She could feel the tears forming in her eyes, she didn’t want anyone to see them. She had kept the hope that justice would be served and that the mystery around her son would be cleared up.
She howled with heartache while she held his clothes to her face. She knew something wasn’t right, nothing added up.
It all started on a normal morning like any other. Michael Williams, a successful man with a beautiful wife, was a fan of duck hunting. Today there was said to be an enormous flock out, so he told his wife that he was going out to hunt and that the latest he’d be back was noon.
Michael would take any opportunity he could to go out hunting, he’d grab his hunting shotgun from the lock-up at his work and go to his favorite spot. The spot that made him feel at peace with the world. If only he knew this wouldn’t last.
Jerry Michael Williams, or Mike Williams as most people in Tallahassee knew him, was a kind man with a big heart. He married his high school sweetheart Denise in 1994 and never looked back. By the time the year 2000 came around, he was a 31-year-old successful real-estate appraiser with an 18-month-old daughter.
With his beautiful wife, wonderful daughter, and motivating job, Mike felt that life was going very well for him. But he was unaware of how it would go so wrong.
Michael’s favorite spot to hunt ducks was Lake Seminole — near Tallahassee in Florida, and was home to plenty of ducks to make his hunting interesting. This was the place that Mike had driven out to where he could get some alone time while he hunted.
Michael liked going out to the lake to think. He would think about his wife, even though clearly their marriage wasn’t working out anymore he stayed with her for their 18-month-old daughter. But today it was their 6th year wedding anniversary and he thought maybe he could try and fix things with his wife. He was planning a wonderful day for his wife once he got back from the lake.
Soon noon passed, and there was no sign of Michael. His wife Denise starts to worry and calls her father and Michael’s best friend, Brian Winchester. The two men set out to search for Michael but it’s dark and the cold weather is making it hard to continue.
The men call off the search and start again in the morning. This is when they find Michael’s empty truck and his boat just 30 yards away in the lake. Inside the boat is Michael’s shotgun in its case, but nothing else. Michael is nowhere to be found.
Investigators theorize that Michael could have possibly fallen into the water and with his heavy waders slowing him down he might have drowned. This was their most sound theory, but other things lurk in Lake Seminole.
Someone else theorized that Michael met a much more gruesome end — that he was eaten by one of the alligators that frequent the swampy lake. Is this really how Michael met his end?
Michael’s mother, Cheryl, is sick with worry. The weeks drag into months and she still hasn’t heard anything. She spent nearly every evening at the lake looking into the water, wondering where her son had gone. Then, one night while she was staring into the murky water, she saw something.
She heard a bubbling from the water, then something rose to the surface. She couldn’t believe her eyes, was she really seeing it, or had she gone mad from grief?
Like something out of a horror film, she saw it slowly drift right to the edge of the lake, Cheryl quickly snatched it out of the water. She held it close to her chest and started wailing.
She couldn’t believe it, how did it wash up months after her son had disappeared? She knew she had to figure it out.
What Cheryl had clutched in her hands was her son’s fishing hat that he always wore when he went out hunting. It was Michael’s, there was no doubt about it. But strangely enough, his fishing waders and his hunting vest with a soggy hunting license inside the pocket all surfaced on the lake shortly after the hat.
This was the complete set of clothes that Michael was wearing the day he disappeared, but there was something strange about them, something that Cheryl didn’t like.
The strangest thing about the clothing was that they were in remarkable condition when they were found. They would have been at the bottom of Lake Seminole for months before they surfaced.
Even his hunting license was fine, other than being soggy from the water. People believe that the license would have disintegrated after that much time underwater. But the widowed Denise didn’t seem to focus on that aspect of the find.
Denise had already moved on from Michael and had quickly remarried his best friend, Brian Winchester. This didn’t catch Michael’s mother, Cheryl, by surprise. She suspected the two were having an affair even before Michael’s disappearance.
The newlywed couple was all set with the insurance money that Denise got after Michael was pronounced deceased. His insurance money paid out an estimated $1.5 million to his widowed wife.
It infuriated Michael’s family that his former wife and best friend had gotten married when his death certificate was still wet with ink. But soon they’d find that their marriage wasn’t perfect.
It turns out that Brian Winchester was the person who sold Michael his life insurance, coincidence? regardless of this find, years passed, and it seemed that they couldn’t keep it going forever. Their facade would break away the moment Winchester was arrested…
Their sham of a marriage couldn’t last when Brian Winchester was arrested for threatening Denise. He waited in her car one night.
For his crimes, he was charged with aggravated assault, burglary, and kidnapping. This is where Cheryl hoped one of them would break and either confess or accuse the other of being involved in Michael’s disappearance. It was only a matter of time…
Denise’s now-teenage daughter that she had with Michael also wrote a letter, pleading to the judge to keep Brian locked away after what he did.
She wrote in the letter, “I am scared, my mom is scared, he had a gun, she is all I have, please don’t let him out, he will come for her, and then I will have no one.” Brian pled not guilty to any of the charges. Would this help shed light on Michael’s disappearance?
With Denise and her now teenage daughter both begging the judge to keep Brian in prison to live out his sentence. Cheryl hoped that in a desperate bid to keep him there. She would bring to light his involvement in Michael’s disappearance.
The only way for the case to ever be solved is for one of them to come forward. Without any other evidence, the chances are too slim and Cheryl knows that. But she will never give up, she said one day the truth will come forward and she’ll finally be able to sleep at night knowing what happened to her son. But until then, the mysterious disappearance of Jerry Michael Williams at Lake Seminole will be present in the minds’ of the fishermen and hunters that go to the lake today.