This is Gator country a beautiful but treacherous stretch of swamp near Tallahassee the blood runs cold and the powerful reptiles that rule the water here but is Mike Williams the victim of another kind of cold-blooded killer alligators don't just consume people hold the glistening waters of Florida's Lake Seminole just outside of.
Tallahassee had always been a favorite spot for Michael a man who seemed to have it all a successful career in real estate a beautiful wife a sweet young daughter and a longtime love for duck hunting friends say Mike would grab any chance to hunt even if he had to sit alone in his boat on Seminole Lake it was not unusual for Michael to go.
Hunting by himself then one December morning is a whipping cold front was tearing it to Tallahassee Mike grabs his shotgun and heads out to the lake a lot of ducks here a lot of dogs what about alligators there's alligators too likes Emma know has quite yes here Mike promises his adoring wife Denise.
He'll be back by noon after all it's a special day the loving couple is celebrating their 6th wedding anniversary I said so what are you doing this weekend he says Denise and I are having a wedding anniversary we're gonna go down to it's a little bed-and-breakfast and just kind of relax and kick back and I.
Said sounds great I like Denise I thought she was perfect for Michael he gave her everything gave her everything she wanted she doesn't have to work after the baby was born but it's well past noon now Mike hasn't returned home from his hunting trip daylight curls into darkening skies and Denise becomes frantic he had a cell phone he was an.
Internet she phones her dad and friends rendezvous at the lake Brian Winchester Mike's best buddy and Denise's dad lead the desperate search at dusk for her missing husband it was still very windy cold storm had just blown through the temperature plummeted to 19 degrees which made searching very difficult you got rain.
You've got extremely high winds Florida Fish and Wildlife officer David Arnett was the first investigator called to the scene and I was told we had a missing boater on Lake Seminole the search is called off for the night but the next day they get their first break into Mike's mysterious disappearance they find his boat you're pretty certain that.
This is where he launched the boat yes there's no question about the boat being launched here due to the fact that his truck and trailer was right here also and where was the boat found from here the boat was found approximately 300 yards to our right it was apparent that it had been launched by one individual the way the boat had been turned around.
And apparently pushed out Mike's shotgun was there still in its case there was some decoys on top of some other equipment but there was no Mike search and rescue divers choppers and hundreds of hours of manpower by law enforcement agencies over weeks then months are spent scouring the lake looking for Mike hoping by some miracle.
He's still alive but tragically it became all too clear at that point it seemed to be a more of a recovery type search than than looking for somebody who was in distress and they were treating this as an accident Mike had fallen over Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators believed he had been pulled under by the weight of his.
Fisherman's waders and drowned in the shallow depths of alligator infested waters when you arrived here did you think it was anything but a hunter who fell in the water no not at all everything indicated that the boater had fell out of the boat and possibly drowned there was no other indication of anything else.
But that just didn't hold water with Mike's grieving mom I don't have a body I don't have anything to tell me what happened to my son supposedly alligators agent a potential feast of flesh for a ferocious congregation of cold-blooded reptiles but Mike's mom says there is one big problem and it has to do with the.
Weather remember it was bitterly cold that day alligators do not eat in cold water alligators don't eat people hole if they do attack they chew on people they tear arms and legs or whatever but this always parts found after an alligator attack but not an odd human bone nor a shred of human flesh has ever surfaced.
From those muddy waters and there's something else nobody remember seeing Mike at the lake that morning did these cold-blooded carnivores consume Mike Williams after he accidentally fell out of his boat and drowned or was the successful handsome 31 year old husband father and seasoned duck hunter the victim of foul play the search for Mike.
Williams was exhaustive there were divers in the water helicopters above search crews on the ground with dogs and they searched for 44 days more than 700 man hours and they never did find Mike or his body incredibly investigators believe there may have been nothing left of Mike after the alligators his heartbroken mother is tortured by that.
Thought but says it wasn't the Gators that got her son how did you die we're going to was it quick it's horrible every single person that went missing on that Lake had been found recovered whatever this was extremely unusual adding to the mystery Special Agent Devaney is told alligators.
