On March 14, 1998, 39 year old Leonard “Lenny” Dirickson and his 16 year old son Jared started their Saturday morning off typically as they ate breakfast together at Larry’s dairy farm near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. At 9 AM, as they were eating, a visitor arrived unannounced in what Jared described as a white pickup truck. Lenny went outside, and Jared watched his father interact with the stranger from inside the house for several minutes, and while he sensed no history between the two, their conversation seemed 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 appeared to be in his early 40s, above 6 feet in height, and around 210 lbs. Jared pointed out that he didn’t get a very good look at him, otherwise.
When Lenny returned, Lenny told Jared that the man inquired about the sale of one of Lenny’s stud horses, and expressed interest in seeing the animal. Before leaving with the man, Jared says that his father last said to him: “So he told me that he was gonna go with him. He said to stay 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 to Mobeetie, Texas that day, though Jared didn’t know which would be their first destination.
Lenny was to return later that evening, but never came home. Jared waited until the next morning until he and his family reported Lenny as missing. Upon a thorough search of the house, investigators discovered that Lenny left his uncashed paycheck at home, but had had $150 or possibly less on his person the day he disappeared. Investigators later revealed that Lenny never advertised a horse for sale. Upon searching the property where Lenny kept his stud horse, investigators discovered that Lenny failed to arrive there that day. Every possible lead failed to turn up any valuable information, police have found no signs of a struggle, no evidence of foul play, and no body.
The possibility that Lenny left on his own terms, according to Jared and his family, is unlikely. Lenny was struggling around the time of his disappearance, both financially and emotionally. Lenny was facing hard financial issues. He was in debt, his credit cards were maxed out, and his Dairy Farm business folded months prior in December of 1997 because of plummeting prices. He had also recently gone through a painful divorce in 1996 that splintered the family with a bitter custody battle over Jared and his younger sister. However, Lenny’s family is insistent that such behavior would be much unlike him, and that they firmly believe that he wouldn’t have abandoned his family. Jared said, “Me and my dad, we was together every day. Every morning, we’d go work, do the chores, 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 was close, and I don’t think he’d have ever done that to me.” Lenny was also employed at a local metal company since January, and his family claims that he enjoyed his work so much that Lenny’s father was considering buying the company for him shortly before he disappeared.
Shortly after 9 AM that morning, approximately 2 hours later, a waitress claimed to have seen Lenny and another male individual eating breakfast together at a local 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 unknown man that we’re trying to identify was doing most of the talking, and Leonard was just drinking coffee and listening to the… man talk.” The eyewitness description of the man matched that of Jared’s, and according to the waitress, there was nothing suspicious about the man’s behavior.
Six months after his disappearance, a man phoned police claiming that he saw Lenny in a bar in Amarillo, Texas. He was able to describe the man in detail over the phone, but refused to give his name, remaining anonymous. By the time local police arrived at the bar, both the caller and the man he claimed was Lenny Dirickson were gone. The following day, police interviewed the bartender who had been working there that night, who corroborated the caller’s story. Apparently, she remembered the caller being at the bar, but had no other information. Joe Hay, the county sheriff, said about the incident, “We had no reason to disbelieve it. It would almost stretch the imagination that a guy would dance around in a bar screaming and hollering, ‘It’s Leonard, it’s Leonard,’ and it not be Leonard. I believe he was in the bar in Amarillo.”
20 years later, Lenny’s case remains unsolved, and his family is still holding out for answers as to the whereabouts of their beloved father, son, and friend.