Real Name: Devin Eugene Williams
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Tonto National Forest, Arizona
Date: May 28, 1995
Occupation: Truck Driver
Date of Birth: April 23, 1966
Weight: 190 lbs.
Marital Status: Married
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair and eyes, stocky in build. He had an earring in his left ear and numerous tattoos on his back and arms. At the time of his disappearance, he had a fu manchu style mustache. He was last seen wearing jeans and a black t-shirt with white art. He was not wearing any shoes or socks.
Details: Many of the cases profiled on “Unsolved Mysteries” are just one tantalizing clue from solution: a key eyewitness, a missing telephone number, or a clear fingerprint. But in the bizarre case of a missing truck driver, absolutely nothing adds up. Clues never yield answers. They only raise more and more questions.
During Memorial Day weekend on Sunday, May 28, 1995, in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, the last thing any of the campers expected to see crashing through the woods was a forty-eight-foot, ten-ton, eighteen-wheel semi-truck. Lynn Yarrington was camping with her husband, Jack; she was astonished to see a large truck driving down the forest roads because they were not very large and normally not passable by that large of a vehicle. Most of the vehicles that drive on the roads are smaller four-wheel drive ones.
The truck thundered back and forth several times that morning. Two other campers had a frighteningly close encounter: the truck drove towards them and nearly ran them over. They were forced to drive in reverse until they could get out of its way. The truck driver never looked at them as if he recognized there was someone in front of him. There was no expression on his face at all. He did not attempt to slow down or look over to see if they needed help or anything. He just kept on driving.
Later that day, a carload of picnickers came upon the truck, now mired in a field. They spoke with a man they believed to be the driver. One of the picnickers, Charles Hall, asked him how he had gotten his truck into the forest. He responded, “They made me do it.” Charles said, “What?” and then the man muttered to himself, “No, you can’t help me out. I’ll never get it out of here. I’m going to jail.” When Charles heard him mention jail, he assumed that a hostage situation, hijacking, or kidnapping was taking place. He wondered if someone maybe had a gun on him in the cab. However, he noted that the man made no effort to keep them there or ask for help.
Later that afternoon, Deputy Dean Wells followed up a bizarre report that a truck was marooned in the heart of the forest. He was surprised that such a large vehicle would go down those roads. When he came upon it, he was awestruck. The truck was stuck in the mud in a meadow near Forest Service Road 137 in the Buck Springs area, about twenty miles from Highway 87. Its cargo, some 1,200 boxes of lettuce and strawberries, appeared intact and undisturbed. The refrigeration unit was running. The cab was locked. The man Charles had spoken with earlier had vanished.
When Deputy Wells checked the National Crime Computer, he found no reports of either a missing truck or driver. He did not find any indication of foul play at the scene. The inside of the cab appeared to be very clean. However, he had no answer as to why the truck was there.
The following afternoon, at around 4pm, another sighting. Lynn and Jack were driving in the forest along Forest Service Road 321 when they came upon the man. He was partially kneeling on the ground and staring at a tree. They saw his mouth moving and heard sounds, like he was mumbling. However, there was nothing coherent that they could make out that he was saying.
When Jack asked the man if he needed help, he said, “I got to light the grill.” They noticed that he had a $20 bill in his hand. He was hitting it with a rock, as if he were trying to start a fire. In front of him was a flat rock. They looked around but did not see anything that he could be grilling. The man had nothing else with him. The couple decided to leave when the man threw something at their car. They were the last ones to see the confused young man.
That same day, a long-distance trucker named Devin Williams turned up missing. He was twenty-nine-years-old, a husband and father of three. He worked for Flint Hill Transportation Company in Emporia, Kansas. By all accounts, he was not the type to dump a fully loaded rig in the middle of a forest. But the eyewitnesses were positive, the young man matched photographs of Devin. Finally, the mystery had a starting point.
On May 23, 1995, Devin left his home in Americus, Kansas, and headed west. It was a route he had taken many times. He delivered his load in California on schedule. He picked up new loads for the return trip and checked in as planned with his boss, Tom Wilson. Tom did not recall anything out of the ordinary about their conversation. Everything indicated that it was a normal trip, that he was on time, and that everything was going well.
