Nan Cecile Dixon

Dixon, circa 1978

  • Missing Since 09/21/1978
  • Missing From Grass Valley, California
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 08/04/1905 (118)
  • Age 73 years old
  • Height and Weight 4'10 - 5'0, 110 pounds
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Yellow and green four-door 1976 Datsun B210 with the California license plate number 915RHV (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Graying red hair, brown eyes.

Details of Disappearance

Dixon was last seen on September 21, 1978. She left her Grass Valley, California home to visit her family in Seven Troughs, Nevada, three hours away. Her brother, Harry Leighton, his wife Lulu Leighton, and their son Arthur "Butch" Leighton, lived there.

Dixon had invested $6,000 in the Leightons' gold mining operation in 1961 and wanted the money back; this was the purpose of her visit. She was driving a yellow and green four-door 1976 Datsun B210 with the California license plate number 915RHV.

She never arrived at her brother's and has never been heard from again. Months later, her husband got a credit card bill for $4.18 in gas purchased in Lovelock, Nevada, which is near Seven Troughs. This evidence prompted searches in the Lovelock area, but these efforts came up empty.

Nothing else came up in Dixon's case until 1982, when coyote hunters found her car in a ravine below the main road of the Seven Troughs drop-off, 27 miles north of Lovelock. This area, which was on unused property of the Eagle-Picher Mining Company, had been covered in previous air and ground searches, and the car hadn't been seen there then.

Dixon's family stated it appeared as if someone had deliberately driven the car into the ravine; tire tracks were still visible. The Datsun's tires were badly scuffed, but still held air and were in reasonably good condition, and the gas tank was half-full.

Four empty cartons of cigarettes were inside the car as well. Dixon was a light smoker and her loved ones don't believe she would have smoked four cartons of cigarettes by herself, and they were not her preferred brand. Portions of black electrical tape were located; one piece had a hair and possible human tissue attached. There appeared to be bloodstains on the trunk mat and on a tire and a rim. An unsigned note was found indicating suicide. There was no indication of Dixon's whereabouts.

After Dixon's car was discovered, the police closed her case as a suicide and sold her car at a sheriff's auction. All the evidence they'd collected has since been lost. Dixon's family never believed she took her own life, however; they think the note in her vehicle was planted by someone else. Her family spent over $40,000 on the search for her.

One theory is that her disappearance is connected to alleged air drops of illegal drugs in the Seven Troughs area; perhaps she witnessed one and was killed as a result.

Authorities reopened the investigation into Dixon's disappearance in 2007. Her case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Nevada County Sheriff's Office 530-582-7842

Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 2, 2019; details of disappearance updated.