Left: Dunson, approximate date 1973 (25 years before he was reported missing; more recent photographs of Dunson are unavailable);
Right: Composite sketch of Dunson as he is supposed to have looked like at the time of his disappearance
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: June 5, 1998 from Cincinnati, Ohio
Type: Endangered Missing
Date of Birth: July 2, 1900 Age at disappearance: 97 years old
Weight and Height: 5'8, 150 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: African-American male. Gray hair, brown eyes. Some agencies give Dunson's date of birth as July 2, 1899 or July 7, 1900. He wears dentures and reading glasses. Clothing/Jewelry Description: A light brown shirt, dark brown pants, black leather shoes and a dark blue navy peacoat.
Details of disappearance and psychic work by Brian Ladd (login to view entire case as of May 2020)
Dunson's son, Gary Adams, reported him missing on June 5, 1998. He said they were shopping together at Findlay Market on Elder Street in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati at about 2:00 p.m. when Adams stepped into a butcher shop for a moment to purchase steaks, and when he came back out Dunson was gone. Dunson was carrying a black leather wallet with about fifteen dollars in it when he disappeared. He may also have been carrying a lottery ticket; a clerk at Cee Kay Beauty Supply in Findlay Market remembers selling one to a man matching Dunson's description. Other people at Findlay Market also recall seeing an elderly man that day, but he appeared to be at least twenty years younger than Dunson.
Dunson's driver's license expired in the 1970s and has not been renewed. The most recent photo of him that authorities were able to find was from 1973. He was hospitalized at Cincinnati's University Hospital three times in 1980 for treatment of dementia or possibly a mild stroke, but not has not been a patient there since then. He has not seen a doctor, made an insurance claim, had any prescriptions filled, held a bank account, voted, or owned a library card since about 1980. Dunson used to frequent the Elder Cafe but no one has seen him there since about 1980. He sometimes stayed at the Drop Inn Center, a local homeless shelter, in 1979 and 1980, but no one has seen him there in many years and residents of the shelter do not recognize the composite picture of Dunson as he is supposed to have looked in 1998. Dunson once belonged to the Calvary Baptist Church in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati. He was an usher there, but none of the other church members recall seeing him since at least 1980, except the pastor, who thought he'd seen Dunston at some time before 1986. The pastor's statement is the only independent evidence of Dunston's existence past 1980.
When confronted with this evidence, Adams stated that Dunson does not believe in doctors or banks and that is why the paper trail for him stopped in 1980. He described his father as a quiet, reclusive man who only goes outside during the nighttime, because he had the latest shift throughout his working career and was used to sleeping during the day. Adams also stated Dunson kept to himself in part because he afraid the family would get in trouble with their landlord for having too many tenants, but Adams's landlord says there are no restrictions on how many people can live in the home.
Dunson was reported missing four days after the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent a letter to his and Adams's residence. The letter requested that Dunson meet with an SSA representative in person to verify his identity. Dunson had been drawing a pension and Social Security benefits since 1970 and the SSA was doing a routine procedure which they do for all recipients approaching 100 years of age, to make sure he was still alive and receiving the payments and no one else was impersonating him to cash the checks. Authorities believe Adams had been co-signing his dead father's checks and depositing them into his own account for years under the pretense that Dunson was still alive. The amount of money over the years totaled over $100,000.
Adams was convicted on twenty-five counts of theft of public funds in the spring of 1999, for stealing Dunson's Social Security benefits. He was acquitted of twenty-five counts of forgery; investigators were unable to find a sample of Dunson's handwriting to compare with his supposed signature on the checks. The court determined that Dunson had most likely been deceased since at least 1985, and Adams had therefore been misappropriating his benefits since 1986. Adams was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution. He has never been criminally charged in connection with his father's disappearance and police say that, unless they find Dunson's remains, the case is likely to end with the theft convictions.
Dunson is believed to have been born in Marietta, Georgia. He is a World War I veteran who worked at the now-defunct Oberhelman-Ritter iron foundry on Colerain Avenue in Cincinnati, which he retired from in 1970. He never legally married, but had eight or nine children. Dunson's case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd; he is presumed deceased.