Search for missing woman intensifies

08/13/2012 11:14 PM

08/13/2012 11:16 PM

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in The State newspaper Saturday Sept. 26, 1992

The parents of a 23-year-old woman last seen hours after Wednesday's U2 concert offered a $2,500 reward Friday for information that helps find her.

Dail Dinwiddie went to Jungle Jim's, a Five Points bar, with a group of friends after the concert at Williams-Brice Stadium, according to Columbia police. She was last seen at about 2:30 a.m.

Her father, Dan Dinwiddie, said her companions left one by one, apparently thinking she would get a ride home.

"I am confident she would have called," he said. "She is a very responsible person and was just out with friends that night. This is very uncharacteristic -- she's always been in on time. She is shy, very much of a homebody.

"This is every parent's nightmare. You can't imagine what we're going through."

Dan Dinwiddie said that when her friends and many of the young people in Five Points that night discovered she was missing, they returned Thursday to talk to people and hand out pictures of her.

That effort continued Friday, as dozens of high school and college students, including volunteers from her alma mater, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, canvassed the city with posters and handbills showing her photograph. Columbia police are being aided in the search by the State Law Enforcement Division.

Friday evening, posters bearing Dinwiddie's image were tacked to automatic teller machine windows, storefronts and bus stops and tucked beneath windshield-wiper blades. Others were distributed at Columbia Mall, Fort Jackson and at Autumnfest.

George Jameson, 16, a Heathwood Hall student and friend of Dinwiddie and her brother, handed out the fliers to motorists as he stood along the median of Harden Street just before dark.

"I know her well enough to know she would be home or would have called her parents," Jameson said. "She didn't run away. She had nothing to run away from."

Many distributing the sheets Friday evening tried to suppress twinges of fear.

Joy Bruner, an administrator at Heathwood Hall, focused on getting the word out about the disappearance and not on negative thoughts. "I try hard not to think about what might have happened," she said.

Bruner's daughter is a friend of Dinwiddie's. "I think this is very uncharacteristic of her," Bruner said. She said volunteers would gather again today and distribute more posters around the Columbia area.

Police spokesman Donald Yacobucci said of the woman's disappearance: "Basically, a missing person is a missing person, and we cannot automatically assume foul play, but neither can we rule it out. We are in Five Points asking questions, City Hall is involved getting the information out to the media, and we are trying to get all the information we can.

"If people have any information about this case, they should call=

CrimeStoppers, which also offers a reward, at 799-9001. We don't have enough to do anything on this yet -- we need more information."

Columbia Police Chief Charles P. Austin, talking to the family and reporters from a New Orleans convention, said he would return early to help with the case.

"Concerning leads, right now we are canvassing the neighborhoods to see what her movements might have been," he said. "At this juncture, what we have is a young lady reported missing."

A friend of the missing woman said she appeared in good spirits early Thursday morning at Jungle Jim's.

"She was having a really good time," said Johnston Cox, who rode to the bar with Dinwiddie and two other friends after the U2 concert ended about 11:15. Cox said Dinwiddie went to the concert with a friend. The friend went home to study and didn't go to Jungle Jim's, 724 Harden St.

Cox said Dinwiddie talked with several people at Jungle Jim's, including a mutual friend sitting at the bar. Cox last saw her shortly before 1:30 a.m., when he was preparing to leave.

"Dail was standing at the doorway, and she was talking to someone I took to be the doorman," he said.

Jeff Peterman, doorman at Jungle Jim's, said Friday he talked with Dinwiddie for about 15 or 20 minutes Thursday morning.

Peterman said he didn't think she was drunk or high. "She looked like she was in a good frame of mind. She was slowly drinking a beer and talking coherently," he said.

Peterman asked Dinwiddie if she needed a cab, and she said no.

"She thought her friends had left her behind, and she was waiting for them to come back," he said.

Dinwiddie left the bar and went down Harden Street in the direction of Group Therapy to look for friends, Peterman said. When she returned to Jungle Jim's, she stayed a short while and then left on foot, heading north down Harden Street.

Dinwiddie was wearing blue jeans, a forest-green shirt, white Nikes with a blue stripe and carrying a bright blue nylon jacket. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 96 pounds.

She was preparing to pursue graduate work in art history at the University of South Carolina.

"We're asking anyone who saw or talked to Dail to get in touch with us or the Columbia police," her mother, Jean, said Friday. "The police are doing everything possible to locate Dail, but, as we all know, that may not be enough. We need your help, too.

"Dail, if you can hear us, Mama, Daddy and (16-year-old brother) Drew want you to know we won't stop until we find you. Dail, you're not alone. We love you. Keep the faith."

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