Husband charged with murder more than two years after his wife vanished in Michigan

The husband of a woman who vanished in 2021 was charged in her murder Wednesday after authorities spent hundreds of hours investigating the case but failed to find her body, police said.

Dale Warner, 55, was arrested at home Tuesday and arraigned Wednesday on one count of open murder and one count of tampering in the disappearance of Dee Ann Warner, 52, Michigan State Police said in a news release.

Dee Ann Warner. Rikkell Bock Bond was set at $20 million, the agency said.

State police officials said investigators had “pieced together a very difficult case” with “unique challenges” because Dee Warner’s body has not been found.

“We will continue our efforts to bring closure to the family and to find Dee Warner’s remains so that her family can lay her to rest,” said Capt. Steve O’Neill, a state police commander.

The agency did not identify a possible motive or provide details about evidence that helped identify Dale Warner as a suspect. A police spokesperson declined to comment.

In a statement to NBC’s “Dateline,” Warner’s lawyers said a fair and objective review of the evidence will show that their client did not kill his wife. The lawyers intend to “vigorously fight” the charges, the statement added.

In an interview with “Dateline” after the arrest, Dee Warner’s brother, Gregg Hardy, said it was “horrible” to be at odds with a person he has known his whole life. His sister was married to Dale Warner for 15 years.

“I have to stay focused on the reality that it happened,” Hardy said. “Sometimes it feels almost impossible that it could have happened, but I stay focused on the facts that demonstrate that it did happen and who did it. And I’m a firm believer in justice.”

“The pain has not gone away,” he added. “The actual event that took place and not having any closure to that is haunting for the family. We have all, I believe, resigned ourselves to the fact that there’s no other option than she has been killed and her body some way hidden or destroyed by Mr. Warner.” 

Dee Warner, a mother of five who ran a trucking company and a farming business, was last seen by her husband on the morning of April 25. Three of her adult children reported her missing the same day.

Lenawee County Sheriff Troy Bevier told “Dateline” last year that there had been a business dispute among her, her husband and one or two employees the night she disappeared.

At the time, Bevier said investigators were following up on the lead, according to “Dateline.”

Tim Stelloh

Tim Stelloh is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

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