Real Names: Dale Dixson, Russell Dixson, Jason Dixson, Caleb Dixson, and Michael Goergen
Nicknames: Red (Dale); Rusty (Russell); Mike (Michael)
Location: Crescent City, California
Date: August 27 or 28, 1986
Date of Birth: Unrevealed
Marital Status: Married (Red and Mike); Single (Caleb, Rusty, and Jason)
Details: Forty-year-old Red Dixson was the captain of a twenty-year-old shrimp boat called the Liebling, which set sail from Crescent City, California in August 1986. Dixson was accompanied by his three sons: eighteen-year-old Russell "Rusty", fourteen-year-old Jason, and six-year-old Caleb, along with his first mate Mike Goergen. Their Springer Spaniel also came with them. The boys were about to go back to school, so this was supposed to be their last trip of the summer with their father. Red and the boys' mother Pamela were divorced and they were staying with her. She was reluctant to let the youngest son Caleb go with them. However, after some convincing, she agreed to let him go. As they left, she had an uneasy feeling, but she figured that she was just worried about Caleb's first trip on the boat.
The Liebling left port on their four-day trip at dawn and headed north to fish off of Cape Blanco, Oregon. They were accompanied by two other boats. The sea was unusually calm and the weather seemed fair. However, sometime during the night of August 27, the Liebling disappeared. Although they had radio equipment onboard, no distress signal was ever sent. It was as if the boat was there one moment and gone the next. Since then, no evidence has surfaced to explain what happened to the boat.
When the Liebling didn't answer radio calls the following morning, a visual search was conducted. The boat was nowhere to be found. By 10AM, the Coast Guard was brought in. They found no evidence that it had sunk. Since the boat had diesel fuel onboard, searchers expected to see the resulting oil slick somewhere in the waters. However, no slick was ever reported. No debris was found either.
With no evidence of a sinking, there was some speculation that Red had decided to go to Colombia and take his sons with him. For the last year-and-a-half, he had been living and fishing in Colombia and had recently re-married. He was planning to start a second family there. However, Pamela does not believe that Red would abduct their children because he was free to visit and take them whenever he wanted. Furthermore, it seemed unlikely that Mike Goergen would leave his wife Kim and three children behind.
Before Red vanished, he and his brother Lorin stayed up late talking about "life in general". He feels that Red would have said something to him if he planned on leaving. Although he hopes that his brother is still alive, he feels that it would be unlikely for him not to contact anyone after all this time.
D.J. Cole was a fisherman who was sailing a boat about five miles behind the Liebling. On the night before the boat vanished, he talked to Mike on the radio. Mike told him to beware of a tugboat in the area. Speculation is that they might have been run over by this larger boat in the fog, but there was no evidence found to support such a theory. However, fishermen noted that a large tugboat might not even notice hitting a small boat like the Liebling.
Troy Vought was another shrimp boat captain who knew Red personally. In September of 1987, while along the route of the Liebling, he found his boat's net snagged on a large object around 700 feet below the ocean's surface. He did not believe the object was there where the boat vanished. He later pulled a small shrimp net to the surface, which was believed to have come from the Liebling. The icy waters and temperatures prevented a close examination of the ocean floor.
Although no trace of the Liebling or her occupants was found and no underwater search was ever launched, some presume that the Liebling sunk and that all aboard perished.
Suspects: Red Dixson was living in Colombia shortly before the Liebling vanished. There was some speculation that he abducted his children, killed Mike, and took them there. However, his family and friends do not believe this theory. His ex-wife noted that he was allowed to visit and take the children whenever he wanted. Also, his new wife was living with his relatives in the United States at the time. Furthermore, he had two daughters from his first marriage that he did not take with him on the trip.
Another theory was that the Liebling had been struck by a large tugboat. Before the boat vanished, Mike told another boat about the tugboat in the area. However, no debris was found to support this theory.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the January 18, 1989 episode.
Some sources spell Mike's last name as "Georgen".
Results: Unsolved. Red's family members positively identified the fishing net found in 1987 as coming from the Liebling. They are convinced that the Liebling sunk and that all onboard perished. They believe that the boat is located where the fishing net was found. They hope to raise money to have an underwater camera or similar underwater vehicle try and locate the boat on the ocean floor.
- Search For Missing Boat With Five Aboard Expanded
- Boat search hampered by wind and choppy seas
- Search for lost boat resumes
- Oregon Search Resumed for Missing Shrimp Boat
- Search for boat suspended
- Search for missing shrimper suspended
- Mystery of missing vessel unsolved nine months later
- The case of the Liebling
- The Liebling Facebook article
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of the Liebling (includes comments from family members)