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A man driving from Oregon to Wisconsin is found murdered in a Montana landfill.

Dexter Stefonek

Arson was the cause of the car fire


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:

“He came out and we thought that he’d probably spend the winter with us. And then it got to be a difficult time of year for him and I tried to convince him not to leave. Winter had already set in, there’s really nothing he needed to go back to Wisconsin for. That’s the last I saw him.”


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:

“When I arrived at the rest area and pulled in behind the vehicle, the inside was completely engulfed in flames. I went over and talked to the state highway department.  They informed me they didn’t see any person inside the vehicle.”

The car belonged to Dexter Stefonek. A little over a day had passed since he left Oregon.
The Sheriff’s Department immediately searched the area. There was no trace of Dexter and no obvious signs of foul play.

Dexter’s body was found in a landfill

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:

“Dexter Stefonek, being a short man, would have had the seat all the way up to the front to drive it, so it had to be a larger man driving that vehicle, six foot or larger.”

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:

“I go to the rest area between 8:00 and 8:30. There was a pick-up parked there, but there was no one around. I really didn’t pay much attention to it.”

About fifteen minutes later, Clyde Mitchell, a highway maintenance supervisor, stopped at the rest area:

“Fred’s pick-up was there and a white Chevy pick-up facing southeast. I saw Arizona plates on the back, walked around the complete outfit and noticed it was a four-wheel drive Chevy with blue trim and a cowcatcher on the front.  At the time, I didn’t think there was anything suspicious about it.”

Caption: Have you seen this vehicle?

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:

“He was around six feet tall, between 35 and 40 years old, and had real light skin, no sign of anything wrong with him.”

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:

“My husband and I came out to dump some garbage and there was a wallet laying on the ground. And it still had the driver’s license in it, it was current. So I handed it to Bill and we just started looking around, and there was a bunch of stuff in the dump that didn’t belong there, that hadn’t been there when we were there before. And we kind of tried to see if there was anything else that didn’t quite belong in the dump.”

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:

“There were marks on his hands, there was damage done to his neck and throat area, and he had a bruise or damaged area on the front of part of his skull that was probably caused by a beating or some type of injury of that sort.”

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:

“The condition of the body would indicate that it had probably been in the dumpsite from the time that the car was found burning, until the time it was discovered.”

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:

“My own theory is that someone wanted us to see it.  Hot Jock could be a CB handle. It referred to ‘shot.’  It had ‘Wisconsin’ in the graffiti and a date indicating November.”

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.

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



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  1. Wes

    I’m sure they the cops did this, but since that area seems to be sort of isolated, the cops should question anyone who lives within a 60 miles radius and ask them if they have any friends/relatives/etc who live in Arizona, or who have lived in Arizona sometime in the past. Then base on that, find potential suspects who resemble the description of the man from Arizona


    • Anonymous

      Yes I agree, I believe that I have read that Dexter had family in Arizona also. If so, did they investigate that possibility? Also kind of chilling when I go to a street view map of the Bad Route Rest area and see a more modern day Chevy large suv with cattle guards parked in the parking lot facing southeast (just as one had on the day of this case) when the car camera went buy to show the street view of the rest area about five years ago. Maybe that is just a common vehicle in that area.


  2. Anonymous

    To add to my earlier comment, in my opinion the most likely scenario would have been that he walked in on something/ saw something in the rest area that he should not have. I don’t think he was gay, but may have saw something/ may have made a remark or gave a look that made someone upset. I think the watched him/ followed him to his car ( most likely from the restroom). Then attacked him in his car. I think it would be far less likely that his family had anything to do with it. I also find the story of someone running out of gas hard to believe. You normally run out of gas on the shoulder of the highway, not in a rest area parking lot where the truck was. I don’t think it was a local psycopathic person either, as the truck had Az plates I think that is highly unlikely. So in my opinion with all the evidence and hot jock written in the restroom, I think it was most likely activity that the poor old man stumbled Into late at night at the rest area. I think it was someone who traveled thru the area often/ or maybe moved there from AZ. Whoever it was would be Dexter’s age by now and could have already gone to jail for other crimes. Just some food for thought. I feel sorry for his family.


  3. Anonymous

    Robert Glenn West, serving two life sentences for 2 murders and robberies in Canada, and suspected of two murders plus an attempted murder and robbery in a rest stop in Blind River, Ontario, fits the description of this murder. Same victimology, physical description, was a cop in toronto and could have written a date like that.

    Could be a shot in the dark. But read the stories. There are quite a few similarities.


