Real Name: Dexter William Stefonek
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Glendive, Montana
Date: November 19, 1985
Details: Dexter Stefonek was a 67-year-old widower and retired paper mill worker from Rheinlander, Wisconsin. He and his wife Vivian had been married for forty-four years when she passed away in 1984. After her death, he went to stay with his son and grandchildren near Corbett, Oregon. However, in November 1985 as the anniversary of his wife's passing approached, he decided to head home to Wisconsin. His son wanted him to stay, but Dexter was anxious to return home.
He left on the morning of November 18, 1985; he had made the two-thousand-mile trip from Wisconsin to Oregon many times before. Because he wanted to complete the drive as soon as possible, he told his son that he would not stop at motels, but instead go to rest stops and sleep there.
At 10 am on the morning of November 19, his Plymouth Horizon was found ablaze in the parking lot of the Bad Route rest area in Glendive, Montana. The inside of the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames. Barely a day had passed since Dexter left his son's home in Oregon. After the fire was extinguished, it was clear that Dexter was not in the car. Investigators began searching the area for him; they suspected that he may have wandered off, looking for help, and become overcome with the bitter cold. However, no trace of him was found.
An arson investigator determined that the car fire had been deliberately set with gasoline. The car's driver seat was also pushed back for someone with the height of at least 6'0". It appeared that someone had taken Dexter to another location, drove the car back to the rest stop, and set it on fire to destroy evidence.
The sheriff tried to determine the chronology of events leading up to the car fire. At around 8 am on November 18, custodian Fred Siegle arrived for work at the rest stop. He noticed a pickup truck parked there, but nobody was around. At 8:45 am, Clyde Mitchell, a Montana state highway supervisor, arrived at the rest stop. He saw both Fred's pickup and the other pickup truck, which was a Chevy. Clyde decided to get a better look at the unknown truck. He noticed that it had Arizona plates, was a four-wheel drive Chevy with blue trim and a cow catcher on the front. Clyde left at 9:15 am to complete his rounds.
At 9:30 am, as Fred was about to leave the rest stop, Dexter's Plymouth Horizon pulled in. The unknown driver exited the vehicle, carrying two large plastic containers. Fred asked the man if he needed any help, but the man declined, saying that he had just run out of gas but was able to get some gas. Fred noticed that the man was about 6'0", between 35 and 40 years of age, light-complected and clean shaven. Less than a half hour later, Dexter's car was discovered on fire.
Four months after Dexter's disappearance, a local couple named Bill and Cindy Shaw went to a remote landfill seventeen miles from the rest stop. While looking around, Cindy found a wallet; Bill suggested that it may have belonged to Dexter. The couple felt suspicious, so they decided to look around more. They found several items of men's clothing and belongings. When Bill found a boot, he looked up and saw a man's foot sticking out from under a mattress.
The body was identified as Dexter Stefonek; he was shot twice in the head. He also had injuries on his head, hands, and throat. His suitcase was also found at the landfill with large amounts of money, so it seemed that robbery was an unlikely motive. Also, the clothing that was placed around the landfill belonged to Dexter, and it appeared that the clothing was placed there just days before it was found. However, his body seemed to be in the landfill since the day he vanished.
One week after Dexter's body was found, investigators discovered one final clue: a small line of graffiti written in pencil in the men's bathroom of the Bad Route rest area. It began with the words "Hot Jock" and there were other key words that seemed to refer to Dexter's murder. It was suspected that "Hot Jock" may have been a CB handle or nickname for the killer.
The sheriff has attempted to reconstruct Dexter's last hours. He believes that Dexter arrived at the Bad Route rest area sometime after 7 am on November 19, and that the killer was already there. The sheriff theorizes that the man tried to ask Dexter for help, but because he was hard of hearing, he was unable to figure out what the man was saying. The man may have then become furious and pulled out a gun on Dexter. The sheriff believes the man then abducted Dexter, took him to the landfill, shot him, and then placed his body under the mattress. The killer then returned to the rest stop and set the car on fire to destroy any evidence.
To this date, Dexter's murderer is still at large. The main clues in the case are the description of the suspect's vehicle, the description of the suspect himself, and the mysterious message that he may have left.
Suspects: Witnesses recall seeing a light-complected and clean shaven man carrying two large jugs of gasoline to Dexter's vehicle. He was described as about 6'0", between the ages of 35 and 40 in 1985. This person could have been driving a white Chevy 4X4 with a blue horizontal stripe and a white camper shell with an Arizona license plate in a Phoenix license plate holder.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the April 12, 1989 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Unsolved. Investigators later released the full message written at the Bad Route rest area: "HOT JOCK SHOT WAD FROM WISCONSIN 11/85 SATURDAY THE 3rd". However, no new leads came from the message. Under hypnosis, Clyde Mitchell told investigators that the first three numbers of the killer's license plate were: 147. Investigators were able to narrow down the suspect's vehicle to less than sixty different owners. However, they were unable to determine if any of them were Dexter's killer. The case is still being investigated, but there are few leads.
Frederick Siegle, the caretaker of the rest stop where Dexter was found, died in 1997 at the age of 81.
- Dexter Stefonek at Unsolved.com
- Dexter Stefonek at Find a Grave
- Thirty-year-old Bad Route rest area murder case remains unsolved
- Long-ago Bad Route rest stop murder still puzzles Dawson County law enforcement