Can we ever solve the Dail Dinwiddie case?

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:

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? 


Ted Bauer


  1. I went to a smaller college in Columbia and was in college when this happened. I was working in the college library and had people dropping off flyers and talking about the risks for young women in 5 points. It was an all women’s college and most of the people at the college were regulars at 5 points, but I was an introvert and never went out to bars. I always wndereed what happened to her. I have a feeling she’s been dead all these years somewhere where no one will ever find her body.

    • Thank you for providing a little backstory/context here, Katherine — and sadly you’re probably right about the overall outcome.

    • I was in college at the University at that time as well. There was a true fear in the air after that. All of us were scared to go anywhere at night alone. That family suffered so much and never got answers. And yes, 5- Pts is indeed not terribly far from an area considered not the “best”…very mixed area of higher and lower income type houses…

  2. I have with us in first grade when this happened but it made a big impression on me. my parents were always whispering about it. and everywhere you went, you could not escape her pretty face on a flyer. my father has worked in state politics for a long time, as has my grandfather, and his father before him, and so on. my point in saying that is that my dad gets “the dibs” or info on stuff that other people might not find out for months or years, or never find out at all. 2 years ago my mom told me that my dad had come home one night at some point after her disappearance & and said he’d been at the bar with a couple of sled officers, and they said something about them “knowing for certain” that it was “some guy who was a narc”, but beyond that she couldn’t remember anything more from the conversation with my dad, other than him swearing her to secrecy.

      • If by true, you are referring to my mother’s story to me/father’s story to my mother, I say definitely. if by true, you mean that a narc really did it and sled knew about it and did nothing, I don’t really know as I don’t have a lot of facts on the case: details in this case are hard to come by apparently. but odds are, I think they probably do know it was a narc and probably the same narc who was the looked at one point I think and rumored to be involved in her death…although I don’t know what the motive would the because according to my dad who knew her dad, she was not involved in drugs at all. of course bear in mind though that sled could be wrong: just because they think that guy did it doesn’t mean he’s the real perpetrator…

  3. No mention of the woman who saw Dale walking with two men, thought it odd, reported it to police, the men were questioned, and the police did not come up with anything.

  4. AS a mother I cannot imagine the pain these parents have gone through. No matter what happened I would think you always have that hope your child is alive and will be seen again one day… To just disappear is what is so odd.. someone knows something and to keep quiet is so cruel .God bless her and her family

  5. I attended the same concert that night in Columbia celebrating my 25th birthday with friends. I lived in the area around 5 points and can attest to “partying” and walking home alone 1 time. Such a dumb thing to do. I knew of Dales father because of a work connection. After she disappeared I never went anywhere alone in 5 points. I always think of her when I hear anything about U2. Such a sad story and utterly frustrating that this family has no closure. As the mother of a 21 year old CofC student now, I have always stressed to never ever walk anywhere alone at night. I cannot imagine the agony this family has gone thru. God bless them.

  6. I know Dail, but I wasn’t there that night and I don’t know what happened. I know very well the group of friends she was with and they were/are the kind of people any parent would want their child to hang out with. I never saw Dail do drugs or be involved with anything like that. We all went to Jungle Jim’s regularly, along with a few other bars in Five Points, and she would have known many people in the bar. If you went with a group, you fanned out and talked to everyone there that you knew. Easy to get separated. I cannot imagine that Dail would have decided to walk home alone (we just didn’t DO that). She is kind and funny and sincere, and had good common sense. I live in the same neighborhood as her parents, and most days I speak to her dad while he is walking his dog. Every day I wonder how her parents get up every morning, and then I remember that Dail is still out there somewhere. And someone knows something. I pray that this case continues to receive as much attention as possible, and that one day she will be found.

  7. As a long time resident of Columbia, I can attest to the fact that #3 isn’t as unlikely as you might think. In fact, to anyone who’s interacted with public officials here, it seems like a definite possibility, based on what occurs with other cases. Not just an opinion. Fact-based. Glad to provide details of the corruption and incompetence. Sad to say that it makes me a bit nervous to post about this idea.

  8. I met a young woman who was attacked, tortured horribly and the assailant said things to her during the attack, figuring she would die from all the things he did to her. One of the things he did was tie her up so she could not move. Inserted a tube down get throat and poured a bottle of vodka down the tube. While he was doing this, he told her he had done this to Dail Dinwiddie, but put the tube into her lungs instead of her stomach. She drowned from the vodka. It made him mad, because he couldn’t have the fun with her like he was going to do to her. I saw the scars on this woman and she was traumatized by this. She knew the man and even went to trial, but he got off. After he was found not guilty.he laughed and said he did it and got away. I really believed her. I think the police thought she was nuts!!! To this day she fears he will come back and kill her. Note: He burned most of the evidence in a fireplace. I truly believe Dail is dead, and I feel he burned her body and any evidence that could tie him to the crime. He is a real sick man who has a thing for young, beautiful blondes. He can’t have sex with his victims, but gets off having his way with them by carving up their body and other things. When they took the young woman to the hospital, the doctor there said her vaginal area looked like hamburger meat. So you can imagine what else he did. I tried to talk to the Lexington County Sheriff Department but they just brushed me off.

