(NewsNation) — For more than 14 months, the family of a Michigan woman has been hoping for answers about what happened to the mother of five.
Dee Warner, 52, has four grown children and another daughter from her second marriage to Dale Warner. She vanished April 24, 2021.
“My mom was a very outgoing, a fun life-of-the-party type person,” said Warner’s daughter, Rikkell Bock. “We were her world. Her kids were everything to her and her grandkids.”
Signs with her name serve as reminders around rural Lenawee County, Michigan, as well as a giant billboard that reads ”Help Dale find Dee.”
But Dee Warner’s daughter says her mom and stepfather had been fighting a lot about their farm and trucking business. And on the night Warner disappeared, she made arrangements for her 9-year-old to stay with a friend.
“I knew that they were fighting Saturday about the employees, and I knew it was going to escalate Saturday night,” Bock said. “She told me that she wanted to divorce and she wanted to leave and she wanted to sell her trucking company and be done. He knew that if she sold the trucking company, there would be no more ag farms — nothing, nothing left.”
She says Dale Warner admitted they fought but said they had smoothed things over.
“He said that Saturday night,” Bock said. “She ended up letting him rub her back and she fell asleep on the ground. He picked her up and put her on the couch. I just knew that she wouldn’t have calmed down enough to have to let him rub her back.”
Dee’s brother, Gregg Hardy, believes it was an argument between Dale and Dee that turned deadly. He does not believe his sister is still alive.
“She has been murdered in my opinion. Unfortunately, we have not been able to recover her remains,” Hardy said.
Attorney Larry Leib represents Dale Warner, who police have labeled as a person of interest in the case.
“There may have been an argument of some sort; it was nothing out of the ordinary,” Leib said.
He added that, “Dale Warner has been open. He’s been available. He’s been approachable. He’s been talked to by the FBI, the state police, the sheriff’s department multiple times. They visited all these properties, his home, his office, barns. They’ve even gone out into the fields.”
Leib maintains that Dale Warner is innocent and says his Apple Watch can prove it.
“The biomechanics showed that he had no elevated heart rate, no elevated breathing. The GPS showed that he was where he said he was, which was at home,” Leib said.
Leib and Dale Warner have an alternate theory. They say a note written by Dee Warner and found in her nightstand shows she was thinking about leaving.
“I know I have to make a change,” it says. “I don’t know what direction it will be, but I do know that if I don’t soon then I will wreck myself … I really want to love life again. Smile again. Feel love again.”
According to Leib, Dale Warner said his wife always talked about going to Mexico or Jamaica.
“He thinks she decided to go where she would be comfortable and not be found,” Leib said.
He says the company records show Dee Warner was preparing for awhile.
“Dee ran the businesses, she diverted money to various accounts, she had an off-book bank account in which money was transferred to cash. We believe that she planned on leaving, she didn’t tell anybody,” Leib said.
Hardy calls Dale’s story “totally bogus” and says he believes police bought into it and did not pressure Dale for answers. To him, justice for his sister looks like the arrest and conviction of Dale.
The sheriff’s office told NewsNation that their investigators have searched several properties in connection to the case, totaling more than 1,000 acres overall.
Meanwhile, Bock is adamant her mother would never have left or have stayed away so long.
“I know that if my mom was still alive, she would have contacted one of us. She would have never left my little sister with him ever,” Bock said.
Dee Warner’s family marked the one-year anniversary of her disappearance with a vigil in April.
Insisting it’s far from a cold case, authorities say they won’t stop until they get resolution for Dee’s family.
The FBI, Michigan State Police and the sheriff’s office have teamed up to look into new search warrants related to the case. They are also using tips and information from the public.
Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Ofice at 517-263-0524.