|Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 27, 1993, via Newspapers.com|
When I wrote about the disappearance and death of Judy Smith a while back, I thought I would probably never come across another missing-persons case that strange and illogical. However, it turns out that in 1993, a Texas man met a somewhat similar fate. And unfortunately, it remains to date equally unresolved.
39-year-old David Glen Lewis was an Amarillo attorney and former court-at-law judge. He was described as a kind, generous, deeply religious man involved in charity work. On January 28, 1993, Lewis’ wife Karen and their young daughter Lauren went to Dallas for some shopping. When they returned home on the 31st, they found David’s wedding ring and watch on the kitchen counter. The VHS player was set up to tape the Super Bowl. There were two freshly-made turkey sandwiches in the refrigerator, and laundry in the dryer. The house looked normal and undisturbed. Nothing appeared to be missing...except David.
At first, Karen assumed David had gone to a friend’s house to watch the game. But when she failed to hear from him the following day, Karen contacted the police.
Investigators were able to establish at least a partial timeline of David’s activities right before his disappearance. On January 28, he left his law firm at around noon. He told coworkers that he was feeling unwell, and was returning home. That afternoon, his credit card was used to buy gas. That night, he taught a government class at Amarillo College. The next day, a friend saw him hurrying through Amarillo’s airport. He was not carrying any luggage. On January 30, someone deposited $5,000 in the Lewis’ joint bank account. A neighbor saw Lewis’ car parked outside his home. On February 1, a sheriff’s deputy saw a man resembling Lewis outside downtown Amarillo’s Potter County Courts Building. That same day, a cab driver drove someone whom he believed was Lewis from a hotel to the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The driver said the man seemed very nervous, and paid in cash.
On February 2, Amarillo police found David’s car parked in front of the court building. The keys for his house and car were under a floor mat. His checkbook, credit cards, and driver’s license were also inside. (David normally kept those items in the car.) Karen confirmed that none of his personal possessions were missing from their home. As strange as all this was, police found no evidence of foul play. Then, they learned that someone had bought two plane tickets in David’s name. One, for a flight from Dallas to Amarillo, had been purchased on January 31. The other ticket, from Los Angeles to Dallas, was bought the following day. (It is not clear if these tickets were ever used.)
All this led investigators to conclude that, for whatever unknowable reason, David had disappeared voluntarily. However, Karen Lewis thought differently. She was adamant that he would never leave without taking at least some personal items and without contacting relatives. He had recently told her his life was in danger, although he refused to give any details. She told police that David vanished just before he was to testify in a malpractice suit filed against his former law firm. He apparently had a lot of information about the wrongdoings of his former partners, and he was not afraid to share it. Karen believed this lawsuit was directly tied to David’s disappearance, although she nervously told a reporter that she was afraid to say anything more. She added that David’s files regarding the lawsuit had vanished. Despite this ominous information, investigators, lacking any new leads, shelved the case. Unless David Lewis turned up--alive or dead--his whereabouts seemed fated to remain a mystery.
The years went by, without any clues to Lewis’ disappearance coming to light. Then in 2004, a Washington State Patrol Detective named Patrick Ditter read a newspaper story about unsolved missing-person cases, which inspired him to see what could be done using the internet. He focused on about a dozen local cold cases, including a very odd hit-and-run mystery.
On February 1, 1993, at about 10:30 p.m., a man was walking alongside Washington 24, just outside the small town of Moxee, Washington. He was fatally struck by a car which was never identified. The dead man had no identification on him, and efforts to learn who he was had failed. His case had languished in obscurity ever since. Ditter did Google searches on the man’s physical characteristics--height, weight, and so on--which led him to various missing-persons sites. When he came across a photo of David Glen Lewis, he noted the strong resemblance to a picture of the Moxee corpse. However, the hit-and-run victim was missing Lewis’ distinctive glasses. Ditter checked an evidence list of items recovered from the place where the man had been run over. Eyeglasses were on the list. Fortunately, the clothing the dead man had worn--military-style fatigues and work boots--had been preserved. Ditter found the glasses among these clothes. And they were identical to the ones worn by Lewis. DNA analysis confirmed the bizarre truth: The man killed outside of Moxee and the missing David Lewis were one and the same.
This revelation only partially solved this dual mystery. What was Lewis doing walking seemingly aimlessly along a highway 1,600 miles from where he was last seen, in an area where he had no known ties? How did he get there? His family was convinced he had been kidnapped, but by whom? And why? If such was the case, how did he escape? Was the hit-and-run merely a tragic accident, or something far more sinister?
Sadly, no one has answers for any of these questions.