Something Clearly Wasn’t Right
“In May of 1995, twenty-nine-year-old Devin Eugene Williams held a job as a long-distance truck driver, often hauling produce from the Midwest to the west coast. He was a married father of three children, raising his family in Americus, Kansas. The couple had just purchased a new home and were in the process of making plans for the house, as well as their future. Devin’s wife would later go on to say that this was the happiest point in their marriage, the spring right before he disappeared. Devin was described as a pleasant and patient man with a co-worker saying the only times she ever saw him get irritated was when he had to wait for his truck to be loaded, as he was eager to get back home to his family.
On Sunday, May 28th, in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, the silence that nature provided was suddenly interrupted by the sounds of a forty-eight-foot, ten-ton, eighteen-wheeler semi-truck barreling through the remote forest road. Nearby campers, Lynn and Jack Yarrington stated that the road wasn’t large enough for an 18-wheeler and that they only would see four-wheel trucks use the road- and even then, only sparingly. Jack and Lynn claimed that the 18-wheeler continued to drive back and forth on that road at a high rate of speed, for much of the day. Other campers had a close call with this same semi-truck- the 18-wheeler drove right at them, head-on, nearly running them over. The campers were able to reverse in time, and get out of the way, but stated that the driver of the truck stared straight ahead, with no expression on his face- almost as if he was looking right through them, or didn’t recognize anyone was in front of him, at all.
Later on in the day, a group of people having a picnic stumbled on the semi-truck, now stuck in a field. They left their vehicle to speak to the man standing next to the mired truck. One of the men in the group named Charles Hall asked the man how he got his truck stuck in the mud.
The man replied, ‘They made me do it.’
This prompted Charles to ask him, ‘What?’
And the man muttered under his breath, ‘No, you can’t help me out. I’ll never get it out of here. I’m going to jail.’
When Charles heard the man mention jail, he thought something sinister might be going on- such as a carjacking, hostage situation, or kidnapping. Charles stated that he had wondered if there was another person in the cab of the truck, possibly holding a weapon on the man. Despite the strange situation, the man made no attempt to ask them for help, nor keep them there with him.
Later in the afternoon, a report came to the local deputy, Deputy Wells, about a truck stuck in the heart of the forest. The deputy was confused, like the campers, about how such a large truck would end up within the forest at all. When he went to investigate, he discovered the semi stuck in deep mud within a meadow. This meadow was located near Forest Service Road 137 in the Buck Springs area, nearly 20 miles from highway 87. Once Wells looked inside the truck, he discovered the cargo within undisturbed and intact- 1,200 boxes of lettuce and strawberries, with the refrigeration still running. No one was near the abandoned vehicle, and the cab was locked.
The deputy checked his national crime computer and learned that there were no reports submitted for either a missing truck or a missing truck driver. He stated that when he peered through the window of the cab, that the inside was very clean, and there were no indications that foul play had taken place.
At 4 pm that same day, Lynn and Jack Harrington were driving through the forest along Forest Service Road 321, when they came upon a man off the side of the road, near the trees. The man was partially kneeling on the ground, staring at a tree. The man was mumbling to himself, but they weren’t able to make out exactly what he was saying.
Jack asked the man if he needed any help or assistance, and the man simply said, ‘I’ve got to light the grill.’
The man was holding a $20 bill in his hand, and hitting it repeatedly with a rock as if to start a fire. The couple looked around, but didn’t find any evidence of food that he may want to grill- he had nothing else with him, at all. The man then threw a rock at the couple’s car, and they decided it was time to leave, getting in the car and driving away. This was the last confirmed sighting of Devin Williams.
When no one had heard from Devin that day, and he was off-schedule for his delivery, he was reported missing. Although those who knew him were certain that Devin wasn’t the type to abandon his truck, investigators had linked the missing man to the situation in the Tonto National Forest. Eyewitnesses were certain that the man acting strangely in the woods that day was the same man in the photos they were shown: Devin Williams.
Investigators began to track Devin’s movements leading up to his disappearance. They learned that Devin had left his home on May 23, heading west. This was a route he took many times. He successfully delivered his haul to California and reloaded his truck for his trip back to the Midwest. Devin spoke to his boss, Tom Wilson, that evening, with Tom stating later that everything seemed normal: that Devin was on time, and everything was going seemingly well.
On Saturday evening, May 27, Devin made his way into Kingman, Arizona. He would phone his work headquarters for the last time, telling them that he was unable to get any sleep, but that he was determined to get back on the road. After this, Devin was meant to arrive in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday morning, but he never made it out of Arizona.
Detective Bruce Cornish went on to say that narcotics, mental health, nor criminal history were factors in Devin’s disappearance. How he came to this determination is unknown, as mental health issues can appear out of the blue, or, can be hidden from friends and family. He went on to note that it was possible that Devin ran away on his own accord- pointing to the fact that his briefcase, ice chest, and sleeping bag were left in the truck, but that his duffel bag and favorite audiotapes were missing. For this to have happened, though, the entire episode in the forest on that Sunday would have needed to be an act. In the absence of any real evidence, investigators only had theories to work with.
A search was conducted for Devin, using foot patrol, search dogs, volunteers, and off-road vehicles- but all searches came up empty. No scraps of clothing, bone fragments, nor any trace of which direction Devin may have gone were discovered. The Deputy involved in the case said that he had conducted many missing person searches, and not one had been conducted where they had not found the person except Devin’s.
On May 2, 1997, hikers were walking along the bottom of the Mogollon Rim near the intersection of Forest Road 321, and Rim Road 300 in Gila County- about a quarter of a mile from where Devin had last been seen. This is an area that had already been previously searched for Devin. There, they stumbled upon a human skull. Dental records would later go on to confirm what many thought: the skull belonged to Devin Williams. There was no evidence of foul play on the skull, and no other remains were discovered. They were unable to determine Devin’s cause of death based on the skull alone, and it is still unknown what exactly had happened to him. Many would go on to speculate a few theories, which lead to his erratic behavior: a diabetic episode, sleep deprivation, mental illness, narcotic use, or carbon monoxide poisoning. None of these theories have been confirmed, and the mystery of what happened to Devin that day in 1995 still remains.
Devin’s wife, Mary Lou, still holds out hope in finding out what happened to her husband but says that hope diminishes with each passing day. During the time of Devin’s disappearance, but before the discovery of the skull, Mary Lou stated that her children had a very rough time. Some days, they would be fine, and other days, they would ask her if their dad was ever coming back. She had no clue how to answer them, simply saying that she didn’t know, but if he doesn’t, he is ‘up there with God.’ With the discovery of his skull, they were able to find closure in his death, but not the circumstances that led up to it.”