Lisa Marie Kimmell Murder: Where is Dale Wayne Eaton Now?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Forensic Files II: Lil Miss Murder’ chronicles how Lisa Marie Kimmell disappeared while traveling to her hometown in Billings, Montana, from Denver, Colorado, in late March 1988. While the remains of the 18-year-old were discovered eight days later, the case remained unsolved for nearly one-and-a-half decades before forensic science helped the authorities apprehend the teen’s rapist and killer.

How Did Lisa Marie Kimmell Die?

Lisa Marie Kimmell was born to Sheila and Ronald Kimmell in Covington in Tipton County, Tennessee, on July 18, 1969. The daughter of a US Marine Corps, she grew up in Billings, Montana, and graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1987. After graduation, she started managing an Arby’s restaurant in Aurora, Colorado, near Denver. Her mother, Sheila, was a regional manager of the American fast-food restaurant chain, and the two commuted between Billings and Denver—a distance of approximately 555 miles —weekly.

Image Credit: Find A Grave

The show noted how the mother-daughter duo resided in a Denver apartment complex — each in their own separate apartment. They regularly traveled to their hometown, where Ronald and the other Kimmell children —two daughters — lived. Lisa was described as a hard-working, dedicated individual packed with potential. Those who knew her portrayed her as a sweet, fun, and outgoing person who loved to collect teddies. Family sources stated that Kimmells lost their youngest family member when Ricky Lee Kimmell died in a tragic accident.

The family experienced another tragic loss when Lisa, 18, was reported missing to the authorities on March 26, 1988. According to reports, she was en route to Billings on March 25 and had planned to stop in Cody, Wyoming, along the way to pick up her boyfriend, Ed. When she did not arrive, a concerned ed called her parents, and they filed a missing person report the following day. The police arranged a massive search for the missing teen, with different law enforcement agencies and volunteer groups joining to look for Lisa.

The search eventually came to a tragic end when a local fisherman discovered Lisa’s body in the North Platte River near Casper, Wyoming, on April 2. Her autopsy determined that she had been bound, beaten, and raped for at least six days. Police sources stated she had been taken to the Old Government Bridge, where she was hit on the head with a blunt object and stabbed six times in the chest and abdomen before being thrown into the river. The medical examiner testified the head wound alone would have been fatal even if she had not been stabbed.

Who Killed Lisa Marie Kimmell?

According to reports, Lisa was last seen alive around 9:06 pm on March 25 in Douglas, Wyoming, when a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer pulled her over on a traffic stop. She later stopped at a Douglas convenience store where her killer probably made contact with her. As soon as her body was discovered, the investigators focused on searching for Lisa’s vehicle — a black 1988 Honda CR-X automobile with a Montana plate bearing a personalized “LIL MISS” license plate.

According to family sources, Lisa was named after her parental grandmother, who nicknamed her “Lil Miss,” a shortened form of “My Lil Miss Lisa Marie.” Due to the car’s distinctive license registration name, the authorities were confident recovering the car would directly lead them to the teen’s rapist and killer. Despite her case featuring in popular contemporary crime television programs and local witnesses calling with probable leads, the authorities could find no suspects or evidence. Over the years, the case grew cold and remained so for the following 14 years before the police had a breakthrough in the 2002 summer.

By then, forensic science had gradually evolved over the past decade, and the investigators researching cold cases came across Lisa’s rape kit. They developed the killer’s DNA profile with the help of the retrieved seminal evidence. When the officers ran the DNA profile through the national CODIS database, they found a match with Dale Wayne Eaton Moneta, Wyoming. Court documents showed he, then 57, was incarcerated on an unrelated weapons charge at the Englewood Federal prison in Littleton, Colorado.

Police sources state his DNA profile was laced in the CODIS database after he kidnapped a family at gunpoint while offering to assist them when their vehicle broke down in late 1997. According to reports, the Breeden family — Shannon, her husband, Scott, and their 5-month-old, Cody — was driving from Michigan to Washington state in September 1997. However, their vehicle broke down on Interstate 80, about 40 miles west of Rawlins. They spent the night in the van, but Dale, a concerned passerby, showed up in the morning.

He offered to drop them off in Rocky Springs, and they reluctantly accepted his help. He pulled out a rifle mid-journey and attempted to kidnap them. But the family escaped and contacted the local police. Wyoming Highway Patrol Officers arrested Dale, but he managed to escape. However, the police arrested him again while he was hiding in the Shoshone National Forest and possessing a weapon, thus elevating his crime to the federal level. He was incarcerated in a federal prison and forced to submit a mandatory DNA sample.

Dale’s next-door neighbors reported to investigators that they had seen him digging a large hole on his property in Moneta, Wyoming, approximately 75 miles from Casper. The police excavated the site and unearthed Lisa’s Honda CRX, still bearing her distinctive license plate. Court documents state one of his fellow inmates also told the authorities that Dale allegedly confessed to him about sexual advances to Lisa while offering her a ride. When Lisa rejected them, the situation rapidly escalated to abduction, rape, and murder.

Dale Wayne Eaton Remains Incarcerated

Dale faced eight charges concerning Lisa’s death, including first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, first-degree sexual assault, and second-degree sexual assault. He was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death on March 20, 2004. With all his appeals eventually dismissed, he was scheduled to be executed in February 2010 but managed to have a stay of execution in December 2009.

While the stay order was reversed in 2014, the state decided not to pursue reinstatement of his death sentence in September 2021. Dale’s sentence was commuted to life without parole, and the 78-year-old remains incarcerated at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution.

Read More: Jewel and Betty Schirmer Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?