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A Mountain Murder or Maddness


George Dillon and Stan Halverson were high school friends. On a lark, the morning after graduation and a few too many Budweiser’s at bon-fire party on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, they joined the U.S. Navy to see the world.


They didn’t see much. Stationed in San Diego, California they made two sojourns to Catalina Island, and a strip joint  in

Balboa Beach. Catholic guilt ruled and each nocturnal adventure was followed by a morning visit to a confessional.


George and Stan were fans of the San Francisco 49ers and the Giants. But their passion was the outdoors,  especially fly fishing.

Two years after their discharge from the Navy, they combined their meager savings and bought a rustic cabin, ironically, on Convict Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains.


With so much in common and ten years of friendship it wasn’t strange that they both fell in love with the same woman. A good natured battle ensued. Judy enjoyed the pursuit but eventually chose George.


It was on one of the “men’s weekends” to Convict Lake that life changed abruptly. George disappeared and Stan was accused of murder.


During his trial Stan maintained that Saturday morning George said he was going to try some fishing then go for a swim and would be back for lunch.  When he hadn’t return by 1:00, “I went looking.  Our lake’s not that big.  About three hundred yards from the cabin I found a pile of his clothes on a boulder.  George usually wore a swim suit under his jeans or went skinny dipping.  We all did.  Hell, there’s seldom anyone around there. I kept looking out over the lake.  There wasn’t a ripple on the water. I yelled and yelled.  At 2:00, panic set in, I ran back to the cabin got the Jeep and climbed the hill to get phone reception.  The sheriff and two officers from the Highway Patrol arrived about forty-five minutes later.




Officer Michael Clancy:  Lyman and I combed the whole area. Other than the clothes there wasn’t a trace of Mr. Dillon. 


Sgt. William Lyman:  I took the path around the lake.  I looked for tracks or signs of any human or animal activity.  I found nothing.


Deputy Linda Albion:  I looked through the cabin. Everything seemed in order. Almost too orderly for two men if you know what I mean.  The hood of the Jeep was warm.  Mr. Halverson explained that he used the vehicle to drive out of the valley for better cell phone reception.  My phone worked fine in the cabin. I used it to call in the  U.C.I.    


Ramon Santos U.C.I.   Underwater Criminal Investigator

During any investigation everything hinges on your abilities and dive skills. I’ve had murderers laugh and tell me that I’ll never find a knife or a gun they tossed in a bay or river. The look on their face is priceless when I make the recovery. But other than a few tires, the skull of a deer and other miscellany we found nothing!

The water up at Convict Lake is pristine.  A body would have been an easy find.  Where-ever Mr. Dillon is, he isn’t in that lake.



Judy Dillon Wife:  I spoke with George Friday night.  Once the sun sets, cell phone reception is fine. He said the trip to the lake was uneventful and he and Stan were settling in for the night.

He sounded fine.    





The most damning evidence was provided by Stan Halverson himself.


Prosecuting Attorney: “Mr. Halverson, did you and Mr. Dillon meet Judy Dillon on the same day?’


“We did.”


“And you were Best Man at the their wedding.”


 “I was.”


“Are you in love with Judy Dillon?”


“I am.”  


A gasp went up from the jury. 


“Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, this is not a case of circumstantial evidence. The State maintains the Mr. Stanley Halverson in a premeditated, jealous rage murdered his longtime friend, and  Mr. Dillon’s body is somewhere in the wilderness area around Convict Lake waiting discovery.




All proceedings came to an abrupt halt on the third day of the trial. 


The battered, charred and naked body of George Dillon was discovered by a fire patrol 11 miles from Convict Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. 


Eight days later the Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was drowning.  Although Mr. Dillon had suffered blunt trauma to 90% of his body, he’d already died of drowning.  




Questions for the inquisitive mind:


If Mr. Dillon was not in Convict Lake how did he die by drowning?


Mr. Dillon was found 11 miles from Convict Lake in the middle of a huge wilderness area. There are no roads near where the victim was found.   


Did Stan Halverson murder his lifelong friend?  And somehow dump his body.





Hints and Clues



After two statements from the Fire Patrol all charges and the jury were dismissed.  What did they say?


Champagne bonus:  Several events took place Saturday Morning at Convict Lake.  George Dillon did go swimming.

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