Saturday, 22 April 2017

What happened to Nan Dixon? Nevada, 1979

A user over at Tumblr asked me what I thought happened to missing woman Nan Dixon.
Honestly, I hadn’t heard of the case before, so I decided to check it out and write a post of my own.

73 year old Nan Celine Dixon went missing on the 21st of September in 1978 from Grass Valley, California. Dixon had set off from her grass valley home and was making her way to Seven Troughs, Nevada to drop in on her brother, a man named Harry Leighton. He owed her around $6000 and she was going to collect it.

According to her Doenetwork page the journey should have taken around three hours and her destination was around 180 miles away nearby a place called Lovelock.
She was to make the trip alone, riding in her 1976 Datsun B210. I’ve seen it described as “Lime green” or “Yellowish green” in color with California plates, registration 915RHV. 

Nan Dixon never met with her brother and his family and despite searches was never heard from again. Strangely, around three months later the missing woman’s husband noticed that $4.18 had been used on his charge card. It turned out that the cash had been spent on gas in Lovelock. The monthly statement revealed it was a Texaco gas station. Despite further searches no trace of Nan Dixon or her vehicle were found. The lime green Datsun was eventually discovered by hunters four years after Dixon had been reported missing.

Strangely it was found in a place that investigators had previously looked, (apparently the car was found on “Eagle Picher mining property.”/ 40.29482, -118.7821)

 This, coupled with tire marks that seemed to pull off the main highway and drive down into a valley and into a gorge, suggested that the car had been deliberately driven in that direction. Nan Dixon’s body was not in the car but the Charley project page states that there were a couple of pieces of duct tape, one of which had “possible human tissue” and a strand of hair. It doesn’t say whether or not the hair and tissue belonged to Dixon or someone else. If they did belong to Dixon it could suggest she was gagged at some point, although if she was using the tape it would have been quite easy to get a piece of her own skin and hair on it in general. The case report also states that there “appeared” to be blood on the rim of the car tire, the tire itself and in the trunk. I’m not sure why it is stated to only “appear” as blood, I mean is it or isn’t it? It’s not difficult to confirm. Also was it her blood or not? Does anyone else know?
 A commenter on the reddit unresolved page said it wasn’t proven to be blood.

In a Ventura county star article from 1982 Deputy Sheriff Bill Davis admitted that he suspected foul play due to evidence found in the car, but did not elaborate.

There were four empty cigarette packs in Dixon’s car too. She was described by her family as a “light smoker” and since the packs found in the Datsun weren’t her usual brand they don’t believe that they belonged to the missing woman. To be honest, I know light smokers who sometimes smoke more depending on what they’re doing or how they’re feeling and who would rather some a brand they didn’t like over nothing, so I’m not sure if the cigarettes indicate anything suspicious. I suppose (at a stretch) if they think someone else moved the car since it wasn’t there when they did the previous searches it could be a clue to who moved it, but it really isn’t much to go on.

 I should note that the gas tank was half full. Could this be the $4.18 of gas in Lovelock? A full tank of gas for that specific model of car in the late seventies / early eighties was around $8, so that could make sense.

Now another thing found in Datsun was what police believed to be a suicide note. Here’s a copy of it

(image source)

The general consensus is that it says:

"...keeps telling me to use my gun and end my nightmare, but this I'll never do for God gives life, only God can take life, committing suicide is the unpardonable sin and I will never be..."

What could this mean?

Some suggest that she might have got into a survival type situation and considered ending it with her gun, but couldn’t do it due to religious beliefs.
The vehicle was found in an area by hunters so it possible she could have went off the road and was taken by wild animals? The note seems desperate and scared, like she’s in a situation where she feels she had no way out and contemplates ending it with her gun. It’s possible she just wandered off and didn’t make it.
What happened to Nan? C. Dixon?
The case remains unsolved.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. WOW thats really touching and its sad when a person goes missing. by now Nan Dixon would be 112 years old. she has been missing for 39 year and still not found. I hop one day some will find Nan Dixon and to say a proper good by.

  4. I 100% agree that the note is NOT a suicide note. I think she was making sure, if she didn't get out of her predicament alive, then she was ensuring that people would know that she fought to save herself. My thoughts? She got herself turned around out there, mistook the wash for a road off the mountain and drove down to it, getting stuck in the process. Could there have been blood on her tire and rim? Absolutely, especially if she fell, or was scraped while trying to get her car unstuck from it's final resting place. There are so many scenarios, but it is most likely that her bones are somewhere around that area (her trying to hike out of that ravine and save herself, after no one coming along to find her waiting in her car). They just need someone to start looking.... REALLY looking, and turning in EVERYTHING found, instead of holding onto it as a relic. Let the authorities sort out what is important ant what isn't. Just my thoughts.

  5. Couple of questions. This charge on the credit card... did he just notice it months later or was it actually charged months later. Is the gas bill from around the time of the disappearance, or did someone use her card months later?

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. One of the ending statements began by saying "She was found in the area by hunters......" So, does that mean she was found..?

  7. so her car was found nearby a abandoned mine?

  8. I think the brother did it. 6,000 was a lot of money back then.

    1. I think the same thing .
      It's sad to think that but &6000 is alot of money back then. Hell it's alot now for some people.

  9. I am a “light smoker” as well. In an average week I smoke MAYBE one pack. However, on a road trip (I’ve driven I-80 to and from Denver to SF about thirty times) I smoke like crazy.
    That being said, I don’t think it’s even possible to smoke four packs (assuming all were full at the start of her trip) in the relatively short distance between Grass Valley and Lovelock even if one were smoking one right after the other with no break. Maybe MAYBE if a person were trying to win a bet or something but it seems exceedingly unlikely to me. Also, I’ve known smokers who can switch brands depending on availability and price, but I switched to an obscure brand in 1996 and never looked back. I will drive all over town to buy “my” brand and I’ll go without smoking if I can’t find them.


  11. Today, Sept. 21, 2018, is the 40th anniversary of Nan's disappearance.

  12. I was just driving out through there today, stupidly, without a map, compass, water, gun, or GPS. (Also - in a Nissan Versa - what would basically be todays Datsun 210) Holy crap is it easy to get lost out there, and that alkali dust just sucks the water out of you, plus so many dirt roads it'd be easy to get turned around if you didn't have your wits about you.

    I say the brother did it. If he actually lived in 7 Troughs in 79, there was something off about him. Vernon, 7 Troughs, etc. have been abandon for 100+ years. Anyone living out there doesn't like people.

    Venture safely out there! At 3 different points I was only a mile or two from 'civilization,' but couldn't tell and didn't carry on in fear of getting lost. Mark EVERY turn you make, every fork in the road - no matter how insignificant it seems. A lot of those roads are nice and maintained but turn into rocky narrow passes where you can't turn around for miles.

    CARRY WATER, GAS, and whatever sort of weapon you're comfortable with. I saw 2 people while out there, but realize folks being that far out prob. don't want you to stubble across them. See story above and realize ' The Hills Have Eyes' is based on a true story. : D

    1. Oh wow, thanks for sharing your first hand experience!