John Allen Hale, age 28, disappeared from Columbus, Ohio on November 26, 1978.
John was last seen on Morse Road in Columbus. He was driving a maroon Chevrolet Monza fastback. It is not known if he was alone, or whether the car was ever found. News articles within the months following his disappearance mention rumors of the car having been dismantled and shredded, but there was no evidence that this actually occurred.
John owned two convenience/liquor stores called “Beer Wine Stop” with a man named James W. “Woody” Thomasson, who was believed to have had ties to organized crime. Initially, John had purchased the stores with his brother, Jeffrey, but he and Thomasson bought out Jeffrey’s share, leaving John with 2/3 ownership and Thomasson with 1/3.
There were reportedly many disputes as Thomasson, who was supposed to be a silent partner, began stepping in and taking over parts of the operation against John’s wishes.
Although I haven’t been able to find anything specific about the last confirmed sighting of John, one of the stores was at 2995 Morse Road, which is the same street he was last seen on, and his wife told the Columbus Dispatch that she believed he was on his way to open the store when he vanished.
Following John’s disappearance, Thomasson changed the locks on both stores, and put the business accounts in his own name, leaving John’s wife with no income.
Thomasson has a lengthy criminal history, and he has been linked to another man from whose demise he also profited.
In November 1974, Frederick Hale, a sheriff’s deputy with no relation to John, was assassinated in a still unsolved case. Frederick Hale was wealthy, and had once been married to Thomasson’s ex-wife, Diana. Though Frederick Hale and Diana had divorced in 1958 and Frederick had remarried, his estate valued at about $610,000 was willed to Diana and her son, Jim. Jim was the son of Thomasson, and in his capacity as an attorney, he had been the one to draw up the will, leaving everything to himself and his mother.
John Hale’s wife discovered a small piece of paper in John’s desk with the name “Frederick Hale” written on it just after John’s disappearance.
There had also been a woman who owned a prostitution house, who had allowed Thomasson to help in running the business. When she died, he inherited her estate, which included money and several acres of property.
I’m honestly not sure, from the way it’s been worded, whether John was actually driving when he was last seen. I think he could have last been seen in the store, with the reference to the car he was driving meaning that was the car he had with him.
As of his brother Jeffrey’s 2009 obituary, their mother, along with a brother and sister are still living.
John may have been having marital problems at the time of his disappearance. Public records show a petition for divorce in February 1976, in which the couple is shown as having no children. The petition was later dropped.
A second divorce appears after his disappearance, and it specifies that there were children (at least one, anyway) involved. This would suggest that he had a very young child when he vanished.
There’s no indication that his marriage had anything to do with his disappearance.
John was originally from West Virginia, and his empty grave is located in that state.
John’s wife stated that John was an ambitious person who did well at everything he attempted. He had goals which included becoming a millionaire, and he idolized Howard Hughes. John had no criminal record, with the exception of a couple minor traffic violations.
It’s not known exactly what happened to John, but foul play is strongly suspected.
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