John Warren Deetz

Above: Deetz, circa 1988


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: December 30, 1988 from Spokane County, Washington
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: May 1, 1950
  • Age: 38 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'5, 175 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Black hair, brown eyes.
  • Bar

    Details of Disappearance

    Deetz was last seen on December 30, 1988. He lived in Fulton, Illinois and was employed as a truck driver for Westside Transport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His last delivery was at the West Coast Grocery Co. Deetz called his employer from the Broadway Truck Stop in Spokane County, Washington on December 30, 1988, after he made his delivery. He also called his wife to say he would be home soon. He has never been heard from again. His trucking supervisor reported him missing.

    Less than two years after Deetz disappeared, Ralph Howard Benson was sighted driving his truck, which was brand new and worth $100,000. It had been repainted. Benson was a self-employed long-distance trucker who traveled across the country. In early 1991, Deetz's truck was found on Benson's property in the Los Angeles, California area. The 1988 license plate was in Benson's home south of Davenport, Washington; it appeared new and unweathered. Authorities believe Benson operated a "chop shop," taking apart stolen tractor-trailer rigs and selling the parts. He was never charged in connection with Deetz or his vehicle, however.

    In 2003, Benson was convicted of murdering a Washington state fuel tax auditor; he'd shot the man in the head and dismembered his body. Investigators stated he's a person of interest in Deetz's disappearance and other missing persons cases and homicides. He died in prison in September 2004, at the age of 64, less than one year into his sentence. A photo of Benson is posted below this case summary.

    Deetz is described as a responsible man who was dedicated to his family and his job. He was carrying company credit cards at the time of his disappearance, but never used them. He left behind three children. He has since been declared legally dead and his wife has remarried. Foul play is suspected in his case, which remains unsolved.

    Above: Ralph Benson


    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Spokane County Sheriff's Office


    Source Information
    The Doe Network
    The Idaho Spokesman-Review
    The Seattle Post-Intelligencer


    Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated November 18, 2012; details of disappearance updated.

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