A trucker mysteriously disappears in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest.

Smiling Devin Williams with a handle bar mustache

Devin Williams

A white semi-truck driving through the woods

A semi-truck came crashing through the woods

CASE DETAILS

It was Memorial Day weekend, 1995. Arizona’s Tonto National Forest was a popular getaway for families and campers. The last thing anyone would have expected to see was a ten-ton semi truck crashing through the woods. The driver of the truck was Devin Williams, a 29 year old father of three.

An older man watching the driver of the semi truck get out of his car

A witness talked to the driver

Two campers had a frighteningly close experience as Devin’s 18 wheeler barreled towards their SUV. Lynn Yarrington was an eye witness:

“There was no expression on his face at all. He didn’t attempt to slow down or look over to see if they needed help or anything, he just kept on going.”

Later that day another eye-witness, Charles Hall, came upon the 18 wheeler stalled in a field. Hall recalls the trucker’s last words being, “I’m going to jail.”

“I envisioned a hostage situation, a hijacking, kidnapping, whatever. A jail break, maybe, and someone had a gun on someone in the cab. He made no effort to keep us there, no effort to ask for help, do anything for him.”

Late Sunday afternoon, Deputy Dean Wells followed up on a report that a 48 foot semi was stranded in the forest. When Deputy Wells arrived on the scene he found the truck’s cargo to be completely intact. The driver was nowhere to be found and when he checked the National Crime Computer, there was no record of either a missing truck or driver.

A man with curly black hair walking through the woods

Was Devin on drugs?

The inside of the cab appeared to be very clean and well maintained. According to Deputy Wells, there was no reason to believe foul play was involved.

Devin Williams was a loving husband and the father of three. By all accounts, he was not the type to dump a fully loaded rig in the middle of the forest. However, the abandoned truck was indeed his.

Six days before his wild ride in the forest, Devin had left his home in Kansas and headed west. It was a route he had taken many times. After delivering his load in California, Devin checked in with his boss, Tom Wilson:

“Looking back, I can’t see anything out of the ordinary to make me suspect anything. Everything indicated it was just a very normal trip in the time frame and that everything’s going real good.”

On Saturday evening, the day before his disappearance, Devin telephoned headquarters for the last time. He complained of being unable to sleep, yet was determined to get back on the road. By Sunday morning he was barreling through the woods of the Tonto National Forest, miles from any highway. To this day, no one knows why, and none of the theories make sense.

Reports of Devin’s disoriented behavior and incoherence prompted suspicions that he was on drugs. But according to Tom Wilson, that was not the case with Devin:

“We’d had no drug problem with him. He had passed his drug tests and everything…”

Devin’s wife, Mary Lou Williams, is confident that something must have happened to her husband. The young couple had recently purchased a house and, according to Mary Lou, were at the happiest point in their marriage. It was unlike Devin to go off his route, let alone be that irrational.

If Devin Williams didn’t run off, where was he? Foot patrols, canine searches and rescue teams all came up empty handed. Hunters and hikers in the area never reported finding so much as a bone fragment or a scrap of clothing.

UPDATE:

Nearly two years after Devin’s disappearance, hikers discovered a human skull, just a half mile from where he had last been seen. Dental records confirmed the skull belonged to Devin Williams. The cause of his death and his strange behavior is still an unsolved mystery.


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

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46 Comments

  1. Patrick

    Yeah he could’ve been tired, combined with exhaust fumes like some have mentioned or even drugs that messed his brain up. He seemed to be in a strange state, wandered off and died from the elements perhaps. Animals could have gotten to his body as to why only the skull was found, just my opinion and thoughts on the case.

    Reply

  2. David

    I don’t think this was foul play. There is clearly a cognitive problem here either due to an environmental chemical like carbon monoxide or most likely a medical issue. An undiagnosed mental issue can’t be ruled out. I’m not convinced of drugs given the lack of evidence. I am leaning towards a blood vessel issue like a stroke or complications from diabetes, He is described as a hefty build. Being overweight or obese is common with diabetics. Diabetics can have episodes similar to this if not being treated. Further, they can have neuropathy which often manifests itself as tingling burning feet which might explain his being barefoot. He might have taken off his shoes and socks because of the discomfort.

