Real Name: David Anthony Bocks
Location: Fernald, Ohio
Date: June 19, 1984
Details: The Feed Materials Production Center, also known as N.L.O., was a nuclear-energy facility situated in Fernald, Ohio. From 1953 to 1989, it was one of the few plants in the United States which processed high-grade uranium for use in nuclear weapons. In the fall of 1984, an accident allowed a cloud of radioactive smoke to escape into the atmosphere. An investigation later revealed that the facility had released more than 200 tons of radioactive dust particles into the air and water supplies. This, however, was not the only scandal that N.L.O. was involved in. Thirty-nine-year-old N.L.O. pipe fitter Dave Bocks mysteriously vanished from the facility in June 1984.
Dave was divorced and the father of three children. He started working as a pipe fitter at N.L.O. in 1981. At 11pm on June 18, 1984, Dave met his carpool partner Harry Easterling and they drove to work. Dave mentioned planning to go on a vacation with his children. Dave inspected and maintained the pipes throughout the facility; only the maintenance crew and security worked during the graveyard shift. Dave started work at 12am and was given assignment to look at the pump in Building 8. Harry noticed him putting his keys and lock in the top of his tool box like normal. At 4am, an N.L.O. employee reported seeing Dave talking in a car with his supervisor; the employee noted that the windows were oddly rolled up even though it was a hot and muggy night. The same employee ran into Dave again around 5am and noticed that Dave was walking to Building 4, even though he was assigned to work in Building 8. This was the last time Dave was seen alive.
Later that morning, Harry became suspicious of Dave's absence. At 7am, there was a safety meeting, but Dave did not attend it. Afterwards, Harry saw that Dave's keys were still in his toolbox and he assumed that Dave was working overtime. Harry made several phone calls but could not locate Dave; he later left work without him. At around 7:30am, a furnace operator in Building 6 notified his supervisor that the casings in his oven were covered in a sticky residue. The operator also detected an unusual odor; he even thought he may have seen a leg in it. The supervisor, however, did not notice anything strange.
At 11pm that night, Harry arrived at the restaurant to meet Dave again, but Dave was nowhere to be found. Dave's car's hood was cold, meaning that it hadn't been driven recently. Harry had a security guard open Dave's locker, and his clothes were still in there. Dave was soon reported missing and an investigation began. It was discovered that at 5:15am on the morning of Dave's disappearance, the furnace in Building 6 received a large temperature drop, suggesting that something foreign had entered it. A worker had also found a piece of bone on the lip of the furnace.
The furnace was soon shut down, but three days would pass before the material could be cooled enough to be searched. Several of Dave's belongings were found in the furnace, including his keys. This made no sense to Harry Easterling, since he had seen Dave's keys in his toolbox after he vanished. He did remember seeing the supervisor put the lock on the toolbox and take the keys. Along with the keys, investigators found a steel toe from a boot, part of an eyeglass frame, Dave's two-way radio, and a stainless steel wire looped in three oddly connected circles. Also found in the furnace were pieces of human bone.
During the investigation, authorities suspected that Dave had committed suicide; he had a history of psychological problems and apparently attempted suicide after his divorce. However, his family and co-workers do not believe that he committed suicide, nor do they believe that it was an accident. They believe that he was lowered into the furnace by an unknown third party.
Investigative reporter D.C. Cole noted that Dave was working in Building 8 on the night of his death. This building had released the largest amount of contaminants into the water supply. Cole believes that Dave was a whistle blower, and that he was silenced in order to cover up the release of hazardous materials from the N.L.O. factory. He believes that Dave was knocked unconscious in Building 8 and was then taken to Building 6 where he was lowered into the furnace. However, authorities are convinced that Dave's death was a suicide. To this day, his family and co-workers are searching for the truth.
Suspects: None known, but it is believed that Dave was killed because of the negligence occurring at N.L.O. The supervisor that he was seen with prior to his disappearance could be considered a possible suspect.
Extra Notes: This segment ran for the first time on March 2, 1994. It was originally scheduled to air in May 1993, then in November 1993, but was delayed for unknown reasons.
The segment incorrectly stated that the night before Dave's disappearance was "Sunday, June 18, 1984," however, this was actually a Monday.
Results: Unsolved. Interestingly, in 2013, a study found that there was a high rate of cancer among former employees at N.L.O., most likely due to their exposure to high levels of radiation.
- Dave Bocks on Unsolved.com
- Fernald Production Center on Wikipedia
- Police Think Man Fell In Nuclear Plant Oven - June 22, 1984
- Fragment May Hold Clue To Missing Man - June 23, 1984
- Deputies say man may be incinerated - June 24, 1984
- Police Say Objects Show Man Fell Into Oven - June 24, 1984
- Man dies in salt burner - June 25, 1984
- Oven residue being sent to FBI - June 25, 1984
- Pipefitter feared dead - June 25, 1984
- Family of Worker Believed Killed in Salt Oven Wants to Get Benefits - September 15, 1984
- NLO worker's disappearance ruled a death - March 24, 1986
- U.S., for decades, let uranium leak at weapon plant - October 15, 1988
- Mysterious move - May 19, 1993
- 'Mysteries' bumps Fernald segment again - November 10, 1993
- 'Unsolved Mysteries' examines Fernald death - February 18, 1994
- Fernald Preserve in Ohio
- Study finds cancer link among Fernald hourly workers - February 1, 2013
- Puzzling death focus of 'Accused' podcast - November 24, 2019
- Murder? Suicide? Coverup? A 1984 Mysterious Death in Butler County Remains Unsolved - January 15, 2020
- Death, lies and uranium: How an Ohio man’s mysterious disappearance in 1984 still haunts family, friends - March 17, 2020
- Dave Bocks on the Accused Podcast
- Dave Bocks at Find a Grave