Dale Wayne Eaton Sentenced To Death, A death warrant hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14 for Dale Wayne Eaton, the only inmate on Wyoming’s death row. Eaton was sentenced to death for the 1988 rape and murder of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell of Billings, Mont. The U.S. Supreme court has declined to review his case.
Eaton’s attorney asked the court earlier this year to bar his execution because of Eaton’s mental status, but the judge said that there was no indication that Eaton isn’t currently competent, nor was there any indication that he wasn’t competent at the time of his trial.
Kimmell went missing while driving from Colorado to Cody. A fisherman found her body floating in the North Platte River eight days later. She had been raped, hit in the head and stabbed before being thrown from a bridge. DNA evidence led to charges against Eaton in 2003.
Detective John Zerga says Eaton, who was convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Lisa Marie Kimmell in the Lil’ Miss case, has always been on the list of suspects. Eaton’s execution was stayed last year and he isn’t talking. But Zerga says a tip from Eaton’s brother may help prove he was in the Lander area when Bechtel went missing.
“We’ve talked with his family members, we’ve talked with some FBI profilers,” he says, “some cold case workers in Colorado, the detectives that did the Lil’ Miss case, and we believe through all our interviews there’s a good reason to believe Dale was involved with this.”
Zerga says the profilers believe Eaton could also be a good match for the Great Basin Serial Killer responsible for a slew of murders of women in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado in the 80s and 90s. Zerga added that detectives plan to pursue another lead from a woman claiming to be psychic surrounding two possible areas of in interest near where Bechtel disappeared.
“This summer, we had a tip come in. It was a gal, she said she’s a psychic. And she took us to two areas up there that she felt that we should search,” says Zerga, “And I don’t know how their psychic stuff works or what it does, but granted, we follow up on all information that comes in.”
Zerga says they’ll take cadaver dogs to search the area once the snow melts.
Lisa Marie Kimmell was from Billings, MT headed to her boyfriends house in March of 1988, when something went awry. For eight (8) days, Lisa was missing, before a fisherman located her lifeless body floating in a nearby stream. Autopsy results would show that Lisa had been sexually assaulted and murded by an unknown assailant.
Lisa had been pulled over by a police officer shortly before her disappearance for speeding, but the police officer was cleared of any connection to Lisa’s disappearance and death. This left many unanswered questions to authorities and to Lisa’s family, because not only was Lisa murdered, her CRX was still missing without a trace.
Mysteriously, a note would appear on Lisa’s grave approximately one year and four days after Lisa disappeared. The poilce felt there was a link between the letter and the killer, but had nothing to go on. The letter was kept on file. Some 14 years later, a random DNA retest from the rape kit taken from Lisa Kimmell’s autopsy was reviewed again, and there was a hit from the database. The DNA match would come from a man already incarcerated for illegal gun posession. The man’s name was Dale Wayne Eaton. He was later charged with Lisa’s murder, however the story does not end there.
A former neighbor of Dale Eaton was questioned and she told police that she observed Eaton digging a large hole in his yard around the time Lisa Kimmell disappeared. The neighbor reported that Eaton had told her husband that he was attempting to dig a well. Police began to dig up Eaton’s yard shortly after obtaining this information. This is where Lisa’s CRX was finally found.
Dale Wayne Eaton was convicted on the DNA results and handwriting samples on the letter he left on Kimmell’s grave. He was sentenced to death 14 years after Lisa was found in the Platt River. Although justice was found for Lisa, there is still no closure for her family who still loves and misses her each day. Lisa is gone, but she has never been forgotten.