Michael Chambers was a retired Dallas firefighter living in Quinlan, Texas. A well-respected member of the community, he lived with his second wife, Becca Chambers, whom he’d been with for 37 years. According to family, he treated her like a queen and frequently doted on her.
Michael had four children, two daughters from his first marriage and two sons he’d adopted upon marrying Becca. Through them, he had nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and he was considered a family man who would do anything for his loved ones.
In his retirement, he spent the majority of his time restoring classic cars and was a member of The Texas Most Wanted car restoration group, where he was seen as a father figure. The group would meet once a week to showcase their most recent projects.
Michael was also a devoutly religious man. He was a deacon at his local church, and was a member of a gospel band that would perform at nursing homes and various churches.
LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:
On the morning of March 10, 2017, Michael bid farewell to his wife, who had to work, and began getting ready for his day. According to Becca, he had talked about working on cars and cutting some firewood.
At around 5:50pm that evening, Becca finished work and texted Michael to let him know she was on her way home. However, she received no response to her message.
At 6:10pm, Becca arrived home to see Michael’s truck parked in the driveway, but the house dark. The garage wasn’t open and Michael wasn’t waiting outside for his wife. This struck Becca as odd, so she called his cellphone. It went straight to voicemail.
Worried about her husband’s whereabouts, Becca reached out to family members, who hadn’t seen him, but assured her Michael was probably out running errands. Recalling that he’d told her he’d planned to cut firewood, she began to search the 10-acre property with the help of neighbours. However, Michael was nowhere to be found.
Becca and the neighbours then checked the garage, which was found to be locked. This struck Becca as strange. When they entered the garage, they found Michael’s wallet, hat and keys, confirming he’d spent some portion of the day in there. Blood was also discovered on the ground, which Becca initially believed to be transmission fluid. This concerned the neighbours, who called 911 around 6:55pm.
Within an hour of being called, a deputy arrived at the house. Aware there had been a drug problem in the area, he first believed Michael could have been a victim of a robbery. However, upon searching the garage, it was found that the only thing missing from his wallet was his driver’s license. Further examination found that nothing in the garage appeared to be disturbed and his truck console held $1000 in cash. As well, his shotgun had not been fired.
The sheriff arrived on the scene not long after and felt a robbery hadn’t occurred. He looked at the amount of blood on the ground and felt it wasn’t enough for the wound to have been fatal. This led to the early belief that Michael might have accidentally hit his head and could be walking around disoriented. This theory quickly changed to one of foul play upon blood being found on a rod in the corner of the garage.
When asked for information about Michael’s character, his family told police they didn’t believe he’d voluntarily disappear, given how family-oriented he was. He also didn’t have any enemies.
Deputies began to search the Chambers’ property by foot, deploying all available resources, including a helicopter. They also looked at where Michael’s cellphone last pinged, which was off a tower near Lake Tawakoni, before either running out of power or being turned off. This caused the police to reroute their search to around the lake, but at midnight the search was called off after nothing was found.
The next day, investigators began to piece together a timeline of Michael’s last moments. Becca informed them that Michael had gone to Wal-Mart earlier in the day to buy her some mascara, which was found in the home. Security cameras from the grocery store confirm this, and footage from stores along Michael’s route home show nothing out of the ordinary.
Neighbours were asked if they’d seen the missing man at all on March 10, but none recalled having seen him.
Bloodhounds were called in to conduct a more thorough search of the 10-acre property. They began at the garage and led detectives to a drainage ditch at the edge of the road. It was large enough for a grown person to walk under and led to a drainage pond, which was drained. No clues were found.
As word of Michael’s disappearance spread, the number of people willing to volunteer in the search expanded to around 100 to 150 people.
Returning to the ping off Michael’s cellphone, police conducted a number of dives of Lake Tawakoni, but nothing was ever found. They have ruled out Michael being in the lake.
Three days after the disappearance, the local sheriff made a plea to the media asking for tips. Not long after, the Chambers family issued a $25,000 reward for information and created the Facebook page Bring Papaw Home, with the hope that an increased social media push would bring in more leads.
During the early days of the investigation, some in the family were concerned Justin, one of the Michael’s adoptive children, might have been involved. Justin lived two hours away in Granbury, Texas, and he and Michael had recently fought over money.
This piqued police interest, who brought Justin in for questioning. When asked about the fight between him and Michael, he said he would never hurt his father. He was subjected to a polygraph test, which he passed, and his alibi checked out.
Investigators had sent away the blood found on the garage floor to be tested. DNA testing confirmed it to be Michael’s. A blood splatter expert was called in, as the sheriff had been suspicious over how precise and circular the bloodstains had been. His examination showed the crime scene to have been staged and the bright colour of the blood hinted at the possible presence of an anti-coagulant.
On March 20, 2017, Becca changed the family’s cellphone plan, removing Justin and suspending Michael’s service, claiming she needed to save money because she was starting to struggle financially. This was followed in April by her having Michael temporarily declared dead, so she could sell his truck and any other property as needed to pay bills.
Becca’s actions during this time caused friction between her and the family.
In May 2017, members of the Chambers family were subjected to polygraph tests. That June, Becca took one as well, where investigators learnt she’d had multiple affairs during her marriage to Michael and that the latest one had ended just five months before his disappearance. She claimed her husband had been aware of the affairs, but had never confronted her about them. She also denied any involvement in his disappearance and her alleged lover had an alibi for the day.
On July 12, 2017, Michael’s daughter, Suzy, received a message on Facebook from someone claiming his friend had told him where Michael’s body was. He called Suzy and told her Michael had been killed by more than one person and that Becca and another man had been involved. He gave her an address where he claimed she could find her father’s remains.
Suzy contacted police about the phone call, but they were skeptical about the information, given the man was a convicted felon. They believed him to only be interested in the reward money. However, they still searched the area, but no remains were found.
On July 13, 2017, Becca called police and requested a protective order against Justin, who reportedly became irate after coming to the house after hearing rumours his mother had been involved in Michael’s disappearance. Both the police and members of Chambers family admit to finding Becca’s request for a protective order out of the ordinary.
Two days later, the family became aware that Michael had legally been declared dead that May. The sheriff’s office had signed off on the change, citing Becca’s actions as normal because she needed access to Michael’s possessions to financially support herself.
As the investigation drew on, police followed every lead that was called in. However, nothing ever panned out. Given the lack of evidence, they began to look into theories not involving foul play.
One of the theories they began looking into was whether or not Michael staged the crime scene in order to walk away from his life. They further questioned the family and found out from Michael’s son-in-law, David, that the missing man had spoken about how easy it would be to disappear, a revelation that shocked police.
In October 2017, a cellphone expert was brought in and Michael’s exact route on the day he disappeared was mapped out using his cellphone pings. it was discovered he’d left the house and driven to town via the Lake Tawakoni bridge, where he stopped for about 10 to 15 minutes. Through talks with the family, it was discovered Michael had a history there, as the family had lived about five to six miles from the bridge when Michael’s sons were adopted.
At 2:30pm that day, he went to the location once more. However, that’s where the pings stop. Through the cellphone data, they were able to discover he had been travelling around 4 miles an hour, meaning he was probably on a bike, as the speed was too slow for him to have been travelling in a car and too fast for him to have walked. It was found a bike was also missing from the garage.
Michael’s family disputes the idea he biked to the bridge, given how bad his knees had become. Given he was unable to stand for more than 30 minutes at a time, they found it hard to believe he’d been able to bike the 17 miles from the house to the bridge.
The information gained from Michael’s cellphone records caused police to change their theory surrounding his disappearance. Based on the new evidence, they now believe him to have died by suicide on or near his old property. However, they have yet to disclose a motive, given the ongoing nature of the investigation.
To try and find Michael’s body, investigators organized a massive search of his old property on February 10, 2018. However, after 10 hours of searching, nothing was found.
1) Michael’s family and friends believe his disappearance to be the result of foul play. His friends at The Texas Most Wanted believe someone hid in the woods located on his property, killed him and disposed of his cellphone in the lake.
2) Police are under the assumption Michael staged his disappearance and died by suicide on March 10, 2017. They corroborate this theory with the newfound cellphone evidence and discussions with family members.
However, family and private investigators dispute this, given that the route would have taken Michael through town and over the bridge, which was crawling with construction workers. As well, given the bridge over Lake Tawakoni is only a few feet above the water, it’s believed a jump from it would not be fatal.
3) Some online and in the public believe Michael to have staged his disappearance and gone on to create a new life for himself somewhere else. However, there has been no evidence discovered to corroborate this theory.
Since his disappearance, Michael’s family has opened up about the pain and emotion they’ve felt at the loss of their loved one. They have also become divided on what happened to him. However, they all believe him to no longer be alive.
To help find answers, the family have enlisted the help of private investigators Jane Holmes and Philip Klein. Holmes, specifically, doesn’t believe Michael to have killed himself and feels Becca knows more than she’s letting on. Upon Michael’s death, she would have become the sole beneficiary of his estate and $750,000 pension. She also hasn’t spoken with the media or helped in searches for her husband.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Michael Chambers went missing from Quinlan, Texas on March 10, 2017. He is described as balding with grey hair. At the time of his disappearance, he was 70 years old, 6’3″ and approximately 225 to 250 pounds.
If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office at 903-453-6800.
Image Credit: CBS News