December 10, 2010

09/26/10: Dwight Clark, 18, Bellingham, WA

Dwight Clark
Dwight Clark, was last seen leaving an off-campus party at a residence at 1020 Indian Street at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday, September 26, 2010. The 18-year-old Western Washington University freshman had planned to walk back to his dorm just six or seven blocks away, but he never returned. His car was still parked in its dormitory parking spot.

At about 2:40 a.m., a blank text message was sent from Clark's cell phone. The text originated from downtown Bellingham, about a mile away from the party.

Clark's friends contacted his mother, RaeLyn, around midnight on Sunday to say that they didn't know where he was. Clark never showed up for classes Monday.

About Dwight Clark

Clark was from Auburn, Washington, but lived on the Western Washington University campus in Bellingham. Bellingham is a city of about 70,000 people, located about two hours north of Seattle and approximately 40 minutes south of the Canadian border.

Family friend Pennie Saum told the Seattle Times that Clark was a caring young man with a lot of ambition. He has started his own clothing line, produced skateboarding videos, and has hopes to become an entrepreneur with his own business someday. He also plans to be an engineer.

"His passion was skateboarding and film editing. He had big goals for himself and was excited to tackle the next phase of his life. He was loving college and things were great," she said.

Clark had a girlfriend who lives in Auburn. His father is not alive, but Clark and his mother "were very, very close," Saum said. "They would text or talk several times a day. [The disappearance was] very out of character for him."

Mark Young, spokesman for the Bellingham police, also said that Clark was a straight-A student who had never skipped school. He said Clark had no history of depression or drug or alcohol abuse.

"He's just vanished," said Young. "This community is a safe place and all of a sudden this happens."

The Search for Dwight Clark

Clark was an avid text messager, sending 6,000 text messages in August, according to Young. Since his disappearance, Clark has only sent one text message from his cell phone--it was blank. Police said the blank message was sent from his phone at approximately 2:40 a.m. --about 40 minutes after Clark disappeared. The message appears to have originated from downtown Bellingham.

Police tried to use his cellphone to zero in on its location, but that didn't work, Young said. "We believe the phone is not operational. Either it was disabled or the battery is dead."

Police said they had no evidence suggesting a crime has been committed.

In the days after Clark disappeared, there was a huge outpouring of support for his family. Searchers passed out fliers in Bellingham and wearing T-shirts with Clark's photo and the message "Help Find Me." A Facebook page was set up to help raise awareness about the young man's disappearance, and on Wednesday, September 29, officials at WWU held a candlelight vigil for 8:30 p.m. on the campus's Red Square. The university also sent a letter to Western students and parents offering their sympathy and support. In the letter, they said the Bellingham police is leading the investigation and working closely with University police and other agencies. A reward was also offered for information to help find Clark. The fund was set up by Bellingham Police Department, WWU President Bruce Shepard and a WWU parent and grew from $2,000 to at least $16,820.

Dwight Clark found

On the morning of October 6, 2010 the body of Dwight Clark was found near a dock off the Bellingham waterfront by a contractor in a small boat doing work on eel grass. He notified the property owner, the Port of Bellingham; the Port called the police about 11 a.m. The location was about a mile from the party Clark had last attended. The property had once been a water treatment lagoon for the former Georgia-Pacific plant.

The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the body from the water shortly before 12:30 p.m. It had been in the water for several days. Clark's driver's license, student I.D., credit cards, cell phone, and cash were on his person.

The area where Clark was found had been searched earlier by air and with bloodhounds. According to Saum, the family friend, a dog did pick up Clark's scent a few days ago near the water where he was found, but a group searching the area came up empty. Young told the Seattle Times that the body might have been under a dock or log boom.

According to the Seattle Times, this marked the second time a missing Western Washington University student had been recovered from the area. On June 7 1995, the body of Blair Grandstrom, who was also last seen at a party in Bellingham, was found in the same area. There were no signs of trauma or injuries in Grandstrom's case, but the Whatcom County medical examiner said his blood-alcohol level was high. Nothing has been found to link the cases.

On Oct. 7, it was announced that a complete forensic examination of Clark's body had been conducted by the Whatcom County Medical Examiner, Dr. Gary Goldfogel. Dental records and other factors officially confirmed that the body was indeed that of Clark. The medical examiner found that Clark's body had no signs of inflicted trauma, no identified external or internal injuries, and it had been in the water the entire time he was missing.

On Dec. 10, 2010, the Bellingham Police Department announced that they would be officially closing the case.

According to the Sky Valley Chronicle, "The Whatcom County Medical Examiner’s offce says 18-year old student Dwight Clark had a blood-alcohol level of .13 at the time of his death and tests also showed the presence of marijuana."

Clark's body showed no outward evidence of trauma, and the young man's credit cards, phone, and cash were found on the body; police feel this would rule out the possibility of a robbery. Clark's death has been ruled an accident.

A memorial celebration service for Dwight Clark was held on October 17, 2010 in Auburn, WA. at Grace Community Church, 1320 Auburn Way S., in Auburn. The family also announced a fund-raising effort for the Dwight Clark Memorial Indoor Skate Park.

"Dwight's dream was to have a skate park in the Auburn area that was indoors/under cover so that kids of all ages could be safe and skate 365 days a year," family friend Pennie Saum wrote in a statement to the media. "Dwight's passion was skating and filming and we are excited to work towards making his dream come true."

Donations can be made to Chase bank account (routing#325070760, acct#879076693) or on the "FIND Dwight Clark" Facebook page.

Case Details
Name/age: Dwight Clark, 18
Last seen: 09/26/10, 1020 block of Indian Street, Bellingham, WA
Recovered: 10/6/10, Georgia-Pacific log pond
Hometown: Auburn, WA
Residence: Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA
Physical Description: 6'2", 160 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. Last seen wearing blue jeans, a pink tie-dyed T-shirt, and black Nike athletic shoes.
Investigating Agency: Bellingham Police Department, 360-778-8666.

Originally published: 9/26/10. Updated: 10/3/10, 12/10/10, 01/08/13, 01/10/13


bhammom said...

We all are scouring to find Dwight and praying. This reminded me so much of when Alexis Dillard went missing at KU. I was there and it was as equally random. He was smart and well loved and wouldn't do something ridiculous even after leaving a bar. I hope with the increase in technology ie. facebook etc. it will be easier and more effective to find him. Back in the 90's it was just a bunch of us KU students handing out flyers.

BoyintheMachine said...

AOL Article On Dwight Clark's Disappearance

Anonymous said...

They have found Dwight in George-Pacific Log Pond.

Here we go again..

julie said...

Another engineering student, eerie

BoyintheMachine said...

I just listend to a few radio clips on Dwight and it was reported that there was a van of people driving around harassing people on the night he disappeared. Also, someone wrote on a missing person flier that he had been stabbed to death. Another caller indicated that there's no way he could have entered the water at the place they said it was unless it was either a deliberate suicide or if he was murdered. Very sad.

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