We live in a world where many mysteries remain unresolved. The truth may not always present itself right away, or it may not present itself at all. When we wake up in the morning, we believe that there is someone who loves us unconditionally.
Any tiny dent in this trust may crumble your entire belief in humanity. But what we are about to tell you is so shocking that you may end up questioning your whole life. We need to dive into Tallahassee in December 2000.
Michael Williams is someone that every person in the block envied. You name it, and he had it. From the outside, it appeared as if their marriage was cast by an eternal spell of good luck. Williams made sure that his image was strong on the public.
He is portrayed as a loving father, a caring husband, and most of all, a people's man. He was happily married to his high school sweetheart for years, and it was a match made in heaven. There was nothing that could break him.
The day began
His adorable daughter loved him more than anything in the world. To add to all this love and care around him, he also had a best friend, Brain. It was the best life he lived until one day the worst happened.
Williams's wife, Denise, woke up in the morning to greet her lovely husband. As soon as he woke up, she went to him, and they spent some time with each other. Michael was free that day, so he wanted to head over to the local river and catch up on some duck hunting.
Mind goes blank
They could not stay without each other for a long time, and so he promised to be back before noon. The sun started to set, and Williams had not returned home yet. He might have taken a few hours extra, Denise wondered and dismissed the case.
But as the clouds started to cover the dark sky, Denise began to assume the worst. This evening was the day of her sixth anniversary, but there was no sign of him anywhere. Her mind is blank, and she does not understand what to do initially.
No action from police
She decided to start taking action and begin the search for her husband. Denise first called her father, who is her main rock apart from her husband. He offered to help to search for him.
She soon called other friends of his to see if he crashed in any of their places. There was still no trace of the man. Denise's father altered the police authorities on his missing, but they would not take the case seriously until the person is missing for a full 24 hours.
The entry of David Arnette, the investigator
They could not waste any more time waiting for the Police to come around. So Denise's father decided to carry on the search in their absence. After 24 hours passed, the Police set their foot on the scene and started their initial inquiry.
The first person to reach the scene was Florida Fish and Wildlife Officer David Arnette. He arrived at the lake and began some preliminary investigation. There was no sign of Williams or any clues left behind. David was not ready to start his thorough investigation yet.
The first clue
After calling off the search for the night, they all headed back home and waited for the investigators to throw some good news their way. A larger team set foot on the lake, and they discovered Mike's boat in the middle of nowhere.
They rowed to his boat and recovered some of his items. What's bizarre is that why would Mike leave his boat unattended? The usual equipment he carries for duck hunting were all in the boat. They found some decoys, a shotgun still in its case, and a few other equipments.
The search was on
One or two people were not sufficient to get deeper into this case. David called upon a larger team who could look into different areas of the lake to find more evidence of his disappearance. Search and rescue divers were first on the scene to search the lake from the inside.
After this team failed to find anything in the lake, helicopters and law-enforcement officers spread their search beyond the lake. They had a strong reason to believe that Mike ran away from home.
The state was helpless
Days passed, and they still had no trace of where Mike was. His mother had all reason to believe that Mike might be dead. As and when time passed, the search team for Mike started to reduce. By now, months had passed, and Mike was still a no show.
The state had to officially declare the case close because they could not find a single clue that would give out the reason for his disappearance. Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators presented the family with one possible reason for his missing.
Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators stated that he might have been pulled down into the waters because of the fisherman's waders. He is a good swimmer, Mike might not have drowned, but the waters are infested with ferocious alligators.
Getting into the jaws of one can mean nothing but death. Mike's entire family had to be given the closure of his death, and this was the reason stated behind his disappearance. Denise had to accept the ultimate fate of losing her husband on the day of their anniversary.
Cheryl had her doubts
She politely accepted this news and started moving on with her life. However, there was one person who was not happy about the case ending without much evidence. Mike's mother, Cheryl, knew what her son is.
He has years of experience in duck hunting, and he could not have given up to the jaws of these alligators. She knew the waters too well, and whoever was eaten by the alligators before, their bodies had a way of showing up sooner or later.
More clues surfacing
Cheryl was alone with her thoughts one morning and something popped into her head suddenly. Alligators do not eat in cold water! Mike went missing in December, and the morning he left for hunting was more than cold for the alligators to come out hunting.
Have you come across any human who has been eaten in whole by alligators? Cherryl asked her family. No one had an answer to this question. This question lingering in her mind was, in fact, a good point that was raised.
Not a single bone
Moreover, if it were the alligators that attacked Mike, they would chew on his arms and legs. They would not swallow Mike completely. So if this was the conclusion to his missing, then there is something that is not right.
