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

Name: William Douglas, Sr.
Age at Report:
July 3, 1940
145 lbs.
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 #
NamUs MP #
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
Woodburn in Clarke CountyWoodburn 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 © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


26 Responses to William Douglas

  1. Tina L McAninch says:

    Hi Betsy. Wanted to ask if there has been any updates to your Dad? Your Dad had dated my mom. Your Dad was always very sweet towards me. Always had a smile on his face and was so welcoming when I would see him at my moms. I pray there will be a day your family receives resolution for your Dad.

    • Lindsey Thomas says:

      Hey there will be because I will never give up to finding him. So bill jr better know that!! Because we are fighting for Douglas. I have video of of grandpa loyal there and it’s great to hear his voice and see him. Even though I never met him before!! I’m loyal s grand daughter, and I am the one who will solve this case I promise u that!!

  2. Carol Burkhart says:

    Right after he was missing,we were headed to Mt Ayr on hwy 2&saw a skinny man on north side of old Kerjeans’place.There is timber on the south side.There was no one else around the buildings.Tried to leave message with Clarke Co. Sheriff,but don’t know if anything happened.

  3. Jack Johnson says:

    Old Bill was as tough as nails. Hard working man!

  4. Lisa R says:

    Is Mr. Douglas a military veteran? thank you

  5. Betsy Showers says:

    Robert The DCI in Osceola will lead you where you need to go! Just so you know my Dad lived in Woodburn Iowa and he built that house along time ago. I have my own oppinion about where my Dad is. I live in Indianola facebook name -betsy mae

    • Loyal thomas says:

      Hi Betsy it’s me loyal jr bill was my first cousin you all have been in my prayers

      • Betsy Showers says:

        Loyal Thomas it was great to hear from you and your daughter .I cannot tell you what it means to me that someone is thinking about my Dad ! Super Bowl Sunday I thought about him all day ;14 yrs ago i sat with him for the last time we was watching Super bowl together I had a few drink with my ole man Ill never forget that day I love him so much….I am going to look for him but I have to be careful because the last time I looked for him me and my sister she got ran over and then Rhonda and I was sued for $14000.00 by my brother , So I will have to use the legal route but I am going looking if I cant if maybe Cold Case can help … It is time to look for him again, Thanks for lighting the fire in my heart again Betsy Mae

        • Benny12 says:

          Betsy- What do you mean the last time you went looking for him you were ran over by your brother? Do you mean run over by a car? That doesn’t make any sense. Why would your brother run you over? And then sue you? Why would your brother not want you looking for your dad? Why can’t you look for him together? Can you please elaborate on this situation? Your relationship with these people and their opposition to you looking for him might shed a lot of light on his case. God bless you and your family. I hope you find out where he is.

          • Follow the money says:

            Since Bill Sr. had a successful business, who was that business left to? My guess is there is a quarrel regarding where his estate and business is left to, perhaps a business partner or family member or former associate of some kind and someone feeling left out or jelous and then vengeful perhaps? Or was his business working on a controversial or politically charged construction contract? I would get polygraphs, look at history of business invoices around the time of disappearance and look at any active and current contracts he had at the time of disappearance. Take K-9 units on various locations and properties owned by interested parties and go from there. I wonder if anyone ever did that in this case? On a side note, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone smiled in family photos?

            • Robert Atzeni says:

              After the August 2nd post I really am more motivated to get closure on Bills disappearance . Personally my health is not good but hopefully soon things will fall into place and I’ll be able to move forward in my life. But before I move from Iowa I will make a huge attempt to look for clues and information on Bill’s case. .

  6. Lei says:

    We miss you Uncle Bill. I hope one day we can peacefully lay you to rest properly. We miss you and love you ?.

  7. 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

      • Robert John Atzeni says:

        I know that your Dad had a property in NewVirginia and a house that to the best of my memory was never completed. Did that house ever get finished? And was that property looked over for Bill. I have strong thoughts of if that area wasn’t checked it could be a suspicious area to look. I would be willing to check myself since I hunted that area back in the 80s of course with Bills permission and know there’s alot of covered wells and old hermit homemade trailers in the deep part of the property. With your permission and blessing Id like to look.Please advise since ill have to get help from a few friends that hunted it with me. We also use to do overnights near the pond and found there were no fish in the pond. It was a great place to get drunk and bomfire thru the night and stay out of trouble.

        • Jody Ewing says:

          Robert, I’m not sure if the house was ever completed or, if it was, who owns the house and/or land now, but I will check with Betsy. If going on your own or with friends, you’d have to get permission from the current property owner. If the owner doesn’t want anyone on the property but investigators (if they haven’t already searched it) feel the lead should be pursued, they could always get a subpoena. You made a lot of valid points and I think it would be great to have someone check into those areas. I’ll let you know what I find out. Thanks so much for your willingness to get involved and help!

          • Robert John Atzeni says:

            Trying to get the right team of guys to go check the area in question. I will get with owner and local law enforcement to not disturb or cause emotional coladeral damage. I loved Bill like a son loves his Dad and hints of little reminders keep popping up so im heading forward with my own investigations. Can’t seem to get the timing right and will of move forward soon. Wish me luck.

        • Kelli Schooler says:

          Did he have property in Arizona?

  8. 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.

      • Kelli Schooler says:

        That’s because billy was involved with his dads death.

        • Robert Atzeni says:

          Throwing stones only breaks glass. Finding fact s instead of pointing fingers can get the whereabouts of findings to put this case to bed.

        • Lindsey Thomas says:

          What would make you say that?

        • Lindsey Thomas says:

          You are right. I went to a phycic in the summer to connect with him and you are very much right.
          Actually I’ve been working on finding him, I’ve tried to talk to law enforcement and they completely disregard the case. I watched a home video of William and my grandpa loyal made many years ago. I don’t know why my heart is set on finding him but it is.

    • Emm says:

      I found this after reading an article today that referenced your missing dad. I am so sorry for what you’re going through. I am close with and love my own dad very much, so this brought me to tears. I read on another site that he was on the phone with his mom when someone was at the door. Were you able to confirm who that was at the door that day? And what time that was?

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