Crime Watch Daily just ended for the day and today’s big story was the disappearance of Jerry Michael Williams. Today he’s been missing for 15 years, 9 months and 14 days. He was 31 when he went missing and would be turning 47 on October 16th. I first heard about his case on the TV show Disappeared on Investigation Discovery that I’ve recently been binge watching and his case has always left me with chills because despite all the inconsistencies, there was next to no physical evidence left behind. You can find the full Disappeared episode that aired November 18th, 2011 about him here titled Mystery on Lake Seminole. If you don’t have the opportunity to watch the entire episode, here’s a little rundown of what we know happened to him:
On the morning of December 16th, 2000 Mike set out to go duck hunting on Lake Seminole in Florida, something he loved doing and was good at. It was also his wedding anniversary that day and he promised to be back by noon so he and his wife of six years, Denise, could go to a bed and breakfast and have a relaxing time. The hours tick by and Mike doesn’t come home. Later that day, Denise calls her father and Mike’s best friend Brian Winchester and go look for Mike themselves but they soon call in the authorities.
An extensive search was done over a period of 44 days but very few clues were discovered. Mike’s boat was in the water and his truck was nearby but there were no signs of him. No body, no clothes, no equipment, nothing. It was suggested that Mike had fallen out of his boat and drowned, not being able to get out when water filled his waders and that alligators had subsequently eaten him so no criminal investigation was opened at the time but there are several things wrong with this theory.
The first was that at the time of his disappearance it was quite cold, below freezing actually, and during such temperatures alligators don’t move around very much and rarely ever feed. Furthermore, an alligator could not have swallowed whole a man on his size without leaving some evidence behind. Some six months after Mike went missing, his waders, vest, hunting license and flashlight that still worked were discovered in pristine condition on the lake. It is believed that these items were planted after the fact because they had not been recovered in the original extensive searches and there was no slime or anything whatsoever on the items. If they had surfaced after six months, they would not have been in such good and clean condition.
If he had been eaten by alligators, there would also have been teeth marks on his clothes but there was nothing. Drownings on Lake Seminole are nothing new, but missing people who were presumed to have drowned on the lake have basically always been recovered. This leads some investigators to believe that Mike was never at the lake to begin with. In addition, there were other suspicious findings at the scene:
- The boat launch where his truck was found, which he would presumably have used to put his boat in the lake, was an undeveloped patch of mud. Yet very nearby were concrete, finished launches that he was known to have used in the past.
- The storm the night after he was reported missing had easterly winds that should have blown the abandoned, unmoored boat across the lake to the other side.
- When the boat was recovered, its engine was off, yet the gas tank was full. According to the manufacturer, if it had been on when Williams allegedly fell out of the boat, as investigators had theorized, it should have stayed on, with the boat running in circles until its fuel was exhausted.
- On Crime Watch Daily today, it was also added that the shotgun found aboard the boat was not the type he usually used to go duck hunting.
His mother Cheryl is the one who pushed for a criminal investigation into his death and eventually the authorities came to believe that foul play was indeed suspected but with little evidence and no body, there is not much to go on. Mike’s wife Denise even threatened Cheryl that if she opened a criminal investigation into Mike’s disappearance and presumed death, she would not be allowed to see her grandchild, Mike’s only daughter. To this day Cheryl has not seen her grand-baby. To make things even more suspicious, his young widow was highly uncooperative, quickly had him legally declared dead and then cashed out him 1.5 million dollar life insurance policy and shacked up with his best friend Brian, the man who had sold that very insurance policy. While that doesn’t make them killers, it’s definitely suspicious. If they both loved Mike so much, why were they so quick to put his disappearance behind them instead of being cooperative and forthcoming to help the authorities find him?
Now, this is where things get really interesting. In 2012 Denise and Brian separated and she filed for divorce the following year in 2013. Just under two months ago, on August 5th of this year, the house the couple shared was to be appraised and then the appraisal was to be filed with the court, Denise climbed into her car and Brian was in there and threatened her with a gun. He is still in jail, awaiting further proceedings on his pending charges, at the time that I’m writing this. Mike’s mother Cheryl hopes that this will lead to a break in the case with either Denise or Brian deciding to finally talk. Although Mike’s mother still have hope that he might be alive since there’s no actual irrefutable proof that he’s dead (be it that all circumstantial evidence points in that direction), she’s beginning to suspect his wife and/of Brian although neither of them have officially been named suspects of persons of interest in the case by law enforcement officials.
You can find periodic updates about Mike’s case and several other missing persons cases on the Help Find Jerry Michael Williams and Alligator Alibi Facebook pages. While I may not be in any position to throw accusations out against anybody, I’m definitely suspicious about Denise and Brian considering the timing of events and their lack of cooperation. All I can hope for now is that something comes out of Brian’s recent arrest and that all the recent publicity surrounding this case can put pressure on Denise to talk. We all know that dirty secrets have a way of coming out in an explosive fashion and that sometimes cases are solved decades later. Watch Unusual Suspects also on Investigation Discovery if you need a few examples of that.
My own two cents is that I unfortunately don’t believe that Mike is still alive. I doubt that he was ever at Lake Seminole to begin with. If Denise and Brian didn’t do it (nobody would like to believe that they did) I have no doubt in my mind that they know a lot more than what they are saying. The investigation into Mike’s disappearance is very much still active so if you know something, say something! Please help the media buzz going by sharing posts and links about Mike’s case. We never know what could lead to a new piece of the puzzle. In the meantime I will continue to keep an eye on this case and will post new updates as they come out. I have high hopes that with Brian’s recent arrest we will see progress in this case.
As much as I hate thinking that Mike is no longer with us, at least everybody’s minds will be at rest. There will no more wondering. If he was murdered, justice will at least have the chance to be served.