Darwin Kenneth Vest

Above Images: Vest, circa 1999

  • Missing Since 06/02/1999
  • Missing From Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 04/22/1951 (66)
  • Height and Weight 5'9, 160 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A black leather jacket, Levi's 501 jeans, a black belt, a distinctive brass belt buckle with a tiny black spider on it, a keychain with a brass rattlesnake on it, and a watch with a black band and a rotating spiderweb design on its face. A photo of the watch is posted below this case summary.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes. Vest had a trimmed beard and mustache at the time of his 1999 disappearance. He has a three-inch scar on his forehead, a scar on his head and an appendectomy scar on his abdomen. He has previously fractured his clavicle and his right ankle. Vest's nickname is Dar.

Details of Disappearance

Vest was last seen in Idaho Falls, Idaho during the early morning hours of June 2, 1999. He played a weekly trivia game at the Frosty Gator with friends, then walked to the Golden Crown Lounge on Shoup Avenue for a nightcap. Vest disappeared while walking back to the residence he shared with his mother. It was raining that night, but he declined a taxi ride. Vest has never been heard from again.

Vest is a toxicologist and an expert on spider, snake and plant poisons; he also named the hobo spider with his sister. He owned Eagle Rock Research in Idaho Falls in 1999, and also worked as a projectionist for Micro Moviehouse. He has no formal degree, but was self-taught intsead. Vest often testified about spider bites in court and occasionally worked with the FBI and the CIA. He had also appeared on the Discovery Channel. His sister told authorities a company was interested in purchasing a hobo spider trap kit Vest invented shortly before he vanished. The deal was reportedly quite lucrative, but it is not known if it was connected to Vest's disappearance.

Vest's family has said it is very uncharacteristic of him to leave without calling any of his loved ones. They suspect foul play was involved in his case. Vest's relatives stated that he had not been informed when a man who assaulted and robbed him in 1997 was enrolled in a work release program shortly before he disappeared in June 1999. According to his family, the individual has since been arrested again and released several times on drug charges. The person has never been charged in connection with Vest's case and it is not known if he or she was involved. Authorities stated that the individual was placed in a halfway house at the time of Vest's disappearance and could not have escaped undetected. Several of Vest's loved ones believe that the person was seeking retribution and may have harmed Vest the night he vanished. He is known for taking many late-night walks.

Investigators said that Vest had been drinking the night of his disappearance. He does not hold his liquor well and may have been intoxicated when he was last seen. Authorities theorize he may have stumbled into the Snake River while walking home. Vest's family members dispute that theory, saying that he was not a heavy drinker and the river was not along his usual route home. A witness reported seeing a body floating in the river the morning after Vest disappeared, but authorities were unable to locate the remains, if there were any. Investigators admitted that the Snake River was never thoroughly searched. Other relatives believe that an unidentified man seen at the bar with Vest prior to his disappearance was involved in his case. Authorities said that they located the individual and questioned him, but he is not a suspect.

Authorities do not believe that Vest chose to leave of his own accord or committed suicide. They said that their investigation led through eastern Idaho and into Utah, but did not provide specific details. There has been speculation that Vest chose to leave of his own accord and moved to Mexico, but no evidence has been located to support the theory. Vest's case remains unsolved. His family and friends held a memorial service for him on June 3, 2000, the first anniversary of his disappearance, and he was declared legally dead in March 2004.

Above: Vest's spiderweb watch

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated July 2, 2015; four pictures added, clothing/jewelry description updated.