First, I want to open this by stating that the information I am about to convey is based on what one person has told me in confidence. This information has not been corroborated, nor is there any evidence that this is even true, other than it fits other unrelated facts the person had no way of knowing that I knew. Yet after mulling over the story for a couple of weeks now, I actually find there could be something to this. Therefore, I am putting this out there not as a fact, but as a possible scenario that no one has ever considered.
I also have considered whether the person who told me this simply did so to gain my confidence because my personal conflict with the named person has been so well documented, or whether that same well-documented feud is what led to this confession. That would require a far stretch though, since I have only met the person one time and they certainly did not seem to know who I was before we started talking. Again, I am not saying this is true, but it has left considerable doubt in my mind…
I also want it clear that I urged the person to tell what they knew – I even gave them one of my business cards – but their response was, “Who would I tell? If I told the police, I’d be dead.” And considering the weight of the idea who was the Chief of Police at the time, I think this fear was definitely valid at the time – and I cannot say it does not remain a legitimate concern to this day with what I know about the level of corruption at all levels of law enforcement and local government. For this reason, I am keeping the name the person gave me in confidence to protect them from retaliation (only a first name, but readers of my blog should know how damaging even first names can be in the hands of corrupt officials).
Of course, this does not protect me. But what’s new?
Let me also say that this piece of information does line up with things I already knew – and which my informant did not know that I knew. So this actually has gained more validity in my mind, and has more truth to its sound than falsehood.
I will start with what I already knew.
In 2000, I was dating a woman whose sister claimed to be a “kept” girl of Dick Dasen’s*. For anyone who does not know, Dick Dasen was a wealthy entrepreneur in Kalispell until he was convicted in 2005 of essentially running a prostitution ring. The story began with allegations that Dasen had been running an underage prostitution ring, yet by the time he saw trial, he only faced charges for adult prostitution.
I had actually met two women who professed to be women Dick Dasen “kept” in town, which is to say the allegation was that Dasen paid their bills, bought them gifts, etc. in exchange for sexual relationships. That two separate women claimed to be recipients of this kind of relationship validated this in my mind, but it was further validated by what my girlfriend’s sister told me directly:
Specifically, I was told that Dick Dasen was operating a prostitution ring in Kalispell, and that Frank Garner and the entire Kalispell Police Department protected Dasen so that he would never be prosecuted for what he was doing. Worse, I was told that Dasen “paid” the KPD for its protection by providing Garner and his officers sexual partners upon request, but there was a definite allegation that Garner was sharing in kickbacks from the enterprise, as well. At the time, my cousin was married to one of Dick Dasen’s sons, and when I confessed this to my girlfriend’s sister, she told my girlfriend she did not want me around anymore because she was afraid I would tell my cousin-in-law of his father’s dalliances. I never did, as – to be honest – at the time I was not even sure if there was any truth to what was being said.
Years later, Dasen was arrested and later convicted for the very activity that my girlfriend’s sister had alleged, so obviously there had been truth to that story. And if part of it was true, reason existed to believe it all – especially after my own experiences with Frank Garner and his official misconduct that led to my imprisonment as a political prisoner in the first place. Clearly, Garner had no integrity and had no qualms about acting outside the law, so the idea that he had actively sheltered a prostitution ring for close to a decade was not much of a leap for me personally to believe.
Incidentally, Garner’s name was never mentioned in any publicity surrounding Dasen’s trial. But the cause of that was very plain: When Dasen was originally arrested, the newspaper reported that his sons had been, as well – yet their charges were dropped within days, while Dasen’s continued. It seemed fairly obvious that Dasen had kept silent to protect his sons and to shelter them from prosecution. Whether they were ever actually involved I cannot say; I only believe for sure that they were used as leverage against Dasen. Also, it should be noted that the KPD were not the original agency involved in investigating the prostitution ring – it started because of concerned parents reporting the ring’s molestation of young girls to the state Child Protective Services. The KPD only became involved after the state-level agency forced them to.
