Bring Them Back


RANCHO SANTA FE, CA – May 21, 2013

A 52-year-old escaped fugitive killed himself by setting himself, and his apartment, on fire Saturday morning near Rancho Santa Fe, according to a San Diego County Sheriff’s Office release.

Rancho Sante Fe, CAPolice report that fugitive Walton Samuel Gayson apparently set himself on fire at 5:58 p.m. Neighbors called 911, and Gayson was transported to Pomerado General Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, SDCO reports.

Police say they arrived at Gayson’s residence at 6:10 p.m. and the building was already on fire. Gayson’s van was in the driveway, the doors were unlocked but no one answered. Concerned for his safety, fire officials entered the house and found Gayson, 52, in the living room.

Neighbors told 6NEWS that they rarely saw Gayson, who lived in the apartment since March, but was occasionally seen walking at night. No one suspected he was an escaped federal fugitive.

Gayson was the primary suspect in the disappearance of Arizona hiker Glenn Lauder, and his three friends in 1997. Gayson escaped Federal custody during the filming of a prisoner interview, and turned up in San Diego in March of this year.

Gayson Dead_2

Other self-immolation suicides triggered political unrest in Tunisia last year year, which ousted the president on January 14, and led to a series of protests in the Middle East. It also inspired copycat self-immolations across North Africa and Europe.

Gayson was suspected in the 1997 disappearance of Glenn Lauder, and 3 Phoenix men, however Gayson was moved to ADX Florence – United States Penitentiary in Fremont County, Colorado without serving trail.

SDCO’s Sandy Montella told 6NEWS, “When a desperate person wants to kill himself, he’s going to do whatever he can to do that.”


PHOENIX, AZ - June 11, 2007 - Unlike thousands of missing person’s cases, the 1997 disappearance of Daniel Adam’s 29-year-old son – Mitchell Adams and his three friends - prompted hundreds of volunteers to help police search and spawned local media coverage which resulted in an outpouring of sympathy across Arizona.
Over a decade later, the attention has died down, and people have forgotten about the disappearance of the four local men in the Estrella Mountain range. But Mitch Adams remains missing, and his father still waits and searches. "People don't ask anymore," Daniel Adams said. "And I don't bring it up."
Mitch Adams has not been seen since the evening of March 13, 1997 after a night of off-roading with his friends in the Estrella Mountains near Avondale, Arizona. Although the case was thought to have been resolved in 2001, Maricopa Country Examiners say an investigation remains unresolved.
In a brief interview with the Phoenix Report, Adams told the Report he believes his son is dead, but he said he and his wife are keeping the case active because they want to find Mitch's body and put him "to rest in a proper grave." An official statement from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner claimed there was not enough physical evidence for the remains to be conclusive.
"I don't know if the pain will ever go away," Daniel Adams said. "But I spend most nights awake over not knowing (what happened). It is upsetting to talk about but I know Mitch would do the same for me. He would never give up."
Mitch Adams is the younger of Daniel Adams' two boys. The family moved to the Phoenix area in 1991 when Daniel Adams' position with the Air Force transferred him to Arizona. Adams' eldest son was killed in training exercise in 1992.
On the night he disappeared, Mitch Adams had been drinking and off-roading with a group of friends in the Estrella Mountains. His three friends, Glenn Lauder, Ryan Stone, and Jacob Reynolds also remain missing. "I believe they got lost in the desert," Daniel Adams said. "I just wish he would have stayed home."
In the following years, a network of family and friends organized a public awareness campaign. Since 1997 there have been many unsuccessful searches. Avondale Police would not discuss details of the case.
Daniel Adams said he hopes a witness will come forward with information. "Someone must know what happened." he said.

Anyone with information should call 855-2FIND-THEM. Tips can be anonymous.

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