The search for mike went on for forty-four days, and during this time, not a single bone was found in the waters. Till today, the number of people missing in the lake was all found. The special investigator DeVaney had all reason to believe that this was a bizarre case.
A strange clue
DeVaney started piling his thoughts to the root of his suspicion. Mike DeVaney did some research and found that these alligators are in a state of hibernation when it comes to eating in the winters. But they did not have any other lead or follow up in this case.
So they had to close the case and move on. Several months had passed, and the family members had not moved on from this untimely disappearance. All of a sudden, one clue surfaces sixth months later.
The strange hat
DeVaney was immediately called back to the scene when a hat appeared in the water. If any item has to surface or emerge from the water, it will do so in the first ten days.
The boat was taken out from the water, but strangely the hat surfaced near the same spot that the boat was found. This case was getting more curious by the second. The investigators had to make sure they are dealing with Mike's hat, so they took it to his best friend for identification.
The best friend
Brian Winchester is Mike's best friend for many years. And if someone could recognize his duck hunting cap, it would be him. Brian had a good look at the hat but did not make any conclusive statements.
He said that it looks like it could be Mike's, but he is not sure. Because of his statement, they had to run a DNA test on this hat. But unfortunately, the results were also inconclusive. DeVaney's suspicions started to blow his mind. He was not ready to give up on the case as of yet.
Something strange about the waders
The investigators opened up the case file once again and sent a team to the river. They found a local fisherman and asked him to run through the lake for any suspicious items. To their surprise, there was more news waiting for them at the lake.
The fisherman found a pair of waders in the water. This pair was not to be seen anywhere during their search with the rescue divers. This case was starting to get stranger by the second. The pair of waders they found was not even damaged. It remained uncut or unharmed when they found it.
More strange clues emerged
This pair did not look like waders that were attacked by alligators. There were no signs of any body-parts inside these waders. It looked like it was neatly taken off his body before he got eaten up.
There is some link to the story that is missing here. David Arnette was baffled by the random links that showed up in the lake. It was long after they found the waders that they found another clue to confuse them more about the case.
Trying to connect the dots
The team of fishermen started digging around the area for a longer duration and ended up finding his hunting jacket. After a few hours, they even managed to find his hunting license. How could they have missed these many items in the first search?
How can they randomly show up after six months of his disappearance? To add to all these bizarre findings, they also found his flashlight. There was something strange about these findings. The flashlight was still in working condition, and the license was still legible.
Evidence was planted
The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper started taking an interest in the matter and sent their best Jennifer Portman to dig in on the case. Jennifer Portman had one look at these clues and stated that these look too new to be in the waters for six months.
The river is covered in algae, and these items recovered did not have even a single smudge of algae on them. Jen knew that this clue was planted by someone. It might have been Mike himself, but the clue was too pristine.
Cheryl never stopped looking
All this while Cheryl had not ended her search for her son. The police might have given up on him, but being a mother, she could not bear to hear to stop. She not only posted several ads on billboards and posters, but she also started walking the streets with placards to seek justice for her son.
Several ads in the newspapers went unnoticed and a complete waste of her time. The governor could not do much because of lack of evidence, but now it was time to open up the case again.
What about his wife Denise? Did she look for her husband after he went missing? Some people claim that she was too shocked by the news to take any action. She was a single mother of a young girl and had to feed her.
Being a 31-year-old widow was not was she expected to be a few months back. After all, they were high school sweethearts and dated each other from a very young age. The private Christian school was the beginning of their love story.
If someone went missing in the state of Florida, they had to wait for five years to declare that person dead. There was something strange about this situation when Denise requested the state to announce him as dead within the first six months.
This request was unusual, and to add to the suspicion, she even asked them for a death certificate. Denise did not bother informing Mike's mother about this request. However, the state requires some evidence to show the death of a person.
Denise was being suspicious
The strangest part comes in here. Denise started the hunting jacket, the waders, the flashlight, and the emerged license as evidence of her husband's death. Don't you think it is a little too early for the wife to be assuming her husband to be dead?
Cheryl had all reason to believe that Denise was involved in the missing case of her son. She did not base this off on the fact that she requested a death certificate, but because Denise cut Cheryl loose from all communication.
But right before she could cut her loose, she threatened Cheryl. Denise told Cheryl that she would lose all access to her grand-daughter, Anslee, if she opened her mouth or raised any concerns towards Denise.
Cheryl had already lost too much in life to lose her only granddaughter. These statements raise more questions than answers. Why would a loving wife like Denise suddenly go against her mother in law? Why would she request for a death certificate in the first place?
What if Anslee went missing?
Cheryl lost her husband and her only son. This was not the time for her to keep quiet and listen to her daughter in law. She looked deep into Denise's eyes and asked her that if Anslee ever went missing before her eyes, would she react in the same way she is assuming Mike to be dead?
Denise was taken aback and did not know what to say. She screamed at Cheryl to move away from her life and not to cross her path again. She did not want to hear Mike's name ever again.
A tower of suspicions
Cheryl now had confirmed theories in her mind about her missing son. She was sure that Denise had something to do with it. Instead of grieving, she was busy making sure that his death certificate arrives.
There was one more clue to piece it all up. Just a few months before Mike went missing, Denise convinced him to take up million-dollar life insurance. She prepared all the papers by herself, and she took help from one important person in Mike's life, his best friend Brian.
A murder case
This information was now open to the state and the local police department. They had a strong confirmation that Mike did not go missing but might have been killed.
The entire thing seems staged, the staged boat with this equipment, the items that showed up all of a sudden, and most of all, Denise, trying to attain a death certificate for her husband. Jackson County Sheriff's investigator Derrick Wester was certain that this is a murder case rather than a missing case.
Reopening the case
There was not one but two insurance policies in his name. Mike might not be aware of the second one that his wife filled out. Although she requested a death certificate, it does it mean that the state-issued one.
It had now been four years since Mike had gone missing, and the case was handed to Derrick Wester. A criminal investigation was opened up at the request of Cheryl, his mother. If not for her, this case would not have opened up again.
Insurance worth $1.5 M
Things started to make sense when they found out that Brian sold insurance for a living. He convinced Denise to boy one for Mike. But the part that concerns us is that Mike might not have been aware of this purchase.
Before purchasing his first insurance, Mike took the advice of his boss Clay Ketcham who was like a father to him. But since Denise would officially be the beneficiary of all his insurance money, we now have to direct all the questioning towards Denise.
The gun was not for duck hunting
Ketcham was now questioned for more details. He was too guilty but later decided to admit the truth. He said that he was suspicious of his wife from the beginning of the case because they had been having marital problems for a few months before we went missing.
To add to this, he said that the gun they found on site was not his duck hunting gun. He kept all his guns inside a code locked safety locker in the office. Someone came that day to take one of his guns, but it was not Mike.
Ketcham told the police that he was not certain about this information. There are chances that Mike might have faked his death to claim his insurance money. They were looking into all possibilities as they did not have any conclusive proof to arrest anyone as of yet.
This case was dying down yet again for the second time before another shocking news emerged. Cheryl found out that Denise was having an affair with Mike's best friend, Brian. Derrick Wester had this information with him all along. Many people claimed to have seen them together, but there was no proof.
They got married!
They sealed the suspicion when they both decided to get married. The situation raised more eyebrows when Denise decided to claim the insurance money. She managed to collect the $1.5 M and lived an easy life.
She quit whatever she was working on and started living a lavish life. This was all too easy for it to be a simple missing person case. What do you think? Did Mike drown in the water and die in the jaws of alligators?
She was taken hostage
Yes, there could be a possibility that Mike drownded. But what about the clues? Like the pristine condition clothes? A wrong gun? Nobody was found too. No suspect had enough to arrest them, and all they could do now was wait till something new comes up.
Crime Watch Daily intervened and wanted to take Brain on an interview. They could not get a hold of him but found out that his marriage was facing issues. Denise accuses Brain of kidnapping her and keeping her hostage. He held the teenage daughter and Denise hostage at gunpoint and threatened her to kill himself.
Finding Mike's body
Many investigations were conducted, and many years passed, but they could not make any sense of it. Denise was walking free, and Brain Adams got jailed after he pled to be not guilty.
They tried pulling the truth out of him because he was the one who signed on the insurance papers. Brian could not take the torture and decided to come clean with the truth. After more than seventeen years of his disappearance, the body of Mike was recovered in 2017.
Justice finally came around
Finally, in the year 2019 December, Denise was convicted of committing first-degree murder. Brian told all about their scheme, which was going on for the last 19 years. Denise was cheating on her husband and was in an affair with his best friend for several months.
Brian then offered to come up with a plan of killing him and running away together. But why walk away without any benefits? Her eyes were on the $ 1.75 total insurance money.
Can you trust the people around you?
They plotted the whole thing and shot Williams dead in 2000. Brian eventually showed them where they hid the body. Denise was sentenced to life in prison, and Brain was charged only 20 for kidnapping Denise during their marriage.
We are happy that Cheryl finally got the closure she was looking for and happy to see the woman go to prison for her doings. We live in a world where we cannot trust the person we have seen a loved from a young age. Money can make a person do anything, and the company of a wrong person can twist your life upside down.