Select It Sunday: Dail Dinwiddie

This Select-It-Sunday highlights Dail Boxley Dinwiddie, a 23-year-old woman from Columbia, South Carolina who vanished on September 24, 1992, while walking home after a night out with friends. Dail had recently graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a degree in art history. (The school went coed in 2007 and renamed itself Randolph College.) She planned to attend graduate school at the University of South Carolina.

The serial killer Reinaldo Javier “Ray” Rivera is a possible suspect in Dail’s disappearance, as well as in the disappearance of another SC woman, Paula Merchant, who disappeared seven years after Dail. (She was also planning to attend the University of South Carolina.) Most of his known victims were young blonde women; Dail had light brown/blondish hair. Authorities can’t determine whether he was involved in Dail or Paula’s cases and he won’t say.

Rivera, who admitted responsibility for four murders but may have committed many more, hid his crimes behind an ordinary, even admirable facade: he was happily married and the father of two. He had been a Navy pilot and was had been selected for an elite military program (only 400 applicants are admitted every year) where the Navy would sponsor his college education and make him an officer. He was a student at the University of South Carolina and a member of the ROTC during the early nineties.

In 2004, Rivera was convicted of killing one woman — a police officer at that — and sentenced to death for her murder, and seven life terms for related crimes. The jury members, when filling out the statements saying they were convicting him, wrote not just “guilty” but “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” He is awaiting execution.

As to whether he was involved in Dail Dinwiddie’s case…no one knows for sure. Rivera says he only killed four victims. Certainly it’s possible, even probable, that he was the one responsible for Dail’s disappearance and presumed murder. But there are a lot of sexual predators out there, and many of them are still completely anonymous. Who knows what happened to her, but it probably wasn’t good.