You may have heard about this case before; it’s one of the bigger cold cases out of South Carolina. Here are the basic details: she went to a U2 concert with friends on September 23, 1992. Afterwards, they went to a bar in Columbia, SC called “Jungle Jim’s.” It’s in the Five Points area, which is apparently near the University of South Carolina — and also, depending on who you believe, within five minutes of a ghetto. She got separated from her friends — that’s often how these stories begin — and then had a 15-minute or so conversation with the bouncer of the bar. She left between 1:15 am and 1:30 am. After that, nada.
This cold case is from 1992, but it still resonates — Dateline’s website ran a profile of the case just this week, and the video embedded above is from within the past 2-3 years. The parents released an age progression photo about two years ago; you see that around a lot as well.
Here’s a bit of what we know here:
- For a while, Reinaldo Rivera — who has been convicted of murdering four women in Georgia — was a primary suspect. I believe he’s on death row, and I don’t think he’s ever been conclusively linked to Dinwiddie’s disappearance.
- As noted, the area within five minutes or so from Jungle Jim’s isn’t that great — if she tried to walk home by herself after the bouncer discussion, something could have happened there.
- There’s a chance — mostly unsubstantiated — that a narcotics informant from the area is one of the primary suspects.
- According to this ’20-years-since’ report in The State, Dinwiddie ran out of the club and up another street — signaling that perhaps she was in a hurry or needed to connect with someone.
- Via the same article, there’s an idea that perhaps three drug dealers abducted her — although when they investigated that tip and her body supposedly being in a submerged car, it led nowhere.
- Within the first two months of the investigation, 800 leads came in — and even today, 20+ years later, leads continue to come in.
- Via here, “a group of guys on South Santee Road” know what happened.
- Here’s a bit of context on what she was wearing the night of her disappearance and a few other facts.
- While the disappearance happened much later (2009), the Brittanee Drexel case is another famous South Carolina one — it’s not very logical there’s a tie, but you never know.
- Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post is a friend of the family and has written on this case a few times.
This is still officially a cold case, meaning it hasn’t been conclusively solved. If you look around at the different boards and threads on it, here’s a few logical possibilities:
1. She took a ride from someone she knew and met with harm that way.
2. She took a ride from someone she didn’t know and met with harm that way — this is conceivable because I know I’ve been intoxicated in my life and rushed out of bars, as if running to a next destination will solve something for me. If she rushed out of Jungle Jim’s, that’s possible. Then maybe someone pulled up, and …
3. She tried to walk through a bad area and was confronted. There’s dispute around this idea, and the fact that every “deadbeat” lead (like the drug dealers) went nowhere would back that up. There’s arguments that it might be a conspiracy — namely, South Carolina wants to keep it quiet that parts of its capital city / where its major university is are bad, so they shifted the narrative. I don’t know if I would go that far. It takes a lot to cover up something, and there has to be a lot of heft behind it. I think any parents visiting Columbia with their HS-aged kid could easily ID “Well, that’s a bad neighborhood.” I don’t think you need to cover up a murder for that.
4. Something else entirely.
The Rivera thing is probably the most tangible connection out there, but even that might be a swing and a miss — it’s a little bit like trying to link every murder in Wyoming/Montana over the past few decades to Dale Wayne Eaton.
Does anyone out there have any theories on this one?