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10 Victims Lured To Mysterious Meetings

by Robin Warder
fact checked by Jamie Frater

These days, you often hear cautionary horror stories about Craigslist, where innocent victims will either post or answer an advertisement on the website and end up crossing paths with a psychopath who used the ad to lure them to a meeting and do them harm. However, this type of thing occurred long before Craigslist even existed. There have been numerous frightening tales of unsuspecting victims who were lured to a meeting with an unknown individual and wound up being murdered or vanishing without a trace. In many of these unsolved cases, the identity and motive of the person who arranged the ill-fated meeting is unknown, and it’s possible that the victim was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

10 The Disappearance Of Leonard Dirickson

Leonard Dirickson was a 39-year-old divorcee who lived with his teenage son Jared at their dairy farm in Strong City, Oklahoma. On the morning of March 14, 1998, Leonard and Jared were eating breakfast when an unidentified man in a pickup truck showed up at their farmhouse. Leonard went to speak with the man for several minutes, and when he came back inside, he told Jared that the stranger was interested in buying one of his horses. Curiously, Leonard had never advertised having horses for sale. Nevertheless, Leonard left with the mysterious stranger in his pickup truck to go show him the horse. This would be the last time Jared ever saw his father.

There was no indication that Leonard ever visited the barn where he kept his horse, but a waitress did report seeing Leonard and the stranger at a nearby coffee shop two hours after he left the farm. The case took a bizarre turn six months later, when police received an anonymous phone call from a man who reported seeing Leonard at a bar in Amarillo, Texas. When police arrived at the bar, the caller was gone, and there was no sign of Leonard.

Before his disappearance, Leonard was experiencing serious financial difficulties because of his divorce and the recent folding of his dairy business, so there was speculation that he might have disappeared voluntarily. However, those close to Leonard don‘t believe he ever would have abandoned his son. Leonard Dirickson has not been seen since his disappearance, and no one knows the identity of the man who visited him that morning.

9 The Murder Of Dorothy Miller

In 1969, 48-year-old Dorothy Miller lived in Burlington, Iowa, and was the only female real estate agent in the area at that time. On the evening of August 15, Dorothy received a call from a man calling himself “Robert Clark,” who wanted to be shown a local house that was for sale. Since Dorothy didn’t like showing houses alone late at night, she brought her husband, Fred, along. The couple met Clark, who claimed he was planning to move his family from Des Moines. The following morning, Clark phoned Dorothy again and asked if he could take photos of the property for his wife. Dorothy was not available that day, but she scheduled another appointment for August 18. The two of them met that night and were seen entering the house together by neighbors.

When Fred Miller awoke the following morning, he realized that his wife hadn’t come home and contacted the police. They traveled to the house and found Dorothy’s body inside an upstairs closet. She had been knocked out with a blunt object and tied up before being sexually assaulted and stabbed 22 times.

Robert Clark was the obvious suspect, but police couldn’t find any trace of him in town. It seemed very likely that “Robert Clark” was an alias and that he’d targeted Dorothy because she was the only female real estate agent around. Clark probably intended to murder her during their first meeting at the house on August 15 but had to change his plan when Dorothy brought her husband along. Given the cold, calculated fashion in which he carried out his crime, authorities suspected that the mysterious Robert Clark might be a serial killer, but he has never been identified.

8 The Murder Of Penny Bell

In 1991, 43-year-old Penny Bell ran a successful employment agency and lived with her husband and two children in the village of Denham, England. On the morning of June 6, builders were renovating the Bell home when they saw Penny leave at approximately 9:40 AM. She told the builders that she was running late for an appointment. Two hours later, Penny’s car would be found in the parking lot of the Gurnell Leisure Centre in Greenford, a suburb of London. Penny’s body was in the front seat. She had been stabbed and slashed a total of 50 times.

Penny never shared any details about her appointment that morning, and there was no record of it in her diary. Three days earlier, Penny had withdrawn £8,500 from the joint bank account she shared with her husband, but the money was never found, and no one knows what she was planning to use it for. The only clue was a set of design samples in the back seat of Penny’s car, which seemed to indicate that she was showing them to someone before she was killed.

Before she was found, two witnesses reported seeing Penny drive her car through Greenford with an unidentified male passenger. They appeared to be struggling, and Penny could be seen staring out the window and mouthing the words “help me.” It’s theorized that Penny met her killer at another location, and he then forced her to drive to the leisure center, where she was subsequently murdered. However, to this day, no one knows the identity of Penny Bell’s killer or his motive.

