JT Ellison

6/10/06 UPDATETHE STATE, Columbia’s newspaper, has a story today. New DNA found in Dail’s case…


Dinwiddie1_3On September 24, 1992, Dail Boxley Dinwiddie disappeared
from Columbia, South Carolina.

It happens everyday. You hear it on the news, read it in the
papers, see alerts on the highway signs. And with the advent of the 24-hour news
cycle, Amber Alerts and a more responsive police force, these commonplace
disappearances sometimes end with good news. I wish that could happen for Dail.

The facts of this case are cut and dried. On the evening of September 23, 1992, Dail attended a U2
concert. When the concert ended, she headed down to the Five Points area of
Columbia with a few friends. They finished the evening at a bar called Jungle
Jim’s. She got separated from her friends, and spoke to the bouncer at
approximately 1:15 a.m. – 1:30 a.m. He remembers her leaving the bar as if she
was going to walk home. She went north on Harden Street. And then she simply

She was wearing an olive green long sleeved shirt, a blue LL Bean jacket tied around her waist, faded
blue jeans and brown boots. She’s barely five feet tall and less than 100
pounds, has light brown hair and brown eyes. Her ears are pierced, and she has a crippled finger on each hand.

On every missing poster, under circumstances of
disappearance, the words UNKNOWN and ENDANGERED MISSING appear. The posters,
which were plastered everywhere we could get them, all over the country, read: 


Despite a $50,000 reward, no credible links have been made to Dail’s disappearance.

What happened to Dail? She wasn’t the type of girl to just
run off. She lived at home, was taking art classes with an eye on graduate
school (she majored in Art History at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.) Her
parents and close friends immediately knew something was dreadfully wrong; she
just wouldn’t have not come home, not called, if she could.

Dail and I went to college together. I don’t claim to be one
of her closest friends. Though RMWC is a small school, she and I didn’t cross
paths until senior year. The Dail I remember was a bright, fun woman whose smile
could light up a room. She had an infectious laugh. She was smart as a whip.

I remember getting that phone call – Did you hear? Dail’s
gone missing. I remember how my heart sank. How I felt like there was nothing I
could do. How my fervent prayers went unanswered, and slowly, over the years,
Dail’s face faded from the news cycle.

Dinwiddie2_2I have a little bit of Dail’s case in each of my books,
something of a tribute to her. She has become a number, which saddens me. She’s
in the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and Center for Missing Adults
(MPCCN Case File 455F90) She is part of the Doe Network (Case
File 635DFSC
), and The Kristen Foundation (Investigative Case Number
). She is listed in news stories, columns, even appears in Wikipedia
under the heading of Missing White Girl Syndrome.

None of that is important. Finding Dail is all that matters.
If you know anything, or think you know someone who might, please call the
Columbia Police Department at 803-545-3525, or the South Carolina Law
Enforcement Division (SLED) at 803-737-9000.

The case is open, and they’ll listen to anything you have to

9 thoughts on “MISSING

  1. Sandra Ruttan

    JT, what a tragic story. I think that, as horrid as it can be to know the outcome if your friend/family member is murdered, not knowing must kill you slowly over time.

    I hope your moving post may twig someone’s memory and maybe lead to a resolution in this case. You’re right to say it’s sad that someone eventually becomes a number, but you’ve done a great job of reminding us of Dail’s name.

  2. Naomi

    Better yet may be some blogs, especially those based in South Carolina. Murderati readers, do you know of any S.C. (especially Columbia) authors? I noticed that there’s a Southeast chapter of MWA and there must be an equivalent in Sisters in Crime.

  3. Elaine

    You might want to try Margery at MWA too – there are scores of law enforcement members as well who might have some ideas.

    Give the network news sites an email-and CNN & Fox. What the hell? One never knows what they might pick up on.

  4. Patrick Shawn Bagley

    I have nightmares about something like that happening to my girls.

    A girl who was in my 9th grade class disappeared one night on the way to a friend’s house. That was more than twenty years ago, and there are still no suspects in the case.

  5. Margery Flax

    JT – post something short on EMWA about it with a link to your blog. And use the “contact us” page on the MWA website and contact the Southeast chapter president, Clay Stafford, and ask him to post it to their chapter email list.

    This is so sad – I hope someone can help.


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