On Dail Dinwiddie, Missing for Twenty Years


I cannot believe it's been twenty years since my friend Dail went missing. In light of some fresh press coverage, I wanted to share this with you. Please spread the word. Help us find Dail. 

On 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 disappeared.

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: 

KIDNAPPED. $50,000 REWARD for INFORMATION LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF PERSON OR PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE KIDNAPPING OF DAIL DINWIDDIE.

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.

I 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 92-31749). 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 say.

6/10/06 UPDATE -- THE STATE, Columbia's newspaper, has a story today. New DNA found in Dail's case...

5/16/12 UPDATE -- WIS TV Did a story on Dail's disappearance. With any luck, in this new social media age, someone will come forward with actionable evidence. 

This article first appeared on Murderati.com June 6, 2006