An 18-year-old woman is found dead in the North Platte River in Wyoming.

Smiling Lisa Kimmel

Lisa Kimmel

License plat of a car that reads 'LIL MISS'

Lisa had a personalized license plate

CASE DETAILS

On a little-used suspension bridge outside Casper, Wyoming, residents reported seeing unexplained lights in the early morning hours of March 26, 1988. Under the cover of darkness, a killer brought his victim to the bridge. After stabbing her repeatedly, he threw her into the chill waters of the North Platte River. The victim was later identified as 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell from Billings, Montana. She had been sexually assaulted, then killed in a manner that suggested some kind of bizarre torture. Lisa was last seen alive on the night of March 25th, and police believe that she was killed a few hours later. But what complicates the investigation is that many people claimed to have seen Lisa Marie Kimmell, or her car, during a week when police believe she was already dead.

Investigators taking Lisa's body out of a river bank

Her body was found on the river bank

At the time of her murder, Lisa Marie Kimmel was living in Denver, Colorado. On March 25th, she left town and headed for Cody, Wyoming, to visit her boyfriend. According to her friend Ed Jaroch, Lisa’s car carried the spunky license plate, “LIL MISS”:

“The plan was that she was supposed to leave Denver… and get to Cody to see me, sometime late that evening. I talked to her about 4:30, and she… thought she’d be in about midnight or something like that.”

Weather conditions were good, so Lisa should have made the trip to Cody in eight or nine hours. She was expected at her boyfriend’s house late Friday night. But by Saturday morning, she still had not arrived. Ed Jaroch frantically telephoned authorities in three different states. Later, Patrolman Alan Lesco of the Wyoming Highway Patrol reported that he stopped Lisa for speeding the night she disappeared:

“I was patrolling southbound on March 25th and I noted a small car northbound at 88 MPH, according to my radar. I turned around and pursued the car. I stopped her, near Oren Junction. She was well-kept, kind of person you’d like to have for a daughter.”

Woman in yellow shirt driving a car

Who was driving Lisa’s car?

Lisa’s signature on the ticket verified her identity. It would be the last confirmed sighting of Lisa Marie Kimmell. As the week went on without any word from her daughter, Lisa’s mother began to worry:

“The outlook was looking a little grim, but even if that, even if the outcome wasn’t as we hoped, we still needed to find her.”

On April 2nd, one week after Lisa disappeared, Greg Bradford, a mechanic who was spending his Saturday fishing on the North Platte River, brought the search for Lisa Marie to a sad end:

“When I stepped up off the side of the bank, I looked over my shoulder and I saw the lady in the water. And then I remember when we were driving up from Cheyenne, they said this young girl was missing from Montana. So, I looked again, and said, ‘Oh my god, it must be her.’”

Mug Shot of Dale Wayne Eaton

Dale Wayne Eaton

Police searched the area where Lisa’s body was discovered. On an old highway bridge, one quarter of a mile away, they found blood that was the same type as Lisa’s. Because the bridge is so inaccessible, and so seldom used, police concluded that the murderer probably lived in the area. Based on the eyewitness accounts of unexplained activity on the bridge, they estimated that Lisa was murdered early Saturday morning, roughly five hours after she was stopped for speeding. But soon, authorities began receiving information that complicated their investigation. Numerous eyewitnesses were reporting that they had seen Lisa’s car. According to Sheriff Ron Ketchum of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department, some even claimed they had seen Lisa herself:

“We’ve had over a thousand sightings of this vehicle. A lot of them from law enforcement officers. And we were deluged with them at the point that we thought they had gone to Canada. We had some sightings in Canada.”

One of the most reliable sightings occurred roughly ten hours after Lisa was supposedly killed. Donna Kirkpatrick, the wife of a local county sheriff, reported that she had seen Lisa driving her car in the city of Buffalo, Wyoming:

“It was Saturday at noon, and I noticed a little black sports car had pulled out right in front of me. Then I noticed the license plate. It was a Montana license plate with ‘little miss’ on it… And, at that point I decided that I needed to see if the car went with whoever was driving it. I am absolutely positive there was a young gal driving it… there’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Another eyewitness reported seeing Lisa more than a day after police believe she was murdered. But this sighting was in Casper, Wyoming—more than 100 miles from Buffalo. Diana Houston was driving through Casper when a car with an out of state license plate caught her attention:

“It was Sunday afternoon, and I saw a Montana license plate on a vehicle. And being from Montana, it caught my eye. So I looked, and the license plate said, ‘little miss.’ I went by I saw somebody with blonde hair driving, and had on a yellow sweater.”

Lisa was last seen at 9:00 PM on Friday night and was reported missing by 9:00 AM Saturday morning. Yet she was reportedly seen twice later that day and once on Sunday. If Lisa was alive, why hadn’t she showed up at her boyfriend’s or her parents’ house? And if she had been killed early Saturday morning as police suspect, who was driving the car with Lisa’s distinctive license plates?

Update:

Fourteen years after Lisa Marie Kimmell was murdered, the Wyoming DNA database matched an inmate named Dale Wayne Eaton to the crime. When police searched Eaton’s property, they found Lisa’s car buried underground. Lisa had been held there for six days. Eaton was tried for murder and other charges. The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to death. The sightings of Lisa Marie Kimmell were never explained. Lisa’s parents were awarded Dale Eaton’s property in a civil suit and burned the buildings to the ground.


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

 

17 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Oscar159

    I only saw this yesterday.sad for young girl driving alone at night. Complicated with so many sightings.

    Reply

  2. Avatar

    Misti

    She was from billings montana

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    bass fishing tournaments

    I don’t usually comment but I gotta say thanks for the post
    on this great one :D.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Crickett5

      Strange the sightings long after she was considered dead. The car is definitely being driven by a young blond female. Were her parents ever shown the picture or asked if she owned a yellow sweater? Why didn’t LE ever stop the car, once they realized it belonged to a missing girl? I’m curious if the killers property was ever searched extensively for more buried vehicles or bodies?

      Reply

  4. Avatar

    Stephanie Marie Whetsten

    So sad, this story has stuck with me for years and DALE needs to be put to death! Why should his life be spared? He didn’t spare Lisa’s life and I, the tax payer should not have to support him for the rest of his despicable life! No tax payer SHOULD want to support this monster! Wow, shocking

    Reply

  5. Avatar

    thinkingoutloud

    i agree with Unsolved Viewer, how was she held for 6 days if she was dead within a couple of hours? Did the police even confirm she was actually killed on March 26th, a few hours after she was last seen?
    the timing doesn’t make sense.
    @Unsolved – can you confirm this again please?

    I’m sure Lisa’s car was used by other people after she had been killed until he buried her car in his property, i mean they only solved the case 14 years later. any other female close to Lisa’s description could have been driving it around that time.

    the other part that baffles me is how he got her in such a short time tframe

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Crickett5

      Could it be possible that the killer used the rear end “accident ” to get her to pull over? Some of those roads out there can get pretty isolated and dark, especially since she was driving at night.

      Reply

  6. Avatar

    Unsolved Viewer

    I don’t understand. The story says that Lisa was last seen on March 25th and then Dale was seen disposing her on March 26th. How did he have her for 6 days then?

    Reply

  7. Avatar

    Tammie Pierce

    This man lived on my property and my husband helped him find work for a year 1992 – 1994 in Victor Mt he drank daily said some crazy things had a daughter with him that I took care of. Now it makes sense some of the things he said while he was drinking. He was pretty scary. He dated a woman that was scared of him also she told me some really scary stuff to and I saw her very abused by him. I’m thank full that he didn’t hurt my family now knowing he was a murdering animal. I have no idea why he spared my family. We never knew he was this evil person capable of doing these things. When he talked while drinking we thought it was the alcohol talking when he would start talking about the women he was with. My husband actually ended up fighting with him in a bar I’m so thank full to be alive after finding out what he has done to these victoms. My family and I could have easily been his victoms also. I’m not sure why he spared us? Maybe because I took care of his daughter and my husband helped him? He actually put him in touch with a church who set him up with a drywall job who knows how a monster thinks I dont know only Dale can answer that.

    Reply

  8. Avatar

    Tammie Pierce

    This man lived on my property and my husband helped him find work for a year 1992 – 1994 in Victor Mt he drank daily said some crazy things had a daughter with him that I took care of. Now ut makes sense some of the things he said while he was driving. He was pretty scary. He dated a woman that was scared of him also she told me some really scary stuff to and I saw her very abused by him. I’m thank full that be didn’t hurt my family now knowing he was a murdering animal. I have no idea why he spared my family.

    Reply

  9. Avatar

    Leslie Rudolph

    I’m watching ID now and it’s sad these predators can get off death row…this animal killed Lisa cause she just happened to come through that town and to stab her several times…

    Reply

  10. Avatar

    Dale Smith

    Dale Eaton has many victims. He is a predator that needs to be eradicated. It absolutely digusts me he is still alive. I went to school with his sons and cannot fathom what those boys had to endure or witness. We can put a rabid dog down for a minimal fee…..why do we the tax payers have to support this sick & twisted animal!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Crickett5

      Oh no. This monster procreated?!
      Hope his sons and daughter are nothing like him. Does anyone know what ever happened to his little daughter he had with him? Or his sons?

      Reply

  11. Avatar

    jolie

    whoever is responsible for taking the death penalty off this animal, should also be executed. Are you ignorant or something? This family is wanting this man off the face of this earth… and you take the death penalty off? Your as mentally ill as that sick animal who murdered her.

    Reply

  12. Avatar

    Joplin Gal

    I called into the show when this first aired. I was surprised they did not ask for my name. I saw the car, or at least the license plate in Joplin, MO. My friend and I were at 7th and Rangeline Road. My friends young niece has the middle name of “Montana.” We thought it was a cute plate and wanted to see who was driving the car. We tried to catch up but could not with the traffic. My friend started calling his niece “Lil Miss” after we saw that and he remembered it as well. I always wondered if they ever found the evil person who did this to the poor young girl.

    Reply

  13. Avatar

    Traveler

    I remember when this first aired on Unsolved Mysteries. I used to travel I80 to Colorado from Nebraska and once went to Wyoming. I remember license plates of Lil Miss only on a Blue 2 door small car; a Blonde girl about 5’3″ are so. This was at a gas station along the interstate. This has always stuck in my mind. There did not appear to be anybody else in the car.

    Reply

  14. Avatar

    Dillon Tolman

    Update:
    Just recently Dale Wayne Eaton, Wyomings only death row inmate, was removed from death row. His sentence will be looked over once again.

    Reply

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