When the bare body of a young woman named Julia Keenan was found lying along the road a few weeks after being reported missing, her family and friends were devastated and eager to find the individual responsible for the tragedy. In the episode titled ‘Justice for Julia’ of ‘Dateline NBC,’ the disappearance and murder case is explored in detail, including the interviews with the victim’s acquaintances. Moreover, it lets us in on the investigation that followed for several years before the culprit was brought to justice. Thus, if you are intrigued to learn more about this case, including the identity and whereabouts of the perpetrator, let’s delve into the details, shall we?
How Did Julia Keenan Die?
Julia Marie Keenan Dawson was brought into the world by Tamara Roberts Keenan and Kevin Keenan on October 25, 1981, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Apart from her loving parents, she grew up with her brother Patrick Keenan. Julia completed her schooling at Northville High School and became a single teenage mother to Kevin. After graduating high school, she worked shifts to support her family and son.
Sometime in 2000, Julia met Timothy Dawson on the internet, and just a couple of weeks of getting to know each other, they moved into a little house together at 141 Maple Street in Sparta. After that, she fell into a solitary routine as she worked night shifts at a plastics manufacturing plant to have the day free to look after her boy, Kevin, and sometimes Timothy’s two daughters. After less than a year of living together, the couple decided to take their relationship to the next level and married in Rockford District Court on October 19, 2001.
On September 28, 2003, almost a couple of years later, Julia gave birth to a son named Alexander Lyle Dawson. Everything was seemingly alright in her life, but as it turns out, some unresolved problems in her life came to light. Julia went missing on December 11, 2004, and about three weeks later, on January 3, 2005, she was found bludgeoned and strangled to death near a guardrail by Pierson Road and U.S. 131 in Montcalm County.
According to Timothy, the married couple ran some errands until noon, after which he napped while his wife went shopping. He claimed that he contacted her friends and family when she didn’t return home, and just before midnight, he searched for her. The next day, on December 12, 2004, Timothy reported the 23-year-old woman missing and involved the authorities.
Who Killed Julia Keenan?
When Julia Keenan’s disappearance case was brought to the police, they didn’t waste any time to begin an investigation and began searching for her. They questioned her loved ones and acquaintances to get a clear picture of her recent state of mind, where she was last seen, and by whom. Upon further search of the areas surrounding her house, the investigators found the couple’s green Dodge Caravan abandoned at Balyeat Park. To play their part in finding Julia as soon as possible, her family put out a $5,000 reward for information that might lead to her.
Already on the police’s list of suspects, Timothy Dawson made his case worse when he transferred $8,100 from a joint account with Julia to an account in his name just a couple of days after she vanished. When Julia’s body was found three weeks after her disappearance, the case turned into a homicide, and the authorities started looking for a killer. Soon, Timothy was admitted to Hackley Hospital in Muskegon after an apparent suicide attempt. Getting another chance at life, he moved out of the state with baby Alexander and started a new life with a woman he met in Kerrville, Texas, before settling there in 2005.
What turned Timothy into the prime suspect in the case of Julia’s murder was when the investigators learned about their strained marriage. The couple had supposedly hit a rough patch, and the marriage took a turn for the worse, so much so that the latter consulted a divorce lawyer in the spring of 2004. Julia even told some of her co-workers and friends about her plan to divorce Timothy a few months before her disappearance and murder. After months of delay, on December 10, 2004, she allegedly told her mother that she had had enough and was coming home to her, putting her husband in the rearview mirror.
The police believed that the 23-year-old victim was killed the day after telling her mother she was coming to her, while it was also alleged that Timothy had planned the murder after getting to know that his wife had consulted a divorce lawyer. When the authorities found enough evidence to back up their claims of him being the perpetrator, in early 2008, they charged him with first-degree murder. They arrested Timothy at the mobile home in Kerrville, Texas, which he shared with his alleged third wife and kids.
Where is Timothy Dawson Now?
Timothy Dawson’s trial for the murder of his wife, Julia Keenan, finally began in October 2008, nearly four long years after her disappearance. As the prosecutors came up with multiple incriminating pieces of evidence against him over the following weeks, the jury found him guilty of killing Julia. Consequently, Timothy was convicted of first-degree murder on November 6, 2008.
A month later, on December 8, 2008, 32-year-old Timothy Dawson was sentenced to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. A couple of years later, he and his defense team reportedly appealed to the court to possibly consider a retrial, but it was denied as the court upheld its decision. Currently, Timothy is serving his sentence at The Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan.