This week’s Flashback Friday case is David Robert Sampson, a 21-year-old student at the University of Washington who disappeared from Seattle on March 1, 1977. I don’t know his major, but he was interested in “botany, hiking and environmental issues,” so perhaps it was something like biology.
Indications are Sampson left of his own accord; he took several possessions, including survival gear, a Bible and other religious materials, but no ID or cash. He may have joined some kind of cult; his case reminds me a bit of Robert Spurlock‘s. (I ought to do a Make-a-List Monday of cases where the MP is thought to have joined a cult.) It’s worth noting that Sampson disappeared at the tail end of the hippie era, and it sounds like he might have found that lifestyle agreeable.
But if he did join a cult, where has he been since 1977? Canada maybe? But if he left the country, how’d he cross the border without any identification?
I was able to get Sampson’s date of birth today from the Washington State Missing Person Search database. The anonymous author of the excellent Whereabouts Still Unknown blog has an entry for him as well. I couldn’t find anything about his disappearance in the newspaper archives, though, which isn’t surprising giving it was 1977 and he was a college student and a man at that. That profile of missing person is rarely covered in the news even today.
If he is still alive, and he may very well be, David Sampson would be 62 today. There’s a good chance his parents would be dead by now, but perhaps he has siblings or cousins who are still hoping for resolution in his case.
I’m pleased to announce that Preston Winfrey, a Missouri father of three and founder of a remote software and web development company called Ready Launch (website | Facebook) has volunteered to redesign the Charley Project’s website and drag it into the 21st century. At present, technology-wise, it’s stuck firmly in the mid-1990s.
This has actually been on the books for awhile but I didn’t want to say anything because I wasn’t sure it would go anywhere. I can’t pay Preston for this, so this is a strictly volunteer project, and in the past I’ve had people promise to redesign my site and then lose interest and disappear. But now I’m confident that Preston will follow through.
Preston is, of course, a true crime enthusiast and said he wants to “help in any way I can bring visibility to missing persons and want to fight for justice for those who can’t fight for themselves.” One of my own personal mottoes (a quote often misattributed to Theodore Roosevelt) is: “Do what you can with what you have, where you are.” With his mad skillz at programming, Preston is doing what he can with what he has where he’s at, and that’s all you can expect from any of us.
He has already shown me a prototype of what the site might look like — with help from web designer Rick Brewer of S03 Creative.
He wants to make my website mobile-friendly, and searchable in all kinds of ways, and both more user-friendly and operator-friendly. I look forward to working with him.
It has been brought to my attention that Walter Shannon Stevenson, whose case I resolved yesterday, has not been found after all. This article, from which I got the original information, has issued a retraction. A suspect, Jeffrey May, has been charged with his murder, but Walter’s case is currently a no-body homicide.
I hope the body turns up soon. In the meantime, I’ll remove the resolved notice and put up Walter’s casefile again with the next update (probably today).
And speaking of murder-without-a-body cases, it looks like the only indicted suspect in Katherine and Sheila Lyon‘s 1975 disappearances is about to plead guilty. Some articles:
This isn’t the end of the story — there’s another suspect who is also believed to have been involved — but it might be the beginning of the end.
As of this writing, the Corpus Delicti section of Charley — my three lists of murder-without-a-body cases currently on the website — has approximately 615 names. (I saw “approximately” because a few names are on more than one list due to multiple defendants and multiple outcomes. I wish I could find the outcomes for more of those cases on List Three, which surely must have been resolved by now.)
For more details about murder-without-a-body cases, I highly recommend you check out Tad DiBiase’s website (particularly this PDF) and book.