Mystery on Lake Seminole : Mike Williams
Missing since March 15, 2000
31-year-old Jerry Michael Williams is a successful businessman in Tallahassee when he reportedly goes out on a solo duck-hunting trip to Lake Seminole and disappears. Searchers find his truck, his boat and his shotgun, but they can't find Mike. It is assumed he is the victim of a tragic boating accident but officials are perplexed that his body doesn't surface. Mike is the only drowning victim on the Lake who has never come up. Lake Seminole is infested with alligators, and some of the searchers begin to pass along a frightening theory of what might have happened to Mike. They tell his mother that alligators must have eaten him. But she doesn't buy that explanation. While she hopes her son is alive she begins to think he may have been the victim of murder, not misadventure.
When odd items like a pair of waders, a jacket and a hunting license with Mike's name on it, suddenly pop up on the lake six months after Mike disappears, insurance investigators begin to ask questions. Just a week after they are found, Mike's wife uses the discoveries, as evidence to back up her petition in probate court to have Mike declared legally dead. The judge grants her request, and Mike's widow receives all of Mike's assets and cashes in on life insurance worth at least one and a half million dollars. She later marries Mike's best friend, the insurance agent who sold Mike a million dollar policy just six months before he went missing.
Mike's mother lobbies law officials to investigate Mike's disappearance. It takes three and half years, but finally the Florida Department of Law Enforcement picks up the case and opens an investigation. Other agencies join in but though they find lots of grounds for suspicion of foul play they don't have much hard evidence to go on. All these years later, Mike's widow and best friend aren't talking. Most daunting of all there is no body, no trace at all of Mike. Without proof of foul play, an insurance fraud investigation sputters and dies. Yet investigators become more convinced than ever that Mike Williams is a victim of foul play and that the original story that Mike disappeared on Lake Seminole was an elaborate setup, created to distract law enforcement and his family from the truth about what really happened to him.