Within months of Dasen’s conviction, Garner and several other key Kalispell officials resigned their posts and either took positions in other communities or walked away entirely from public service. Garner went on to become head of security at the local hospital (ironically enough, a hospital on whose board Dasen had sat). Garner then remained out of public service for almost ten years to the day – an ironic number since in Montana, a person could be prosecuted for sexual assault against a minor up to ten years after reaching age of majority. Assuming that Garner was complicit in Dasen’s prostitution ring – which was initially reported in 2003 and led to Dasen’s arrest in early 2004 – that would place his re-entry into public service right at the window of prosecution if he had performed acts against victims of Dasen’s alleged underage prostitution ring. Ten years’ time would have placed Garner outside any prosecution window and removed any threat of blackmail or leverage Dasen might have used against him.
If I were to guess – and it is only a guess based upon available information – I would say that Dasen had his own leverage against Garner and anyone in-the-know about the prostitution ring: they each had to leave public service or Dasen, once safely outside the consequences of his own prosecution, would report what he knew of their crimes. That Garner (and others) so quickly and close together left public service so soon after Dasen’s conviction and that Garner waited a full ten years before returning to run for public office supports this hypothesis – but it is only a hypothesis, as I have nothing besides speculation.
Now, to what was confessed to me recently.
I was having a conversation with someone when the subject of the Darlene Wilcock murder came up. We were talking about corruption in Kalispell in general, and I had already shared some of my own experiences. I told the person also how my own false-conviction was not the only one I knew of, and how evidence was fabricated by law enforcement all the time. Dick Dasen’s story was the first example that came to mind.
I mentioned to this person how Frank Garner had so quickly dropped Dick Dasen’s name as a suspect in the Wilcock murder shortly after Dasen’s prosecution was announced (Wilcock was murdered in April, 2003, and his prosecution was filed in January, 2004, as I recall). I personally saw Garner make multiple claims on the local news that Dasen’s DNA had been found in the room, and that Wilcock was suspected to be one of Dasen’s prostitutes.
My point at the time was that there was no way Frank Garner could have stated conclusively that Dasen’s DNA was found at a murder scene if his DNA was not on record – unless Garner knew something besides just evidence. Dasen had never been convicted of a crime nor was there any conceivable reason why his DNA would ever have been sampled prior. Dasen would never have voluntarily provided DNA while being prosecuted, and there was no way to justify a warrant to extract DNA based on a prostitution charge. The only way Garner could have known that Dasen’s DNA could potentially have been found at the scene was if he either knew Dasen had frequented the room (the more likely possibility) or Garner had planted it there himself.
Incidentally, I had met Darlene’s father in prison, and he was absolutely convinced that Dasen had killed his daughter, based entirely upon the information created by Frank Garner.
To me though, it looked very much to me like Garner had dropped a threat against Dasen to further assure his silence: say anything, and Garner would see Dasen tried for Wilcock’s murder. Afterall, if Dasen’s original silence had been assured by the release of his sons, all it would take to protect them would be to have them leave the area – with Dasen’s wealth and influence, they could have safely left Garner’s range of power and Dasen could have opened up about Garner’s own criminal complicity. So a new threat had to be engineered. And apparently it was an effective threat, because Dasen did remain silent during his prosecution.
Incidentally, Dasen was dropped as a person of interest sometime after he was successfully prosecuted. As I understand it, the KPD’s official position at present is that Darlene was either murdered by an ex-fiance or ex-roommate.
After I had told my story, this person laughed and said, “That’s funny because Frank Garner was the one who killed her!”
I was stunned and asked how the person knew that. My informant then told me that they had been at the Motel 6 the night Darlene Wilcock had been murdered and that Frank Garner had been there as well – looking around the parking lot and asking people whether they had heard anything suspicious (my informant said they had heard nothing out of the ordinary and said so when asked). The person said Garner had been dressed in a nice shirt open at the collar, his hair was a little ruffled, and that he had seemed really anxious, nervous even. They told me they knew it was Garner because of his “lazy eye” (personally, I do not know that Garner’s eye would be called lazy, though his left eye is somewhat out of alignment with his right), but in hindsight I did not think to ask whether he actually identified himself or not.
Of particular note was that when Garner asked my informant if they had heard anything and they said no, Garner had said, “Keep it that way,” as he turned away. My informant said they found it threatening but were used to being talked rudely to by KPD officers, so this alone had not struck them as unusual.
The next morning, my informant said, was when they found Wilcock’s body and it raised alarms over Garner’s actions the night before. But they knew better than to say anything about what had happened.
If one presumes that what was told me were true – and what my informant told me does coincide with what I already knew of Garner’s connection to Dasen’s prostitution ring and Dasen providing sexual partners upon request to KPD officers and Garner specifically – it definitely raises doubts.
