David Clayton Warner

Left and Center: David circa, 1983

Right: Age Progressed to age 42

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: March 2, 1983

Missing From: Jefferson City, Jefferson County, Tennessee

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: January 31, 1971

Age: 12 years old

Height and Weight: 5’4″ and 110 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Male, Blonde hair, Blue eyes, David was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was born and suffered from it his whole childhood, he had prominent front teeth when he went missing, he was known to use the nickname “Little David”

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A black and white Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt or t-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and tennis shoes

NCMEC Number: 601934

Details of Disappearance

David was last seen in Jefferson City, Tennessee on March 2nd 1983. He attended school that day and afterwards he told his family he was heading for a church function which was located only a few houses away from his home on Beeler Avenue. Two neighbors, Bob and Joyce saw him walking up the street towards the church. He reportedly told them he was excited about going to the function. David did indeed make it to the church but he didn’t go inside. He looked into the building and started walking away.

He walked past the church and made his way to Druthers Restaurant. The restaurant had a policy which said that children who got a good grades on their school report cards got a free meal. David showed them his report card with the good physical education grade and got a free hamburger along with a drink. After leaving the restaurant, it’s unclear as where he was going or what happened to him.

Most reports state that David went to a friends home and watched television there until approximately 7:00 pm and then left to walk back to his own home. If this information is authentic, David’s home was only 30 yards away from the friends home, but he never made it back home and hasn’t been seen since. Other reports indicate that he was last sighted at the corner of Odell and Sycamore Lane but it’s unclear why he would’ve been in this area.

David’s loved ones said the last confirmed time they saw him is when he left for the church function. They saw him at the end of Beeler Avenue close to Broadway Boulevard; this is David’s preferred route towards the local stores and restaurants, like Druthers. His family discovered him missing the next morning when his aunt, Addie Maples, discovered his bed had been made to look like someone was sleeping in it and that David was nowhere inside the home.

His family initially felt that David had simply stayed over at a friends home that night without telling them as he sometimes did this before. However, they called all of the parents of his friends and discovered he wasn’t with any of them. David’s grandmother called the police and reported him missing after no one could find him.

Following the missing persons report, authorities launched a massive search effort to find David. Various people from the community helped in the search including firefighters, a rescue squad, and over 200 volunteers. Despite both ground and air searches, no trace of David was ever found. After the searching proved fruitless, the police concluded it was likely David had left on his own accord.

It’s likely the police made their conclusion based on the fact that David was very street smart and he knew Jefferson City like the back of his hand. They also noted how his bed had been made to look like someone was sleeping on it. His family does not believe he would’ve done so, however. There was no evidence to prove the runaway theory as true and there was also nothing pointing towards foul play being involved in the case.

Several months after David’s strange disappearance, investigators received a tip that he was alive and living in Florida with a cousin of his biological father, Edgar Wilson. The cousins name was Ivan “Red” Wilson and he lived in Miami, Florida at the time of the child’s disappearance. Local authorities made contact with police from Florida and gave them a photograph of David from before he went missing.

A detective was sent to the address of Ivan and he spotted two young boys in the vicinity of the residence, one of them bore a strong resemblance to David. Due to legal issues, it took three months before the police from Tennessee and Florida could continue with the case and the current development. Edgar was informed of the lead by Florida police and was questioned as a result. He claimed he did not know about his son’s disappearance or the boy’s current whereabouts.

However, Edgar did talk about a very strange printed letter he had received. The letter was said to be crudely written and said:

“Eadger . . . if your son is at your cousins in Miami you better do something now! (someone) has told them that you do. —A unknown friend

It’s unclear if the letter had anything to do with David’s disappearance. Ivan Wilson was supposed to be questioned about his possible involvement in the case but he had moved away from the address in Miami by that time. He was later located and claimed he knew nothing about David or his disappearance. Without any other evidence, authorities deemed that the lead had been resolved and were satisfied that he wasn’t in Florida. They also said the tipsters credibility was questionable.

Investigators now believe it is more likely that David was abducted by a non-family member on the day he vanished and was possibly killed afterwards. David was a very friendly and trusting person when he went missing in 1983. His aunt, Kathy Nash, said he likely would’ve gotten into a strangers vehicle without even thinking about it. His kindness and eagerness to help others might’ve made him an easy target for someone looking to kidnap a kid.

There are several theories on his disappearance in regards to the abduction scenario. One of his teachers, Isabelle Haigh, once recalled hearing that David might’ve been abducted because he witnessed a crime or something he shouldn’t have seen while out on the streets. However, this theory/rumor isn’t given much credence and it’s one of the lesser considered possibilities in the case.

Kathy still believes David’s father had something to do with his son’s disappearance. She claimed he was the type of person who liked to be in the spotlight and at the center of attention. Kathy also recalled how he never came to help in the search for David or in general. However, investigators have stated he isn’t a suspect and he was mainly ruled out during the investigation into the Florida tip. Edgar has since passed away.

Investigators have no solid suspects in the case and haven’t found any evidence to indicate a stranger abduction occurred but they believe this is what happened and that David is no longer alive. Kathy says deep down she believes her nephews epilepsy had a hand in his disappearance. She believes David might’ve suffered a seizure, dying as a result and that the individuals he might’ve been with didn’t know what to do with him so they disposed of his body.

At the time of his disappearance, David attended Jefferson City Elementary School where he was a fourth grade student. He struggled academically and was held back for his grades the year he vanished. It’s possible his school troubles were the result of the classroom environment but other than that David was said to be quite intelligent and excelled at certain subjects in school.

David’s biological mother, Barbara Warner Soares, was sixteen and unmarried when she gave birth to her son but his grandmother, Faye Warner, legally adopted him and became his legal guardian. David was well aware of who his biological mother was before he went missing and he saw Barbara, Kathy, and Addie as older sisters in his life. He was said to be very kind to everyone and even helped neighbors with things such as carrying groceries or going to the store for them.

According to his family, David was avidly street smart and knew his way around town. He frequently roamed Jefferson City by himself or went to the arcade with his friends. He was mischievous as a child but it was never alarming or bad in any way. His family holds onto hope he might still be alive but they acknowledge it’s been a very long time since he was last heard from. They continue to seek his whereabouts.

David’s disappearance remains unsolved. Due to unclear factors, his case is classified as a non family abduction. There’s been no sign of him since 1983.

Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Jefferson City Police Department 615-475-2002

Source Information

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Charley Project

The Doe Network


The Morning Press 03/08/1983

Somewhere But Here

Missing: David Clayton Warner

10 News Appalachian Unsolved