Wilfred Fred King III

Wilfred, circa 1980

  • Missing Since 10/24/1980
  • Missing From Essex, Vermont
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 04/22/1943 (75)
  • Age 37 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'3 - 5'5, 130 - 140 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description An inexpensive wristwatch and a belt with a silver dollar buckle engraved with the years 1776-1976.
  • Medical Conditions Wilfred was struck by a car and severely injured two years prior to his disappearance. He was in a coma for weeks and spent eight months recovering at home. He learned to walk again, but needed to use metal crutches. His crutches have since been located.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes. Wilfred's nickname is Butch. He has dimples on both cheeks.

Details of Disappearance

Wilfred was last seen by his father, leaving his residence on Jericho Road in Essex, Vermont at 7:00 p.m. on October 24, 1980. He left driving his blue and white four-wheel-drive 1979 Chevrolet Blazer pickup truck, which had a plow frame, a yellow plow on the front, a yellow light on the roof, a trailer hitch in the back, and the Vermont license plate number E-3050.

That day he was expecting an important call and wanted to stay home until he received it. He did receive the call, and afterwards, he went hunting behind the house, went home and cleaned up, and left again. He has never been heard from again.

A few days later, the same day he was reported missing, hunters found Wilfred's bloodstained crutches in the woods off Middle Road in Colchester, Vermont. An article of clothing thought to be his was also located. A few weeks after that, his truck was found abandoned and burned at the Oak Hill gravel pit in Williston, Vermont.

Investigators believe Wilfred was the victim of a homicide. He was in the process of a divorce at the time of his disappearance, and his relationship with Diane Irish King, his estranged wife of fourteen years, was very difficult. Wilfred's parents feared for his safety and tried to make sure he never went out alone. They tried to get him to take his oldest son with him when he left on the day of his disappearance, but he refused.

Wilfred and his oldest son, Joey, then thirteen years old, were allowed to live in the family home on Jericho Road and keep most of the family's property pending the outcome of the divorce. Diane had moved out of the house with the couple's two younger children, shortly but after her husband's disappearance she moved back in. She invited two men to stay as roommates, and Joey moved in with his grandparents.

Diane initially agreed to take a polygraph about Wilfred's case, but then changed her mind and refused to cooperate with the investigation. She instructed her two younger children not to talk to the police either. She immediately started selling equipment Wilfred owned for his paving business, receiving $11,000. She also let her friends borrow her husband's snowmobile.

According to Diane, the two roommates who stayed with her at Wilfred's house in the aftermath of his disappearance damaged several things Wilfred owned, including paving equipment, a boat, and two motorcycles. Joey moved some of his father's things to his grandparents' house to keep them from being destroyed by the roommates.

Diane claimed she was afraid of both men and that one of them frequently carried a gun and the other slept with a gun under his mattress. One of the roommates went to her workplace and smashed in her car windows, and was jailed for several months as a result. Both men eventually moved out of the residence.

Diane subsequently filed for sole ownership of the couple's home. Wilfred's parents had given him the land, which was next door to their own home, when he was nineteen years old, and he had built the house there prior to his marriage. He had dropped out of high school and worked in the family paving business.

In the ensuing court battle over Wilfred's possessions, his father was eventually awarded his house and belongings, and Diane and was forced to leave the residence.

In 1988, Diane filed to have Wilfred declared legally dead. In response, Joey, who was by then twenty, filed a civil suit against his mother, claiming Diane had helped murder Wilfred in 1980 and therefore should not benefit financially from his death. Instead, Joey asked the court to use the family's property to set up a trust fund for himself and his two younger siblings.

Joey ultimately moved into his father's home and raised his family there. He has reconciled with his mother, who has remarried.

Wilfred's parents believed Diane hired somebody to kill him so she could obtain his estate. His father died in 2006, but his mother is still alive. Diane has a minor criminal record for retail theft and driving under the influence, but no violent crimes.

No one has been criminally charged in Wilfred's case, but he is presumed to have been the victim of a homicide. His parents had a monument placed for him in the cemetery in the late 1980s, with two squirrels on it, since he enjoyed squirrel hunting.

Investigating Agency

  • Essex Police Department 802-878-8331

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 5, 2018; middle name and picture added, medical conditions and details of disappearance updated.