Monday, August 21, 2017

Mystery Monday: Dave Bocks

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...

In 1984, Fernald Feed Materials Production Center was in trouble. The processing facility was found to be leaking uranium dust into the environment, causing contamination of the surrounding area. That same year, a tragedy occurred on the site that some have linked to the environmental issues the plant was facing at the time.

Dave Bocks was a 39-year-old pipe fitter who had worked at the company for three years. 

On a late Sunday night, June 18, 1984, Dave met a coworker named Harry Easterling at a restaurant. They usually met in the parking lot, where Dave left his car and rode with Harry to the plant. They were two of very few employees working the nightshift there.

Harry Easterling. Image credit: Unsolved Mysteries

Dave reported to work at midnight, where he was assigned to handle a job at Building 8. As was customary, he left his lock and keys on top of his toolbox, which remained in the main building. Harry was assigned to a different area.

Around 4 a.m., a witness reports seeing Dave in his supervisor's truck, having a "serious discussion." Despite the fact that it was a very hot evening, the truck's windows were rolled up.

Recreation courtesy Unsolved Mysteries

That same witness reported seeing Dave an hour later, walking toward Plant 4, which seemed odd since he'd been assigned to Plant 8. It was the last time Dave Bocks was seen alive.

Dave Bocks

At the end of his shift, Harry couldn't find his carpooler, but he saw his toolbox was still open with his lock and keys on top. He assumed he was working late, left a message with the security guard, and left without him.

Recreation courtesy Unsolved Mysteries

Approximately 7:30 that morning, a furnace operator in Plant 6 in told his supervisor there was a sticky residue on his furnace's casings. There was also a strange odor coming from the furnace. After a quick look, the supervisor told the furnace operator to get back to work.

Recreation courtesy Unsolved Mysteries

Harry showed up at the usual meeting spot that night and found his friend's car abandoned. The hood wasn't warm. At the plant, he notified supervisors Dave was missing. After looking into it, plant management noticed that at 5:15 a.m. on the morning Dave disappeared, the temperature in the furnace in question plunged 28 degrees below its constant 1300-degree temperature. This is the same effect they would see if something was dropped into the furnace.

Additionally, a bone fragment was found on the lip of the furnace. The sheriff's department launched an investigation, shutting the furnace down. Once the furnace cooled, investigators found bone fragments, two-way radio pieces, a pair of eyeglasses, and Dave's keys. Harry Easterling swore those keys were in Dave's box at the end of his shift at 7:30 a.m. that morning. So how had they gotten into the furnace at 5:15 a.m.?

Recreation courtesy Unsolved Mysteries

What happened to Dave Bocks? Police ruled it suicide. He left three children and an ex-wife behind who said he wouldn't have taken his own life, although he tried once before, following his 1979 divorce. 

Was he killed for being a whistleblower about safety issues at the plant? The safety issues were already known. Was he murdered for some other reason? What do you think?