OH OH - Walter Dunson, 97, Cincinnati, 1985

Discussion in '1980's Missing' started by Odyssey, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. Odyssey

    Odyssey Verfied Insider Diane Genice Dye

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    Lots of people are looking for Walter Dunson.

    Ever since he was reported missing last month, his whereabouts have remained a mystery. And the different people trying to track him down -- a son, the police, the Social Security Administration -- do not agree on what may have happened to him. Or even whether Walter Dunson was around to disappear.

    For Walter Dunson's son, Gary Adams, the question is what happened after his 98-year-old father wandered off June 5 from a trip to Findlay Market. Mr. Dunson's 99th birthday came and went July 2 without celebration.

    Ned Morrell also would like to find Walter Dunson. As district manager of the Social Security Administration, Mr. Morrell wants to talk with Mr. Dunson in person to determine whether Mr. Dunson's monthly checks should keep coming.

    Cincinnati Police Officer Denise Neu also is looking for him. The missing persons detective has been combing through death certificates and medical records to find any recent trace of him.

    No one has seen Mr. Dunson since he was reported missing by his son. Neighbors in Kennedy Heights say they haven't seen him in years.

    Bryan Byas, Mr. Dunson's 23-year-old grandson in Walnut Hills, has told police he's never met him.

    Mr. Adams refused to discuss his father's case. Police, who don't completely buy the notion that Mr. Dunson wandered off, have added homicide investigators to the case to look at the possibility that Mr. Dunson has not been alive to disappear.

    Walter Dunson was born July 2, 1899, possibly in Georgia. He was a World War I veteran who settled in Cincinnati and worked at a now defunct foundry on Colerain Avenue in Camp Washington called Oberhelman-Ritter.

    He began drawing a pension in 1970, and those checks have been cashed, along with his Social Security payments, until he turned up missing. Over the years, the checks add up to more than $100,000. Police are not yet accusing anyone of anything. "We don't want to unnecessarily point fingers," said Sgt. McKinley Brown, a supervisor in the police division's homicide unit.

    It is still a missing person case, and there's no crime at this point, said Sgt. John Newsom, the homicide supervisor overseeing the case. "We're starting like it's from Day One."

    Missing person detectives have become regulars at Findlay Market and have gone door to door in Kennedy Heights searching for anyone who knows anything about Mr. Dunson.

    "It's a mystery," Officer Neu said. "And our big concern is, where is he?"

    Dead or alive?

    The mystery of Walter Dunson's whereabouts began June 1, when a letter went out from the Social Security Administration.

    The letter arrived at 5725 Wyatt Ave., a small brick house in Kennedy Heights painted pink with white trim. Mr. Adams has told police his father has lived there with the family for about 18 years.

    Social Security officials wanted to have a meeting with Mr. Dunson, a routine check under normal procedures. "We have 90-odd beneficiaries who turn 98 or 99 this year," said Mr. Morrell, whose office covers more than 54,000 check recipients in eastern Hamilton County. "We just want to verify they're alive."

    Four days after the letter was mailed, Mr. Dunson's son reported him missing.

    He told police they were shopping at the Over-the-Rhine market on June 5, a Friday afternoon, when they became separated about 2 p.m. According to the missing person report, he told police he didn't need their help and would find his father himself.

    When police asked for a picture, Mr. Adams told them no one had taken a picture of his father in about 20 years. It took several days before he agreed to sit down with a police sketch artist and give a description.

    He said his father was a 5-foot-8, 150-pound black man with gray hair, brown eyes and no distinguishing features. He said he was wearing brown pants, black leather shoes, a navy peacoat and was carrying a black leather wallet with about $15 in it.

    Anthony Grass, a Findlay Market janitor, remembers running into Mr. Adams that day and being asked whether he'd seen a "short old man." Mr. Grass didn't see anyone who fit the description. Apparently, neither did anyone else.

    "I don't think this guy's ever been around here," said Gary Geiger, owner of Geiger's Meat Counter, who has examined the police composite. "How can an elderly man wander away from Findlay Market?"

    Paul Sebron, a vendor known as "Mr. Pig," has wondered why no one has asked him to post a flier in his window next to the other messages taped there.

    "If my grandfather or father was missing," he said, "I'd hope there'd be some effort to find him."

    The Adams family has been uncooperative with police, Officer Neu said. The family also declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story.

    Nseen in neighborhood

    "We're not getting much help from anybody in the family," Officer Neu said. "We're running into a lot of dead ends."

    The only Walter Dunson missing flier posted around Findlay Market is at the Elder Cafe, where no one has seen Mr. Dunson for at least the last 18 years.

    One bar patron instantly recognized his name and police sketch. "He used to stay at the Drop Inn Center back in 1979 or '80," said Pat Elliott, a former counselor at the homeless shelter. "It's been years since I've seen him. I hope they find him."

    Dead or alive, police want to know where he is.

    Detectives have checked for death certificates or John Does at morgues and homeless shelters but have come up with nothing. Drop Inn Center residents say they don't recognize the composite. Police have not verified any sightings of Mr. Dunson.

    Paulette Wilkins thinks they never will.

    She lives next door, on the same side as the Adams' foil-covered windows.

    She knows the kind of car Mr. Adams drives and what time the couple is usually home. She used to hear music from the upstairs bedroom when the couple's two sons lived there. But she has never seen Mr. Dunson.

    Neither has Phylliss Leathers. She recently bought the house she grew up in two doors down from the missing neighbor.

    "I've never seen the man in my life," she said. "I've never seen him go for a walk. I've never seen him going to a car. I think it's awfully peculiar."

    For police, the paper trail to Mr. Dunson's life ended a long time ago.

    His driver's license expired in the 1970s, his medical records date to about 1980, and police have uncovered no bank accounts or medical claims since.

    "If he died of natural causes, just let us know," Officer Neu said. "We're pretty exhausted as far as leads go unless we get help from people. We're stumped."
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  3. Odyssey

    Odyssey Verfied Insider Diane Genice Dye

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    He probably died of natural causes way before 1998... but this case is really sad, nonetheless, if you think about what probably happened here. I wonder if he had any other children.
  4. Angels_Not_Forgotten

    Angels_Not_Forgotten Anxiously Awaiting a WINNING NFL Season!

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    Still haven't found Mr. Dunson's body but according to the Charley Project:


    Adams was convicted on twenty-five counts of theft of public funds in the spring of 1999, for stealing Dunson's Social Security benefits. He was acquitted of twenty-five counts of forgery; investigators were unable to find a sample of Dunson's handwriting to compare with his supposed signature on the checks. The court determined that Dunson had most likely been deceased since at least 1985, and Adams had therefore been misappropriating his benefits since 1986. Adams was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution. He has never been criminally charged in connection with his father's disappearance and police say that, unless they find Dunson's remains, the case is likely to end with the theft convictions.

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