Stefanie Silvey Investigates - The Other Side
What happened in the summer of '86? That's a question Owensboro investigators are hoping to finally answer. Three young people disappeared within weeks of each other. One was found months later, dead in a Daviess County cornfield.
For years police focused on one suspect, but just recently began looking in another direction. John Reneer recently talked with Stefanie Silvey, about suspicions that have followed him for years in the disappearances of Angie Dickens, Shannon Green and Dewayne Bell. Reneer said he didn't hurt anyone, but he knew who did.
In 1986, he gave police a secretly taped conversation he had with Dewayne Bell, shortly before he disappeared. Police say, on that tape, Bell confessed to killing several people. Reneer said Bell took him to the bodies of Shannon Green and Angie Dickens, and also implicated his father David Bell in taking part in Shannon Green's murder.
Now, it's David Bell's turn to defend himself and his son.
David Bell is furious about accusations recently made by his former friend John Reneer. Bell believes initial investigators were right all along to look at Reneer, a convicted killer at the time of the disappearances. "He portrays my son to be a monster and he's not. He wasn't. He even drug me into the whole situation with lies."
But police say it's David Bell who hasn't been telling the truth. They say he's made several inconsistent statements.
Here's an example, Bell talking about the last time he saw his son in a 2002 interview:
David Bell: "And we worked there for an hour, maybe an hour and a half, and then he rode off, down the alley, and that's the last time I saw him."
But police say Dewayne's bike was found still at the house. In contrast to Bell's latest account...
David Bell: "I don't remember whether he was riding a bike, I know he had one at the time, or walking. I just don't remember that part of it, but I do remember the last time I saw him, when he left the yard."
And police say, most suspicious is the taped conversation between Dewayne Bell and John Reneer. Reneer told police he played the tape for David Bell the day his son vanished.
Bell: "The tape that I heard, Johnny called me the night that Dewayne disappeared and the tape I heard stated on it, and I don't know what conditions it was under, that Dewayne - sounded like Dewayne said, 'I hit Shannon.' And that was all the tape that I was played.'"
Stefanie: "He didn't say, you need to take care of this or...?"
Stefanie: "He just called you up and said,' Hi you need to hear this' and 'then talk to you later?'"
David: "Well, no. I'm sure I said, 'well, I'm going to go talk to him' and he said, 'well, you probably need to and so I went.'"
Stefanie: "But you never found him?"
Stefanie: "Did you tell police about the tape you heard?"
Bell: "Well for two reasons, one reason was because I didn't want my son being portrayed as a murderer, and the othe,r is because I might get in trouble for knowing about it."
But Bell says the tape he heard back then isn't the same tape police have now.
Bell: "Did, anywhere on that tape, did it state that he hit Shannon?"
Stefanie: "It talked about him beating her up, yeah it did."
Bell: "No, that's not what it said. He said, 'I hit Shannon.' That was the exact words. It's not the same tape and it's not my son, I'm telling you. His mother agrees with me and so does his sister."
But police say nine other family members confirm the voice on the tape is Dewayne, and they say they have growing suspicions about Dewayne's parents. David Bell moved to Arizona just days after his son's disappearance and Dewayne's mother waited more than a week to report her son missing.
Stefanie: "You know that looks strange, that you left to go to Tucson?"
David: "Right, well I had to go back to work."
Stefanie: "But how tough was that? You are leaving and your son is missing."
David: "Well at the time, I didn't think my son, that anything was wrong, I thought that they had run off together, or at least I wanted to."
Stefanie: "But the fact that he is missing and the last person you knew was a convicted killer playing you this tape?"
David: "Right, well the only thing, after he didn't contact me in a couple of years, I did my grieving and I knew he was dead."
Stefanie: "So you would like to put it behind you?"
David: "I would like to."
But he says police are making that impossible.
David: "I mean the first interview I gave them, they said 'well, this is what we believe, that Dewayne accidentally killed Shannon, and you and him got into a fight and you accidentally killed him.' That's totally wrong."
Stefanie: "You would never kill your son?"
David: "I couldn't and not live with myself. I can't hurt any of my kids."
Stefanie: "You have to understand though, that it makes you look guilty that you aren't cooperating with police."
David: "I know, but if you think about it, they are lacking in evidence. But I'll talk to them now, because the only thing I held back was those three words on that tape and that was the only thing I held back because I was afraid I would get in trouble then, but I'm no longer afraid of that because if they could have, they would already have me."
Bell says he believes Reneer hurt Shannon, and his son knew about it, which got his son killed as well.
David: "Probably the night I went looking for him. Oh, but I don't know, because he called."
Bell now says his son called for him after he left town.
David: "I was already back in Tucson. Seemed like about a week, whenever my girlfriend's sister called and said he called for me."
But he never got the chance to talk to him.
David: "What I think right then, is that Johnny was with him and made him call me and he was going to try and get us together where he could kill us both - but I was already in Tucson."
But investigators question why Reneer would want to kill both Dewayne and his father, unless Reneer's account of what happened is true. Reneer has admitted to wanting to kill both men after hearing Dewayne's claims of what happened to Shannon, but insists he never got the chance. A lie detector test backs up his claims.
Reneer: "I have nothing to hide and I don't know that David Bell did a thing, I didn't see him do a thing. I know what I was told he did, and I know that he is too cowardly to speak up for himself and talk to police. I know that he was offered a polygraph and he refused to take it and went and jumped in the lawyer's arms, I know that.
David: "The reason that I haven't been cooperative with them is, I'm afraid they are going to fabricate some evidence for me. I don't trust the system, and I don't trust you either - but I'm telling you the truth."
Bell said he's still undecided about talking to police and taking a polygraph. The day after this interview, Bell was arrested on a parole violation for a recent DUI. He's now in jail. Police say they've received numerous calls and tips.
The county is assisting the city in this case. They're interested in anyone with information.