    In terms of cause of death, if it were a blood vessel, he collapsed and died. He was in bear country. Perhaps even a bear attack. There are plenty of other animals that might have contributed to his demise before or after his death. They can scatter his body and bones which might explain why they only found a skull. I suspect there were/are still other bones.

    This family is in my thoughts and prayers. I’m sure healing and closure are still needed.

    Reply

  3. Truthseeker

    I’m new to all of this, however I am a huge true crime buff, in reading the information about this case, I hope I will be able to help. I’m not sure I will be too much of a help but I would like to help in any way possible. I have a couple of questions that maybe somebody may be able to answer and a possible theory as to the reasoning behind this case. I’m going to lead first with the questions that I needed to ask first.
    Question 1 – Were there any hit and run accidents or vehicular deaths on the late hours of Saturday that memorial weekend on the route that Devin Williams takes to go from California to Kansas?
    The reason I ask this question is because, on a lot of the holiday weekends especially late at night, traffic may have been heavy with people that may have been out partying or from having a good time; maybe there was a accident of two that was either reported or noticed at that time of night.
    Question 2 – Did Devin Williams semi truck look like it had any blemishes or damage to the truck itself? Anything that looks as if the semi truck had been in a slight accident?
    The reason I ask this question is because, Deputy Dean Wells was first on the scene and speaks about the interior of the truck clean and very well maintained, also the outside trailer and cargo to be completely intact. We do not know the condition of the outside of the semi truck and if there were signs of any damage to the truck itself, in whatever manner of damage their may be; such as, a dent on the front of the truck.
    Question 3 – Did the Williams family have any financial hardships leading up to the events of the case?
    The reason I ask this question, having financial hardships can be an extremely stressful situation, making a person to have anxiety and severe stress.
    Depending on the answers to those questions I have a theory as to what may have happened on that night before and day of Devin Williams disappearance. Of course I will try and explain to where each important detail fits in with the theory.
    My Theory – Speaking of Devin Williams character he seems as if he was a good person and a very caring person, realizing I do not know this person personally I must go under the assumption that this is a true statement. Devin Williams may have been overly worried or concerned about the well being of his family and job, in the statement with Mary Lou Williams Devin’s wife they have just purchased a home at the time of the case, it can put a lot of stress and anxiety on a person with great financial responsibility. Now with that said, a person would feel responsible for anything that may have happened to their income such as loss of a job or loss of a income in any sort of way. With all of that possible stress and anxiety already in play, could have lead to the beginnings of a nervous breakdown. The case states that Mr. Williams called his headquarters the night before complaining of having troubles sleeping or resting, being on the road for long shifts or periods of time, leads to sleep deprivation. If he was going through sleep deprivation and driving, my theory is that Mr. Williams may have fallen asleep behind the wheel of his truck, gotten into either a minor accident or drove someone off the road. Believing that he had possibly killed this individual or individuals, put Mr. Williams into an extreme nervous breakdown. Already being on edge about finances, and now being in a accident that he believes he has killed someone and may lose his job took him over the edge. I then believe as he was mulling over his situation and continuing further with his nervous breakdown, sets off the fight or flight response. He made a decision to have the flight response and try to flee from the situation. I believe that is what lead to his state driving through the National forest, not recognizing as he almost drove down the suv that Lynn Yarrington had witnessed. In his breakdown state, I believe that is when Mr. Charles Hall witnessed Mr. Williams in his incoherent status with the statement “I’m going to jail.” In his disappearance, I believe he may have hid or tried to avoid being arrested and hid, later succumbing to the elements and perishing out in the wilderness. Later after the environments had taken his body I believe that animals in the area may have dragged the body around the environment and had eaten some of the remains leaving the head to be discovered by the hikers years later.