      • I was a victim of a bank robbery. I suffered from PTSD. I testified against the dependent on Lexington County. I met her in a support group. She didn’t talk much about the crime, mostly trying to get through nightmares and her fears. We begin to talk and see each other away from the meetings. I went to her apartment and helped her as much as I could. She opened up and told me what actually happen to her. The assailant was a son of a local doctor who had passed away and he was living with his mother. He was a loser, yet he made out he was a great golfer. Basically living off his mother. When she went out of town is when he set up his plan to attack.

    • This person called me too, and I passed it on to law enforcement. They said they had dealt with her on many occasions and Yes, said she was “nuts”?? Anything no matter how big or small or crazy is worth checking out.

      • As you know by working with victims or with their family, closure is very important. If you Don’t get that it is no one understands or believes that it happened. Because it is so unbelivable that a human being could do such a thing to another. The woman I am talking about is a prime example. Because it is so unfathomable, people including law enforcement have a hard time processing all the details. She was very much an houremotional wreck during the trial and that was one reason he walked. Talking about what was done to her was very hard for her to share in front of people judging her. I have seen it and I know you have seen it too. Almost like a rape victim, she becomes victim all over again. I got to know this woman and I believe her. Why would she lie about it?? She is like any other victim she wants justice and doesn’t want another woman or child to go through what she had to endure. Thank you for your patience and input.

  9. A friend of mine told me that the night she disappeared, her grandmother was behind a truck that turned down Old State street. Before it turned off, she saw a thin blonde girl screaming and trying to climb out of the window. A dark skinned man pulled her back into the truck. She went straight to the police station in Cayce and reported the incident. The police officer took down the information and then, in front of her, crumbled up the piece of paper and threw it in the trash and said sounds like somebody got tired of her boyfriend. She left and went home. She didn’t know about the abduction until she saw it on the news the next day. She has since passed away, but her grand daughter told me about it. I have sent tips before to check Old State street, but have not ever heard any feedback from them. As a mother of 3, I can’t imagine the pain of having your child go missing, but them to never have that closure would be even worse. I hope the family gets closure one day. I think they need to check wet areas with a lot of leaves in that area.

  10. I can remember there was a lot of road construction in 5 Points at that time. Some of it being in front of Jungle Jims. I have always wondered if she walked through the taped off section, slipped into a manhole, and died from a head injury.

  11. Ted, I am retired from SLED and assisted with this case over the years. I was not in the ACTIVE Investigation, but worked with evidence that came into Forensic Lab. I posted this last evening on my Facebook page after which I was messaged by another retired investigator who shared her theory with me: “The county building at the corner of Harden and Hampton was under construction at the time of Dail’s disappearance. There was a big hole dug out for the basement. I have often wondered if someone killed her and buried her somewhere in that hole.” Interesting theory, I thought. There’s technology out there now that can search deep under foundations and earth to detect bones, articles, etc…..especially in our space program. With this case being so publicized, I do believe they might listen and even possibly assist. If you could pass this info on to the family, it might be a thought for them to pursue. I just assisted in the solving of a 1978 / 37 year-old homicide cold case in Walterboro, SC a few months ago. Investigators are busy, and they would pick it up and then it went back on the shelf….but when the Det. that solved it picked it up, he never put it down. He contacted me as I was very involved with the family of the victim and with this case while working at SLED, so when the right team got on it, it was solved in 6 months. That’s why I say pass this info on to the family, and they may be able to pursue it and keep it moving this time.

  12. I had just turned 11 when this first happened and to this day it will still cross my mind at least once a day…I grew up minuets away where all this happened and as hard to believe as this sounds with growing up in the area and all, to this day, I have never “partied” in 5 points… And I really believe that its because of what happened to Dale there that it subconsciously put that fear in the back of my mind…I grew up with that typical overprotected mom…I mean every time I had the slightest sniffle she took me to the doctor…my mom had a son that passed away at 11 months old before I was born and he died because of an undiagnosed heart condition so that was one reason for her overprotective ways but the other was because when I was around 3 or 4 years old my mom worked with the girlfriend of Larry Gene Bell well he had pretty much just grabbed a little girl from her yard and I don’t know if she was scared that since he knew of her then maybe he would come and get me since he wasn’t fond of her because she would always tell his girlfriend that she needed to leave him since she was scared of him…which I do find quite ironic considering the hell that was to come in my childhood with her boyfriend… Anyways I got a little sidetracked, what I was getting to is this,Richland County dropped the ball,so to speak,when I was 12…them and DSS… All because someone didn’t do their jobs then,my abuser walked and went on to this day hurting others children…just maybe there was a screw up and to save face they brushed it under the rug…I don’t know…my mom always said that at least she knew where her son was and that she couldn’t imagine having to wake up to that nightmare everyday like the John Walsh and the Dinwiddie family have to…and even in the midst of tragedy good can somehow come out of it and shine the brightest of light on what these monsters do in the cover of darkness and expose them and what they have done to us all…look at what John Walsh was able to do with what happened to his family…and I too hope to one day take what happened to me to help others…

  13. I was a senior at USC in ’92 and like Dail went to 5 points after the Zooropa U2 concert at Williams Brice, it was quite a show, overall a very festive mood in 5 points that night. I think we went to the Village Idiot to eat and then on to Group, but didn’t stay there long. We passed by JJ’s, and it was like the other bars that night, totally packed. Hard to understand how somebody didn’t see something with THAT many people being down there – cars and people were everywhere, as I am sure the officers on patrol have already attested.

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