This month’s Doe case is a fairly unknown one – there is very little information on this case available online. But all stories are important and deserve coverage, so this Doe case is the first in a concerted effort to cover more unknown and less publicized Doe cases. So, who is the unknown hitchhiker who died after being submerged in a car? Let’s explore.
On October 18, 1984, a person, whose name is not publicly available, was driving to Houston, TX. Close to Louisville, KY, they picked up a hitchhiker – our Doe. The pair stopped for food around Benton, Arkansas. For the next leg of their journey, the driver let the Doe drive so he could get some rest. He awoke to the cab of the car filling with water – the Doe had driven the car into a body of water. The man was able to get himself out of the vehicle, but the Doe was stuck in the cab for somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes before rescue. The Doe was then taken to a local hospital for treatment, but they passed two days after the accident. It remains unknown what caused the car to veer into the water and whether it was accidental or intentional.
The Doe was biologically male and estimated to be between the age of 25 and 35 years old. They are thought to be white, but this seems to be based on appearance and features rather than DNA typing. They had dark brown hair that fell just under their ears, brown eyes, and a bushy brown beard only on their chin. At the time of their death, they stood at 5’8” tall and weighed 167 lbs. They also had a small circle scar on their left ankle. When they were pulled from the car, they were wearing corduroy pants, a brown sweater, and a John Henry brand long-sleeved shirt. They were also wearing sweat socks that were red, white, and black with brown boots. The only other items found with them were 26 cents and a yellow comb.
There isn’t really a lot of information regarding the investigation of this case. We know that there were some tips that investigators considered credible, but there is no information about how they came to that information. There are two pieces of information that the investigation uncovered. First, it is believed that the Doe was from Connecticut, possibly New Haven specifically. The second piece of information is that they were possibly traveling to California via hitchhiking. If I were to hazard a guess, I would think that this information was found after interviewing the man who picked him up on the day of the death, or they possibly found other drivers who had given the Doe a ride.
There are seven missing persons ruled out as being the Hot Springs Doe as of the writing of this blog. Those exclusions are: Gary Mullinax, who went missing from Pulaski, AR on May 9, 1976; Lloyd Gilsdorf, who went missing from Escambia, FL on July 29, 1984; Keith Lalima, who went missing from New London, CT on May 7, 1981; Kenneth LaManna, who went missing from New Haven, CT on May 16, 1980; Randolph Sedlack, who went missing from Montgomery, VA on November 24, 1983; Mark Clarke, who went missing from Jackson, NC on December 1, 1983; and Thomas Scott, who went missing from Tarrant, TX on August 23, 1984.
The first possibility I found while searching for possible identities for the Hot Springs County Doe is Richard Viglizzo. Richard went missing from San Francisco, CA on November 20, 1983. He stood at 5’7” tall and weighed 150 lbs. He was 28 at the time of his disappearance. His vital characteristics align with the Doe’s, and he also bears a resemblance to the composite created for the Doe. Unfortunately, there aren’t many details available regarding Richard’s disappearance, so it’s impossible to speculate on how he may have ended up in Kentucky.
The second possibility is Terrance Schram, who went missing from Sturgeon Bay, WI on June 1, 1981. He was 25 at the time, stood at 5’8” tall, and weighed around 150 lbs. He was on leave from the Navy at the time of his disappearance. His girlfriend, who lived in Montreal, Quebec, expected him to visit during his leave, but he never did. He did not call to cancel or notify her of delays. Terrance has never been heard from again, but possibly headed to Florida while on leave. Again, there is not a lot of information on the circumstances surrounding the disappearance, but travelling from Wisconsin to Florida could have led to him being in Louisville.
The third missing person I would like to discuss today is Darrel Frye, who went missing from Bellingham, WA on June 15, 1980 – he was 21 at the time, which would put him at 25 years old in 1984. Darrel stood at 5’6” and weighed 140 lbs. His hair was worn in a long afro style at the time of his disappearance, but cutting it shorter may have made it lose some curliness. There is literally no information apart from missing date available for Darrel, so I can’t speculate on why he would have made his way across the country to end up in Louisville, but I do see a similarity between him and the composite drawing, especially around the eyes and eyebrows.
If you have any ideas of who the Hot Springs Doe was in life, please contact the proper authorities. Currently, the only contact is the Arkansas Crime Lab. They can be contacted at 501-227-5936 in reference to case number 444-84. The National Crime Information Center case number for this case is U190023915, and the NamUs case number is 3123. I know there is not a lot to go on here, but if you have a family member or friend who went missing in the late 70s and early 80s that may be this Doe, reach out. If you know of a missing person who resembles this Doe, reach out.