A man driving from Oregon to Wisconsin is found murdered in a Montana landfill.
In November 1985, Dexter Stefonek was about to leave his son’s farm near Corbett, Oregon, for a long road trip. Dexter was a 67-year-old widower from Wisconsin. He had come to stay with his son a few months earlier, after his wife, Vivian, died. But according to Dexter’s son, David, as the first anniversary of Vivian’s death approached, Dexter was ready to go back home:
Dexter left his son’s home early on Monday, November 18, 1985. He told his son that to save time, he would pull into rest areas when he got tired, instead of looking for motels.
On Tuesday morning, local Sheriff Jim George was alerted to a car on fire at the Bad Route rest area in Montana:
The car belonged to Dexter Stefonek. A little over a day had passed since he left Oregon.
Sheriff Jim George brought in an arson expert to examine the car. The fire had been set deliberately, using gasoline. Sheriff George also noticed that the driver’s seat was pushed back all the way:
With no other clues, Sheriff George needed witnesses and a timeline. The car was discovered just after 10 a.m. Nearly two hours earlier, Fred Siegle, custodian of the Bad Route rest area, had arrived for work as usual:
About fifteen minutes later, Clyde Mitchell, a highway maintenance supervisor, stopped at the rest area:
Soon after, Clyde Mitchell left to complete his regular rounds. Fifteen minutes later, Fred Siegle saw Dexter Stefonek’s brown Plymouth Horizon pull in. According to Fred, the driver got out, carrying two large plastic containers:
Fred left the rest stop. Within thirty minutes, Dexter’s car was ablaze.
The case went nowhere for nearly four months. Then, local residents Bill and Cindy Shaw made a routine run to a landfill 17 miles from the rest area. Little did Cindy know that she and Bill were stepping into a crime scene:
Bill wasn’t prepared for what he found when he picked up a boot: a man’s foot, partially hidden beneath a mattress. The ID of the body came as no surprise. It was Dexter Stefonek. He had been beaten and shot twice in the head.
Lance Silha was the coroner in Dawson County, Montana:
Some of the evidence didn’t quite add up. There was still money in Dexter’s suitcase, making robbery an unlikely motive. Also, Dexter’s clothing was found scattered around the area, but it was in good condition, as if it had just only recently been discarded. But according to the coroner, Dexter’s body seemed to have been in the landfill for months:
One week later, the authorities found a final clue in the men’s room at the Bad Route rest area: a small line of graffiti written in pencil. It began with the words “Hot Jock.” Police have not released the entire message, but believe it may be linked to Dexter Stefonek’s murder. Coroner Silha believed the killer wrote it there for the police to find:
Police have only two clues that might identify Dexter Stefonek’s killer: the description of the suspect’s vehicle and the sketchy description of the suspect himself. The vehicle was a white Chevy 4 x 4 with a wide blue horizontal stripe. It had a white camper shell top and a cattle guard on the front bumper. It also had Arizona plates, with a Phoenix license plate holder.
The suspect is middle aged, at least six feet tall, light-complected and clean shaven. He may use the nickname or CB handle, Hot Jock.