Real Name: Dennis Lyle Walker
Nicknames: Charlie Lee
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: July 5, 1987
Details: Forty-three-year-old Dennis Walker was a sports memorabilia collector who collected items belonging to Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Pete Rose, among others. His collection is valued at over $10 million. In June 1980, Walker started an investment company in his hometown of Medford, Oregon. He started grandiose investment schemes and even opened a bank on a south Pacific island. More than 140 people gave Walker several million dollars to invest over the years. Walker's employees trusted him and also invested with him. Walker bought rare and expensive sports memorabilia with his investor's money. He started with buying baseball cards but soon began buying rare expensive items. He leased a building in Medford and opened a sports memorabilia museum. He even had Pete Rose there as a special guest for the museum's opening. Walker had thousands of dollars worth of baseball cards, baseball rings, and uniforms at the museum.
In 1986, Medford police obtained a search warrant for Walker's office. The state police were watching Walker for over a year, suspicious of his activities. He was charged with fraud and racketeering based on the evidence they found. The authorities, however, had trouble with the case because his investors did not believe that he was cheating them out of anything. None of his investors had ever complained to the authorities. Walker even counter-sued the police. He had a number of summons, but he never appeared in court.
Walker believed that the police would seize his collection, so he and a co-worker packed everything away. Walker left Medford in April 1986 and vanished. Sixteen months later, on July 5, 1987, a man by the name of "Charlie Lee" was found dead in the bathroom of a Las Vegas hotel room. Authorities found a pill bottle on the counter with the name "Dennis Walker." Dental records confirmed that the dead man was Walker. A cause of death could not be determined; it is still unknown if his death was an accident, suicide, or homicide. Authorities would like to determine how Walker died; they would also like to find the rest of his collection.
Suspects: Some have claimed that Walker was murdered in a mob hit; however, no suspects have been identified.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the October 12, 1988 episode. Interestingly, Dennis Walker and another man wanted for fraud, Steven Cox, both operated similar frauds in Medford, Oregon, at around the same time period.
Results: Unresolved. A total of $120,000 of his collection has been located since his death, including Babe Ruth's shirt and World Series ring; however, the rest has not been found. Walker's cause of death has also never been determined.
- Babe Ruth in Medford?
- Collectors Question Rose Memorabilia
- Rose investigation spurs interest in Oregon con man's death
- FBI Reopens Sports Collector Investigation - LA Times Article
- You're Out! - The IRS agent who nailed Pete now hunts fresher game
- New York Times A Missing Uniform Wrapped in a Mystery
- Is Charlie Sheen’s “Winning Ring” Linked To A Mob-Hit And A Ruthian Unsolved Mystery?
- Dennis Walker: Sports Memorabilia King
- Dennis Walker at Find a Grave