I’m thrilled to have Julia from Considering Cold Cases write a guest post for us. Considering Cold Cases focuses on unsolved murders and disappearances. Julia explores lesser-known cases to raise their profile. She believes it’s important to give a voice to victims of crime, especially in unsolved cases where the victims have received no justice.
After reading this fascinating and disturbing case, follow Considering Cold Cases on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to ensure you never miss out on one of Julia’s well-researched and gripping cases.
Happy holidays! ~ Christine
Guest Post: The Unsolved Murder of Latricia White
Written By Considering Cold Cases
I’m honoured to be writing a holiday-themed guest piece for The True Crime Files. Happy holidays everyone! – Julia
Lee “Dub” Wackerhagen
Our story today takes us to December 1993 in Lockhart, Texas. Latricia White, a nurse and mother of two, lived with her trucker boyfriend Lee Wackerhagen, known as Dub. Latricia was 38 and recently divorced in November 1993. Dub and Latricia fought often, and Dub has been described as jealous and abusive. His ex-wife has said that she was afraid of him: “I saw that he was a good man when I met him, and when I left him I was scared to death of him. He had a temper. He treated my oldest boy terribly, and I was scared.”
On December 17th, 1993, Dub’s son from his previous marriage, 9-year-old Chance Wackerhagen, came to stay with Latricia and Dub for a few days. Chance’s mother Gaye Williams had full custody but she allowed Chance to stay with Dub for a few days at a time. Gaye and Dub had divorced in 1990.
On December 23rd, Latricia and Dub had a blowout fight after Chance left the kitchen faucet on. The fight was so severe that Dub and Chance left Latricia’s place for a few days but returned by Christmas. Gaye Williams, Chance’s mother, spoke to Chance on the phone on Christmas. She said he sounded happy and asked to stay with his dad for a few more days to which Gaye agreed. On December 26th, Latricia, Dub and Chance were spotted eating at a restaurant, and everyone seemed content.
On December 27th, Latricia was due at work but did not show up. Her co-workers and father were concerned. Latricia’s father Jack said, “Everyone was concerned about Latricia because she just hadn’t gone to work Monday. And she never fails to go to work or at least call.” Jack went to Latricia’s home to check up on her. Nothing was disturbed and all appeared normal until he reached the bedroom where he made a gruesome discovery. Latricia White had been murdered: shot six times in the head with a .22 calibre weapon while sleeping. She had been dead approximately one day by the time Jack arrived. The eeriest aspect of the scene was the small footprint in Latricia’s blood, which belonged to little Chance. Had Chance witnessed Latricia’s murder?
The search was on to find Chance and Dub. Dub was considered the lead suspect in Latricia’s murder because of the volatile nature of their relationship. It was known that Chance was at the scene of the crime because of his footprints, and now he was nowhere to be found. Police issued a warrant for Dub’s arrest.
Police searched tirelessly for Dub and Chance, fearing that Dub had abducted Chance after murdering Latricia. Finally, three days later on December 30th, Dub’s green 1986 Ford pick-up truck was located. It had been abandoned on the side of the road, about 30 miles from Latricia’s apartment.
In the truck was Dub’s wallet, checkbook, and hunting rifle. It had not been fired. In the back of the truck was a heap of Christmas presents, some of them unopened. The Christmas presents were covered in blood, believed to be from Latricia White.
The blood was rushed to the lab to confirm the police’s suspicions that it was Latricia’s. In a shocking twist, the blood did not belong to Latricia White. Police were unable to conclusively determine who the blood belonged to because of the lack of DNA technology at the time.
According to Sheriff Mike Bading of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department: “Initially in the investigation we felt that this blood could have come from our victim. That was later ruled out. The blood type was not the same as our victim. So we feel that someone else was injured. Not seriously, but someone else was injured.”
Now police were considering two options: Had Dub murdered Latricia and kidnapped Chance, or had Dub and Chance also fallen victim to the same killer(s) of Latricia?
In early 1994, a few months after Latricia’s murder, O.P. Williams received a phone call. O.P. Williams is the father of Gaye and the grandfather of Chance Wackerhagen. On the other end of the line, a little boy’s voice said ‘Help me’ before the phone was slammed down. O.P. maintains that it was Chance Wackerhagen who called him. This could never be confirmed.
From here, the trail went cold. Dub and Chance have never been found: dead or alive, there has been no trace of them. Gaye Williams has maintained that Dub would never hurt Chance. Dub also had no prior criminal record.
In 2016, police announced that the case was being reopened and that they suspect Dub and Chance were both victims of foul play. They believe that Latricia was killed by someone close to her and that her murder was a crime of passion by someone who knew one or more of the victims.
