A dog came home covered in blood. Its owner’s remains were just found in Shasta County.
Aerial panorama of Shasta Lake in Northern California, crossed by the Pit River Bridge carrying I-5.
halbergman/Getty Images

The family of a missing Shasta County man has waited in agony since 1997 — and although last month they finally got some answers, more baffling questions still remain.

David Wayne Wallace, then 36, was last seen on May 3, 1997, at his father’s Lake Shasta home. Wallace left the home around 10 p.m. with his dog for an evening stroll around the lake. Not long after he left, Wallace’s father reported hearing shouting outside. 

Wallace never returned from his walk, although family members say his blood-covered dog found its way home. According to the Redding Record Searchlight, family members say police didn’t investigate Wallace’s disappearance, allegedly saying he was an adult who may have left of his own volition. It’s not clear if the blood found on the dog belonged to Wallace, the dog or a third party.

Wallace’s loved ones searched around the lake, but found no trace of him. Although the case wasn’t covered in the media at the time, the family was able to get a listing on the Charley Project, an online database that tracks missing person cases. 

David Wayne Wallace, 36, disappeared in 1997 on a walk with his dog around Lake Shasta, California.

David Wayne Wallace, 36, disappeared in 1997 on a walk with his dog around Lake Shasta, California.

Charley Project/Handout

A break in the case came in October 2020, when two hunters stumbled upon part of a human skull on Bollibokka Mountain, near the top of Lake Shasta’s northernmost branch. That skull was DNA tested, finally getting a match last month to Wallace. 

Shasta County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tim Mapes told SFGATE that the department’s major crimes unit and the county coroner’s office are investigating the case. “With the minimal amount of remains recovered, a cause of death has not been determined,” Mapes said. 

Mapes said sheriff’s office investigators are treating Wallace’s death as a missing persons case. “Nothing in the initial investigation suggests it was a homicide,” he said. 

The sheriff’s office will likely continue searching in the area for more remains.

Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. When Wallace went missing, he was wearing a tan shirt, blue jeans and wore a red backpack. He had brown hair and hazel eyes and distinctive tattoos; a wizard on his left forearm, a gun on his upper right arm, a woman on his right forearm and “Against” on his left arm and “The Law” on his right.

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