An investigator working with relatives of a missing Franklin Township woman provided more details about his investigation into her disappearance during an online broadcast on Sunday evening.
Billy Little Jr., an Arizona attorney, is working with relatives of Dee Ann Warner, who disappeared just over a year ago, to try to figure out what happened to her. Little said he and retired homicide detective Chris McDonough don’t take payment when working on cases like Warner’s to avoid accusations of bias. Little said they “started from scratch” conducting witness interviews, document and property reviews and gathering other information.
“There are witnesses to everything I shared,” Little said.
Little presented his case as what he and McDonough described as similar to closing arguments in a trial. Little appeared on McDonough’s show, “The Interview Room,” on YouTube. McDonough travels the country and focuses on “fascinating people and stories, unsolved crimes and mysteries, and gripping adventures,” according to his channel’s “about” information.
Little’s presentation focused primarily on Dee Warner’s husband, Dale Warner, their relationship, and what happened on April 24-25, 2021. While much of the evidence Little presented was circumstantial, he used an example of instructions that judges read to juries before beginning deliberations. to explain that jurors can consider circumstantial evidence as they would direct evidence.
Presentation of the file
Much of what Little presented was featured in a press release he issued just before the one-year anniversary of Warner’s disappearance, but he included some new details on Sunday. He described how the Warners met and had an office romance when they were each married to other people. They each divorced, then they married in 2006.
He said they each had goals for growing their farming and trucking businesses, but would have volatile arguments, even at work. He described incidents of domestic violence, but said Dee Warner never reported them to the police.
Little said Dale Warner engaged in stalking and trying to control Dee Warner behavior, such as installing a tracking device in her car, following her when she went to town, and leaving her iPad hidden at work with this one set to record audio.
“Funnily enough, the minute Dee Warner disappears, he no longer follows her,” Little said. “He doesn’t care where she is or what she’s doing anymore.”
Little dismissed claims he attributed to Dale Warner that Dee Warner had been to Mexico or Jamaica. He said there were no large withdrawals from his bank accounts before or after his disappearance, there was no activity on his credit cards, and his iPhone and Apple Watch, which were not were not found, both died at 2:30 a.m. on April 25. 2021. He said her passport was not used to enter another country and she did not travel by plane. None of their cars were missing.
The Warners’ home on Munger Road near Carson Highway, which sits next to their offices and farm buildings, has multiple surveillance cameras, Little said. Dee Warner is not seen driving off on any of them, and the only car seen passing was unrelated to her disappearance.
If Dee Warner had left, she would have left her and Dale’s then 9-year-old daughter.
“Every witness I spoke to who knew them said she would never leave that little girl with Dale,” Little said. “…One witness even said that never in a million years would she leave her with Dale.”
The last night Dee Warner was seen, a friend offered the girl to stay the night so Dee Warner could tell Dale she was getting a divorce and wanted to sell their businesses. Few said a tumultuous conversation was expected.
Later that night, Little says, the friend texted Dee, asking how she was doing. About 30 minutes later, Dee’s phone answer was “K”. Little said some people use “K” as shorthand for “OK,” but Dee didn’t.
Dee’s phone later that night switched from Wi-Fi to cellular, as if she had left their home, Little said. However, according to Dale, Dee was sleeping on the living room couch at 6 a.m. the next morning.
Little said, although Dale said he didn’t leave the house until 6 a.m., he knows that Dale left the house at 3 a.m. and returned at 4:30 a.m.
The next morning, a Sunday, one of Dee’s daughters and granddaughter stopped by at around 9:30 a.m. for breakfast and discovered that Dee was not there. Little said Dale didn’t call the friend to check on their daughter and instead worked all day in the fields.
A month after Dee was last seen, Little said, he took their daughter to Dee’s parents’ grave, took a photo of the girl there and sent it to Dee’s family. .
Little also described inconsistencies in what he said about Dale’s story about what happened that night. At first, Little says, Dale described the fight he and Dee had that night as the worst they had ever had. Later he said it hadn’t been that bad.
Dale, according to Little, said that after the fight, Dee lay down on the living room floor and he massaged her until she fell asleep, then he moved her to the couch. , where she was sleeping at 6 a.m. when he left the house. for spraying fertilizer on farm fields. However, when he left home, he forgot to feed their dogs and he forgot to take his Leatherman multi-tool with him, which Little described as unusual for someone who has gone to work in the fields many times. .
Also, that Sunday, Little says, Dale claims to have found Dee’s $50,000 wedding ring on his desk.
While Dale said he left the house at 6 a.m., Little said he didn’t arrive at the liquid fertilizer storage until 7:30 a.m.
Little spent a lot of time talking about how a car, a Hummer, was moved from near the rear sliding door to the living room, which was not frequently used, to the office building by a longer route around the house than the more direct route between home and office. The Hummer hadn’t moved in a while, and the longest route avoided the security cameras. He said tire tracks from Dale’s tractor with a front-end loader attachment were found where the Hummer had been parked near the house, as if it had been pulled near the living room door.
After Dee disappeared, in addition to finding her wedding ring, Little said, a large amount of cash was found in Dee’s office. He said Dale didn’t know he was there. Dale also changed the password to the security cameras on April 26 and secretly met with someone to learn how to operate the cameras.
Dale did not report Dee missing to police, Little said. When the police came to pick up Dee from Warner’s property, Dale initially let them look around, but after an hour they drove them away. He later authorized the repossession of Dee’s Cadillac Escalade and began transferring the assets of Dee’s trucking business. He hired a man with a criminal history of embezzlement to handle the company’s finances, Little said. Also, because the Warners’ businesses were a 50/50 partnership, Dale produced a power of attorney document dated 2014, but a handwriting expert determined that Dee’s signature was not written by her.
Little said he could not confirm a story that Dale, when police were initially searching the property, told police not to take their dogs into his fertilizer storage barn as it would kill the dogs. Little said he researched whether the nitrogen-based fertilizer would be toxic to dogs and found it wasn’t.
Little also said it was a coincidence when the police asked Dale to access his iPad, he went to unlock it with the fingerprint touch feature, but he told the police that his fingerprints had been burned by fertilizer.
“Dale’s story doesn’t match the facts that we know, and an hour and a half is missing that morning on top of other issues throughout the night,” Little said. “…There is more than enough circumstantial evidence in this case to decide what happened to Dee Warner.”
McDonough and Little said Dale Warner was welcome on the show anytime.
Little said he shared his findings with local investigators, and McDonough shared Detective Kevin Greca’s phone number with the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office, 517-264-5364, so people can call with tips. Little said police are doing forensic examinations of things like Dale’s iPad, which he doesn’t have access to. He said the sheriff’s office, Michigan State Police and FBI task created in March was a “big positive step.”
“I think the sheriff, himself, really wants to solve this case,” Little said. “…Anything we can offer to help them, that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
“The real stumbling block here is getting a prosecutor to move this case forward,” Little said, responding to a viewer’s question about calling a grand jury. “That could be the hurdle here. If this becomes an obstacle, we will address it.
Lenawee County District Attorney Burke Castleberry said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation.
Little’s team and law enforcement are continuing to investigate, Little and McDonough said.
“There’s a lot of things they do and some things we do that I’d rather not discuss,” Little said. “I don’t want to bow our hands.”
To watch the episode of “The Interview Room” on the Dee Warner case, go to youtu.be/O8hFPKBKPfw.