    Reply

  4. Charles

    Some kind of mental breakdown. I think it was drugs. Just because a person has never had a history of drugs means nothing.

    Reply

  5. GordonTrainer

    Okay it’s kind of funny I said he he snapped but even though he snapped he still had enough sense to know he was in trouble and I said he’s going to go hang his self but I was watching the show then they said they found a skull but it’s been thoroughly searched a lot of times or whatever’s been 30 searched I said yeah the guy went up to the tree far enough and hung himself because it probably didn’t have a lower limb and maybe they want to be seen because like I said he snapped but then he can’t think he come back out of his snap I don’t know about that but anyway I said he’s going to hang himself just watching the show so when they’re doing this anyway I can’t see what I’m writing to have my girlfriend broke my glasses but anyway check it out yourself hire up in the tree they searched underneath of him after about 4 or 5 days or a week after that deteriorated enough his body fell to the ground and his head fell to the ground later and it f****** animals took off with his body that’s why they only found his head disc golf and they just bought a new house this and that to have this ever been but he was stressed out think about it but it’s pretty good I said he hung himself I know he’s going to hang himself wasn’t watching it think about it he hung himself he was hiring the trees I spread it all over

    Reply

  6. TR Yoder

    Did anyone drug test the rig? ..

    Reply

  7. Sandyjeanie

    Here’s my thoughts on Devin. While on the road, he complained to his boss about being extremely tired yet unable to sleep. Devin may have shared these complaints with other truckers on the road. Now..even though Devin had no past history of drug use..there is a possibility that another trucker gave Devin some pills and told him..”Oh..I use these pills all the time to stay awake, and they work great. Why don’t you give them a try”. Devin tried the pills and they turned out to be more methamphetamine than speed. If you are not used to the effects of meth..the results can be disastrous..like that young couple from Omaha who froze to death because they were hallucinating on meth. That is my thought of what could have happened to Devin..because his behaviors were in line with someone hallucinating on methamphetamine..and especially if you’re not used to the effects of the drug.

    Reply

  8. bulloni in acciaio inossidabile

    I’m still learning from you, as I’m trying to reach my goals. I absolutely liked reading all that is posted on your blog.Keep the aarticles coming. I loved it!

    Reply

  9. Anonymous

    Ginger Spice and Kai. I agree with your comments that were chilling for me. I just woke up from a dream. I have never heard of Devin or this case. In my dream I was the passenger of a car, as we traveled down the road a big rig from the left lane cut us off, crashing into a building( a little different from the woods) in a small town. We called the police and ran to check on the passenger. Who in my dream looks like the picture above minus facial hair. When we approached asking if he was okay, he was incoherent. He stood up the sat down because he had a head injury. I asked his name he said Devin. I asked him what happened and he gave answers that did not coincide with the questions. He then stood up and approached us. I asked Devin to sit down because I feared he would fall and injure himself further. Devin kept approaching saying very odd things. By this time it looked like his front teeth were missing and his mouth was bloody. It scared us so much we turned to run. I looked back and he was smiling with a full set of teeth, then I woke up. I googled Deven truck driver and this story came up. Devin is looking for someone to help him solve his case. I will post more info if he comes to me again.Hopefully he finds peace.

    Reply

  10. Ginger Spice

    i think he was hit in the head and the last place he was when he got off the phone and walked out someone hit him in the head and was going to rob him but he got away with a head injury it is a iffy thing to say but the police didnt go there and ask questions which they should have done no wonder he was so confuseddd

    Reply

  11. Ginger Spice

    i think he was hit in the head and the lat place he was when he got off the phone and walked out some het him in the head was going to rob him he got away but with a head injury it is a iffy thing to say but the police didnt go there and ask questions which they should have done no wonder he was so confuseddd

    Reply

  12. Bill Blaski

    Not sure why the coroner could not get a case of death, or run toxicology on the remains etc. was it drugs, diabetes, mental break, lack of sleep, I just wish the people who saw him would’ve called 911 immediately and kept him in eye shot. I hate it that he never got the help he was crying out for. Nowadays people will film someone in trouble vs helping them. RIP Devin

    Reply

  13. Stephanie

    This one made my heart so sad for Devin and his family 🙁 Wonder if it was a brain tumor?

