad’s mother could not believe it:

“My system went into shock. My brain went into shock. Chad had too much going for him. Chad had all his friends and Chad loved life. Chad was not depressed. Chad was not down. He had so many goals.”

A group of people around Chad at night

Was Chad’s murder drug related?

The Chicago police claimed there was no evidence of foul play, yet the knuckles on both of Chad’s hands had been skinned to the bone and there were bruises on his face. When the Maurers asked to see Chad’s old clothes, they found them stained with blood. John and Dolly began to fear that their son had been murdered. They went to review police photos of their son’s body, along with Dane County Sheriff’s Department Detective David Bongiovani:

“The parents noted the jacket on the front seat was not a jacket they knew Chad owned. It would be interesting to know if the jacket size is consistent with Chad’s size. Or it may give us an idea of the basic build of somebody that may have been in the car with him.”

The jacket was another clue pointing to the involvement of an unknown person in Chad’s death. The autopsy report also suggested that Chad had not taken his own life. The level of carbon monoxide in his body was 74%, much higher than usually found in a suicide. While the findings proved that Chad had died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the extremely high levels suggested he had been put in the car while unconscious, rather than getting into the car under his own power. Det. Bongiovani:

“My understanding is that levels where they’re conscious, at the time they succumb to carbon monoxide, is about 50 to 60%. Levels that get up to 74 to 80% are more consistent with a person being unconscious or sleeping when they succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning, and that’s because people naturally have a tendency to breathe deeper and more methodically when they’re sleeping than when they’re awake.”

The cause of Chad’s death was changed from suicide to undetermined and authorities began a full-blown investigation. The bike shop owner was quoted in a local newspaper saying he thought Chad had seemed afraid. Soon after the article appeared, the shop was vandalized. No other stores in the area were hit. It appeared someone was sending a message.

Chad’s story was aired on a local Crime Stoppers program in Madison. After the broadcast, a caller left a disturbing tip alleging that Chad was involved in a drug deal with people who lived in his apartment complex. These same people had previously lived on the south side of Chicago. Sgt. John W. Ridges is with the Chicago Police Department:

“We know through our intelligence sources that there is a pipeline of narcotics trafficking from Chicago to Madison. Now, there’s nothing in Chad’s background that would really suggest that he’s involved with narcotics. But because of this conduit, there’s a possibility that he might have been tricked into being involved in narcotics and narcotics trafficking.”

Det. Bongiovani has his own theories:

“Is it possible that somebody offered him money? Chad was looking for money and wanted to move to Colorado. He was hoping to get a couple thousand dollars to go there for a snowboarding and BMX event. Is it possible somebody offered him $500 to make the trip, and then when they got to Chicago, reneged on that, and an altercation occurred, with Chad obviously being the loser of that altercation?”

Sgt. Ridge thinks that someone in the Madison area may know more than they are willing to tell:

“I think probably that’s who we’re trying to reach out to now, because we’re not going to know what happened inside that garage unless we know the circumstances surrounding how he got there, and that’s what we’re really after at this point.”

Chad’s mother, Dolly, is left to deal with the pain of not knowing:

“All we know in Chad’s case is that Chad is dead, and he ended up in Chicago, and we know he was beaten up. But why was he beaten up? How did he end up in Chicago? There are so many questions. And every day we wake up and we think a different thing that could have happened to Chad. I know it won’t bring Chad back, but we cannot rest, and we cannot put Chad to rest until we really have the answers to this case.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season four with Robert Stack and in season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.




  1. Nulius

    The tip of the drug ring with someone in his apartment complex is a lead worth following up on. Saying Chad “isn’t the type” or because he didnt have drugs/alcohol in his system for the toxicology report isn’t a good enough reason to not follow up. Also, something the mom said jumped out to me and didnt seem to be followed up on (at least not in the show), the mom said “My system went into shock, my brain went into shock and I wasn’t thinking UNTIL THE KIDS STARTING CALLING. I DONT EVEN KNOW HOW THEY FOUND OUT BUT THE KIDS STARTED CALLING. ‘DID CHAD COMMIT SUICIDE!?'” I think it’s worth asking who called and how did they find out? If the parents were the only ones, besides the perpetrators, who were supposed to know that Chad was dead and had supposedly committed suicide. Someone he trusted went with him to Chicago. I guess it’s possible he was killed in Madison and driven/dumped in Chicago. But more likely he went there with someone (likely the owner of the jacket). This person and Chad were probably robbed and potentially Chad fought back resulting in them deciding to leave him in his car with the motor running.


  2. Jay S

    What’s difficult about this case is everything is a guess and very little fact. The only facts of this case is a clean Caucasian male was found in his vehicle beaten up and murdered by carbon monoxide poisoning in a neighborhood he did not belong. A jacket in his vehicle that did not belong to Chad was identified in the vehicle and is now missing. The bike shop that Chad worked at was vandalized 9 days after the owner spoke to the news. It’s unfortunate the police did a poor investigation when Chad was found and quickly labeled suicide. Suicide should have been the last cause of death at the crime scene. The jacket was probably loaded with DNA and should have been collected as evidence. The garage door, door handles to Chad’s car, the door all could have been dusted for finger prints. Criminals don’t talk or snitch, someone coming forward will never happen. Unfortunately, too much time has passed, the jacket and crime scene evidence is gone. The only lead left is why the shots at the bike shop? Someone at the bike shop had to have known something for a message to be sent, otherwise why shoot at the bike shop?


  3. Jarvisjones

    This young man died two years after the crack epidemic start hitting hard on the already violent streets of Chicago Illinois,and considering this actual information,his death was caused by these particular scenarios, which includes first and foremost murder with malice,and intent due to the matter of where and how he was found in a predominant black drug infested city of Chicago,which from the crime and drug statistic chart he was in the city of the worse of the worse that still resonate in Chicago to this very day,and the point on this matter are Chad got involved with some shady young ruthless individuals who was involved in the drug trade in the Chicago area doing that time,and some how became some type drug runner for these guys, possibly the driver,and and some how what ever that was promised to Chad for the risky gig wasn’t offered to Chad as promised,so therefore Chad refused they request as the drug driver,and they ultimately end up killing Chad. The only hopes in finding all the true elements in this case is a eye witnesses who could place theyselfs in the company of chan Maurer the night he ended up dead in the south side of Chicago in the spring of 1990. Other than that this case would never he solved,we are talking about 1990 this occurred 32 yrs ago,this is the passage of time now, meaning to much time has passed, considering the actual suspects violent life style,they to may have met the same faith as chan even worse don’t know what happened to them thru these decades since it happened,but I know the truth is Chad with murdered,and would never get justice.


  4. Diva

    It’s absolutely horrible and horrific what happened to this bright gorgeous young man! Was he oblivious to what was lurking on the South side of Chicago?! Parents please…please do not try and SHELTER your children…especially as they leave high school…from ALL TRUTHS they are out here in the world!!! Let them see the dangers of gangs and the ghettos and underserved communities that are in every major city and towns across the country!!! Trying to hide them from the truth keeps them from being able to make RESPONSIBLE decisions!!! There’s no protection a parent can give their children like when you let them LEARN THE REALITY OF WHATS ACTUALLY GOING ON OUT HERE IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM and unless it’s your family or A TRUE FRIEND…trust absolutely no one and STAY AWAY FROM ANYONE OR ANY COMMUNITY THAT HAS HIGH CRIME AND HIGH DRUG ACTIVITY!!!! There are USERS AND TAKERS out there and most of them do it for a LIVING!!! Poor kid…oh well…may Jesus rest his soul! One day….whomever did those horrible things to him…will be standing in front of Christ!!! They won’t get away with lying in front of Him and where they’re going will be an eternity of what they did to that poor boy…1000 times more heinous!!!!


  5. Holdfast

    He’s not wrong though.


  6. RR

    Very sad and there is absolutely no chance it will ever be known who killed him as it most likely were a bunch of scum gangbangers who live by a third world code of silence when it comes to reporting crimes. The promoters of the multi-cult killed this young man, had he not been convinced by his schooling that all who were born with a human continence (two arms, two legs, walks upright) were “equal” then he would never have been so foolish as to visit the ghettos of Chicago. Another sacrifice at the alter of diversity.


  7. Snugs mom

    He’s buried in the cemetery next to the high school I went to. They don’t allow anyone bc of it being private property, but it’s right next to the high school, so we could easily go there… The bike shop he worked at is still there. This is one of the most sought out cases in madison, and remains unsolved, but my guess is, fear keeps whoever knows anything from speaking due to the south side of Chicago and the drug issues. Bc he went to the same high school, it’s a legend there, and most of us know about his case. My other guess, whoever did kill him, and yes, he was killed, murdered, taken.. probably went back to Chicago after the murder, and seeing as they were from there, not here, they will be almost impossible to find unless the case is reopened and Dna testing is done. The jacket could be the key, along with his car. But it’s been 25 years, and remains a tragedy as he gets no justice, nor his family and friends. Back then, drugs were at a high… Today it’s way higher and way worse, but back then, everyone was doing the D.A.R.E. So kids would understand not to do drugs. My heart goes out to him and his family, as I didn’t know him, I was 8/9 when he died, but bc it’s so easy to get to his grave and the same school, same town, and his work remains open, it’s so devastating. I don’t understand why Chicago police didn’t think homicide when they saw blood stains and his knuckles being skinned down to the bone… That’s ridiculous the parents had to get our LE involved to determine it wasn’t a suicide. It’s pretty black and white what happened, but, that’s not what matters, what question that does is, who, try not to forget that. Who…. If they could kill him, they could kill a witness or anyone with info that would talk… And I don’t think they ever came back after killing him, to stay undetected. The store being vandalized is a huge red flag that yeah, it’s def a msg to shut up. So it wouldn’t be out of question or reason that someone knows and they won’t talk, the south side is one of the roughest in the country, why would they snitch?! Unfort I don’t think it can ever be solved ESP after all this time, unless they can get dna or look into the codex(not sure how to spell) system to see if they are in the system.


    • stroh

      It doesn’t surprise me the cops didn’t pursue an investigation in chicago. I had a vehicle stolen at my then home and it was found with a neighbor of mine in that town. However another car was stolen in my same town, same night. We trailered my vehicle the 100 miles home and took it to the local dealer for inspection. Dealer asked us to remove all our stuff so they didn’t have to move it. I started to clean it out and found a coat w/ my neighbors wallet in it, a duffle bag, etc and none of it ours. Went to get my sun glasses and they were gone but I found 2 joints in their place. After investigating chicago I find the cops stopped the vehicle and four guys bailed out (1 was my neighbor.) Obviously the cops didn’t even look at the vehicle our they would have found the drugs, coat/wallet, duffle bag etc. In my opinion chicago protected their own at our expense. The cops here searched my vehicle and didn’t find anything more but told me they would note on the title/record that it was a theft recovery and drugs had been found upon recovery…to help protect us at least. I wouldn’t expect ANY help from the inept cops in chicago!

      My heart goes out to Chad and his family. I’m not certain but they may be kin to my kids but I don’t remember any talk of this while I was in the family.


  8. Anonymous

    Very sad indeed.


  9. Johnny

    Chad would probably still be alive if he wasn’t so ambitious. He could have went to college cheaper in Wisconsin as an in state student and put the snow boarding on hold. Only 19, Chad probably was a little naive when he was involved with the supposed drug deal. He probably thought of the $ not the inherent danger. My guess they reneged on payment and Chad was quickly subdued by 3 or 4 people and placed in the garage area. I think this could be solved with some good detective work maybe a Cold Case squad or CRMJ class looking into unsolved cases. Plenty of evidence with the jacket and blood.


  10. Bnk

    I just have questions. With technology today can the coat get vacuumed for hair or skin cells then dna testing performed? If the criminal has been through the system we may get a dna match on CODIS( not dure if that is the correct name). Also, is it possible he succummed to the CO gas as a result of being stuffed in the trunk and his knuckles being bear from trying to punch open the trunk? Maybe his blood might be found on the underside of the boot.


  11. Blue bird

    Chad Had met With Foul Play But Why would Some body Murder This Sweet Young man? I Really do believe Chad Was In The Wrong Place At The wrong Time!


  12. Darren

    I think it is very sad that such a young life had to be taken so soon, and hope that who ever did it is found and put to death.


  13. Anonymous

    I just watched this today and it broke my heart. I will be praying for the Maurer family to help them find out what happened to their son Chad


  14. DK

    I also grew up in Chicago and love the city. It’s ashame that such a beautiful city has to have a drug problem. I hope someone finds what happened to Chad. Its to bad what happened to him. He was a gook looking kid and looked like he had a promising future ahead of him. God Bless Chad and his parents.


  15. Jonathan

    If the parents of this young man (since he died a young man, he will forever remain one to his beloved parents) are reading this, please realize just because he was “involved with drugs” does NOT mean he was a bad person or even a criminal. I assume these people that lived in his apartment complex were obviously involved with some drug dealers on Chicago’s ghetto south side, and like speculated, they tried to stiff him on a payment for a ride he gave them, and this got ugly. Also, he could have seen something or walked in on a crime and then it happened. He did NOT kill himself, no way possible, and at least his parents can take comfort in that. When I was 19 (circa 2001) I was making drug runs to Philadelphia since it was a fast and easy way to make money for a 19 year old kid with a future ahead of them. May Chad rest in peace and I hope one day you at least get some FINAL closure (hire a PI to go after the neighbors he lived near and was in business with). I was only 7 years old when this happened, and the world is a VERY different, worse place today. You don’t have to drive to major cities to get drugs because most doctors will give them to you for free.


  16. Anonymous

    Hopefully the family of this boy will start looking more into what happened as the Chicago Police is starting to make positive changes .


  17. Anonymous



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