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The Bizarre Disappearance and Death of David Lewis

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One of the weirder missing persons cases started pretty normally. It was Super Bowl weekend of 1993, and on January 28, the wife and young daughter of 39-year-old attorney and American Bar Association member David Glenn Lewis left their home in Amarillo, Texas, to go on a weekend shopping trip to Dallas, about 400 miles away. They often went on these day trips out to Dallas, so there was no reason to think that this would be anything other than another fun day out, and it was until they returned home a couple of days later on the 31st. They came back to a quiet house, with Lewis nowhere to be seen, and indeed it seemed as if he had just casually stepped out for a moment. There were freshly made sandwiches in the refrigerator, his wedding ring and watch were up on the kitchen counter, the TV and video recorder had been set up to record the Super Bowl, laundry was in the dryer, and it seemed that Lewis would be coming home at any moment. They suspected he had gone over to a friend’s house to watch the game and would be home later. However, Lewis never did come home, and this would be the beginning of a strange mystery and bizarre series of events that would baffle authorities and incite discussion and debate to this day.

When authorities were contacted on February 1st, they quickly found that there was no sign of a burglary or break-in, no signs of a struggle, so foul play was not entertained at the time. They found that the video player had started recording the game, but had not been stopped after it had finished, and they would also soon determine that he had last been seen by neighbors on January 30. Lewis’ car did not take long to be found, located on February 2 abandoned at the Potter County Courts Building in downtown Amarillo, as if he had just come to do some law work, and all of his cash and credit cards, as well as the keys to both his house and car had been left behind as if he had planned to come back to the vehicle. So where was he? No one had a clue.

David Lewis

In the meantime, police were able to piece together a rough timeline of the days leading up to his disappearance, although this made it perhaps even more convoluted and confusing. From interviews with co-workers they found that he had left his law office early on the 28th, going home at around noon after complaining of not feeling well. Nevertheless, he showed up to teach a course at Amarillo College that evening, and then there were some strange clues from some witnesses who had claimed to have seen him after that. A friend of his claimed that he had seen Lewis at the local Amarillo airport without luggage, and several other witnesses including a sheriff’s deputy had seen the man around town, describing him as having looked decidedly harried, tense, and nervous. Some other odd clues turned up were that someone had deposited $5,000 into Lewis’ bank account on January 30, and on January 31 someone had purchases two airline tickets, one from Dallas to Amarillo, and another from Los Angeles International Airport to Dallas, both in his name. Oddly there were no tickets found for the flights out to these places, just return tickets, and it was assumed that he had bought them under an alias, but why, and what connection did any of this have to his disappearance, if any? No one knew, but with no evidence of foul play at all, at the time police assumed that he had voluntarily left his life behind.

Although the police did not think there had been any foul play involved, Lewis’ family were not so sure. According to them he was a loving family man who adored his wife and daughter, and who also was committed to his work and had additionally been heavily involved in community and charity activities. Everyone who had known him insisted that David Lewis would never have left his job, family and community responsibilities behind willingly. According to family and friends, his days as a lawyer and former judge had caught up with him either in the form of a vindictive, disgruntled defendant, or someone wanting to interfere with an important upcoming court case he had been involved in in which he was to testify in a malpractice suit filed against his former law firm. Interestingly, the wife would also claim that Lewis’ file on the case had vanished at around the time he had vanished, and that he had expressed fears that his life was in danger. Coincidence or not? Regardless of all of this, police found no evidence to pursue it, and the case of David Lewis went cold. It would not be until another, seemingly unrelated unsolved mystery 1,600 miles away was looked at a decade later that there would be any new development, and it would all get even weirder.

Across the country, just outside the small town of Moxee, Washington, there was another unsolved mystery going on at the same time Lewis had disappeared. On February 1, 1993, A man had been seen by startled motorists walking down the center line along Route 24, but was struck and killed in a hit and run incident before anyone could help him. The man, who had been wearing military-style clothing and work boots, had no identification on him, his fingerprints didn’t show up in any databases, and police were unable to identify the mystery man. The case was baffling at the time, and was never solved, languishing in the realm of cold cases right along with Lewis, but this would change in 2004. At that time, a Washington State Patrol Detective by the name of Patrick Ditter was looking over some old cold cases on the Internet, and one of them happened to be the dead John Doe from Washington. He sort of messed around tracking down the information and physical characteristics of missing persons from the same timeframe and came across a picture of the vanished David Lewis, who just happened to look very much like the photo of John Doe. On a hunch he looked into this, becoming more and more convinced that John Doe was David Lewis, and eventually DNA confirmed it, solving both seemingly unrelated cold cases in one swoop, but hardly solving the overall mystery.

The most pressing mystery is, why was Lewis all the way over in Washington to begin with? He had no business there, no friends or family who lived there, had never even been there, and had made no mention at all about going to Washington. Everyone who knew him was sure that there was no reason for why he would have wanted to go there. He had no connection to Washington at all, so how had he managed to be walking along a highway to end up dead there? Lewis’ family suspected that he had been kidnapped, but if that was the case then who had done it and why would they have taken him to Washington? Also, if he had been kidnapped, then how had he wound up walking alone down that highway and why hadn’t he called out for help to passing vehicles?

Another idea is that he could have gone out there on his own for reasons unknown, perhaps specifically choosing Washington precisely because it was a place he had never been to before. He could have gone out there on his own and this just a tragic accident, but that still doesn’t answer why he was in Washington, or why he was walking in the middle of the highway wearing those military clothes. Was this a suicide perhaps? If so, why do it in Washington? In fact, how had he even gotten to Washington in the first? The plane tickets were for nowhere near there and he had left his car behind. How did he get there? There has been no answer to this day, no rhyme or reason to why this man should have vanished to end up dead across the country and only have his mystery solved by random chance a decade later. Whatever happened to David Lewis will perhaps always be elusive, and we are likely eternally left to wonder at what it all might mean.

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