"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, May 18, 2020

The Mysterious Death of David Glen Lewis

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.

4 comments:

  1. I've been fascinated by that case for some time, it's a real rabbit hole!

    One detail that's for some reason unknown is whether the VCR could have been programmed in advance or had to be turned on manually. If David had started it manually just before the game started at about 5:30pm Amarillo time, he couldn't have manually started it much earlier or the tape would have run out before completion, he would have had to drive (or be driven, as his car was parked) pretty much straight through the night to get to Moxee by 10:30pm the next day. Amarillo to Moxie is a 25-hour drive even with the briefest stops for fuel.

    Of course he could have flown, at the time photo ID wasn't required for domestic travel, and by the time the police knew David had died in Moxee I would imagine any flight records were long gone. The February 1 alleged sightings in Amarillo and Dallas could have been possible if they were early enough in the day, to allow for flight times. I believe that under the circumstances fying makes more sense than driving.

    Another detail I've read elsewhere is that two motorists in Moxee saw an apparently uninjured David acting in a strange manner on Route 24. Depending on the account he was either sitting or lying in the middle of the road, or wandering aimlessly in the middle. Both drivers separately decided to turn around and head back to his location to warn other drivers, but in the minute or so it took them he had been fatally struck. The autopsy showed no alcohol or drugs in his system.

    Yet another odd detail is that David's wife was certain that he never owned the military fatigues or work boots he was wearing when he died.

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    Replies
    1. Do you know how the suit against his old law firm ended? I was unable to find that out.

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  2. Very strange. So many inconsistencies. If he was on the run, why would Lewis purchase aeroplane tickets in his name, and why two? Decoys? Why leave his watch and wedding ring behind? If the hit-and-run was a murder, why did it happen in such a strange spot as if by chance? Yup, you're right; this one is strange and illogical.

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  3. "How did he get there?"

    That's the $64,000 question. I presume Lewis didn't check into a hotel in Moxee?

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