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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.