7 The Disappearance Of Carmen Hallock

On December 18, 1969, Carmen Hallock, a 22-year-old waitress and junior college student from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had lunch with her former sister-in-law, Nancy Bauer. Carmen told her that she had a meeting about an employment opportunity scheduled that night. Apparently, a teacher from her junior college had contacted her, claiming that he did undercover work with the government and could offer her a similarly well-paying position. Nancy never saw Carmen again after that day and became concerned when she didn’t hear from her at Christmas. When Nancy visited Carmen’s apartment, she discovered that her dog had not been fed in days. Carmen’s car was soon found abandoned in a nearby parking lot, and she was officially reported missing.

In 1973, a Florida man named Gerard John Schaefer Jr. was given two life sentences for the murders of two young women, but there has always been suspicion that he had many more victims. Two gold-filled teeth and a shamrock pin were discovered among Schaefer’s possessions after he was arrested, and both items are believed to have belonged to Carmen Hallock. Schaefer had also been employed as an intern teacher in Fort Lauderdale in 1969. It was also discovered that he had written a bizarre fantasy story about a woman with a black dress and black high heels. On the day she disappeared, Carmen purchased some black high heels and told Nancy that she was going to wear them with a black cocktail dress for her meeting that night. However, Schaefer was murdered in prison in 1995, so if he had any involvement in Carmen Hallock’s disappearance, he took that secret to his grave.

6 The Murder Of Lindsay Buziak

Crimestoppers – Lindsay Buziak

On February 2, 2008, 24-year-old real estate agent Lindsay Buziak received a phone call from a woman who asked if she could show her an expensive home in the Saanich district of Vancouver. Lindsay agreed to meet the woman at 5:30 PM, but she soon received another call from a man who said he would be meeting her instead. This made Lindsay uneasy, so she asked her boyfriend, Jason Zailo, to check in on her while she showed the house. Jason and one of his friends arrived at 5:45 PM and claimed that they saw two figures moving around inside. When Lindsay didn’t respond to a text message, Jason and his friend decided to enter the house. They would discover Lindsay’s body in the upstairs bedroom. She had been stabbed over 40 times.

At 5:41 PM, a call had been made from Lindsay’s Blackberry, which probably occurred by accident while she was being attacked. Witnesses reported seeing Lindsay enter the house with a man and woman shortly before this. The couple had called Lindsay on a cell phone, which was used exclusively for the crime and purchased under the name “Paulo Rodriguez.”

In December 2007, Lindsay had met up with an old friend while visiting her father in Calgary, Alberta. One month later, this friend was arrested as part of the largest cocaine bust in Alberta’s history. Since Lindsay was murdered shortly after the bust, there is speculation that the two events were somehow connected.

In February 2016, Lindsay’s father claimed that he was threatened by one of the people involved his daughter’s murder, who said that Lindsay was targeted by drug dealers to send a message to anyone who squealed on them. At this point, however, there is no evidence to bring charges against anyone.

5 The Disappearance Of Revelle Balmain

In 1994, 22-year-old Revelle Balmain lived in Sydney and had aspirations of being a model and dancer. She caught a big break when she was hired for a six-month dance tour in Japan. On the evening of November 5, Revelle phoned a friend to say that she was finishing up with an appointment and that they should meet for drinks, but she never showed up. Revelle planned to visit her parents the following day, but she didn’t show up for this, either. Shortly thereafter, several items belonging to Revelle, including her bag and keys, were found scattered around some streets in the suburb of Kingsford. After Revelle was reported missing, her family was shocked to learn that in order to make some extra money, Reveille had decided to take a side job working as escort.

It turned out that Revelle’s “appointment” on November 5 had been with a client who’d hired her through her escort agency. This was supposed to be Reveille’s final escort gig before she left for Japan. The client was a Kingsford resident named Gavin Owen Samer, who claimed that he dropped Revelle off at a nearby pub before returning home. However, Samer had noticeable injuries and scratches on him in the days following Revelle’s disappearance, which he claimed were the result of a surfing accident.

In 2008, investigators announced that they had uncovered forensic evidence which seemed to suggest that Revelle was killed inside Samer’s house on the night she went missing. However, the evidence was not strong enough to file charges against Samer, who still maintains his innocence. Revelle Balmain has never been found, and her case remains open.

4 The Murder Of David Merrifield

In 1995, 42-year-old real estate attorney David Merrifield was a partner at the law firm of Smith, Merrifield, and Richards in Dallas. At approximately 7:30 AM on the morning of February 2, two female employees entered the firm’s office building and summoned the elevator. When it arrived, they were shocked to discover David’s body inside. He had been shot in the back of the head, execution style. Since David’s wallet was missing, robbery appeared to be the motive, but the wallet was discovered a few miles away with money and credit cards still inside. Upon closer examination, there seemed to be a more mysterious aspect to David’s baffling murder.

