Margaret Dash, Retha Hiers, and Donyelle Johnson had never met, but they all have something in common. They all dated Cleveland Hill Jr., and they are all missing.
According to 10 Tampa Bay News, in 1968, Cleveland Hill Jr. shot his wife and mother-in-law, served time, and was released to destroy more lives.
June 14, 1974, is the last time anyone has seen or heard from Margaret Dash. On this day, she left her Wildwood Street home in Clearwater, Florida to run an errand. She borrowed her then-teenage daughter’s car, a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass, and headed off to pick up medicine for an ill relative. Margaret has never been seen or heard from again.
The next day, her husband and family reported her missing. One month later, the car she borrowed from her daughter was found abandoned in a parking lot in St. Petersburg, Florida, with a missing hubcap. Her husband was given a polygraph test and ruled out early on as a suspect, the Charley Project reports.
An investigation revealed an affair Margaret was having with Cleveland Hill Jr. Not only was Cleveland married, but he was the pastor of Margaret's family church. When found out, Hill apologized to Margaret's husband, but the affair continued for months afterward. When Margaret decided to end it, she told her husband that Hill threatened to kill her, the Charley Project reports.
Even though Retha Hiers and her husband had six children and had been together for 25 years, they only married shortly before her disappearance. Months before she vanished, her husband (then boyfriend) found out she was having an affair with a family friend, Cleveland Hill, Jr. Cleveland Hill, Jr., an asphalt contractor, was also married. Retha was so upset about her boyfriend finding out about the relationship that she attempted suicide, so he agreed to marry her. She swore the relationship with Hill was over, the Charley Project reports.
Per police reports, on December 19, 1982, Retha left her residence at the Breakers Apartments on Campbell Lane in Largo, Florida to purchase laundry detergent.
"I can remember her standing at our back door, waving at us, telling us she loves us and goodbye,” her daughter, Dana Hiers, told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s the last I remember, at the age of 14.”
Retha never returned.
A few days after her disappearance, her husband received a letter. The letter was supposedly from Retha stating she was leaving him, wanted to be with Cleveland Hill, and that she wanted the children to stay with her husband.
Four months later, her two-door white 1976 Ford Elite was found on Gulf To Bay Blvd in Clearwater, Florida. Retha Hiers, wife and mother of six children, has never been seen or heard from again.
According to the Doe Network, on April 4, 1989, Donyelle Johnson left home to attend classes at St. Petersburg Junior College in Clearwater, Florida. She never made it.
Authorities later located her abandoned vehicle behind a Hardee’s restaurant on Belcher Road in Largo, Florida. Largo is the same city Retha Heirs lived in, although officials located her vehicle in Clearwater.
A man called a towing company and identified himself as Johnny Bailey. The man reported that the vehicle was having issues and needed a tow. Upon inspection, the car only had a loose battery connection with no other mechanical problems. Johnny Bailey was never located or identified.
Two days later, Donyelle’s father filed a missing person’s report. On this same day, he received a letter (sound familiar? -Retha Heirs' husband received a letter, too), reportedly from Donyelle, stating she was involved in drugs, that she was moving to Orlando and wanted to straighten her life out. Handwriting experts claimed the letter was really from Donyelle, the Charley Project reports.
During this time, Donyelle was in a relationship with Cleveland Hill, Jr. He had showered her with money, expensive gifts, and even a car that her parents made her return to him. Over time, Donyelle became afraid of Hill and tried to end their relationship. She told her mother and father that Hill had threatened her and told her that he would “make people disappear," the Charley Project reports.
Cleveland Hill Jr. was interviewed by authorities, but told police Donyelle was a cocaine trafficker who probably moved to Florida. She has never been seen or heard from again.
“When I had my kids, she was there for me,” her aunt Janie Smith told the Tampa Bay Times. “I miss her so much.”
Cleveland Hill Jr. was sentenced to a drug trafficking conviction in 1992. He was released from prison in 2008 and moved to Virginia where he died at the age of 70. Authorities stated there was never enough evidence to charge Cleveland Hill in the cases. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Cleveland Hill "maintained his innocence on his deathbed," TBN reports.
In July 2022, Officials announced they received several tips that human remains were buried at 1201 Gooden Crossing in Largo, a property once owned by Cleveland Hill Jr. Investigators excavated the property from June 28, 2022, to July 6, 2022. Authorities did not find any human remains or evidence connected to the disappearances of the three women.
Retha, Donyelle, nor Margaret have ever been found.
Retha Hiers was 5'1 and weighed 130 pounds when she vanished.
Donyelle Johnson was 5'5 and weighed 122 pounds when she vanished.
Margaret Dash was 5'6 and weighed 142 pounds when she vanished.
Please contact the Clearwater Police Department at 727-562-4080 with any information.