Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Background Check Links Child Rapist to Disappearance St. Charles Girl, 12, Missing since 1979

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Background Check Links Child Rapist to Disappearance St. Charles Girl, 12, Missing since 1979

Article excerpt

Nathan D. "Danny" Williams, a convicted child rapist, is a suspect in the 1979 disappearance of a 12-year-old runaway from St. Charles, police sources say.

In a related development, St. Louis detectives say they are awaiting DNA analysis of blood traces recovered from a vehicle Williams allegedly drove, to see whether it links him to the 1989 disappearance of another girl, Gina Dawn Brooks, missing from Fredericktown, Mo.

Meanwhile, Williams' lawyer, Joel Schwartz, said his client is not involved in either case. Police are merely trying to link cases of missing girls to Williams to pressure him, Schwartz said. "Danny Williams is not the demon or the monster they've portrayed him to be," Schwartz said. Williams, 36, of St. Louis, was convicted twice of brutally raping young girls. He is serving a 30-year sentence. Authorities believe he also may be a serial killer with victims as far away as Arizona and Utah. Now he is in St. Louis City Jail, awaiting a murder trial in the fatal throat-slashing of Laura Dinwiddie, a volunteer social worker who died in 1975, when Williams was 14 years old. Williams also is the prime suspect in the highly publicized disappearance of 13-year-old Gina Dawn Brooks, who was grabbed off her bicycle near her home in Fredericktown, on Aug. 5, 1989. She was never heard from again. While investigators were delving into Williams' background to investigate the 1975 murder and the disappearance of Gina Dawn Brooks, they learned about Tammy Surdam. Fearing The Worst Tammy Rose Surdam was 12 years old when she disappeared from a youth home in St. Charles in August 1979. Tammy's family members and friends always assumed that the too-trusting girl had run away, just as she had done several times before. As the years passed, her relatives often wondered why she didn't at least call someone. "It's like she vanished off the face of the Earth," said Tammy's mother, Elaine Surdam. Now, Tammy's family members are fearing the worst. Recently Williams' name has been linked to Tammy's disappearance. St. Charles police investigating the case say they cannot comment. Privately some officers say that Williams is a suspect. St. Louis Homicide Detective Chris Pappas and FBI Agent Bill Francis are the lead investigators into Williams' past. Pappas said he has spoken with two people who, on separate occasions, said Williams told them that he had snatched a 12-year-old girl off Jefferson Street in St. Charles in the late 1970s. One of the witnesses said Williams put the incident near a college. Both sources said Williams raped the girl, stabbed her and then buried her body in a rural area of St. Charles County. Pappas asked St. Charles police whether they had any girls reported missing in the 1970s. Tammy's case surfaced. Her disappearance had received no publicity because Tammy was a chronic runaway. The feisty, blond girl vanished just two days after she had been placed in the Youth in Need shelter, at 529 Jefferson Street. The shelter, a large, white house, is four blocks from Lindenwood College. In September 1988, Tammy Surdam's sister, April Fowler of St. Charles, placed an ad in the local newspaper. "Tammy, please call home. Dad is very ill." Fowler, now 36, explained: "Tammy and Dad were close. Dad died that September 11, and I was hoping and praying that I'd see Tammy at the funeral." There was no response, just as there had been no response after Fowler had wished Tammy a happy birthday in newspaper ads in 1979, 1980 and 1981. Growing Up Too Fast Tammy, the youngest of six children, loved roller skating. …

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