On March 14, 1998, 39-year-old Leonard “Lenny” Dirickson and his 16-year-old son Jared began their Saturday morning off normally as they ate breakfast together at Larry’s dairy farm near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. At 9 AM, as they were eating, a visitor entered unannounced in what Jared interpreted as a white pickup truck.
Lenny went outside, and Jared saw his dad interact with the stranger from inside the house for many minutes, and while he sensed no past between the two, their discussion looked friendly. The stranger was described by Jared as a Caucasian male with a full, reddish beard, who wore a baseball hat with the words “No Fear” printed on the front. He seemed to be in his early 40s, above 6 feet in height, and around 210 lbs. Jared pointed out that he didn’t get a relatively good look at him, otherwise.
Lenny Came Back
When Lenny came back, Lenny told Jared that the man inquired about the sale of one of Lenny’s stud horses, and implied interest in watching the animal. Before leaving with the man, Jared says that his dad last said to him: “So he told me that he was gonna go with him. He said to wait here and… get some feed and go feed the cows, and he’d be back that afternoon.” Lenny was to travel to Elk City, Oklahoma, and Mobeetie, Texas that day, though Jared didn’t realize which would be their first destination.
Lenny was to return later that evening but never came back home. Jared stayed until the next morning until he and his family reported Lenny as missing. Upon a comprehensive search of the home, investigators found out that Lenny left his uncashed paycheck at the house, but had had $150 or probably less on his person the day he vanished.
Investigators later disclosed that Lenny never advertised a horse for sale. Upon scouring the property where Lenny kept his stud-horse, detectives found out that Lenny failed to reach there that day. Every possible lead failed to turn up any useful information, police have found no indications of a battle, no evidence of foul play, and nobody.
The likelihood that Lenny left on his terms, according to Jared and his family, is uncertain. Lenny was struggling around the time of his disappearance, both financially and emotionally. Lenny was encountering tough financial issues.
He was in deficit, his credit cards were maxed out, and his Dairy Farm business folded months before in December of 1997 because of falling prices. He had also recently gone through a depressing divorce in 1996 that cracked the family with a bitter custody conflict over Jared and his younger sister. Nonetheless, Lenny’s family is insistent that such an attitude would be much unlike him, and that they believe that he wouldn’t have abandoned his family.
Jared said, “Me and my father, we were together every day. Every morning, we’d go to work, do the duties, and I’d go to school. I don’t think he would’ve ever left me and not ever come back to see me or nothing, ’cause…we were close, and I don’t feel he’d have ever done that to me.” Lenny was also employed at a regional metal company since January, and his family contends that he enjoyed his work so much that Lenny’s dad was deemed buying the company for him soon before he vanished.
After 9 Am
Soon after 9 AM that morning, a waitress claimed to have noticed Lenny and another male person eating breakfast together at a regional coffee shop. Clif Gann, an inspector for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, says of the sighting, “
They were sitting there in the restaurant. And the anonymous man that we’re striving to recognize was doing most of the talking, and Leonard was just drinking coffee and listening to the… man talk.” The eyewitness explanation of the man fitted that of Jared’s, and according to the waitress, there was nothing controversial about the man’s behavior.
Six months after his disappearance, a man called police claiming that he saw Lenny in a bar in Amarillo, Texas. He was able to characterize the man in detail over the phone but declined to give his name, remaining unidentified.
By the time local police reached the bar, both the caller and the man he claimed was Lenny Dirickson was gone. The next day, police questioned the bartender who had been working there that night, who substantiated the caller’s story. She recalled the caller being at the bar but had no other data. Joe Hay, the county sheriff, said about the incident, “We had no justification to disbelieve it. It would nearly stretch the imagination that a guy would dance around in a bar screaming and hollering, ‘It’s Leonard, it’s Leonard,’ and it was not Leonard. I reckon he was in the bar in Amarillo.”
20 years later, Lenny’s case stays unsolved, and his family is still holding out for explanations as to the whereabouts of their beloved dad, son, and friend.