Willis J. Hughes (Courtesy Facebook)

Willis J. Hughes (Courtesy Facebook)

Willis James Hughes

Former Missing Person

SOLVED

Willis James Hughes
Age at Report: 45
Date of Birth: Sept. 25, 1968
Weight: 320 lbs.
Height: 6’04”
Race: Black
Hair: Bald
Eyes: Brown
Sex: Male
Incident Type: Endangered / physical
Disappeared from Davenport, IA on Dec. 21, 2013
Body Found in Mississippi River: April 29, 2014

 

UPDATE

Willis Hughes’ body was recovered from the Mississippi River on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

According to a WQAD.com report dated April 30, 2014, Muscatine County Chief Deputy C.J. Ryan confirmed the body was found by a fisherman just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 29, upstream from the Shady Creek campgrounds east of Muscatine.

Davenport Police Department Asst. Chief Donald Schaeffer said dental records helped confirm the body was that of Mr. Hughes.

“It is too early to estimate how long Mr. Hughes had been in the water, but it did appear to be a lengthy period,” Schaeffer said.

Memorial services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at All Faith Chapel in Halligan McCabe DeVries Funeral Home, 614 Main St., Davenport, with burial at Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery.

Iowa Cold Cases extends our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Hughes’ family.


Scott County in Iowa
Scott County in Iowa
Davenport in Scott County
Davenport in Scott County

Willis J. Hughes, 45, was reported missing to the Davenport Police Department in Davenport, Iowa, on December 21, 2013.

Hughes, a Genesis Hospital employee, was described as a 6’04” black male weighing 320 pounds. The Iowa Department of Public Safety listed his status as endangered / physical.

According to a January 6, 2014 WQAD story, Hughes was last seen at his Davenport home about 11 p.m. on Dec. 21.

A post on a Facebook page dedicated to the search for Mr. Hughes said he was last seen in the area of 7th and Perry in Davenport, and that his vehicles hadn’t been moved. He did not have any credit or debit cards with him. The post said Mr. Hughes’ cell phone was last used at his apartment.

A flyer distributed online in the search for Willis Hughes. (Courtesy WQAD and Facebook)

A flyer distributed online in the search for Willis Hughes. (Courtesy WQAD and Facebook)

Flyers circulating online said Mr. Hughes was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, jeans, white gym shoes and a dark-colored coat.

In WQAD’s Jan. 6 report, a family member described Hughes as a hard-working man who never missed work.

He’d finally found love, she said, and had been married only 18 months when his wife passed away a few days after Thanksgiving in 2013.

After Hughes became depressed, the family took him to the hospital Dec. 21, 2013 for a psych evaluation, but said he was released the same day.

“The psychiatrist basically told us that we weren’t giving him enough time to grieve,” the family member told WQAD.

Courtesy Facebook

Courtesy Find Willis J Hughes Facebook page

Both of Hughes’ cars remained at his CityView apartment at 7th and Perry. His family reported him missing right away and kept his picture out in the public in efforts to find out what happened to him.

In a Quad-City Times article dated Jan. 8, 2014, Hughes’ sister-in-law, Dolores Hughes, said family members and friends feared the distraught Hughes would harm himself after he left messages that hinted strongly how despondent he’d become.

“He said things like, ‘Remember me,’ and ‘I love you for all you’ve done for me,’ and he gave the impression he was saying goodbye,” Dolores Hughes said in the Times’ Jan. 8 story. “It seems like we’re getting a lot of feedback that, because he’s a man of a certain stature (6 feet 4 inches, 320 pounds), nobody got to him. But he is our gentle giant.”

Maj. Don Schaeffer of the Davenport Police Department told the Times that once police learned of Hughes’ potentially fragile state of mind, they had grounds to enter his apartment.

“You can do that without violating his rights, like a welfare check,” Schaeffer said. “It’s not a search.”

According to federal guidelines, one of four criteria must be met in order to define an adult as a missing person, Schaeffer told the Times. He described the four criteria as:

  • The person who cannot be found has dementia or another mental disability.
  • The person could be in physical danger. For example, he or she has been separated from needed medications.
  • Circumstances suggest the person’s departure was not voluntary.
  • The person was last seen prior to a catastrophe, such as a building collapse.

Schaeffer said the department had two detectives assigned to Hughes’ case.

Body Found

Willis Hughes’ body was recovered from the Mississippi River on Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

According to a WQAD.com report dated April 30, 2014, Muscatine County Chief Deputy C.J. Ryan confirmed the body was found by a fisherman just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 29, upstream from the Shady Creek campgrounds east of Muscatine.

Davenport Police Department Asst. Chief Donald Schaeffer said dental records helped confirm the body was that of Mr. Hughes.

“It is too early to estimate how long Mr. Hughes had been in the water, but it did appear to be a lengthy period,” Schaeffer said.

Memorial services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 6, at All Faith Chapel in Halligan McCabe DeVries Funeral Home, 614 Main St., Davenport, with burial at Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery.

Iowa Cold Cases extends our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Hughes’ family.

Sources:

 

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