Jerry Michael Williams

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Above Images: Williams, circa 2000

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: December 16, 2000 from Tallahassee, Florida
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date Of Birth: October 16, 1969
  • Age: 31 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'10, 170 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes. Williams's nickname is Mike and many accounts refer to him as Mike Williams. He has previously worn orthodontic braces on his teeth and corrective shoes. Mike has a chicken pox scar on his left cheek.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: Possibly camouflage-print hunting clothes, chest-high waders, a wedding band on his left ring finger, a watch and a St. Christopher medal on a gold chain.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Mike was last seen leaving his residence in the vicinity of the 5000 block of Centennial Oak Circle in Tallahassee, Florida on December 16, 2000. He was supposedly going duck hunting at Lake Seminole. He has never been heard from again. Mike's boat and his green and tan 1994 Ford Bronco were later found at the lake. There was no sign of him at the scene.

    Authorities initially believed Mike died in a hunting accident; possibly he fell out of his boat and drowned. His wife, Denise Merrell Williams, accepted the story and obtained a death certificate for her husband six months after his disappearance. A 44-day search of the lake turned up no signs of Mike or his body. Investigators believed his remains had been consumed by alligators, but they later learned that alligators do not feed in the wintertime and, in any case, they could not consume an adult man without leaving a trace. Every other drowning victim in Lake Seminole has eventually surfaced, but Mike's body has never been found.

    Police now believe Mike is missing under suspicious circumstances and possibly met with foul play. He did not normally hunt alone as he is supposed to have done on the day of his disappearance, and his truck was found parked at an undeveloped landing rather than at the nearby concrete ramp he normally used. His boat was found idling in Lake Seminole, full of gasoline; if he had fallen out while the boat was running, the boat should have kept going in circles until it ran out of gas. Mike's waders were found floating in ten or twelve feet of water in a weed-choked part of Lake Seminole six months after he allegedly drowned, and eight days before Denise had Mike declared legally dead. A lightweight hunting jacket and a small flashlight were also located on the lake bottom that same day. The waders were found in an area that had already been thoroughly searched, and there were no holes or teethmarks in them. Authorities believe the waders and the other items were planted in the lake after the search was over. Mike's friends stated he did not normally put the waders on until he had reached the designated hunting spot, and for safety reasons he would have never driven the boat while wearing them.

    The investigation into Mike's disappearance was compromised because his case was initially believed to be a drowning. By the time police started looking into other theories, the potential crime scene had been contaminated and evidence was lost or destroyed. In 2008, investigators stated they were investigating Mike's disappearance as a possible case of insurance fraud. The statute of limitations for insurance fraud is five years, but it can be extended for three years under certain circumstances, and authorities believe the Williams case applies. Denise collected $1.5 million in life insurance for Mike after he was declared dead. The person who wrote the policy was his best friend, Brian Winchester. In 2004, Denise married Winchester, whom she had known since early childhood. They live together in the house she had shared with Mike.

    Mike is a graduate of North Florida Christian High School. At the time of his disappearance, he made a high salary as a real estate appraiser and lived in an upscale neighborhood. He enjoys hunting and other outdoor pursuits. His loved ones stated they did not believe he staged his disappearance and left of his own accord, as he was close to his wife, baby daughter and recently widowed mother. His case remains unsolved.

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Jackson County Sheriff's Office
    850-482-9624

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    Source Information
    The National Center for Missing Adults
    The Tallahassee Democrat

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    Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated March 8, 2008; details of disappearance updated.

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