    Reply

  14. Kai

    Pretty sad case. Any number of medical conditions could cause confusion and strange behavior, and they don’t have to be something he was regularly suffering from. He food have had an acute issue like a stroke, or a severe diabetic episode, etc.

    Seems, to me, he had some sort of sad, acute issue, acted erratically in a way that scared everyone around him making them run away instead of help him, then, either that condition got worse and killed him, or he died of exposure being unable to help himself in his impaired state. They never found the location he ultimately expired, but some carnivorous animal did, and moved the skull to an area already searched where it was found later.

    Unfortunate and sad

    Reply

    • Jan

      This breaks my heart because I experienced a severe diabetic episode that no one I encountered contacted authorities to report my strange behavior. I ran off the road into a ditch although two passerbys contacted the police. The police arrived and asked if I was okay, I responded I was okay but couldn’t even focus my eyesight. A tow truck was called to transport my vehicle to the nearest auto garage as I had two flat tires. The tow truck driver had to assist me into his tow truck and seemed to notice something was wrong but never notified the police officer or asked if I was okay…I thought I was okay. We arrived at the tire store where I could not even stay awake. We were left at the tire store and I vaguely remember talking to myself, I could barely walk and couldn’t figure out how to pay the bill for the tires. Again no one asked if I was okay or called the police. The tires were replaced and I proceeded to drive away in the car. I now knew something was wrong because my vision was so blurry that I could not see the lanes on the highway. God sent me an angel….after noticing my erratic driving another driver called the State Patrol. At the Patrol’s request, this driver continued to follow me and informed the Patrol of my driving location. This allowed the police to quickly locate me. For some inexplicable reason I looked into my rearview mirror and noticed flashing police lights. In my diminished capacity, I wondered why I was being pulled over. As the patrol officer approached my vehicle, I recall hearing him yell “Thank you” to a passing car. The officer took one look at my face and asked “Are you a diabetic?” I confirmed I was and he immediately ran back to his patrol vehicle and called the paramedics. They arrived quickly and tested my glucose level to determine I was at 25…..on the verge of coma and death. I had never experienced this so I did not identify it. IF YOU SEE SOMEONE ACTING STRANGELY, CALL THE POLICE. IT COULD SAVE THEIR LIFE!!!!

      Reply

  15. banksallday

    Its hard to come up with a realistic scenario that fits all the puzzle pieces together just perfectly. Some people are better then others when it comes to gut instinct and can solve riddles and puzzles when it deals with the human psyche and the mysteries that can surround individuals who fall victim. I would say my self having read over thousands of cases with quite of few of them being solved I might be inclined to say I lean just a bit over what the normal intelligent person who hasn’t been involved with such things might conclude. I’m just a home-brew recreational armchair detective though but iv surprised my self a few times.

    My mind went back and fourth, but Im a logic player in this cruel game. I can only make assumptions on experiences Iv had in my life which is plentiful. I dont usually come up with the crazy one in a million chances theories that, regardless, many cases can have. But we also have to appreciate the uncertainty and randomness that is life. Anything can happen at anytime with mysteries disappearance cases, after all thats what makes them unusual and interesting to begin with. Logic in this case would put the blame in my mind on financial pressure a we know the burden he was facing trying to take care of his family. This can believe it or not be more powerful then any drug related or sociopath behavior. That was one thing that stood out to me, which is the logical choice here. See logic plays in facts, we know this isnt his first rodeo, hes been on skidrow up and down the US driving big rigs for many years. This isnt some kid that accidently fell victim to bad choices and he wound up doing something crazy. I dont think this is drug related, and if their was something wrong with the truck the investigators would have mentioned that and it would have found its way to us the armchair detectives. I think it was a mental break of some kind brought on by finances, bad money practices or having some run in with some people in some way as he did say some stuff that would indicate that their was some type of communication with other people other then his family. At least i dont think it was an accidental overdose, he knew what he was doing, maybe financial stress caught up to him and he decided to to do something hardcore like heroin.

