A witness disappears three days before he is scheduled to testify against a car thief ring leader.
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.
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.”
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’s brother, James, was also worried. He went to Oliver’s house to look for him:
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:
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.
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:
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.