Become zombie like they almost hibernate and don't really eat in wintertime word got out that maybe Mike was eaten by alligators a lot of people just assumed that's what happened to Mike however a lot of the folks who had been around alligators who had been around this Lake rather discounted that because alligators don't eat people whole then.
After months of searching for Mike a strange clue suddenly surfaces all of a sudden a hat appears but why wasn't a hat found during that 10 day time trick it was floating on the surface again real close to the area where Mike put in his boat people couldn't quite figure that out they turned to Mike's best buddy Brian Winchester Mike's friend.
Brian Winchester examined the hat and he told the folks this looks like a hat Mike may have owned but agent Devaney says a DNA test is inconclusive very suspicious things get even stranger when a fisherman scoops up a pair of waders they're the same kind Mike was wearing when he fell overboard but there's something mysterious about them.
Too let's talk about the mystery when you found the waders was there any remnant of a human being in there there's you know no body parts in there there's no sign where an alligator has toll on the waders whatsoever they were completely intact what do you make of that this was six months after the initial search started.
And you wonder how did we miss this all this time we can't connect the dots there a short time later divers at the scene pull up Mike's hunting jacket his hunting license is still legible even his flashlight is still working after six months in the water wasn't that proof that he probably did drown the.
Condition of these items were so pristine that there was no way that they would have been at the bottom of this lake which is mossy and algae coated they were too new they were so clearly planted Jennifer Portman is the news director at the Tallahassee Democrat she'd never heard about the case until six years after Mike mysteriously went.
Missing what is it that got you interested well I was actually reading our newspaper and saw an advertisement that said have you seen my son and it was this narrative that went down written by Cheryl Williams her son had disappeared at Lake Seminole they said he was eaten by alligators it was this incredible mystery I couldn't believe it.
You see Mike's mom Cheryl never gave up hope of finding her beloved son she took out full-page ads in the newspaper and on billboards asking the public for help she even took to the streets calling for a criminal investigation but Mike's mom says her pleas fell on deaf ears all the way up to the governor's office I had to write the story and so I went ahead and.
Started reporting it so what is it that you found interesting in it the alligators eating immediately was the thing that you know as a reporter I was like what it just seemed so bizarre and then I started going through the reporting of it and the record was so thin but there were these clues and because of course he died without a will.
So the wife declaring him dead after six months never finding the body it just all seemed very strange so why do you think it didn't get as much news attention at the time he was looked at as someone who drowned in Lake Seminole we had a brief in the newspaper was never followed up at the time his wife Denise Williams was not interested in.
Publicity and so it just kind of disappeared friends and family say Mike's wife Denise was devastated after all she was only 31 a widow with a young daughter to raise alone she and Mike had dated since the ninth grade at a private Christian school it was almost cliche he was a football jock and she was a cheerleader he wanted more out of life.
Than he had growing up Mike was on the fast track of success he held down two jobs through college one was with Ketchum Real Estate Appraisers would you say that Mike Williams was a successful businessman if you measure success by money he was successful he was successful in that he had a beautiful wife and he had his daughter Ansley that.
He dearly loved so yeah I think by most standards he would be successful normally in Florida you have to wait five years before a missing person can be legally declared dead but just six months after Denise's husband vanished without a trace she asked for the state to issue his death certificate I had no idea I was.
Shocked and what was the evidence Denise used to convince a judge her husband met his demise at the bottom of the lake his hunting jacket hunting license a working flashlight and the pristine pair of waders with no alligator holes you think this evidence was planted we're convinced the evidence was planted.
Cheryl's crusade to open a criminal probe seem to enrage her daughter-in-law after Mike disappeared she threatened to me she said if you do anything to get a criminal investigation you're going to lose access to Ansley my granddaughter I'd already lost my husband I lost Michael and now she's telling me I'm gonna lose Ansley I said what if.
That were Ansley missing would you not look for her she said that's different I have to go on with my life I don't ever want to hear Mike's name I don't ever want to see Mike's face to this day a heartbroken Cheryl hasn't seen her adorable granddaughter it was time for me to have a chat with Denise.
