A witness disappears three days before he is scheduled to testify against a car thief ring leader.

An African American, Oliver Munson. He has a receding hairline and is posing in front of a blue bakcdrop.

Oliver Munson

Two men stand next to a red compact car, the hood is open and the engine is visible.

Munson purchased a Datsun 240Z


In January of 1983, school teacher Oliver Munson of Baltimore, Maryland, bought a used, but classic, Datsun 240Z. He had no idea that the seller, Dennis Watson, was the leader of a sophisticated car theft ring. Oliver’s new car had been stolen just three months earlier.

Police took the car – it had been stolen

Watson owned a garage and used it as a cover for his “chop shop,” a place where stolen cars were dismantled and sold for parts, or simply resold with fake papers. Authorities had been quietly investigating Watson for weeks. On March 16, 1983, they moved in for a raid. Police discovered illegal titles, partially dismantled autos, and stolen vehicle I.D. tags. According to Det. Philip Goodwin of the Baltimore Police Department, one of the names that appeared in the confiscated records was “Oliver Munson.”

“We continue to check paperwork, and we find that Oliver Munson has a Z car. Not knowing at that time whether or not Oliver Munson had bought this car, or if he was involved with Dennis Watson. So as a result, we took the car as evidence, until such time as we could continue an investigation to determine what exactly was his knowledge of the car.”

“My feeling was, at that time, and still is, that he had bought the car, thinking that the car was in fact a legitimate car.”

Police asked Oliver to testify in court against Watson. Det. Goodwin said Oliver was nervous about it, but agreed, knowing that he really had no choice. A year passed before the trial began. On February 16, 1984, three days before Oliver was to appear in court, he left for work as usual. He was never seen again. Patrick Cisna was a co-worker of Oliver’s:

“Oliver would rarely miss school, and on that particular Monday, when he didn’t arrive, some of the staff and the kids started to worry that this was not a usual practice for Oliver, and that maybe something was wrong with him.”

Oliver’s brother, James, was also worried. He went to Oliver’s house to look for him:

“I just thought maybe that he was sick and I didn’t know if he was unconscious in the house.. I didn’t know.”

Oliver Munson wearing a suit and posing in front of beige backdrop.

Munson agreed to testifyDetective Goodwin had a conversation with Oliver Munson:

Oliver was nowhere to be found. Three days later, his car was discovered just a few blocks from his home. One tire was flat. School papers and a sack lunch were on the front seat, but there was no evidence to suggest what had happened to Oliver. Det. Goodwin:

“At that time, I felt that there was something wrong. Then the decision was made here that we were looking at a kidnapping or a homicide.”

Dennis Watson became a prime suspect. During an investigation, police discovered that two other witnesses scheduled to testify against Watson in previous trials had also died under mysterious circumstances.

Ten years earlier in 1973, a man named Clinton Glenn had burned to death in a car registered to Watson. Glenn was scheduled to testify against Watson in an armed robbery trial the very next day. Based on the testimony of another witness, Watson was indicted for Glenn’s murder. However, this new witness suddenly died of a “suspicious” drug overdose, and the murder charges were dropped.

A car engulfed in flames.

An earlier witness died in a mysterious fire

And now, Oliver Munson was missing. But with no evidence to implicate Watson, the investigation stalled. Then, police heard from a man named Hilton Solomon. Hilton’s car had been stolen just hours before Oliver disappeared. Inside the car, Hilton found a hat that would later be identified as similar to one owned by Oliver Munson. Det. Goodwin said other evidence was also found in the car:

“Hilton Solomon took his car home after it was released by Baltimore City and decided to clean the car. While he was cleaning, he found several receipts from a video store. On these receipts was the name Oliver Munson. When we went down to look at the car, we looked underneath the seat, and right by the track of the right hand front seat I found a spent cartridge case.”

Red smudges were also found on one of the receipts and tests revealed that the stains were human blood, type “O” positive. Authorities believe this was proof that Oliver had been murdered. But with no records showing his blood type, and no other hard evidence, the official investigation reached a dead end.

Oliver’s disappearance had no apparent effect on the outcome of Watson’s car theft trial. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was paroled in 1989, after serving half his term. However, Oliver Munson has never been found.

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




  1. CatCatCat

    The Munson family should have sued the police department and the State for how this was mishandled; their incompetence was the cause of Mr. Munson’s likely murder. They already knew that two witnesses had disappeared and didn’t warn Mr. Munson or assign an officer to him or anything reasonable. This was a completely avoidable murder and it’s heartbreaking that it happened to a man who by all accounts was intelligent, gentle, kind, and loving. This is just rage-inducing and was wholly unfair (and unforgivable) to Mr. Munson.


  2. md

    He was my industrial shop teacher. I remember him rolling in the tv cart a couple times as a treat. We watched earth wind and fire. And michael jacksons thriller off of vhs. I also remember when he went missing. After a while, they figured that he was gone forever and planted a tree in the front of the school in his memory


  3. travis

    very sad that this even happened. what is strange is that in 1983 my parents had there 280zx stolen, and was found in the area of the chop shop.. when it was found the next day it was stripped. months later we moved to a new home in ellicott city . on that day in febuary, i was the student who buzzed the front office from the shop class and let the front office that mr. munson had not shown up for his class. i had him first period, in 1984. this case still haunts me to this day.


  4. Charles

    Incredibly disappointing police work in every angle of this case. Why would they set this man up to testify knowing full well of how Watson operates…Oliver seemed like an incredibly decent person, dedicated his life to the enrichment of others. Yet one more cold case amidst terrible police work.


  5. Katey

    This was very messy police work! They already knew there were two other witnesses whose lives were taken and they put this kind gentle man in harms way without witness protection shame on them. Where ever you are Oliver Munson Rest In Peace.


  6. Johny Whitehead



  7. Andrew O'Brien

    Reading these comments here about Oliver, some a testament as to how long he had been teaching and some a testament as to the gentle man he was but all of them are what I hope that his family will find a little bit of comfort is that after all these years, decades in fact, he is not forgotten. His life was not in vain. He left a warm impression on people, he mattered to people, so much so that 34 years later, he is remembered and missed. This was a good man. Rest in peace Mr. Munson.


  8. Andrew O'Brien

    Oliver Munson was my industrial arts teacher at Ellicott City Middle School back in 1983, I was 13. I remember him being a soft spoken, gentle man that cared about his students. I remember one of my project assignments in his class was that I made a wooden plaque made for hanging keys on. Mr. Munson made his way around to everyone to check on their progress and when he got to me, I was disappointed that my project didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, I was making it for my father and I didn’t want to give it to him because I thought that it looked like crap. Mr. Munson said it looked fine and that my father would love it because I made it with my own two hands, so I did, I gave it to him. My father passed two years ago and I found out that he still had that plaque ’til he died. To me, Mr.Munson is not forgotten. If any of his family reads this I just want you to know that although it’s been decades since he disappeared, he is not forgotten.
    Show less



  9. cyn

    So scary thinking about where Denn8s Watson is, even older still dangerous


  10. Gardner Berry

    He was my 6th grade Shop teacher at Ellicott City Middle in 1973. I remember him being a very kind and caring teacher. I am saddened to just now be finding out about all of this. I hope someone somewhere will at least set the record straight before they too pass away.

    Rest In Peace, Mr. Munson – you were a fantastic teacher.


  11. joyce grande

    That’s sad.


  12. Blue Bird

    I Know He’s Dead


  13. Blue Bird

    Umm That’s Pretty Bad


  14. Jill

    Mr. Munson was my middle school Industrial Arts teacher in the late 70’s .. I remember him well and how he teased me when this guy in my class was “flirting” with me by being mean. Mr. Munson saw that I was irritated at this boy and told me that that is sometimes how boys act when they like you. Anyway … it made me feel better and I’ll never forget him and how he tried to help me and lighten my mood. I have been following his disappearance since I first heard of it and had never heard anything about Hilton Solomon. I guess I’ve always held out hope that Mr. Munson would one day be found alive. My heart sank when I read that information about Soloman’s car and the spent cartridge and blood on the video receipt. I know in my head that’s he’s dead and buried somewhere, but I’m sickened by the fact that this happened to such a good man.


  15. Sharon

    Baltimore had three witness deaths related to Watson and could not solve one of them? Munson was definitely set up for demise with no witness protection setup for him…….So much for doing the right thing. The man that reported the items found in his stolen car gave them a cache of very valid evidence (even if it was considered circumstantial). It even sounds like he may have planted the receipts to give authorities clues of what happened to him. They really couldn’t find out his blood type? He had a brother so maybe family knew who his doctor was and could have been subpoenaed for the info. Or blood drives sometimes at employer or other locations may have blood types. He definitely seems like he would have participated in that type of activity. I hate to be judgemental but it definitely seems like they let these murder victims and Mr Munson’s family down!V87


  16. Beccaboo

    I think there are only 2 possibilities. One is where Oliver knew something bad would happen by testifying so he left on his accord but i think Watson or one of his gang staked out Oliver leaving his house and followed him and possibly let the air out his tyre so they knew he would break down. I really don’t think he’s still alive but of course this is just conjecture.


  17. CRJ

    May the Lord God help oliver munson family! And If Dennis Watson is out there Still alive Somewhere Please Dennis Tell Oliver’s munson family the truth And The Lord God Will Forgive You Knew what you did You cannot escape God’s wrath And Now You Will Forever continue to Keep living in Your Sins You can repent there is still Hope For You Just Tell the Truth!


  18. Chanita

    I really do believe Dennis Watson hired some hit men to kill oliver munson it’s so sad that dennis watson has gotten away With murder and he is out there some where!


  19. Chanita

    I was wondering This Who Knew Where oliver munson lived at?
    I really do believe Dennis watson had hired some hit men To keep oliver from testifying Against Him He had went missing For 26 years I really Do Hope Oliver’s Family Do Get The Justice They Deserve My Thoughts And Prayers goes Out To Oliver’s Family!


  20. Chanita

    What Happened? I just don’t understand oliver munson went missing right when he was scheduled to testify but all of a sudden three people was found dead I suspect that dennis watson had gotten away with murder and I am mad about it!


  21. rob main

    i think whats happen here is that they made the disappearance look like an accident.the stolen car thieves now were hes at.


  22. G Attard

    Mr. Munson was the only teacher who actually cared about me as a person. He was a very inspiring man, who helped me feel as though I had any talent.
    I had been very sick frequently. He was the only teacher I have ever had who beleived and knew that I was not pretending or would never “skip” school. He was an incredibly kind man. I am so upset about what happened to him. I know there is never going to be any resolution to his case and that is a great tragedy.My heart goes out to his family, who has painfully. lost a valued and loved member.


  23. Johnny

    This Oliver Munson case was haunting like several of the great Unsolved Mysteries cases. Oliver buys a Z car he thought was cool from Watson and then finds himself in hot water. I think the police share some blame here knowing that Watson witnesses in the past turned up dead. They should have placed him in protective custody week of the trial or had a trained officer shadow his movements to and from school. It would be theory to speculate what happened to Oliver but the flat tire was a clue. The perpetrators probably flattened the tire in the morning and followed Munson as he left towards his school job. Simply, the killers acted as Good Samaritans offering him a ride to a service station for help. Once he got in the vehicle, they have control of Munson. A 2nd theory would be an attractive woman in a car picked up Oliver who had the flat tire. This would not arouse suspicion. She probably said she had a brother or boyfriend who could help. Once at the place, Oliver was overtaken by a few men. Don’t think this case will be solved. He could have been buried in the woods or in a concrete floor type of structure or maybe the ocean. I do hope Oliver or his remains can be found so the family can have a proper burial. Such a sad case.


  24. Emily

    This is one of those cases from the show that always stuck out in my mind for some reason. I was ten years old when this story originally aired and I can still remember watching it and just feeling really sad for Oliver and his family. He seemed like a good man and did not deserve any of this.


  25. Jennifer Kettering

    Somebody somewhere knows what happened to this man. I hope they come forward to give loved ones and friends and family closure.


  26. James

    My grandfather Det. Goodwin said it will never be solved


  27. Unsolved Lover

    What’s the status on this case?? I always wondered what happened over the years.


leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.