In early 2017, Gaye Williams reached out to the YouTube Channel of Cayleigh Elise, who did a video on the case. Gaye stated that she had been in contact with law enforcement, specifically the new officer on the case who looked at everything from the beginning. He told her that he found a lot of discrepancies in the original investigation and he had evidence that both Chance and Dub were dead and had been killed by the same person who killed Latricia.
The natural reaction to this case is that the simplest explanation is often the best explanation. Here we have a murdered woman, and her boyfriend appears to have run off. He also seems to have taken his son, whom he did not have custody of. One might assume that this was a case of domestic violence partnered with Dub thinking he’d never see Chance again if he got caught, so he took off with his son. This theory is the simplest explanation; unfortunately, domestic violence is way too common. But now, 24 years after the crime, no trace of Dub and Chance has ever been found. Is it possible that they have been living off the grid this whole time? Would Dub be able to control Chance so well that Chance has never reached out to anyone? Chance would have nothing to lose and everything to gain by reaching out to his family or even the authorities.
The next likely possibility is a double murder-suicide by Dub. Could he have been so angry at Latricia that he killed her? What puzzles me is that Latricia was sleeping when she was murdered, so if her death was a reaction to a fight between her and Dub, he would have had time to cool off after the fight while she fell asleep. It was not a heat-of-the-moment murder. But it was a crime of passion. Six shots to the head is overkill. The killing was gruesome, the person who did it would have hated Latricia, or someone close to her (it could be that Latricia was killed to get back at Dub). And then there’s Chance. Why would Dub, who by all accounts loved Chance, let Chance witness the murder? I couldn’t imagine anything worse for a young child to see. It also sickens me to think that Dub would murder Chance, Dub could have taken Chance back to Gaye, his mother. Of course, we know that sometimes abusers think ‘if I can’t have him, no one can’. Dub may have killed Chance because he didn’t want Chance to go back to Gaye. But we have to think, in what manner could he have killed himself and Chance that no trace of the bodies has turned up? We know that he had a hunting rifle in his car that was not used. I do not know if he had other guns.
Now, so many years after this tragedy, police are favouring a new theory. They now believe that Dub and Chance were murdered by the same person(s) who killed Latricia. According to Gaye, the police are in possession of evidence that prove that Dub and Chance are dead. There has been no elaboration, but I would guess it has to do with the blood in the back of the truck. I imagine more advanced testing has been done on the blood. I am wondering if the testing has proven that both Dub and Chance’s blood was in the back of the truck, therefore Dub could not have been driving the truck. Unfortunately, police have not publicly stated what has pointed them in this new direction.
If Dub and Chance were also murdered that night, then how did it all go down? We know that Chance’s footprint was found in blood, so he was at the crime scene, but there were no signs of a disturbance. Did the killer murder Latricia while Dub and Chance were out and waited for them to find the body? Could Dub and Chance have been taken out of the house without a struggle – possibly at gunpoint? Perhaps the killer got Dub to comply by threatening Chance. If all three were murdered, then who was the real target? Could Latricia have been collateral damage? It seems unlikely given how many times she was shot in the head. Were Dub and Chance injured and forced into the back of Dub’s truck, with no one noticing? And then what happened? Could they have been taken in another vehicle to a second location where they were killed and buried? We still do not know the full story of what happened on December 27th, 1993.
And who committed this monstrous crime? I tried to learn more about Latricia’s ex-husband but the details are scarce. Latricia and her ex had two children, whom I’d guess lived with her ex-husband because they are never mentioned to be living with her. Her living situation is always described as her, with Dub and Chance staying over temporarily. Her job as a nurse could have been a contributing factor for this, as nurses often work long and abnormal hours which could have made it difficult for her to care for her two children on her own. I’d also be interested in knowing if custody of the children (Latricia and her ex-husband had only been divorced a month) could have been a possible motive.
We also know that Dub had a temper. It’s possible that Dub angered the wrong person. I really would like to know more about the ex and other people in Dub and Latricia’s lives who could be suspicious. Latricia’s ex-husband was probably cleared at the time but with Dub as such a clear suspect, were other suspects overlooked? What better way to cover up a murder than by making it look like the boyfriend did a runner…
We know that the police are currently looking into this Christmas tragedy and progress has been made in 2016. I hope we will have some more news soon. Latricia White has not seen justice, and it’s been 24 years. Dub and Chance Wackerhagen are still considered missing persons, though police now believe they befell the same fate as Latricia.
Video by Cayleigh Elise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oyaIC9IJzk
YouTube comment by Gaye Williams:
Reddit comments by gw5836 – could gw5836 be Gaye Williams? Definitely sounds like someone close to the case: