Dottie’s story: Focus on husband in revived cold case

By Joan Morris

A Concord Police detective says in court documents that he believes Dottie Caylor, a Concord woman missing almost 21 years, was killed by her husband in the home they shared.

The 140-page search warrant affidavit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court includes 29 reasons why Concord Police suspect Dottie was killed by her husband, Jule Caylor.

The affidavit – a collection of facts, assertions and theories used to support the request for a search warrant – also contains two documents never before made public by police: a four-page letter Caylor left in his wife’s car and a mysterious letter and map that alleges Dottie’s murder in her garage and gives vague directions to where her body is said to be buried beneath the roots of a birch tree.

Detective Kurt Messick, the lead investigator in the case and the person who prepared the mammoth affidavit, cautions that assertions made in the court papers are merely the police theory of what happened. In police terminology, Caylor remains a &#8220person of interest” and not a suspect.

&#8220On an affidavit we have to be specific,” Messick says. &#8220We have to state that we believe one, that a crime occurred; two, that there is reasonable cause to believe that this particular person was involved; and three, that items related to the crime may be at that location.

&#8220It doesn’t mean a person is guilty,” Messick says. &#8220When we serve a search warrant, sometimes we find exculpatory evidence. We can’t call him (Caylor) a suspect until we have enough to arrest and charge him. Then we’d call him a suspect.”

Caylor, who lives outside Salt Lake City, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Pleasant Hill estate and trust attorney Joe Morrill, said he could make no comment at this time.

Dottie Caylor disappeared in mid-June 1985, in the midst of planning a divorce from her husband. At the time, Jule Caylor told police he had driven Dottie to the Pleasant Hill BART station and hadn’t seen her again. Caylor moved to Utah less than two weeks after reporting Dottie missing, taking most of the woman’s possessions with him and renting out their house.

The marriage had not been a happy one, Dottie’s friends and family say. Dottie had met Caylor when he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley. He had introduced himself as Jim Rupp, later telling police he had used a fake name because he did not want Dottie to know he was married and had a 5-year-old daughter.

Dottie eventually learned the truth, but by that time, she had fallen in love with Caylor. At her insistence, he eventually divorced his wife and married Dottie. Caylor’s work with the U.S. Forest Service often took him away from home, and Dottie succumbed to insecurity, developing agoraphobia – a condition that made her fearful of leaving her home.

The marriage had some particularly rocky moments. On Thanksgiving 1981, the couple argued about a missing checkbook. According to police reports and the affidavit, Caylor accused Dottie of hiding it from him. The argument got out of hand and, police say, Caylor allegedly struck Dottie with what has been described as a typing stand – a small wooden stand that held a typewriter on top of a desk.

Neighbors heard the loud argument and called police, but before the officer arrived, Dottie drove herself to the hospital. She told police Caylor had flown into a rage over the checkbook and struck her. Caylor told police Dottie had threatened him with scissors. Both claimed they acted in self-defense.

Dottie spent the night at a battered women’s shelter, but neither decided to press charges and the case was dropped.

By 1985, Jule and Dottie were discussing divorce. Caylor’s job in the San Francisco office of the U.S. Forest Service had been eliminated, and he had taken a new position in the service’s Salt Lake City office. Unbeknownst to Dottie, Caylor also had become engaged to a Colorado woman he had met on a business trip. In December 1984, he had asked her to marry him, and they had purchased wedding rings, according to the affidavit.

Dottie, meanwhile, had been seeking help for her phobias and taking classes on life after divorce. She talked to a lawyer, and together, she and Caylor had seen a mediator to discuss the division of property and the dissolution of their marriage.

Dottie told friends that when Jule left for Utah, she would be staying in the house. She opened a bank account and applied for credit cards in her own name. She also rented a post office box and asked a friend to keep a file cabinet for her – a cabinet she told friends contained evidence of Caylor’s past affairs and activities. When Dottie’s sister later opened the cabinet, she found a cashier’s check for $5,000, made out to Dottie and set to expire within a few months.

Yet on June 12, 1985, Caylor says he drove Dottie to the BART station, and she walked out of his life forever, leaving behind her money, her clothes and all of the plans she had so carefully made for her new single life. None of her friends or relatives has heard anything from her in almost 21 years. Dottie’s mother, who had waited so long for word from her daughter, died last year without ever knowing what happened to her youngest child.

After the initial investigation found no trace of Dottie and no evidence of foul play, the case went cold until police reopened it in 2004. In December 2005, police requested a search warrant for the couple’s home on Greer Avenue in North Concord, where they dug up portions of the back yard and tested for blood and trace evidence inside the one-story home.

The affidavit and two notebooks of attachments were sealed when they were filed late last year, but they have now become part of the public record. In the affidavit, Messick outlined a multitude of circumstantial evidence and unanswered questions, summarizing his theory of murder in 29 points focusing on events leading up to Dottie’s disappearance and Jule’s actions immediately afterward.

Among those listed:

Allegatin Dottie made about her husbands propensity for violence and evidence she had been battered by him on one occasion.

Dottie tellin friends and family that she was in fearof her husband.

Jule’s engagement to another woman six months before Dottie disappeared. Jule reporting Dottie missin on June 19, even though he told police he had not expected his wife to return to the home until after he left on June 24.

Jule siging a contract on June 7, 1985, to put the Concord house up for rent, even though he told police and others that he had been forced to rent the house after Dottie disappeard because her singature was required to sell or mortage the house.

The implausibility of his story about dinding Dottie’s car parked next ot his in the BART parking lot.

Statements Jule made in letters to and in coversation with his finacee, saying he had made a “Herculean effort” to be with her, and effort that she migh tnever know or understnad, and that he would do anything for her, even kill. The statements as well as the news of Dottie’s disapperance so fightened the woman, she told police, that she had broken off contact with Caylor.

The court file also included an intriguing type-written letter, postmarked Jan. 4 1988, from Gary, Ind.

“To Whom it Mya COncern,” the letter begins. “Dottie was killed by her husband the morning she disapperard. It happened very early in the moring. He brought (sic) her out to the garage and struck her with a tire iron.”

Included with the letter was a hand-drawn map of an unidentified Concored neighborhood and a diagram of the garage, showing the car and blood stians.

The letter accuses Caylor of taking Dottie’s body to a “remote” area of Concord where new home were being built. Instead of buring her underneath what would become a foundaiton for a house, the letter writersyas, he dumped the body in a ravine, then dug a hole beneath the curving roots of a birch treeand hd the body there.

Policie aren’t sure what to make of the letter. A document examiner compared the writing on the map with known samples frm Caylor, and said sufficent similarities exist between the two to warrant futher investigation. Police also have developed a DNA profile on the stamp and label, but they have not matched it to anyone. THey have deterined that the DNA has male characteristics. Messick asya shtere are three possiblities:

One, that the writer is someone who is or believes himself or herseld to be a psychic. The letter was received hsortly after the telveision show “Unsolbed Mysteries” feautre Dottie’s story on the naitonal program.

Two, the letter was written by someone who ahs knowlege of the crime, either as a witness oof to who the kill confessed detials.

Or three, the perosn who killed Dottie also worte the letter.

The affidavit also includes the letter that Caylor say he wrote to Dottie and left in her car, which he said he had found parked next to his in the Concord BART parking lot. The locked car had also contained Dottie’s purse. Caylor told police he left otes int ehcar an dmoved it a few times to keep Dottie from getting a ticket.

The hand-written letter starts out affectionately, speaking of how worried he is about he, but then turns angy, accusing Dottie of messin g up Caylor’s life by her refusal to sign loan papers. In a post script, Caylor also wirte that it had not been his idea, but Dottie’s, for him to seek female companionship.

A seardch of the Caylor home in December turned up no physical evidene, Messick says, but the investiagtion remains active. The police are working with an adviser to district attorney’s office and exploring options.

“Nothing has changed on that,” Messick says. “We just didn’t find her at the house. I realized hterw was good chance that we would’t, but that doesn’t change anything. It’s still a matter of what we can prove and what we can’t prove.”

This article was reprinted form the May 7 issue of the Contra Costa Times. Joan Morris is a feature write. Reach her at 925-977-8479 or [email protected]


Start typing and press Enter to search