On Saturday evening, May 27, Devin rolled into Kingman, Arizona. From there, he phoned headquarters for the last time. He mentioned that he could not get any sleep but was determined to get back on the road. He was supposed to arrive in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday morning. But by Sunday morning, he was off the map, barreling through the woods miles from any highway. To this day, no one knows why. None of the theories make sense. His wife, Mary Lou, believes that something bad happened to him. She said that it was not like him to go off of his route. She also said that he had never been that irrational before.
Reports that Devin was disoriented and incoherent prompted suspicions that he was on drugs, but that did not fit him as a person. According to Tom, they never had any drug problems with him. He had passed all of the drug tests that he took through work.
Detective Bruce Cornish notes that in most missing persons cases, there are factors in a person’s life (such as a criminal history, drug problems, or mental illness) that can help explain why the person disappeared. However, none of these factors applied in Devin’s case. There was no evidence of mental illness or drug problems. Detective Cornish says he does not know what was “wrong” with Devin that weekend. However, he notes that there are some people that want to run away from their responsibilities or have problems with their family that cause them to run away.
Had Devin left job and family to start a new life? Was it significant that his briefcase, ice chest, and sleeping bag were left in the truck, but his duffel bag and favorite audiotapes were gone? If he had run away, he certainly concocted an elaborate cover. His erratic behavior would have to have been an act, performed for a succession of unsuspecting witnesses. Mary Lou does not buy it. She says that they were at one of the happiest points in their marriage. They had recently bought a house and had made many plans for the house and for their future.
Detective Cornish interviewed a woman who often helped Devin whenever he picked up loads in California. She said that the only time he ever seemed irritated was when he had to wait for his load, because he was eager to get back home and get back to his family.
If Devin did not run off, where was he? Foot patrols, canine search-and-rescue teams, and off-road vehicles returned empty handed. Hunters and hikers in the area never reported finding so much as a bone fragment or scrap of clothing. Some began to suggest, only half-jokingly, that it seemed as though he had been abducted by a UFO. Local authorities remain totally baffled. Deputy Wells said that he has conducted many searches, and that (other than Devin) he has never had an instance where he conducted a search and not found the person, either dead or alive.
Nearly a year has passed since Devin detoured to an unknown fate. Back home in Kansas, Mary Lou still clings to the hope that he will be found. It is a hope that dims a bit with each passing day. She said that some days, their children are fine, but other days, they will start asking if he is ever coming back. All she can tell them is that she does not know, and that if he is not coming home, he is probably “up with God.”
Suspects: None known. Some investigators speculated that Devin may have been on drugs at the time of his disappearance, however, his family refused to believe this. His boss also noted that he had passed his drug tests. Another theory was that he vanished voluntarily. Interestingly, he had taken his duffel bag and audio tapes, but left his briefcase behind. His family does not believe that he would leave them behind. Some UFO researchers have connected his case to stories about UFOs in the area.
- This case first aired on the March 15, 1996 episode.
- Some sources have his name incorrectly spelled "Devon" and state that he was twenty-eight.
- It was also featured on "The Trail Went Cold" podcast.
- It is not to be confused with the case of Dale Williams.
Results: Unresolved. On May 2, 1997, hikers found a human skull at the bottom of Mogollon Rim near the intersection of Forest Road 321 and Rim Road 300 in Gila County, about a quarter mile from where Devin was last seen. Dental records confirmed it was his. There was no evidence of trauma to the skull. Although no foul play was suspected, there are several unanswered questions in this case, including his strange behavior and exact cause of death.
Several theories have been brought up to explain Devin's behavior, including: a diabetic episode, sleep depravation, carbon monoxide poisoning, mental illness, and drug use. None of these have been confirmed.
- Devin Williams on Unsolved.com
- Devin Williams on The Charley Project
- Truck rig discovered, but driver is missing - June 3, 1995
- Kan. trucker who left his rig is still missing - June 4, 1995
- Kansas trucker missing - June 4, 1995
- Public record: Police log - June 4, 1995
- Search for Kansas tracker in Arizona is called off - June 6, 1995
- Disappearance sparks real "Phenomenon" tale - July 27, 1996
- Found skull shoots down UFO theory (Page 1) (Page 2) - May 15, 1997
- Skull identified as that of missing trucker - May 16, 1997
- Williams Family v. Flint Hills Trucking Company - November 24, 1999
- Sitcoms Online Discussion of Devin Williams (includes articles)
- Reddit Discussion of Devin Williams
- Obituary for Devin Williams
- Devin Williams at Find a Grave