Saturday, April 06, 2002

Search on for missing man

Family hires investigators; Covington scoured

The Associated Press

        COVINGTON — Covington police searched Friday for an Alabama manufacturing magnate's 26-year-old son who disappeared early Thursday.

        Friends told police that Lon Robert Dowdle didn't return after walking outside a downtown restaurant about 2:30 a.m.

        His father, Walter Dowdle, has hired private investigators and is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his son. The younger Dowdle is a sales representative for his family's manufacturing business, Madix Store Fixtures, which has factories in Alabama, Texas and England.

        Police borrowed a helicopter from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department and scoured the area Friday afternoon, said Covington Assistant Police Chief Jim Liles. Three or four patrolmen searched the city for Mr. Dowdle on Friday and two investigators are on the case, Mr. Liles said. Mr. Liles said there is a huge park near where Mr. Dowdle disappeared.

        “We're handling it as a critical missing,” Mr. Liles said. “It's definitely a strange disappearance. The parents are very, very worried and upset.”

        The man who last saw Lon Dowdle, John Dark, told Walter Dowdle that after visiting some downtown bars, the two took a cab to a Waffle House, said Covington Detective Richard Webster. Mr. Dowdle got out of the cab, walked around the corner of the building and hasn't been seen since, according to Mr. Dark.

        Assistant Chief Liles said the family has signed a missing-person report. Police don't know what led to Mr. Dowdle's appearance. He was reported missing by Mr. Dark about six hours after he disappeared behind the building, Mr. Liles said.


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