Dalton Mesarchik was seven years old when he was murdered. His body was found in a river in Streator, Illinois, more than 18 years ago.
At about 6:15 or 6:30 p.m. on March 26, 2003, Dalton sat outside his home in the 400 block of West Morrell Street on an enclosed porch.
He was waiting for the church van to transport him to a Bible study program at First Church of the Nazarene.
His 12-year-old sister saw him on the porch as she left their home and went to a friend’s house to wait for the same van.
Dalton, a student at Centennial School, went inside his home around 7 or 7:15 p.m. and told his parents, Michelle Mesarchik and George Scott, that he was still waiting for the van.
He went back outside, and that was the last time anyone saw him alive.
At around 7:45 p.m., Dalton’s sister returned to the home after the van never arrived to pick her up. She then asked, “Where is Dalton?” as he was no longer on the porch.
Michelle and Scott told The Times in 2003 that the church van wasn’t running that night, but they said no one from the church provided them with that information.
They had only learned about it by word of mouth.
Rev. Ron McKee, the pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, stated that the driver was unable to make her routes that night because she was out of the state with her husband, who had fallen ill.
When his relatives were unable to find Dalton, they contacted the Streator Police Department and reported him missing, which prompted a search by law enforcement and hundreds of volunteers from Streator.
An Amber Alert was also issued before the community began helping police comb the area, which included railroad tracks, ditches, and backyards, in search of the missing brown-eyed, brown-haired boy.
Three pairs of his shoes were used to help three or four bloodhounds track his scent, but his scent was lost in the middle of the street.
Investigators believed that Dalton was kidnapped after evidence suggested he was picked up near the roadway.
He may have gotten into a van he mistakenly thought belonged to the church, according to the Chicago Tribune.
At around 11:30 a.m. the following day, March 27, 2003, Dalton was found dead. A fisherman discovered his body floating in the Vermillion River near a tree, just off County Road 600 East in Livingston County.
An autopsy revealed that Dalton died from blunt force trauma to the head, which was the result of an attack.
The murder weapon was a three-pound hammer, a Benchmark Pro, which was recovered in a trash bin outside the Polish National Alliance in Streator.
The hammer, which had a metal head and a wooden handle, contained blood that matched that of Dalton’s. It was sold exclusively at Kmart stores.
Livingston County Sheriff Robert McCarty stated in 2003 that the department was “working closely with Kmart Corporation, trying to identify anyone who might have purchased this type of hammer or might have had this type of hammer stolen.”
“We asked anyone who purchased this type of hammer to check that it is not missing.”
In 2004, Illinois authorities got a break in the case. After sending physical evidence to an advanced crime lab, they uncovered that a “specific type of person” had to have committed the murder, though they didn’t go into details, according to The Pantagraph.
However, they are still waiting for more proof that will lead to an arrest and conviction.
Elaine told Jessica Cook of Heart of Illinois ABC that she may know who killed her son.
She said, “After all these years, yes, but it’s proving it and having the evidence, and unless they have enough evidence that it’s going to stick, you can only try someone once.”
It’s been more than 15 years since Dalton was found dead, and his mother still has questions.
She said, “Did the person who stopped here know why he was here? Did he say I’ll give you a ride there? Dalton wouldn’t have just jumped in the car. Was he grabbed? Was there more than one person involved? Don’t know.”
“It’s a horrible, horrible, traumatic thing to go through,” Scott said. “It never goes away. Other people can still go to dinner with their children.”
“Michelle and I are never going to be able to do that with Dalton again. His brothers and sisters will never have that with him again either.”
Investigators have interviewed dozens of people, including sex offenders, and followed up on hundreds of leads, but they have yet to find the person or persons responsible for Dalton’s death.
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Dalton Mesarchik is encouraged to contact the Illinois State Police through the Dalton Mesarchik Task Force at 1-877-325-8666, or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.