In April 2007, Royal Daniel III AKA Scoop, a prominent lawyer based in Breckenridge, Colorado, disappeared from his office. Colleagues discovered his dog inside the office, but as the afternoon passed without his return, they became concerned and filed a missing person report. Later in the evening, a call was placed to 911 from his phone, adding to the mystery. The investigation into his disappearance is explored in the episode ‘Disappeared: Royal Secrets,’ delving into the efforts to uncover the truth and determine if he was eventually located.
Royal “Scoop” Daniel III Disappeared From His Office
Royal Daniel III, also referred to as Scoop, was born on September 28, 1945, and spent his early years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Displaying academic excellence, he graduated from Yale University and pursued a legal education at the University of Virginia. His professional journey began with roles in various law firms in Washington D.C., eventually leading him to co-found his firm, The Daniel Law Firm, in 1990. During this period, he was also married and shared eight children with his wife. However, facing challenges in their marriage, the couple divorced in 1994, and Scoop relocated both his residence and firm to Breckenridge, Colorado.
In his new community of Breckenridge, Scoop chose not to disclose his previous life in Washington, including his past marriage and children. Establishing himself as a real estate attorney, he even dedicated pro-bono efforts to assist West African immigrants in their green card application processes. Actively engaged with the Father Dyer United Methodist Church, he contributed to the choir and participated in various charitable organizations and non-governmental organizations. He was widely regarded as an upstanding citizen committed to sincere and honest contributions to society.
On the evening of April 26, 2007, Scoop attended a fundraiser with his girlfriend and later returned to his home with her. They spent the night there, and on the morning of April 27, around 5 a.m., he dropped her off at her home before heading to his office. By 8:30 a.m., Jamie Light, his office manager, arrived at the office. She noticed familiar signs of Scoop’s presence—coffee brewing, his dog in the office, and an empty breakfast bowl. There were also items on his desk, including a pen, paper, her salary check, and a pair of broken sunglasses, but she didn’t think much of it at the time.
As Scoop missed two meetings and couldn’t be reached, his colleagues became increasingly concerned and reported his disappearance to the authorities. Initially, there were fears of abduction, and this possibility was explored by both friends and investigators. The investigation also delved into the potential scenarios of him being injured, harmed, or going through a psychological episode, but none of these theories seemed to fit. A call from his phone was received around 7:45 in the evening, lasting only 19 seconds. The call was traced to his office, but there was no sign of Scoop.
The police began investigating Scoop himself as his behavior on the morning of his disappearance raised concerns. Notably, he arrived at the office much earlier than usual, and CCTV footage did not capture him leaving the building or being anywhere else. His girlfriend added to the unusual circumstances, mentioning that in the five months they had been together, she had never seen him lock his house. However, that morning, he not only locked his house but also gave her a key to his apartment. Additionally, he gave her a pair of his jogging suits and a pair of his favorite boots.
The issuance of his office manager’s cheque by Scoop on the morning of his disappearance raised suspicions, as he was not known for being diligent with administrative tasks. His passport and his motorcycle were also missing from his house. The police began questioning whether he had taken care of important matters before intentionally leaving. In his office, they discovered shredded paper, which turned out to be notices of child support he had not paid to his ex-wife. The revelation that he was a father with a family he had kept secret from everyone made his friends suspicious.
Upon discovering Scoop’s unpaid bills, the police initiated an investigation into his finances and executed multiple search warrants at his residence and office. It was revealed that he had over 20 bank accounts, regularly transferred funds between them, and had embezzled approximately $900,000 from his company and clients in real estate transactions. Consequently, an arrest warrant was issued for him on May 8, 2007, and by the end of the month, his law practice license was suspended.
Royal “Scoop” Daniel III Remained Missing for More Than 4 Years
On December 7, 2011, a white-haired man attempting to cross the border from Mexico to California was flagged down when he presented his passport. The man was identified as Royal Daniel III AKA Scoop and his arrest warrant had been activated. He was taken into custody and transported to the San Diego Central Jail. He explained to the police that, in 2007, he faced severe financial difficulties, which led him to embezzle funds in an attempt to sustain his business. While some of the missing $900,000 were located in various accounts, an amount of $561,571 remained unrecovered.
Scoop asserted that he had contemplated suicide, intending to carry out the plan on the day he disappeared. His plan involved driving off a mountain on Hoosier Pass, and he carried his passport to ensure the identification of his body. According to Scoop, he made a 911 call seeking help but ultimately abandoned the idea after dialing. Instead, he boarded a bus to an unspecified location and eventually ended up in southern Mexico. He admitted to having persistent thoughts of suicide but claimed he could never bring himself to follow through.
He asserted that he spent the next four years leading a humble life in Acapulco, Mexico, unaware of any arrest warrant against him. According to him, his return was solely to make amends with those he had wronged. On the contrary, prosecutors argued that Scoop had returned to the US to claim Social Security payments, which he became eligible for upon turning 65 in 2010. In April 2012, he entered into a plea deal with prosecutors, admitting to two counts of felony theft and receiving a 12-year sentence. He served time in a Colorado State Prison, and as of the latest reports, 78-year-old Scoop is currently on parole.