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A bus driver discovers the skeleton of a man who disappeared in 1974.

Tom Dixon

Gary Simmons

CASE DETAILS

In 1985, Tyrone Rollins was hired as a school bus driver in Independence, Missouri.  From the beginning, he said he had an eerie feeling about the rocky outcroppings behind the bus yard:

“I’d be sitting up in front of my bus and I’d feel like somebody was watching me from behind. I’d look back there and there would be nobody on the bus. For a while I just thought I was going crazy. There was a strong feeling, like something pulling inside me, wanting me to do something, and I just couldn’t figure out what it was.”

Finally, on October 16, 1991, Tyrone gave in. He simply had to investigate on the north side of the hill. There, he discovered a hidden cave:

“And that strong feeling was back again and I knew I had to go in there for some reason. It was like an amazing adrenaline rush, just the feeling of being in there. When I shined my flashlight towards the rocks, you could see little tiny specks of, like, crystals. So I started examining the rocks and it was just then that I happened to glance over and I saw a pair of boots. It was just shock. I just couldn’t believe what I saw.”

Gary’s body remained in a hidden cave for 17 years

Dental records confirmed that the remains were those of Gary Simmons, a businessman from Overland Park, Kansas, 25 miles away. An autopsy revealed that he had been shot in the head.

Tyrone’s incredible discovery became a nightmare for the police. They were confronted with a killing that had happened 17 years earlier. Gary had mysteriously vanished in 1974 and an investigation at this point seemed pointless. But the police had no choice. Gary Simmons was dead and whoever killed him was still on the loose.

According to Gary’s brother, Jerry Simmons, Gary owned and operated a lucrative chain of gas stations. But his passion was horse-trading:

“Gary always worked hard. And I believe he got involved with horses in order to have a form of relaxation and a means of doing something that was fun with his family.”

Dixon wanted to buy Gary’s horse

On October 14th, 1974, the day before he disappeared, Gary learned of a prize horse for sale: a pure-bred Appaloosa with an asking price of $30,000. The next morning, an agent acting for the horse’s owner showed up at Gary Simmons’ office. His name was Tom Dixon.

When Tom Dixon came to see Simmons, it was the beginning of a mysterious encounter which lasted all day and which police are still trying to piece together. A little while later, Simmons left his office with Dixon. Gary told his secretary that he would return shortly, but he didn’t say where he was going. Fifteen minutes later, he called in and asked his secretary to write a check to Tom Dixon for $30,000.

Dixon picked up the check thirty minutes later and walked out of the office. Dixon then took the check to Gary Simmons for his signature, but no one knows where that meeting took place. According to Detective Victor Zinn, Gary was later spotted at a truck stop 10 miles from his office:

“The owner saw Gary Simmons walking back and forth between the counter and the window. He remembers that Gary Simmons was alone and there did not seem to be anybody with him or waiting with him.”

Gary’s car was pulled from the Missouri River

It was the last time anyone saw Gary alive. Just before noon, according to Det. Zinn, Dixon showed up at Gary’s bank:

“Gary Simmons had called the president of the bank and had informed him that Tom Dixon was on his way to cash the check. The bank president recognized Gary Simmons’ voice, but he didn’t recognize anything unusual in his voice to raise his suspicions either.”

Around five hours later, Tom Dixon was seen at a salvage yard 11 miles from the bank. He was driving Gary’s Lincoln Continental. He supposedly told the salvage man he needed to get rid of the car and asked if he could use his crusher to flatten it. The salvage men suggested he ditch the vehicle in the Missouri River.

The following day, one of Tom Dixon’s friends dropped him off at a truck stop near Kansas City. Dixon said he was catching a ride with a cross-country trucker. No one has seen Tom Dixon since.

Six months later, on April 25, 1975, Gary Simmons’ Lincoln Continental was pulled from the Missouri River less than six miles from the salvage yard where Dixon had tried to get rid of it. According to Det. Zinn:

“All we had was two grown men that had disappeared and that happens every day in America. It was unknown whether they had disappeared and not wanted to be found or if foul play had indeed occurred. When Gary Simmons’ body was found in that cave, it became a homicide investigation.”

Police suspected that Gary had been the victim of a bogus horse deal, and that Dixon, acting alone or with a partner, stole his money and killed him. Then, a new witness came forward. Roy Hylton was a local rancher. He says he knew both Gary Simmons and Tom Dixon:

“Oh, Gary knew a horse, that’s for sure.  He knew what a good horse was.”

Roy claimed he heard Gary calling his office and the bank from the Whispering Downs Horse Ranch on the day he disappeared. Roy also said that Gary showed him the horse he was buying:

“This murder didn’t come down over a $30,000 horse deal. It had to come down on some black market gas. I’m almost positive of that, because Gary Simmons was having problems getting fuel for his stations.”

Roy Hylton’s testimony complicated an already confusing case. Gary had been struggling to save his chain of gas stations in the face of soaring oil prices the year before his death.
According to Gary’s brother, Jerry Simmons:

“Gary closed the bulk of his stations because of the fact of lack of gasoline. After Gary disappeared, there were rumors that Gary might have been involved in black market gasoline.”

Who murdered Gary Simmons and why?  There may be only one man who knows: Tom Dixon.


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

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13 Comments

  1. Tom Dixon wife

    Tom was a loving kind hearted man. He loved his horses and everything around him. I was very close to him. I attended his funeral. I can’t help but believe this is the Tom I knew because he looks just like him and Same background information. But I just can’t live to believe that this is the Tom I knew

    Reply

  2. Amber

    As a child our landowner was one Tom Dixon. Leon, Ks. He and his wife, marjoire still live there according to the internet.

    Reply

  3. chris

    I remember this story from the original “Unsolved Mysteries” episode in 1987 with Robert Stack, the host. I was especially fascinated with it because of the car Mr. Simmons drove, a Lincoln Mark IV. My family owned several Mark IV’s and Town Cars, my favorite cars, and I still own two of them. What happened to Mr. Simmons was horrible, and I also wondered, as a kid at the time, how someone could wreck a new luxury car?

    Reply

  4. Misty Dixon

    I am saddened and curious… seeing this is my biological grandfather. I remember my grandmother would not discuss him, she always got upset. My father, Tom (or Tommy) W. Dixon Jr., has never really been in my life except when my grandmother had him come visit me when she had me every summer. I have not seen my father since my grandmother’s death in 1998. It was at her funeral that I was handed a scrapbook from a family member I had never met before. All they said was that it was time for me to see the truth and understand why my grandmother could not speak about my grandfather. They said she loved him very much, that even though she had remarried, her heart had belonged to my grandfather Tom. I was told she had waited 7 years before having him A death certificate done declaring he was dead. They said They knew I had the smarts in me to figure it all out. They didn’t believe that my grandfather wouldn’t have done this, that the mafia made him do it. (Which makes no sense to me.) Inside the scrapbook they said was every article they had done about my grandfather. I opened it and inside is a bunch of newspaper clippings, kept really nice and smooth, very well preserved. Now, I’m more confused than ever.
    I live in Independence, MO, my mother moved here with me after remarryIng From Kansas City, Kansas. She hardly would talk about my Father, and when I asked her if she knew anything about my grandfather, after I had found the old Unsolved Mysteries Video online, she said she knew nothing, and when I pressed her, she insisted she knew only what the video already had said…..
    Not long after turning 21, over a decade ago, I remember my boyfriend at the time , had an old 1970 Firebird he had souped up. We got pulled over and when they asked for our ID’s, I distinctly remember the cop asking me if I had a grandfather named Tom Dixon and dad named Tommy Dixon. I remember this because I thought it was so odd.

    So, I am willing and wanting to talk with the Unsolved Mysteries people who are handling this case, as well as any officers or anyone involved in this case. I am really curious what has happened to my grandfather and if there is anything I could possibly help with… I was extremely close to my grandmother…. it upset me very bad when she had died…. everyone at her funeral kept telling me all she ever wanted was a little girl and that she loved me more than anything in the world….. which is another reason why I am so confused by this case and my grandfather being involved. I really need closure on this… for me and my grandmother. I need to know my family history, for my own sake and well-being. Please. Thank you very much.

    Reply

    • unsolved

      Hi Misty – please email us at unsolved@unsolved.com, and we can try to help you out with any information we may have.

      Reply

    • Eva Taylor

      Hello Missy Your Grandmother was my Sister I. Law I was married toShirleys younger Bro. Leroy he passed away a year ago Your Granddaddy has Kin in Summersville Missouri Margie Hoffman that was Tom R Sister my phone book don’t have Summersville listing in it any more I will try to get Margies no or one of her kids you want me too .. My name is Eva,,, I seen you when you were a little Girl You sure was a cutie Do you have Face book that might be a way to connect with them .,if you want to friend me I ‘m listed has EVA ANTRIM TAYLOR .. on face book

      Reply

  5. Anonymous

    I am the widow of Tom Dixon who Passed away October 21, 2014 at the age of 76.
    Please contact me

    Reply

  6. Anonymous

    How can the police department say it wasn’t foul play when they pulled Gary’s car out of the river..the lack of police investigation caused this man’s killer to get away with it. There was enough information back in1975 to check into Gary’s disappearance. For shame. If it wasn’t for that man’s haunch nobody would have ever find Gary’s remains….rest in peace….

    Reply

  7. Anonymous

    I know of a man named Tom Dixon who would now be approximately 62 years of age. I don’t know where he is located at this time but I have an e-mail that was sent from him. I don’t have any reason to believe it is the same Tom Dixon you are seeking, but he has the same name and I could not live with the thought that it is the same Tom Dixon I once knew.

    Reply