November 12, 2019
Dallas, Texas
The body of Ronald Wayne White (51) is found in his apartment three years after he died

In November 2019, the maintenance staff of White’s apartment complex performed inspections on apartments which showed no water usage. Some of the apartments had been rented but were unoccupied, and it was suspected this was the case with White’s apartment as well. The maintenance workers were able to force their way into the apartment at which point they found White’s body face-up on the floor between his kitchen and living room.

Ronald Wayne White
photo via NBC News, provided by his mother

It was immediately apparent White had been dead for “an extended period of time,” and foul play was not suspected in his death. His body showed no apparent lacerations or gunshot wounds, and his apartment was orderly with valuable possessions available and untouched, ruling out the possibility of robbery. “When we got there,” Detective Pete Schulte of the DeSoto Police Department told reporters, “all the windows were tightly sealed and locked. There were no signs of forced entry.”

White had a history of high blood pressure and diabetes, and unopened medication to treat diabetes was found in the apartment, having been picked up in November of 2016. “The way he was found was indicative that it was a medical condition,” Det. Schulte stated.

White had moved into the apartments in November of 2016 and is suspected to have died within weeks of moving in. Because of his short presence in the complex before his death, neighbors were not alarmed at his disappearance. White’s death also likely occurred while a cold front was affecting the area. No electricity was on and the cold weather would have slowed White’s decomposition and reduced the signs of death within the apartment. As the apartment was tightly sealed, no odor of decomposition was detected outside the apartment to cause alarm, either, though White’s downstairs neighbor complained of a small amount of liquid seeping through the ceiling around 2017. A maintenance worker stopped the leak and no investigation was made into White’s apartment to determine the origin of the liquid.

Apartment manager David Marguiles told reporters there was nothing out of the ordinary to cause suspicion something had happened to White. “His mail didn’t pile up. His rent was paid automatically. All of the things that would have normally triggered a welfare check just didn’t take place in this situation.”

White’s mother became concerned about his sudden disappearance almost immediately. The two spoke at least twice a month as White traveled around the world for his job as a defense contractor, but when White failed to call her on his birthday in April 2017, and as her repeated calls to his phone went to voicemail and were never returned, she grew especially worried. She was not aware of his address in Dallas and was thus unable to contact him or his apartment’s management.

White’s mother contacted her son’s local police departments to find her son, though they refused to take a missing persons report from her because White was an adult. She also traveled from her home in another state to meet with police in person. “They didn’t give me no kind of consideration,” she told reporters later. She then attempted to collect money from relatives to hire a private investigator to track White down. His body was found before the investigator could be hired, however.

After White’s body was found, and his time of death was estimated to have been three years before the discovery, his mother reacted with disbelief. “When the medical examiner told me three years, my knees gave away. Three years? And that’s what I can’t get past in my brain. I can’t get past three years. My biggest question is, how in the world could my son have been dead in that apartment and nobody knows anything?”

One of White’s adult sons had tried to locate his father as well, traveling internationally in an attempt to find him. “What makes me sleep at night better is because I know I did everything in my power. I called the embassy. I even flew to Manila looking for him. I reached out to my grandmother to put in a missing person report. I’ve done everything and exhausted every resource to look for my dad.”

Reece, Kevin. “Veteran dead in his DeSoto apartment for 3 years finally laid to rest as questions still linger.” WFAA. December 12, 2019. Accessed: November 12, 2020.
“Navy veteran may have been dead in apartment for 3 years.” The Dallas Post Tribune. December 4, 2019. Accessed: November 12, 2020.
Griffith, Janelle. “No foul play suspected in death of Navy veteran found in apartment after 3 years.” NBC News. November 26, 2019. Accessed: November 12, 2020.
Griffith, Janelle. “Navy veteran found in his apartment had been dead for 3 years.” NBC News. November 22, 2019. Accessed: November 12, 2020.
Reece, Kevin. “Navy veteran found in his apartment had been dead for 3 years, medical examiner says.” WFAA. November 20, 2019. Accessed: November 12, 2020.

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