They Believe He Was Murdered: Parents Still Grieving Over Son Who Disappeared 18 Years Ago
BY GARY E. LINDSLEY,
Staff Writer, The Caledonian Record
Saturday May 22, 2004
His note pad yellowed with age, Robert Bovit at times didn't even have to flip through the pages to talk about May 6, 1986, and what has happened since. He knows it all by heart.
Bovit has kept copious notes about that date and what may have happened because that is the day his son, Russ, disappeared.
He and his wife, Carolyn, who live in Ridgewood, N.J., were in St. Johnsbury Thursday for the first time in six years.
With tears welling up in her eyes, her voice quivering at times, Carolyn and Robert told how much it hurt to come back to Vermont and specifically, the Walden area.
The Bovits believe Russ was murdered the night of May 6, 1986.
His car, a light blue 1974 Renault, was spotted a day later, stuck in some mud about four miles away from The Last Resort Farm where he lived on a back road leading to Cole's Pond near the Walden-Danville town line.
However, people living in the area near where the car was left abandoned did not report it to police immediately because they thought it had been left by a drunken driver.
When they realized no one was coming to retrieve the Renault, they called police.
Blood was found on the passenger side of the car as well as in the trunk. However, there wasn't any sign of Russ.
Blood also was found on his mattress, which had been flipped to hide the stains. The blood matched the blood found in the car.
Lt. Leo Bachand, the Vermont State Police Troop B Criminal Division commander, said there have been some leads over the years. The last, he believes, was about four or five years ago.
Bachand said none of the leads have proved to be helpful to the investigation.
"It's an open criminal investigation," he said.
"Any lead that comes in, we follow up on it. We hope to bring (the case) to a conclusion."
The last time Russ was seen by anyone was about 9 p.m. May 6 when he was watching television at home. He was 30 at the time of his disappearance.
Deborah Dawson and Randolph Wilson were the last to see Russ at the farmhouse that night.
Earlier that day, he had been seen at Lyndon State College where he was a part-time student.
Russ had scheduled an appointment for 8 a.m. May 7 with a real estate agent to talk about purchasing a condominium in Stowe, according to Carolyn Bovit.
He never made it.
Police were notified May 11 Russ had disappeared.
Dawson and Russ became romantically involved around 1975. At the time, she owned the Last Resort Farm.
In 1979, the couple broke up and Russ developed a romance with Judy Lieberman, who moved to the farm to live with him.
Dawson sold the farm to Russ in 1979, keeping a piece for herself. She lived at the cottage and continued to work the farm.
In 1985, Russ and Lieberman broke up and she moved out. That same year, Wilson and Dawson became involved with one another and he moved in with her at the cottage.
In February 1986, Russ sold the farm back to Dawson with the stipulation he could remain at the farm unto May 18.
He disappeared 12 days before he was supposed to leave the farm.
The Bovits, frustrated with a lack of any headway by state police, hired private detectives to investigate their son's disappearance.
The night he disappeared, he left behind his wallet, credit cards, belongings, clothing and a large sum of money.
That's why police believe robbery was not the intention and that Russ met with foul play.
The private detectives, according to the Bovits, determined Russ had been murdered by a man who died three months after Russ disappeared.
In addition to hiring private detectives, the Bovits even went so far as to hire out a two-man submersible from Elmira, N.Y. to search lake Willoughby because of a tip that Russ's body had been placed in a U-haul trailer and deposited into the lake.
Nothing was found. A total of $60,000 was offered by the Bovits. No one came forward. That's why Robert Bovit believes the person responsible for his son's death is dead.
"We think this man killed our son," he said. "The question is why? There may have been some marijuana. They must have been growing some on the farm."
Robert Bovit said he had spoken to Dawson after Russ' disappearance.
"She was scared," he said. "I understand why she was nervous now."
The Bovits don't make frequent trips to Vermont. They find the trips to painful because there hasn't been any closure.
"We are up here to be close," Carolyn said.
The Last Resort Farm was renamed the Caledonian Farm. It carries that name to this day.
Dawson and Wilson could not be reached for comment. ...