Yesterday, in Lenawee County Probate Court, a pretrial was scheduled for Hon. Catherine A. Sala to decide whether there was enough evidence to proceed to a jury trial to declare missing Michigan mother and grandmother, Dee Ann Warner, dead. The jury trial was requested by Lawrence Leib, attorney for Dee’s husband, Dale Warner, who originally contested the petition filed by Dee’s four adult children.
Instead of moving forward with the jury trial, Leib withdrew their objection to the petition to declare Dee dead. Speaking on behalf of Dale Warner, Leib said, “This has been a very emotional time for him. It’s been two years since his wife, Dee Ann Warner, left or disappeared.” Leib continued by saying it was a painful decision for Mr. Warner to concede his wife may no longer be living and that the well-being of Dale and Dee’s 11-year-old daughter factored into the decision.
Leib refused to allow Todd Flood, the attorney representing Dee’s adult children, to question his client. Instead, Dale Warner was sworn in and was only on the stand briefly to answer a couple questions from Leib. Dale Warner stated he had no objection to the petition to declare his wife dead and waived his right to a jury trial on this matter.
Todd Flood told me, “I have an avalanche of evidence to show she was murdered — direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. It is overwhelming.” Flood did not name a suspect.
Dee Ann Warner was reported missing from her rural Tecumseh, Michigan home on April 25, 2021. The night before, she had planned to tell Dale she wanted a divorce and to sell their businesses.
Last night, Gregg Hardy, Dee’s brother, said, “Today, the victory for the family was the fact they destroyed their own narrative — because they only had one. For two years, they’ve professed she is in Jamaica or Mexico or walking around here with a fake identity.”
On Monday, May 15, 2023, Todd Flood will provide documents for the judge to review that show why Dee’s family believes she is deceased. Another hearing is scheduled on June 20, 2023, for the judge to ask questions and hear witness testimonies, if necessary.
Hardy said, “Mr. Flood has gathered volumes of evidence.”
Hardy stressed the importance of his sister being declared dead. He said, “We could never do a wrongful death suit without her declaration. A wrongful death suit will be filed the day she is declared dead, I promise you.”
Dale Warner will be making several more court appearances in the upcoming months. He faces multiple criminal contempt of court charges in June. There is also a civil complaint against him in Civil Court, filed by the Conservator for the estate of Dee Ann Warner, charging him with several business crimes including common law conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and silent fraud.
For background information on the disappearance of Dee Ann Warner, you can start here. For all the latest information on Dee’s case, you can join the Justice for Dee Facebook page. Below is a QR code to the Justice for Dee website, where news on her case is updated regularly.