Bill DouglasCourtesy photo Betsy (Douglas) Showers
Bill Douglas, Sr., August 26, 2003, just 5-1/2 months before he went missing.

William LeRoy Douglas, Sr.

Missing Person, Declared Dead

William Douglas, Sr.
Age at Report: 63
DOB: July 3, 1940
Weight: 145 lbs.
Height: 5′ 08″
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Incident type: Endangered / physical
Missing From: 3000 blk of Pacific St.
Woodburn, IA
Clarke County, IA
Investigating Agencies: Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Clarke County Sheriff’s Office
Case #: 04-01918
NamUs MP # 405
Missing Since: February 4, 2004

Case summary by Jody Ewing

On February 11, 2004, family members of William LeRoy Douglas, Sr., 63, reported to the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office in Osceola that Mr. Douglas had disappeared from his rural Woodburn, Iowa residence.

Bill Douglas with daughter Betsy Showers Courtesy photo Betsy (Douglas) Showers
Betsy Douglas Showers and her father, Bill Douglas, Sr., five months before he vanished without a trace. The family had gathered to celebrate Betsy’s child’s first birthday.

Douglas was last seen at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 4, at his residence in the vicinity of the 3000 block of Pacific Street. (Some reports provide the time as 1:30 p.m.)

He may have been dressed in black “Carhartt” bib overalls, “Wrangler” jeans, a light green jacket and black boots.

The Clarke County farmer had a tattoo with the names “Billy LeRoy,” “Rhonda Lee,” and “Pamela Sue” on his right forearm, along with a tattoo of an eagle and a boat anchor.

Old injuries included a fractured pelvis, ribs, and fingers.

In the days following his disappearance, officials with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) spent countless hours combing acres of Mr. Douglas’ farm in northeast Clarke County.

Clarke County in Iowa
Clarke County in Iowa
WoodburnWoodburn in Clarke County

The search included draining a pond and canvassing the area, though those efforts yielded few clues to Douglas’ whereabouts. Law enforcement became even more concerned when Douglas’ bank account had no activity.

Reward Offered for Information

One and one-half years following Douglas’ disappearance — and with no new leads to help determine Douglas’s whereabouts — the Iowa DCI and Clarke County Sheriff’s Office announced on October 21, 2005, a $5,000 reward for any information about the circumstances surrounding Douglas’ disappearance or information that resulted in locating Mr. Douglas.

The reward was made available by the Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation — a foundation committed to raising public awareness on missing persons and violent crime in the U.S.

Douglas family members also contacted outside psychics to see if they’d be able to offer any insight into what happened to the personable family man, but those efforts uncovered no new information.

Bill Douglas with daughter Betsy Showers Courtesy photo Betsy Douglas Showers
Betsy (Douglas) Showers, along with her other siblings, has never given up on locating her missing father.

The case returned to the forefront in May 2009 when a family member, a daughter, filed to become executor of the Douglas estate. Local officials said the move was made to protect Douglas’ assets.

Clarke County Sheriff Bill Kerns told the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune the investigation remains open and that local law enforcement and the DCI have not forgotten Douglas or the case. They continue to seek information from anyone who may have knowledge related to Mr. Douglas’ whereabouts or the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

A DNA sample has been submitted and tests are complete.

About Bill Douglas, Sr.

William Douglas Sr. was divorced at the time of his disappearance and had five adult children: Betsy, Rhonda, Pamela, Marcia, and William Jr.

In March 2009, Betsy filed a petition requesting a declaration of the death of her father. Following a trial on July 31, 2009, a jury returned a verdict finding William Sr. to be presumed dead. The Iowa District Court for Clarke County then entered an order stating William Douglas Sr. was legally presumed dead.

Bill Douglas with his familyCourtesy photo Betsy Showers
Bill Douglas family members (daughters Betsy and Rhonda to left, mother Mabel Douglas, and son Bill Jr., right), pose for a photo during a birthday get-together a few months before Bill Douglas Sr. disappeared.

Mr. Douglas’ fate remains a mystery and his case remains open with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Information Needed

If you have any information about what happened to William Douglas Sr., please contact Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Matt Cliffton at (515) 725-0033 or the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 342-2914.

Copyright © 2017 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


4 Responses to William Douglas

  1. Betsy Showers says:

    There is not a day goes by I do not think about you Dad ..My boys missed their chance to grow up with a grandpa and a grandma. I will never stop looking for you Dad ..You were my best friend! Life is very lonely without you! I will never stop looking for you …Love you

    • Raymond says:

      Betsy. I’m so sorry the boys didn’t get to know the Bill I got to know. He was a good man and I wish he were here. Did I tell you that I went mushroom hunting down by your dads place. Billy run us off, before we could get into Menasea’s land.

  2. Robert John Atzeni says:

    Just found the web site and was surprised to see Bills face again. Bill Douglas was like a second father to me and im sure we saved each others life in the past. Nothing but good things to say about this man he definitely was always in survivor mode and could make money making decisions quickly his underground utilities company was a success because of him. At this time I personally will make an attempt to look for anything that could help this situation for the family and ill need no reward. GodBless the family and wish me luck

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Robert, thanks so much for your kind words about Bill Douglas. This case is very troubling, made worse by the fact that his body has never been recovered. If you learn of any other details please let authorities know, and keep us posted as well. Thank you again for a wonderful tribute to this man. Jody at ICC

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