A check of a notepad on David’s desk revealed that he had a meeting scheduled at 6:30 AM that morning with someone named “Sam Jones.” The day before the murder, the firm had received four phone calls from a man using that name. No one at the firm knew who the caller was, but David did eventually speak with him and claimed that Jones wanted to do something for him. David had a habit of arriving at the office for work at around 9:00 AM, so his co-workers found it very unusual that he would agree to schedule a meeting with Jones at 6:30 AM. It’s been theorized that the killer requested the early meeting time so that David would be the only person in the building when he committed the crime. It’s very likely that “Sam Jones” was an alias, but no one knows his true identity or his motive for murdering David Merrifield.

3 The Disappearance Of Mary Shinn

In 1978, 25-year-old Mary Shinn owned an art studio in Magnolia, Arkansas, but also dabbled in real estate on the side. She decided to place an ad in a newspaper to sell a home she owned. On July 19, Mary showed the house to an unidentified man, who apparently wanted to make a deal which would involve her trading her property for a piece of land he owned outside of town. The following day, Mary received another call from this man. He claimed that his car was being repaired, so he asked Mary if they could meet at the EZ Mart across the street from her studio, so she could give him a lift to check out the house again. Mary agreed to the arrangement, and she soon vanished without a trace.

Later that afternoon, Mary’s unlocked vehicle was found in the parking lot of a grocery store. Several of Mary’s items, including her keys, purse, sneakers, and a wallet full of money, were found inside. There were also traces of seeds and grass in the car, which seemed to indicate that it had been driven through a meadow before it was abandoned.

Earlier that morning, a witness at the EZ Mart had seen a young man enter the store and ask for a quarter to use the payphone. It’s very likely this was the same man who called Mary. It has been theorized that he used the meeting to lure Mary to another location to murder her. However, her body has never been found, and the identity of the mysterious caller remains unknown.

2 The Murder Of Joanna Parrish

In 1990, Joanna Parrish was a 20-year-old language student at Leeds University. She originally hailed from the village of Newnham on Severn in Gloucestershire, England. That year, she traveled to Auxerre, France, on a work placement to teach English at a local school. During her stay there, she decided to make some extra money by placing an ad in a newspaper to offer English lessons.

On the evening of May 16, Joanna received a phone call from an unidentified man, who said that he wanted to hire her to teach English to his son. Joanna arranged to meet the man at the center of town, but this would be the last time she was seen alive. The following day, Joanna’s nude body was found in the River Yonne. She had been sexually assaulted, beaten, and strangled to death.

The case remained cold for years, but the investigation soon led to Michel Fourniret, a serial killer who was convicted of raping and murdering seven young female victims and received a life sentence in 2008. It’s always been suspected that Fourniret had additional victims, one of whom might have been Joanna Parrish. Fourniret’s wife, Monique Olivier, was also given a life sentence for her complicity in luring victims for her husband. She had provided details to the authorities suggesting they were involved in the murder of a young woman in Auxerre, but she later recanted this story. To make matters worse, when DNA evidence from Joanna’s murder was taken to lab for analysis, it was somehow lost. As a result, it has been difficult for authorities to build up a strong case against Fourniret and formally charge him with Joanna Parrish’s murder, so the crime officially remains unsolved.

1 The Disappearances Of Nick And Lisa Masee

In 1994, 55-year-old Nick Masee was a recently retired banker living in Vancouver with his 39-year-old wife, Lisa. On August 10, the Masees turned down an invitation to spend the evening with friends, claiming that they had an appointment scheduled with an unidentified man, who needed Nick’s help with investing $10 million. Nick made a reservation for four at his favorite restaurant that night, but no one showed up, and Nick didn’t even call to cancel the reservation. Strangely, there were reported sightings of the Masees that night in another establishment at the nearby Westin Bayshore hotel. The following day, Lisa used Nick’s cell phone to call her boss and Nick’s business partner to say that they would both be away for the next few days because they were called away to a court case. This was the last time anyone ever heard from them.

No one can confirm if the Masees ever returned home, but one week after they went missing, their house was found unlocked with their car parked in the driveway. However, two plastic zip ties were found on the ground near the front door. Their passports were also left behind, and the money in their bank accounts has never been touched. In April 1994, the Masees had made an unexplained trip to the Cayman Islands, where they opened up a bank account containing $50,000 worth of stock and also drew up new wills.

During his long banking career, Nick had crossed paths with a lot of controversial figures in the financial sector, leading to rumors that he had somehow gotten involved in something illegal which caused his disappearance. However, none of these rumors have ever been substantiated. Nick and Lisa Masee are still missing, and the context of their meeting with the mysterious investor is still unknown.

Robin Warder has launched a new true crime podcast called The Trail Went Cold, in which he analyzes some of the mysteries he’s featured right here on Listverse. Feel free to contact him here.

fact checked by Jamie Frater