    This is one of those mysteries where their should be literally hundreads of pages of police investigation, but we have no facts what so ever. We dont know what the deal was with his big rig, what did they find in it? Did they investigate the last stops he made, or the local areas and question any one as to why a man would go completely insane in one night that has never had one incident in his entire life. Their is way more questions then answers like with most cases, this is one of those cases that with enough money and resources, a group of private investigators could retrace his steps and turn up more evidence I think.

    Reply

  16. Nick

    “They searched for him but never found anything? How’s skull as found not far from the truck. He was dumped there.”

    Just because the remains turned up somewhere that was already searched doesn’t mean that someone dumped the body. It may come as a shock to you, but the forest is populated by carnivorous animals that will scavage dead bodies as a source of food. Even more shocking, it’s not like an animal can pull up a table and chow down. Not having hands and walking on all fours tend to prevent that. As such, surprise, surprise, animals often drag and pull remains in order to get at the meat.

    His remains being moved from where he died is 100% possible, but that doesn’t necessarily point to human causes.

    Reply

  17. Rachel

    They searched for him but never found anything? How’s skull as found not far from the truck. He was dumped there.

    Reply

  18. Chloe Stetson

    “By all accounts, he was not the type to dump a fully loaded rig in the middle of the forest”
    Yeah, yeah, yeah…. That’s what everyone says about their criminal family member. Especially murders…
    “No way he did that! He was such a loving, kind, and gentle man! I just KNOW it wasn’t him!”
    When it turns out to be that “gentle, loving man” every time.
    When are people going to learn? Everyone whos Anyone is absolutely capable of anything at anytime and anywhere!!
    Juat because he was your “son” or “husband” or “father” doesn’t mean Jack sh*t! Sorry to tell you. I can’t help but laugh at these peoples stupidity.

    Reply

  19. Wolf

    Carbon monoxide poisoning.
    The symptoms fit. The truck should have been throughly inspected.
    Just because you can’t smell exhaust, doesn’t mean there isn’t a leak.

    Reply

  20. Ryan

    I’ve heard of so called closet alcoholics-the ones who made it to work on time…etc., maybe Devin was a closet drug user…or maybe Devin took drugs after the drug test…considering that no signs of trauma where found on Devin’s body…narcotics are known to make the user paranoid,disillusional,incorherent,

    If so that might also explain the “$20.00 bill”sighting -another witness encountered a man who resembled Devin with a rock and a $20.00 bill in his hand-as I recall-trying to start a fire.

    Reply

  21. Dean Valdez

    I played Devin Williams in this episode, I met his wife and three children, they were living in an old winnibago and had already lost there trailer, I always wondered what happened to them,I always thought he tripped and fell over the edge of the canyon near where they found his truck! May he rest in peace!! I did hear they found his skull and identified him through dental records!

    Reply

    • Sierra Williams

      You did a good job we all grew up…still horrible not to know what happened to our dad 🙁 and rumors of he left us or on drugs really sucked growing up but it’s life..im his youngest daughter

      Reply

      • Jamison

        It seems he had a stroke with an aneurism, because his blank face seen by witnesses and bizarre behavior that Devin did not ever have in general. I believe his cognitive ability was affected from the stroke. It is sad and I am sorry about it but that seems to be what happen.

