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William, his son William Jr., and two other African-American men, Minni Gaskins and DeWitt Lewis, left Miami, Florida in an eighteen-foot outboard boat on April 16, 1973. They were on an overnight fishing trip to Marco Island. They never returned to shore and none of them have ever been heard from again. The boat was eventually located, but an extensive search turned up no sign of any of its passengers. Another vessel, a 14-foot boat which carried Robert Stone of Fort Myers, Florida, disappeared at the same time; it's unclear whether it or Myers was ever located either.
Photographs and vital statistics for Lewis and Gaskins are unavailable.