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The victims and the missing

This tragedy occurred over the Christmas period in Texas twenty-seven years ago.

Chance Wackerhagen (nine years old at the time) lived in Kingsville, Texas with his mother Gaye Williams. Chance’s father, Lee “Dub” Wackerhagen separated from Chance’s mother and resided in Lockhart, Texas with Latricia White — a local nurse and a recently divorced mother of two.

Over the Christmas period of that year — Chance would stay with Latricia and his father Dub — leaving his mother on 17 December 1993 and later calling his mother on 25 December 1993 asking to extend his stay with his father. This phone call would be the last time Gaye spoke to Chance.

Chance and Lee were last seen on 26 December 1993. Latricia was found shot six times to the head on 27 December 1993.

Chance’s e-photo ageing — from 9 years old to 24 years old

On 27 December 1993, Latricia was dead in her home and Lee “Dub” Wackerhagen vanished, seemingly into thin air, along with his son Chance Wackerhagen. Chance would be thirty-six years old today (nine at the time of his vanishing) and it seems we are heading towards yet another Christmas without knowing the truth.

On the Christmas Day phone call Chance, according to his mother Gaye, was extremely excited about the Christmas Presents he had received which included an Old West-style duster coat and GI Joe toys. Spirits were high in the family and there was no suggestion of any issues on that morning.

“I told him to call me later so we could set up a time when would come home but I never heard from him again,” Chance’s mother Gaye said.

Latricia was found by her father Jack. There were six shots to her head with a .22 calibre gun. There were no signs of any struggle and nothing was stolen, thus ruling out any attempted burglaries. Arrest warrants were issued for Lee “Dub” Wackerhagen and the police were soon scouring the area, with “Dub” named as the most obvious suspect. The police have maintained that this was a ‘crime of passion’ throughout the entire investigation.

Dub was said to have had a violent temper and was often arguing with Latricia (many of these arguments were allegedly about Chance). It was only a few days before Christmas that an argument got so heated that Lee began packing his bags and threatening to leave. However, only a few days after this bust-up, they were seen by witnesses at a restaurant in good spirits and having a good time, with no suggestion of any acrimony between the families.

Dub’s friends came forward to tell the police that Dub was a jealous man, violent towards rejection and possessive over Latricia. Despite the questionable flaws of his character, Dub was not known to the police and did not have a criminal record.

Three days after Latricia’s body was discovered by her father Jack, the police found a pickup truck belonging to Dub, the truck was left abandoned in a field about 50 kilometres from the murder site. It seemed, at first glance, that they were closer to their man and closer to Dub.

Dub’s truck — found in the snow

The items found inside the truck included Dub’s wallet along with a pile of unopened Christmas presents in the back of the car. Blood was smeared all over the presents. The blood was assumed to have belonged to Latricia and yet, when it came back from the lap, the blood did not match Latricia. This now led to speculation that Dub and Chance were victims themselves and that their bodies had been disposed of. The case blew wide open. A hunting rifle was also found in the truck (recently used) but did not match the type of weapon used to kill Latricia.

Now debate rages about whether or not Dub abducted Chance and went on the run or whether they were both victims themselves to whoever murdered Latricia in cold blood.

Chance’s maternal grandmother would later claim to receive an anonymous phone call from a young boy who screamed “Help Me” down the phone. The call was cut off, but Chance’s grandmother believes it might have been Chance. There is a strong possibility that the phone call was a hoax and without verification, there isn’t much veracity in either.

In 2016 the police changed their initial stance that “Dub” was the killer and now indicate that both Lee and Chance were victims of foul play, at the hands of Latricia’s killer.

“Investigators found nothing in the home appeared to be missing and believe that this murder was most likely a crime of passion committed by someone closely associated with one or more of the victims,” the release said.

Originally published at on December 24, 2020.


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