        Reply

      • Roy Ijams

        My wife and I each have two million safe driving awards.. We had a truck that had an exhaust leak. The company we drove for said diesel exhaust wouldn’t case that kind of problem. I didn’t want to lose my job and my wife was able to stay home when I was a driver trainer. .At times my dispatcher ask me if I felt ok.. I was put on cpap in Feb. 2012. On 6/12/2012 I sleep walked out of semi while on cpap. 10/1/12 I had a grand maul seizure after a full night on cpap. . Many things can effect a persons mind. .The people with mean remarks don’t need posted.. I get the same remarks about my ordeal. Like my wife pushed me out or a suicide attempt .. I’m now on total disability.. Sorry for your lose. . My granddaughter saw me roll down highway and my wife doesn’t like to talk about it. . I’ve not been able to get media to tell my story.. Elevation can effect breathing. I have found charts that show that. We all are different. I had all kind of side effects to Cpap. It was use it or quit driving. I’m lucky my wife has been here for me. I have a few hospital pictures on FB. . My pace maker showed no events. . So it had to do with breathing. Sleep clinics will not admit it. Yet have paid out billions in fraudulent billing.

        Reply

      • Jeff

        I am so sorry for your loss you are in my Prayers

        Reply

    • Chloe Stetson

      Wow! You have a very interesting use of exclamation points! Why is that! Are you just excited!?! thanks!!

      Reply

    • Tenarife

      This was re-aired today and I too had wondered what happened to his wife and children. They didn’t seem to have a lot of money. I thought maybe they moved in with a family member. I see his daughter replied but didn’t give any real details about her life afterwards.

      Reply

  22. Nbdyptclr

    Did anyone check out the tractor, and see if there was evidence of exhaust / diesel fumes getting into the cab? This could very well explain the sleeplessness, behavioral changes, and the whole nine yards. By the time he exhibited the kind of behavior reported, the levels in his system could very well have been lethal.

    Reply

  23. A ominously

    Read 411

    Reply

  24. Joyce

    Read missing 411

    Reply

  25. Anonymous

    Most likely he hit someone from beig tired and panicked. Running away and frezzing to death.

    Reply

  26. Picachu

    It is a petty that not the really interesting details was mentioned about Williams’ disappearance. For example, just the day before his disappearance, several campers saw him some shorter distance from his truck, which was stuck
    in the mud in the Buck Springs area off Arizona Highway 87, where he had ended up after an erratic drive 45 miles from Flagstaff, the intended destination (Correct me if I am wrong with that).
    When the campers asked him why he had gone there, he replied; “I didn’t do it, they did”, pointing towards his truck. The campers described that he appeared dazed.
    The next day other witnesses saw him standing without shoes a bit away from his truck and “talking to a tree”, whereafter it is said that he “simply disappeared”, leaving his possessions in the truck. That was the last sighting of him, until a part of his skull was found two years later.
    I am perfectly aware that this behaviour is fully consistent with a psychosis, which can be developed by different causes, both congenital as well as by certain substances (I know it was denied he took drugs, however that does not mean that no one could for example have slipped him something), or caused by certain types of illnesses affecting the brain, however the details are still interesting even so, and should have been mentioned for the “peculiarity” of it, so to speak.

    Reply

  27. Anonymous

    Missing 411 (David Paulides).. There are weird elements to this that seem plausible for one of his cases

    Reply

  28. Eric W Bohannon

    He Faked his “Dis Appearance”. I See him hiking up the side of a Mountain, from the road, I see him in a recliner drinking beer, with a 12 pack, watching TV, a late model pick up, maybe on disability, could be going by Don or Donnie.

    Reply

  29. Anonymous

    Could he have been an undiagnosed diabetic? An out of whack blood sugar could have caused his symptoms/behavior

    Reply

  30. IAN [ENGLAND]

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q52i4FTuI9s

    Devin’s case is briefly discussed above.

    Reply

  31. Not sure

    This just screams methamphetamine. Condolences to the family.

    Reply

  32. Anonymous

    It’s very possible that he had not slept for days. The last time he called he complained of not being able to sleep. This had probably been a predicament for days. He eventually became so exhausted, he wheeled into the woods. So disoriented from sleeplessness, that he didn’t stop and think about what he was doing. When he finally stopped in the field and said he was going to jail, that may have been from the fact that the barely conscious part of him realized he almost crashed into the people that he encountered while speeding through the woods. He then most likely wandered off and died. Most likely due to his exhaustion/weakness/elements of the woods.

    Reply

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