April 4, 2002

04/4/02: Lon Dowdle, Covington, KY

Lon Dowdle, a 26-year old sales representative for Madix Inc., an international fixtures company headquartered in Goodwater, Alabama, came to Cincinnati on a business trip and took a room at the Holiday Inn across the river in Covington, Kentucky. He spent the evening of Apr. 4, 2002 bar hopping with childhood friend John Dark who was also in town. Dark had recently moved to Fairfield, Alabama.
Dark last saw Dowdle at 2:30 a.m. when they were getting out of a cab at the Waffle House at 311 Philadelphia St. in Covington, within walking distance to Dowdle's hotel. The two were inebriated. Dark told the police that while he was waiting to get Dowdle's change for a $5 cab drive from a $20, Dowdle left the cab, walked around the corner of the building and disappeared.

Dark has passed a polygraph test, and the cab driver has backed up his story.

Lon Dowdle's father, Walter Dowdle, reported him missing about six hours after he disappeared, after a Kroger representative with whom Lon Dowdle had a morning meeting called to say he hadn't showed up. Walter Dowdle is the vice president of Madix, the company that employed Lon Dowdle.

Six days after he disappeared, Lon Dowdle's body was recovered from the Ohio River. The remains were found at 1:20 p.m., between the river and the floodwall along Highway Avenue, about one block from the Waffle House where he was last seen. It was also not far from the Holiday Inn Hotel where he had been staying.

Friends Robert Rumsey of Sylacauga, Derrick Davison of Birmingham and a third friend found the body after being directed there by psychic Bonnie Campaniello of west Covington who called a missing-person hot line. John Dark was not among the group who discovered the body.

Campaniello had called the missing-persons hot line set up for tips. She said she had been getting images of Mr. Dowdle's body face-down amid trees, near water. “I smelled water, but didn't see it,” she said. The police passed the tip to the missing man's friends.

The area had been searched twice before it was found. Police had also searched the area by boat but the mud concealing the body made it difficult to spot.

The body was face down in a wooded area about a half-mile from the Holiday Inn where he was staying. It was covered with heavy mud and a witness decribes it as lying on the bank with its feet in the water and arms spread. The body was shirtless, with no shoes or socks but wearing pants. Robbery did not appear to be a motive as his wallet was found in his pants pocket with cash and credit cards inside and his silver Rolex watch was still on his wrist. There didn't appear to be any visible signs of trauma or foul play, and his death appeared to be an accidental drowning, said police.

About Lon Dowdle
Lon Dowdle was to turn 27 on Sunday, April 14. His wife, Monique, his high school sweetheart, had already bought his birthday present, a hammock. The couple had been married three years and did not have children.

Lon was the youngest of three boys--Todd of Orlando, Fla., and Jay of Alexander City, Ala. and enjoyed going pheasant and deer hunting with his father nearly every weekend. He was a graduate of Auburn University and member of the Auburn Alumni Association. At the university he had been a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.  He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Alexander City, and was a graduate of Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City.

Other survivors include his  mother, Deborah H. Dowdle of Alexander City; paternal grandparents, Walter and Theolyn Dowdle of Goodwater, Ala.; maternal grandparents, James and Gemma Hawkins of Alexander City; two nieces and one nephew.

Facts of Interest:
Name/age: Lon Dowdle, 26
College: Auburn University graduate in marketing, 1998
Hometown: Alexander City
Residence: Alexander City, AL
Employer: Madix Inc., an international fixtures company headquartered in Goodwater, Ala., and owned by his father, Walter Dowdle of Alexander City. Fixture-sales Representative.
Last Seen: 04/10/02, Waffle House, 311 Philadelphia St., Covington, KY
Found: 04/17/02, Ohio River, Covington, KY

Posted 11/21/09. Updated 1/18/10.


BoyintheMachine said...

Anybody know the temperature that night? The reason why I asked is that I saw a show that touched on hypothermia and how victims tend to remove clothing because they get the sensation of overheating near death.

justlogic said...

Good question. I don't have the specific answer for that date,but the avg high for Al in April is 74,the avg low is 49. the avg daliy temp for April is 61,source link below. There is a possibility for hypothermia.

Monique777 said...


It's ture. I had hypothermia about 10 years ago. I had decided to walk home from a job (a mile or so) and it was about 50 degrees in October. Then the wind picked up. I was walking through a park,the wind was bitter cold and freezing my legs and then I became disoriented and started sweating. I unzipped my winter coat and took my arms out so the coat was just hanging on my back and shoulders. I also couldn't feel my legs as they were frost bitten from the wind. I finally reached a store and went inside. They took me to help. I remember being so hot and while I normally don't sweat I was dripping wet, even my hair and jacket were damp. And it happened pretty quickly.
Obviously I didn't die but it was considered mild/moderate hypothermia. I can't even imagine the heat one feels when they are close to death due to hypothermia if I was this hot during mild/moderate hypothermia.

Lisa said...

Here is a very helpful link in searching for the temperature for a specific date:

The nearest weather station in Andalusia reported that the low temperature on April 4 was 47 degrees.

It is not hard to become hypothermic if the conditions are right. (It is even possible to get hypothermia indoors in air conditioning.) Alcohol, length of exposure, lack of warm or dry clothing all play a role. And in about 25% of hypothermia victims remove their clothing (called paradoxical undressing).

The lack of clothing made me consider hypothermia too, but then I noticed that the river was only one block from the restaurant. I haven't come across any witness reports from people who saw him wandering around the area. I think he probably went from the restaurant directly to the river area, so his exposure time outside probably wouldn't be enough to cause hypothermia. What do you all think?

Monique777 said...

It's really hard to say if he had hypothermia. When I had it, it was because the wind picked up and the temperature dropped really quickly. But that's the Midwest. Does it really get that cold and windy in Alabama?

Also, he could have lost his shoes while in the water. It would be good to know if he wore socks to begin with that night. Maybe he didn't and that's why he was found with no socks. The lack of a shirt on recovery seems odd. Did he take it off? And if so, was it because he tore it on something accidentally, spilled on it, threw up on it etc?

Anyone know more about Alabama weather such as do they get sudden drops of tempertaure when the wind picks up?

ohiogirl said...

Lon Dowdle died in Covington, KENTUCKY - right across the river from Cincinnati.
He was from Alabama.

Lisa said...


Thank you for letting me know about this error. There is also a Covington, Alabama, so it looks like I had them confused. This could actually be very important as another man who drowned, Isaac Ripberger, was also from Covington, KY. Thanks for the correction!

Midnight Muse said...

Early in the article it says he was found a block from his hotel. Later it says a half mile, which is more accurate according to the photo, and according to the fact that Highway Avenue is more than a block away. So probably the first reference needs corrected.

It's not clear from the articles on the recovery of his body whether he died at that location or was washed there, but since he died by drowning and his feet were in the water, I'm guessing it's the latter.

You know, I always assumed he wandered into the river because he was very drunk, and took his shirt off because he threw up on it or something. Even though it seems odd he didn't just go to the Waffle House bathroom, or to his hotel instead (which was directly in his path, between Waffle House and the river), I guess 'drunken logic' could have sent him towards the river to clean up.

However. I found out his blood alcohol level was only .087, which is just over the legal limit, so he wasn't extremely drunk -- definitely not the kind of drunk where you do weird nonsensical stuff like decide to walk into a river (!). He also had a small amount of cocaine in his system so he should have been relatively alert. Thus, the toxicology report doesn't seem sufficient to explain his behavior at all.

The front of the restaurant faces towards both the river and the Holiday Inn where Dowdle stayed. So the friend waiting out front should have been able to see him walking away, unless Dowdle walked around the corner of the building and THEN began walking away really really fast in another direction, before later turning and heading towards the river.

You have to wonder why Dowdle decided to go anywhere *without* telling his friend first. Though not severely impaired, he vanished around a corner and immediately thereafter behaved in an inexplicable fashion, which led to his inexplicable death.

How does a person who's *not* seriously impaired walk away from his friend (and food) for no reason... then walk until he reaches a river... then slowly walk into the river until it gets deep enough to drown in... and then proceed to slowly drown without saving himself? It's very strange.

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Man In The Wilderness said...

I was working in the lobby of a building as a Security Officer when Lon Dowdle's friends came in with missing posters asking about him. He must have really been a popular guy who was well loved by everyone for that many people to come searching for him so devotedly. They came all the way from Alabama.
Maybe the lesson here is not to do Cocaine and Alcohol out in Public like that. It cost Lon his life.