Details of Disappearance
Ackerman lived alone with his dog and three cats in Baltimore, Maryland in 1998. He worked as a child psychologist for the city school system. His wife had died of cancer four years before, while they were living in Memphis, Tennessee, and he moved afterwards to Oregon and then to Maryland.
Ackerman was making plans to move to Alaska before he disappeared. He had secured a job with a school there and planned to live in a camper. On June 18, 1998, he left Baltimore to go to Memphis and buy a used pickup truck for his trip north. He took a plane to Memphis and planned to drive the truck back to Maryland. He asked a neighbor to look after his pets while he was gone.
Ackerman did arrive in Memphis and took possession of the truck, a red and white striped 1995 GMC pickup. He was supposed to go back to the auto dealership the next day to finish some paperwork, but he never arrived. Ackerman also planned to pick up the camper he'd bought to live in when he reached Alaska, but he never did that either. He never arrived home and has never been heard from again.
While he was in Memphis, Ackerman had planned to meet up with his friend Dale V. Mardis in Memphis. A photo of Mardis is posted with this case summary. Both men were interested in guns and Mardis was a gun dealer.
In 2001, Mardis murdered Mickey Wright, and burned the remains in a 55-gallon drum. Wright's body was never found. Mardis pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in state court in 2007 and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was prosecuted for the murder again in federal court because authorities believed the crime had been racially motivated.
Mardis pleaded guilty in March 2011 and was sentenced to life in prison in July. It was only just before the sentencing hearing that investigators learned he had also murdered Ackerman. Mardis confessed that they got into an argument over a debt, and he beat Ackerman to death with a hammer and disposed of his body the same way he would later do with Wright's. The federal prison system does not have parole, meaning Mardis will never be released.
Ackerman grew up in New Jersey. He got a bachelor's degree in child development from St. John Fisher College in New York, a master's degree in public service from Western Kentucky University, and Ph.D. in education from the University of Memphis. He was licensed in Tennessee as a psychological examiner.
Foul play is suspected in his disappearance due to the circumstances involved. Maryland police handled the investigation. The case is now considered closed, as they don't expect to find Ackerman's body.