David Robert Hursell
Hursell, approximately 1987; Robert Comer, approximately 1987; Comer in the 2000s
Date reported missing : 01/12/1987
Missing location (approx) :
El Dorado County, California
Missing classification : Endangered Missing
Gender : Male
DOB : 04/08/1962 (59)
Age at the time of disappearance: 24 years old
Height / Weight : 5'9, 150 pounds
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos : Caucasian male. Brown hair, blue eyes. The tip of Hursell's right index finger has been crushed. His nickname is Dave.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : Hursell was last seen in El Dorado County, California on January 12, 1987. He has never been heard from again. Robert Charles Comer (sometimes spelled "Corner") has been the prime suspect in Hursell's disappearance for many years. A photograph of Comer is posted with this case summary.
Comer confessed to Hursell's murder in 1999 while on death row. He claimed he forced Hursell from his truck at gunpoint and placed him, in handcuffs, tied his shoelaces together, and forced him to walk away from him on a dirt road in Georgetown, California. Comer said he killed Hursell with a gun shortly thereafter.
Comer was apprehended by authorities in Arizona shortly after Hursell's January 1987 disappearance. He was driving Hursell's truck at the time of his arrest and was connected to his disappearance at that time. In 1988, Comer was convicted of an unrelated Arizona murder and sentenced to death.
He offered to divulge details regarding Hursell's case to his presumed victim's mother in the 1980s. Comer demanded that Hursell's mother donate $6,000 to his legal defense fund or supply him with various appliances. She refused. Hursell's mother also turned down another prison inmate's offer to murder Comer in the late 1980s.
Hursell's mother appeared at the end of the broadcast of the made-for-television movie Terror In The Night in the late 1980s. The film depicted Comer's crimes in Arizona. Hursell's mother pleaded with the public for information regarding her son's disappearance.
Comer confessed to Hursell's murder while imprisoned in 1999, twelve years after Hursell disappeared. He drew a map of the location where he claimed to have disposed of Hursell's remains in 1987. Authorities located the area, but an extensive search in 2001 produced no clues as to Hursell's whereabouts. Investigators said that they were unsure if the body remained at the site after so many years.
Police do believe that Comer was truthful in his account of Hursell's death. He wrote to Hursell's mother and apologized for his actions. Comer eventually withdrew all his appeals and asked to be put to death as soon as possible, although his attorneys said he was incompetent to make this decision. He was executed in May 2007.
Hursell resided in Auburn, California in 1987. His case remains unsolved.
Other information and links : ncy
El Dorado County Sheriff's Department
September 2021 updates and sources
California Attorney General's Office
The Sacramento Bee
Clark County Prosecutor's Office