My first thought was that maybe Dasen had been in the room – or perhaps another police officer receiving “favor” from Dasen – and that Garner had been called in to cover it up. But upon reflection, I think maybe my informant’s idea might have more validity.
If Garner were just covering it up, he could have buried the investigation or tampered with the evidence chain in-house. He did not need to drive out to the scene and intimidate witnesses. And my informant specifically said he acted anxious and that his hair was ruffled – not exactly the calm, collected behavior of someone who comes to a scene to cover up someone else’s crime. It actually describes how someone might act as they were fighting off panic and trying to decide what to do in the face of a crisis.
What it sounds like to me upon reflection is that Garner came out of the murder scene and went into crisis mode, seeing if anyone had heard what was likely the commotion that had caused Wilcock’s death, trying to decide what he could do as he looked around to find out what people on-scene knew . It seems that no one had heard anything and so Garner simply left the scene, leaving Darlene’s body to be found the next day through natural routine.
To be honest, this story is really disturbing for me. I have no idea whether it is true, but it is unsettling enough that I felt I should share the story in case something does happen to me and the story might remain hidden. After all, after over a year, I am still under threat of being returned to prison for another fifteen years for publishing my expose against Garner and other corrupt Kalispell officials. The story told to me does jive with details from other things I had been told by others, though. So the possibility of it being true is really, really scary – that this poor girl’s murder might have been committed by the very official whose job it would have been to investigate it.
I should also point out: according to my informant, there were several others that they knew Garner had talked to. Again, I failed to ask the question of whether he was just talking to people who were outside or whether he was going door-to-door, which I feel I really should have asked – it just did not occur to me at the time. But my informant said Garner was talking to “people” before he talked to them. I also realize I did not ask whether he talked to anyone else after.
I guess I did not earn my investigative badge on this outing. There were clearly details I did not get, and I have not seen my informant since being told this story, so this is not something I could follow-up on if I wanted to. I did give my contact information to them and urged them to write their story out so I could post it on my blog – but they have not accepted the invitation, and it has been a couple of weeks now.
At any rate, my point is that there were other witnesses to this if it happened. And I cannot imagine that the police would not have contact information for other people to have been at the Motel 6 that night, so if there was a general interest in investigating this, they would have the means to do so – much more than I do. But of course, there is a very strong likelihood that if it is true, that the witnesses would be as equally reluctant to speak out as the person who talked to me.
And certainly, this is not a smoking gun. The informant did not say they saw Garner coming out of the room where Wilcock’s body was found nor even that they had heard anything suspicious. Only that Garner was on scene the night before the body was found talking to people in a suspicious manner. Maybe he was there covering up for someone else, or maybe it was something completely unrelated. I want to be fair here – as much as I can be, at any rate.
But the bottom line here is that if what was told to me is true, Chief of Police Frank Garner was actively looking for witnesses to a murder that did not get discovered until the next morning. And if it is true, I believe Darlene Wilcock’s family has a right to call for this line of evidence to be looked into.
Do what you will with the information. But I would urge anyone who might have additional information or who can corroborate this story, please feel free to contact me or post a comment to this post. You can certainly report the information to law enforcement – and I urge you to file some kind of report if you have direct information – but consider your safety as you do. If your information corroborates the details of this story, the officials you would be reporting to could be potentially complicit in a pre-existing cover-up. So cover your bases and make certain to document your statement elsewhere first.
One final note on this subject: anyone who frequently reads my blog knows I have a long history of reporting crimes to both the KPD and Flathead County Sheriff’s Office that are just blatantly disregarded. I have had death threats leveled against me, reported stalkings, malicious defamation, hate crimes and even another (unrelated) murder – but officials here disregard whatever I report. This is why I am posting the information here instead of making an official report: what is the point of making a report that would just get buried by law enforcement, especially if the very office I reported it to is actually complicit in the crime itself?
And besides – I am not a witness to a crime. At best, my information is hearsay, which is inadmissible. So in this instance, even if I suspected that my report would be actually considered appropriately, it actually has little to no evidentiary significance because I am only reporting it in the third person…
- NOTE: The Dick Dasen referred to in this article is Dick Dasen, Sr., and should not be confused with his son, Dick Dasen, Jr., who remains a successful businessman in Kalispell.