  4. Bobert

    This is one of the more interesting cases on unsolved mysteries. I have seen it all my life on re runs if the show most recently last night. There are a lot of possibilities that may have happened. Does anyone know if every one in Dexter’s family were cleared as suspects? I know it’s unlikely, but he could have been taken there to make it look like he was on his way back home (dumped) then his other clothes and stuff brought back later. Looking at the time frame of when he left his sons house this would have put him at bad route rest area in the middle of the night sometime. Maybe he stopped to go to the bathroom and stumbled into something going on in the restroom that he should not have. ( Hence the gay Hot Jock ) theory. Or it could have been similar to what was portrayed, someone hard up out of gas and he was taken victum​. Very sad story any way you look at it. I hope they can solve it.


  5. Butch

    It is possible Mr. Stefonek planned his own demise.


  6. Chanita

    I Think The Reason Why Dexter Was Murdered I Think It’s Because Of This… I Think The Killer Might Have Been Depressed! Umm… That’s So Sad!


  7. Brad

    Sherriff George and Clyde Mitchell got away with murder


  8. Mags

    Im from Canada. There was a guy named Ronald West who is currently serving for murders (1970, Toronto) and robberies (1995, Sault St Marie) just over the border from Upper Michigan/Wisconsin.

    Seems unrelated, right?

    Heres the thing: he’s also suspected of killing an elderly woman and wounding her husband in a rest stop in Blind River 1991. During his 1970 murders, he was a cop on the toronto police force. The wounded husband described the man as 5’10”, and that he said he was a cop. Husband escaped when some unfortunate soul intervened tracifically being shot.

    West was arrested for murders (1970) and robbery but never for the rest stop killings. Serving life sentences.

    Ive driven from Wisconsin to Ontario, its an easy cruise. Just thought that these could be related. The rouse is effective, possibly quite effective for the elderly, the distance is not insane, height could match (5’10 vs 6’0), age matches, victimology matches. The way the graffitti was left is strange way to date something but maybe normal for a 70s toronto cop?

    Its really a shot in the dark. But who knows.


  9. Chelle

    Did anybody think that it could have been Gratias? Maybe he didn’t like the fact that Stefonek proposed to his (Gratias’s) daughter, Amy?


  10. blue bird

    what happened ? and whoever this CB Handle OR Hot Jock is that is WRONG Trouble Will BE brought Upon Him That dumb Jerk


  11. Camera

    Probably a long shot but was there any kind of surveillance at the rest stop did anyone that was driving by notice the az plate number? I was always told not to stop there and so was my mother never knew why I am praying for his family may they find some peace 🙁


    • Robert Stack

      No. There weren’t any surveillance cameras installed at Montana rest areas in the mid 1980’s. That sort of technology deployment was at least 10 to 15 years away in the future.


  12. rob main

    please let me know if there is any updates on this case.thank you robbmain@hotmail.com


    • Ann

      Nice answers in return of this query with solid arguments and telling

      everything on the topic of that.

      First instance replying. Instantly posted this to my Social Media.


  13. lord rob main

    i still think dexter pulled in the rest area and stumbles upon some thing that he should have.meaning someting that he should have.


  14. annonomous

    Lets walk thru a few points: 1) it would appear that the suspect with the chevy truck which had Ar. plates could have walked SW on the road which Dexter S. was driving (via the hitch-hiker theory) looking for a victim to rob ,kill, or whatever. IF the killer was the owner of the chevy & he did walk SW to find a victim away from-yet somewhat close to where his truck was stationed, then he would have had to premeditate his plan to hitch-hike for his victim. If the killer is the owner of the Chevy truck from Ar., then he probably frequented the area, in order to know where the dump site was; since it appears he hadn’t asked anyone who was at the rest stop at the time (between 8am-10-am), if there was a dump site near by (this in itself could be a clue to follow up on-did police ever ask nearby residents if anyone had asked such a question months earlier-perhaps someone from Arizona or who had a blue & white chevy truck?). Also,via a 6ft tall man seen getting out of Dexter car carrying 2 plastic container, would also indicate that he walked SW away from his parked truck to find his victim-but perhaps staging his walk on the South side of the road facing East, to look as though he was hitch-hiking in the direction of the rest stop; verses being on the North side of the road walking westward. Dexter pulled over to ask if the man/potential suspect needed help or a ride. Based on the autopsy finds, there’s two possibilities to this scenario & questions to factor in/answer: a) If he staged his crime to be on the S. side & looking to be walking east toward the rest stop, then he would have been on the passenger side of Dexter’s car when Dexter pulled over., Via the head wound; hitting Dexter on the head 1st, perhaps with a gun, means he got in the passenger side of Dexter’s car before doing so. If that hit to the head only dazed Dexter, then he would have had to strangle him next (via the neck wounds) while the car was still stopped at the side of the road-a struggle may have ensued leaving wounds on Dexters hands. The suspect would have had to quickly reach over after striking Dexter in the head, to put the car in park, before strangling him-rendering him temporarily passed out/unconscience. Then perhaps shooting him once? He then puts Dex. in the passenger seat, drives Dex’s car to the rest stop, puts Dex. in his truck, grabs Dex’s luggage (2 plastic containers which the 6 ft mad was seen carrying from Dex’s car) & throws it in the back his truck. Next, the suspect lights Dexter’s car on fire to conceal his prints e.t.c.- then drove to the dump site, shoots Dex once more to be sure he’s dead (or 1st shoots him 2x at the dump to be sure Dex. is dead-hence no shots heard at the rest stop-provided anyone was even at the rest stop when this occured – after Clyde Mitchel & Fred Seagal left the rest stop – Hence no one would have heard any shots). If robbery was a motive, he may have simply taken the $ out of Dex’s wallet & in too much of a hurry to get away from the rest stop-doesn’t check any of Dex’s other belongings. Hence, unaware that his luggage had money in it- e.g. throwing it among the debris at the dump site & again quickly rushes out from the dump site before anyone can see him. 2) In a rush, he forgets some of Dexter’s clothes, that was in one of the plastic containers – laundry or freshly laundered clothes that dumped out of one of the containers.

    If he was familiar with the area, the suspect may have returned several times in the months after to watch activity at the crime scenes, & follow the investigation from a distance. Letting the case go cold for a while, he returns months later to dispose of the rest of Dexter’s clothes. This would be clever, because it would confuse investigators & throw off the time line or how events unfolded. He may also have been clever enough to deliberately leave the container with money to throw off the motive of his crime. 3) If it was a closet homosexual encounter, It could mean that the events as I’ve described above, happened, but the motive was anger and/or hatred of Gays when Dex propositions the suspect. But it’s also possible that Dex insulted the suspect when the suspect asked for sexual favors. This would mean that the struggle occured after Dex began driving in the direction of the rest stop. Then the rest of the events unfolded in a similar fashion/order to those indicated above.

    I think this better explains motive, as well as what & how this crime unfolded.

    In today’s advanced CSI capabilities, You’d think i’d be possible to locate a truck matching the description, once registered in Arizona, perhaps later scrapped or re-registered in another state, by collecting junk yard records that scrapped such a vehicle after the date of the crime, then track vin #’s back to Ar. plates & their owners. Maybe there’s someone who was/is in prison for a similar crime, who had such a vehicle and maybe even spoke to another inmate about such a crime. I also wonder if there are any stolen car reports of such a truck? What about a chop shop, who repainted such a truch soon after the date of this crime?

    Poor police work is probably the result of this cold case still being unsolved. I feel bad for Dexters son


  15. Family

    This story is about my great-grandpa. He was extremely religious, to the point where even if he was gay he wouldn’t have acted on it. I understand this is a an interesting story to tell to your friends and make fun of stupid people but its been 30 years and my grandpa still won’t talk about his father at all because of how painful this was for him. Please don’t be jerks.


    • Kelli Wren Crackel

      Bless your heart. So sorry for your family’s tragedy. I completely get how awful this must have been and still is for Mr. Stefonek’s relatives. I think it’s all too common for people to forget that these fascinating unsolved mysteries are actually tragedies for the people involved. While slightly insensitive, I don’t think anyone was trying to impune your great grandfather’s memory, It’s just that anonymous gay and straight hookups happen frequently at rest stops nationwide. That being said, simply going by the phrase ‘hot jock’ to decide this situation was a hookup gone wrong is sloppy investigative work. There is no other evidence to back up that theory and, while I personally think there’s nothing wrong with homosexuals, I know if a relative of mine had been murdered, I’d find it rude for strangers to speculate on whether or not that relative was homosexual. I hope they solve this some day just to give your family peace of mind. And I sincerely hope people always remember that as interesting as we may find a mysterious death, these cases were real people with real families who love them.


  16. Tom

    It certainly does sound like a hook-up gone bad. I wonder if authorities ever thought to ask the victim’s son if his dad could have possibly been gay.


  17. Garrett

    Two theories here: an anonymous gay hookup gone bad or possibly road rage. Because of the remoteness of the landfill and the area in general, I would say the killer is possibly a local. That is a very rural area.


  18. Geoff

    I hate the sound weird but am I the only person who thinks that “hot jock” was just a gay dude trying to get laid?


    • Tyler

      No. Because that’s exactly what it is. I knew that the minute I saw it.


    • HotJock4U

      Probably not…the full message (not aired by UM) was:


      Dude basically flaunted it. He knew where the remote dump site was, and he went BACK to the same rest stop. I wouldn’t think it would be very hard to run a search of people who lived within 20 or so miles of the rest stop (again, this is in the middle of nowhere, so not a lot of people) and cross reference that with people who lived in AZ/Phoenix area. But hey, what do I know?

      Just feel bad for this poor guy who probably just stopped of to urinate and gets shot in the head.


  19. rob

    has this case ever been solved