Interview: Dale’s Oldest Daughter

(Interview with Dale’s daughter, Tonee)

I’m Dale’s oldest daughter, Tonee. I always like to let people know about the person I knew, who was my father. There are always rumors flying around that little town of Nucla. First, I don’t think my dad was a drug dealer. I don’t think he pushed drugs, either. My sister was a junior in high school when he went missing, she had maybe 40 kids in her class, and the high school itself wasn’t over 150 kids. If my dad were into drug dealing, my sister, at the very least would have heard something.  Second, this case is cold, but open and they are actively investigating it. Therefore, I cannot tell you certain people’s names.  We cannot jeopardize the investigation in any form. Lastly, I know there is some wording that is a little confusing on the Unsolved Mysteries page.  Lt. Greg Hiler of the Montrose County Sheriff’s Department and the “former friend” taking down the missing person posters are not the same person. Lt. Hiler has since moved on and while he was on my dad’s case, he did a wonderful job and we are very thankful in the progress he made.

Unless they were locals, most people don’t know anything about my dad’s character.  He was well liked, he had a lot of friends.  He was charismatic, caring, and helpful individual.  He was hilarious.  He was a really fun guy.  We lived in a very, very small town and my dad volunteered for many community activities.  He loved camping, his family, us girls, and kids. He really was a big kid himself. I have so many unbelievable memories of my dad and the wonderful things that he did for my sister, mom and I. He was the only dad that would gather 15-20 kids we knew to play kick the can at 9pm on weekends. He would wake my sister and I up at 2am to roast hot dogs in our wood stove inside the house… He was an amazing person, a very fun person. And I would give nearly anything for my own children to know 1 day of their Grandpa Dale, and oh the things they would do for that 1 day!

Now about the case.  The case went cold about 5 years after my dad’s disappearance.  Yes, they found the truck; yes, they pulled it and it’s in evidence.  The truck was found in the confluence of the San Miguel and Dolores River in a swimming hole known to locals.  There have been miscellaneous tools that belonged to my father found strewn thru out the mountains near Paradox Valley.  No bones found have belonged to my dad, and there have been so many people who’ve come about with the ol’, “better do what I say or I’ll toss you down a mineshaft like I did Dale Williams” it’s sadly seemingly becoming a “thing” to say in Nucla.

As far as clues, the truck was driven into the waterhole in the confluence (about 13′ of water and sediment) the drivers side window was rolled down about 3/4 way and the passenger about 1/4 way, the windshield wipers were on, and the engine was running and I think it was in low gear. It is accurate that my dad never drove like that regarding the windows. My now very good friend found the truck while his family was fishing… their lure got stuck and he went to try and retrieve it, ended up standing on the roof of the vehicle. They thought it was odd and he said he thought it was a refrigerator. He was able to swim down and pulled the dash cover out, which had my dad’s name embroidered on it. And that’s when they called the police.  The cab was filled with sediment, dirt, and mud.  My friend said that while they fishing, an out-of-town vehicle kept driving by.  They eventually stopped and told them that they shouldn’t be “playing around there” My friend said that he’d never seen this guy before, he hasn’t seen him since.

In the earlier years, I was angry.  I was angry that my dad hadn’t been found and I was disappointed in the way the case was handled by the local police department.  Now that I’m older (and wiser) I understand that they were doing the best they could with what resources they had available and how they knew to handle things.  Understandably, something like this had never happened in Nucla.  The only thing that I am still upset about is how long it took for anyone from any department to talk to my sister and I.  I wasn’t interviewed until 2013 and that was after many investigators had come and gone.  The current team is great.  I am very thankful for their relentless dedication to finding our father.

That all said… It’s time to talk, Nucla.  Nineteen years in just a few days.  I hope it’s weighing heavily on your shoulders and I hope that people start talking or posting, anonymously if you must… Anything.  We deserve answers and to close this case.