Denise okay let's go then crime watch daily sent a producer back to her house but when she saw us coming Denise took off out of the driveway did alligator's really devour duck hunter Mike Williams or did Mike fall victim to another kind of maneater I believe he was killed and I believe his body was taken somewhere else and I believe his truck and boat.
Was left over there staged over there how much insurance money did his wife get there were two insurance policies one that was written about six months before he went missing that was for 1.5 million dollars we don't know if Mike ever knew that this insurance policy was taken out though it was filled out as if it was him.
Retired Jackson County Sheriff Derrick Webster inherited the case four years after Mike vanished I hadn't been for his mother a criminal investigation would have never been open it would have been a missing person that was never found it was Mike's widow Denise who was the beneficiary of a huge life insurance policy you encouraged Mike to buy as.
Much life insurance as possible sure his old boss clay Ketchum was like a father to Mike and he said what would be your advice and I said Mike given your age at life and given your risky behavior I would buy all the life insurance I could what was Brian Winchester's role in all of this Brian Winchester sold insurance.
Brian Winchester was close pals with Mike and Denise is that suspicious to me yeah Brian Winchester had someone in my life as sure as positive the suspicion is is that his wife went ahead and did this with Brian and Mike was unaware of it Cley catch them said alarm bells went off for him too when Mike first went.
Missing Brian Winchester called me he said there's a new development and the Game and Fish Commission or FWC believes that he may have been eaten by an alligator you thought it was possible that he drowned until you heard the alligators story yeah the alligator story was when I.
Started wondering as to whether Mike was really in that light there was another thing investigators found curious Mike's shotgun the one that was found in the empty boat it's not for duck hunting and Ketchum says Mike kept all his guns in the office for safety to enter after hours a personal password is needed to turn off the alarm.
Do you have any record or any way of knowing whether he actually came in here to get his shotgun I can't tell you Mike Williams came in here I can tell you that the door opened Mike Williams code was inserted catch some regrets never telling investigators at the time that Mike had a terrible secret weighing on his shoulders the seemingly perfect.
Marriage to his high school sweetheart Denise was on the rocks Mike had confided in me 30 days prior to his disappearance that there was some issues within the marriage what kind of problems were Mike and his wife having you know I don't really know it had something to do with finances I know that and it was having to do with a.
Credit-card charge and it exceeded the limit that Mike and Denise had set for themselves and that was bothersome bothersome in watch in which way I mean my guess is it wasn't Mike who charged the money and that it wasn't something that he would have necessarily agreed to I think it had to do with though like a trust issue.
The huge life-insurance policies would likely assure Denise that she'd never have to pinch pennies again but there was another theory that surfaced about what could have happened to Mike did he fake his own death it wasn't long after his disappearance several folks raised the idea that because of Mike's good salary at that age could he have used.
Some of that money just to leave start a new life if people knew Mike you know that's really kind of a stupid thing to say Mike was extremely devoted to his daughter Ansley when he disappeared in Mike's bond with his mother and his and his brother you know extremely strong the ink was barely dry on Mike's death.
Certificate when his mom found out that her daughter-in-law was having a torrid affair with her son's best friend Brian Winchester we were told only most occasions that Brian and Denise were having affair before he went missing long before the husband went missing he in fact Brian Winchester actually got a divorce and married his best friend's.
Wife there's enough pain here with the disappearance of your brother but add to that his wife then goes and marries his best friend and then they are living in your brother's old house there's a lot of anger because I know they're sitting in over a million dollars was it like a dagger in the heart when she married your brother's best friend it was it.
Seemed the grieving widow was now the merry widow with a new hubby the Gators didn't do it so was Mike Williams a successful real estate executive loving husband and father murdered for his money a question came up when his spouse started to inquire about obtaining the insurance monies during the search Mike's mother and.
Brother say his widow Denise has been living on easy street since she collected at least 1.5 million dollars in death benefits when we were talking about who stood to benefit from Mike Williams being declared dead it looks like it would have been his wife right there were two insurance policies one that was written about six months before.
He went missing by his best friend Brian Winchester that was for 1.5 million dollars what would be the words to describe this I think it definitely raises eyebrows as to maybe what was going on surrounding Mike's disappearance adding to the suspicions Denise marries the man who wrote those.
Insurance policies Mike's best friend Brian Winchester then she reportedly cuts the family cord with Mike's mom and big brother Nick it makes it seem so calculated it does would you ever call Denise Williams the grieving widow how it's been characterized to me is she was not that way that she moved on pretty swiftly and was ready to just put Mike.
Behind her initially investigators looked at the case as a tragic boating accident Mike possibly drowned and his corpse was eaten by alligators but there are a bunch of clues from the scene that don't add up one his boat was found with a full tank of gas like it had never been used that day to the shotgun Mike's brother says it was not the one Mike.
Used to hunt ducks three his gear Mike's jacket waders even his hunting license were not found until six months after Mike disappeared and despite all that time in the water they were all in pristine addition not a single tooth mark from an alligator and number four is the biggest mystery there was not a shred of Mike.
And piecing together what appears to be a pretty sinister strange story there is no physical evidence so at every turn it's really tough the no arrests are made no suspects are named because all you can get is this story that seems suspicious but it doesn't kind of cross that line into where you can actually take any action with it.
Investigators launched an insurance probe but couldn't prove anything underhanded what they were trying to do was prove insurance fraud and that would involve that he was killed to get the money but Nick believes there may be a reason why his brother's best friend married his former sister-in-law and he says it wasn't just for love they were.
Actually married and so no I wasn't really shocked just because if they were involved in killing my collecting all this insurance they want to get married and not have to testify against each other one day despite Mike's brothers allegations Brian Winchester has never been charged or named as a suspect in Mike Williams mysterious.
Disappearance I wanted to get his side of the story so I went to Brian's Insurance office Brian Winchester it's Anna Garcia from crime watch daily Brian guess he's not here shortly after my visit we find out there is big trouble in his marriage with Denise Winchester is arrested for allegedly kidnapping.
Denise and holding her at gunpoint in her car he was reportedly distraught over their impending divorce he allegedly tells her he's going to kill himself this is Denise at her estranged husband's arraignment recounting to the court her day of Terror he was waiting for me in the back of my car with a gun.
He grabbed the steering wheel he shoved the gun in my rib cage screaming profanities uncontrollably at me I will never be the same I would never anyone I can't sleep I can't eat because I only see him all rising up out of the back of the car because all I feel is the gun shoved in my ribs I can't have peace because I.
Only hear his voice screaming and cussing at me please don't let him out Denyce also reads a plea from her now teenaged daughter she had with Mike Williams begging the judge to keep her stepfather behind bars she is all I have please don't let him out he will come for her and I will have no one I am going to find probable cause as to the.
Three arrest charges of kidnapping aggravated assault with a deadly weapon Brian Winchester has pleaded not guilty to these charges but Mike's family is wondering if this could be the break homicide detectives have been waiting for Mike's brother is hoping one of them will now break their silence I think it's just gonna take a confession from.
One of them to to crack the case the chances of this ever being solved are so slim unless whoever was involved in this ends up confessing if Brian and Denise were standing right here with me I would tell them I don't know why they're not cooperating with the law enforcement people and I don't know why they're not offering some type.
Of reward if you've got that kind of life insurance money certainly you could participate in the solving of this case and if it was my wife who was missing and I had the resources I would not stop until we got a solution to it and that's strange to me Denise has never been charged in Mike's disappearance Mike's mother would love to be able to ask her.
Former daughter-in-law what she knows but denise is not talking to her or anybody in Mike's family you think someone killed him I think it's very possible somebody killed him I only have two choices where Mike's concerns he can be dead or I can hold that hope but he's alive somewhere and right now until somebody can bring me absolute.
When it proof that Michael is dead I'm gonna believe that it's gonna come home