Update: John Dial has been found safe. His sister has spoken to him for the first time in over 50 years.
John Victor Dial, age 23, was last seen in Childress, TX in July 1966.
John Dial joined the United States Air Force at the age of 16. He served in the 78th Civil Engineer Squadron at Hamilton Air Force Base in California from 1960-1964.
In May 1966, he visited his family in Childress TX, then returned to duty at the Howard Air Force Base in Panama in June 1966. He contacted his family on July 1, 1966, at which point he notified them that he had married a woman from Panama. Her name is Elsa Caballero (Dial).
This was the last contact he had with family, except for a phone call in 1985. He tried to reach his sister, but she was not home and only spoke with one of her children. He said he was no longer in Panama, but no further details were relayed. He has not had any recorded income in the US since 1968.
There was an unconfirmed sighting of John in the Childress, TX area in 1990. By this time, his parents were deceased but John may not have known that.
One of John’s nieces has posted multiple queries around the web for information on his whereabouts. She believes he may be working as a mechanic, or possibly in the gun trade, here in the United States. While she posted dates relating to John’s movement within the Air Force, I could not find any information on whether he was formally discharged, or if he was listed as AWOL. I think this is a very critical piece of information that is missing, for reasons that you will see as you read on.
John’s niece also posted possible contact information for John’s wife, Elsa. The location of this woman is Panama. It is known that John and Elsa had at least one child, possibly two. The name(s) of the child(ren) are unknown, but possible names are Redonna, Verxia, and/or Llorando Dial.
John’s niece expressed reluctance to contact Elsa in Panama, assuming she would not speak English. She was looking for a Spanish speaker to assist with this, although these posts are from several years ago. I respectfully, but strongly, disagree. If she was married to an American serviceman long enough to have children, she speaks some English! Call her!
John Victor Dial has been suggested as a possible match for this John Doe, which is an interesting story in and of itself. After committing suicide in his Eastlake, OH apartment, he was quickly identified through dental records as Joseph N Chandler III. Because he left an $82,000 estate, the probate court attempted to locate his heirs, only to find that the real Joseph N Chandler III was an eight year old boy who died, along with his parents, in a car accident in December 1945. The crash took place near Sherman, TX.
Once authorities realized that John Doe was not really Joseph Chandler, but rather someone who had taken over his identity, they set out to find out more about John Doe.
They found a record of a request for Joseph Chandler’s birth certificate, followed by a request for a social security card in Joseph’s name, in 1978 from Rapid City, South Dakota. Authorities believe this was the beginning of John Doe using this alias, and believe he chose Joseph Chandler after viewing headstones at the cemetery in Texas. It’s believed that John Doe was approximately the same age as Joseph, and the fact that Joseph’s parents had also died meant less likelihood of being caught using his identity. (The real Joseph Chandler was born in 1937, John Dial in 1943)
Authorities learned that John Doe was a very private man, lived in an apartment which contained only a few books, a shelf of vitamins, a computer, and a single change of clothes. He left his apartment only to work, and to eat out. He worked as an electrical engineer at CDI Corp in Euclid OH, and Lubrizol Corp in Wickliffe, OH. It’s been reported that John Doe had lived in the Cleveland OH area since 1979, and in this apartment since 1986.
A few curious statements issued by investigators:
John Doe shot himself in the head in his apartment using a .38-caliber Charter Arms handgun that had been purchased at a Western Auto store in Seagoville, TX between 1968 and 1978. The store has been closed for some time and its records destroyed. The gun has never been reported as stolen or missing.
Although they can’t connect the actual time that John Doe walked away from himself, they believe it would have been between 1968 and 1978. At some point, evidence showed, he was in California, worked around or was in the U.S. Navy, and had some electrical engineering experience.
He did electrical engineering work and possibly had been married twice, once to a Cuban woman.
So now come the questions of surrounding circumstances, particularly, what his military situation was.
It’s possible that:
a) He just married, decided to live in Panama, and go on with his life. (In which case, he would not likely change his identity)
b) His family did not approve of his marriage, thus John purposely did not contact his family (which would still not be a reason to change identities and hide)
c) He went AWOL just as the Vietnam War was heating up and then might have changed his identity to avoid the consequences of desertion.
(Left: John Victor Dial ca 1966. Right: John Doe)
It seems that John Dial’s ears were much smaller, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that John Doe had a gun purchased in Texas, a Cuban wife (easily confused with Panamanian), military background, and a timeline that could fit with Dial’s movements.
It should be mentioned that John Doe was suffering from late stage colon cancer, and that is believed to be the reason for the suicide. There is no indication that any sinister or guilt-related motivations existed.
Or, he could very well still be out there somewhere. He’d be 70 years old now.