Woman who disappeared 18 years ago remembered through Christmas tree

By Taylor Kearns - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The case of Dail Dinwiddie has become one South Carolina's most famous mysteries. She disappeared from Columbia's Five Points 18 years ago after a night out with friends.
Her parents have never given up hope, and neither has the community. That hope is for all to see on Devine Street, in front of the Columbia fire station.

It's the time of year when you see hundreds of lit Christmas trees lining the streets. One tree, though, has special meaning. It was donated and decorated to honor and remember Dail Dinwiddie.

"Christmas was one of Dail's favorite times of year," said Dail's father, Dan Dinwiddie. "She loved the trees and presents, getting together with family and friends."
You don't have to have children yourself to know why the holidays are so hard for the Dinwiddies. "It's your child, you know?" said Dail's mother, Jean Dinwiddie.
They've been without their daughter Dail for 18 years. Then 23 years old, Dinwiddie was last seen walking up Harden Street after a night out with friends in Columbia's Five Points in September 1992.

The tree now stands not far from that spot. "The fact that it's in her honor, I think is a sacred honor, and we uphold that," said Fire Captain Christopher Kip.
The tree was placed there a year after her disappearance as a gift from the community. The Devine Street Merchant's Association donated the lights, and this year the children of Epworth Children's home decorated more than 100 ceramic ornaments.

The firefighters of Ladder 9 put it all together, a process Kip says took hours. "Every minute doing it is a warm feeling, to honor her," said Kip.  

"It's always a reminder but it's a good reminder, and each year it's lit it's very significant to us," said Jean.
Over the years, the tree has grown from 12 feet to nearly 40 feet. As it lives on, so does the Dinwiddie's hope that Dail will come home. "We want people to know Dail has still not come home yet," said Dan. "We still search. We want her to come home so we can be whole again."

The Dinwiddies want you to remember if you drive by and see the tree that Dail is still out there. They need leads, tips or any information that will help solve this case. If you know something that could help investigators, call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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