Real Name: Dale Duane Williams
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Nucla, Colorado
Date: May 27, 1999
Occupation: Auto Shop Owner
Date of Birth: July 15, 1956
Weight: 170 lbs.
Marital Status: Married
Characteristics: Caucasian male with graying brown (or sandy) hair and blue eyes. Dale has a scar under his chin, scars on each side of face along jawline, and a birthmark on the left side of his face under his jawbone. He was wearing a dark blue T-shirt and blue jeans.
Details: On Sunday, July 4, 1999, a family swimming at the confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers in Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado made a grim discovery. Submerged in the muddy waters was a white 1994 Ford F250 pickup truck. The Montrose County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene. It quickly became apparent that this would be more than a simple vehicle recovery operation. Investigators realized this might be the break they desperately needed in a case that had captured the attention of surrounding communities. The truck belonged to a man who suddenly vanished six weeks before. Hopes, however, were quickly dashed when no other signs of the missing man were recovered. Authorities need help to solve this baffling mystery.
The recovered pickup truck was registered to forty-two-year-old Dale Williams. The longtime area resident was an active community leader, devoted husband, and doting father of two teenage daughters. He owned and operated "Dale's Pro Body Shop", an auto body shop in the nearby town of Nucla. He also owned Showtime Movie Rentals, along with other businesses and buildings. On the evening of May 27, 1999, he failed to make it home for dinner. His wife of twenty-three years, Diana, assumed he was preoccupied with a job at the body shop and lost track of time.
By bedtime, however, Diana was concerned. She called Dale’s shop a couple of times, but he did not answer or call back. She figured that he did not hear the phone ring because he was using the air ratchets or another loud tool. At around 10pm, she went to bed. As she laid there, she felt something was wrong. She tossed and turned all night and woke up several times. Each time she woke, he still was not home.
Diana woke at dawn and was horrified to discover Dale had not made it home all night. As soon as she got their children off to school, she drove straight to his garage. When she first walked into his shop, she noticed that the door was unlocked. The hood was still up on a van he was working on. His tools were laying around it. It appeared as if he had walked away for just a few minutes and would be back. She immediately went over to his mother Ida’s house. She had also not heard from him in the past day.
Dale often shopped at junkyards, looking for spare parts to use at the body shop. Diana and Ida thought that would be a good place to start their search. When they did not find him at the junkyards, they figured that he might have accidentally driven off the road somewhere. They figured that something had happened to him, but they also felt that they would be able to find him. However, they were unable to find any trace of him. His family knew something was wrong, especially because his daughter was supposed to graduate that weekend.
Within a few hours, Diana notified police, and word of Dale’s strange disappearance spread through Nucla. Investigators began piecing together his day. They learned he made a brief stop at his friend Tami Lowrance’s office about 12:15pm on May 27. She had a windshield that needed repaired on a truck. He told her that he would not be able to repair it until the following Wednesday. She thought it was strange because it was not necessary for him to stop by and tell her that; he could have called her instead.
Dale was in a hurry. He told Tami he was on his way to help a stranded motorist. She wonders if he felt uneasy about the person he was going to help. When he left her office, she never saw him again. She is believed to be one of the last people to see him. Investigators determined that his friend, Pastor Tom Ross, had been with him just before Tami saw him. Tom and his young son had stopped by the body shop late that morning to have Dale replace the windshield on the church van. Dale told Tom that he had a busy day ahead of him, but he had enough time for a game of darts.
While they were playing, a phone call came in. The caller told Dale that they were broken down on a remote stretch of highway about three quarters of a mile east of a small country store in Bedrock, Colorado. Tom was under the impression that the caller was a woman. There was nothing that was actually said that confirmed this; according to Tom, it was just “the way [Dale] talked and stuff.” Tom also believed that the caller was not alone and was in a panic. Originally, Dale was going to bring the tow truck, but the caller declined and said that they only needed something minor (like a jump).
Dale’s shop did auto body repair. He was not a mechanic. So, it was unusual for him to receive a call for roadside help. Tom thought it was odd that this person had called Dale for assistance. However, he noted that Dale was the type of person that was willing to go and help somebody if they broke down. Shortly after the call, Tom and his son said goodbye to Dale at the shop door. It was the last time he ever saw Dale. Dale left in his pickup truck soon after.
The citizens of Nucla responded to the emergency situation. Missing posters were printed up and distributed by Dale’s friends and family. Diana said that it felt great to know that she was in a small town where everybody cared about her and Dale. However, she would soon come to understand that not everyone in her town did care.
About two days after Diana put up missing persons posters in the Nucla post office, she discovered that they were all gone. So, she put more of them up. Then, about two or three days later, they disappeared again. The apparent removal of the posters led police to install a hidden camera in the post office. Within a few weeks, the camera captured images of a man tearing down the posters. Incredibly, he was ultimately identified as a former longtime family friend of Dale and Diana.
The man was questioned by police. He denied any involvement in Dale’s disappearance. He was also able to give them an alibi for May 27, 1999. For the most part, police were able to confirm it. Could Dale’s disappearance have had anything to do with some bad blood between the two men? Twelve months before he vanished, he and Diana helped move the man’s ex-wife to another state without his knowledge. The man was angry at Dale for doing this. Dale and Diana would not tell him where she was. Diana believes that he was really angry with Dale for that.
A month after helping the man’s ex-wife move, Dale found some disturbing items outside his auto body shop. There were torn up pictures scattered on the ground. The pictures had been stolen from his shop. They depicted him and Diana with their now-divorced friends in happier times. Several .22 caliber bullets were also scattered across the ground. Several days after that, Diana made a strange discovery in the night drop box at the video rental store she ran: a .22 caliber revolver.
Diana and Dale later discovered the gun, like the torn pictures, had also been stolen from Dale’s auto body shop. Diana was very nervous about the situation because she did not know what to think. Dale told her not to worry about it, saying that things would be okay and would settle down. He believed that what was done was more to scare him than anything else. Police interviewed Dale’s former friend about the burglaries. He denied any involvement in the break-in.
Dale’s life seemed to return to normal. Then, eleven months after his body shop was burglarized, he suddenly disappeared. Six weeks later, his truck was recovered from the river, which is located near a dirt road that connects Colorado Highways 141 and 90 between Uravan and Bedrock. It is believed that the river was swollen by spring runoff, hiding the truck from view.
An analysis of the vehicle and its recovery site provided more clues. The truck’s ignition was turned on. The vehicle was in low gear. The highway ran parallel to the river. The angle between the highway and the river was extremely sharp. The driver would have had to make a sharp and abrupt turn to put it in the river where it was found. Tire tracks showed the truck slowly rolled down an embankment and into the river without braking. Each detail seemed to indicate that someone had deliberately steered his truck into the water. Authorities stated that it was virtually impossible for Dale to have accidentally driven into the water.
Once Diana viewed photographs of Dale’s truck, she was certain someone other than him last drove it. She took particular note of the partially open driver’s side window. According to her, he usually drove with the driver’s window all the way down, but never halfway. It was always down or up. She believes that somebody put his truck in the river to get rid of it. She believes that this person knew the river well.
The amount of debris in the truck's cab indicated that it may have been in the river since the day Dale went missing. Oddly, a metal toolbox that was bolted to the back of the truck was missing. Its lid and several tools from it were later discovered; the lid was found downstream. Some tools were also found near Bedrock. No footprints were found at the scene. Dive teams searched the rivers but found no other trace of Dale. Several abandoned mines nearby were also searched; however, nothing was found.
Generating further speculation, police have not located the stranded motorist Dale went to help. Was the mystery caller a woman, as Tom surmised? And why has that person never come forward? Investigators may already have that answer. The purported distress call was placed from a stolen cell phone.
Dale’s loved ones must also face yet another perplexing scenario. There are those who claim that his truck was parked in its normal spot at his body shop by 1:30pm the day he vanished. If true, Dale or someone else drove his truck back into town within ninety minutes of his responding to the distress call outside of town. There were even reports from witnesses who claimed to have seen Dale early that evening purchasing a soda at the Family Market grocery store in the neighboring town of Naturita.
Tami believes that the people who saw Dale between 5 and 6pm at the store did, in fact, see him. According to Tami, these witnesses are people in the community whose word can be trusted. So, what happened to Dale? And where is he now? Diana believes he either saw something he should not have seen or knew something he should not have known. And that somebody was looking to “shut him up.” She speculates that he may have been ready to go to the cops and tell them what he knew. And they killed him to stop him from talking to the police.
Suspects: Authorities believe that the unidentified motorist was involved in Dale's disappearance. It is believed that the caller was a woman. The caller may not have been alone that day. The caller said they were broken down on a remote stretch of highway about three quarters of a mile east of a small country store in Bedrock. It is not believed that Dale knew the caller. That afternoon, Dale was reportedly seen between Bedrock and Paradox with his hood up beside a car. It is possible that the car belonged to the caller.
The individual who took down the missing persons posters was also considered a suspect. He was a former friend of Dale's. However, they had a falling out when Dale and Diana helped move the man's ex-wife without his knowledge. Shortly after that, pictures of Dale, Diana, the man, and his ex-wife were found ripped up at Dale's shop. Scattered among the pictures were several bullets. A gun was later found at the store where Diana worked. The gun and the pictures had been stolen from Dale's shop. The man was first questioned about the stolen items and denied any involvement. He also gave police an alibi for the day of Dale's disappearance.
A rumor circulated that the former friend had poured a concrete foundation for some type of structure he was building a few days after Dale disappeared. However, nothing has been found to corroborate it.
- This case first aired on the September 17, 2002 episode.
- It is not to be confused with the case of Devin Williams.
Results: Unsolved. Recently, Dale's daughters have tried to bring his case back into the spotlight via social media. In May 2019, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation made a public announcement, asking for help with the case. Specifically, they were looking for anyone with information on the unidentified caller. It is not known if any new leads have surfaced since then.
- Dale Williams on Unsolved.com
- Where is Dale Williams? Website
- Missing Dale Williams Facebook Page
- Dale Williams on The Charley Project
- Dale Williams on The Doe Network
- Dale Williams on NamUs
- Dale Williams on TrackMissing
- Nucla resident missing: Man's disappearance leads to fear of foul play - June 2, 1999
- Friends fear foul play in man's disappearance - June 16, 1999
- Teens find truck of missing Nucla man - July 7, 1999
- Missing man's pickup found - July 7, 1999
- Dogs used in search of missing Nucla man (Pag 1) (Page 2) - July 24, 1999
- Divers search river for clues in May 1999 disappearance - March 4, 2000
- Gone, but not forgotten - March 15, 2008
- Dale Williams - Last Call (includes interviews from family and friends) - September 3, 2018
- Nucla man went to assist stranded motorist and was never seen again - May 23, 2019
- CBI seeking new leads in 20-year-old Western Slope cold case - May 23, 2019
- CBI seeks help in 20-year-old cold case - May 23, 2019
- Where's Dale? After 20 years, few leads on missing man - May 25, 2019
- My dad is a missing person and was featured on Unsolved Mysteries (Reddit Post by Dale's daughter)