The Honorable Catherine A. Sala heard arguments and testimony on two separate issues regarding missing Michigan mother and grandmother, Dee Ann Warner, and her husband, Dale Warner, in Lenawee County Probate Court today.
Last Wednesday, August 9, 2023, Dale Warner and his consultant, Mark Weisberg, were taken into custody for civil contempt of court for failing to follow court orders to turn over financial records and passwords to the Successor Conservator who is responsible for protecting Dee Warner’s estate. They were to remain in jail until they orders were met.
Today, Judge Sala ruled they had satisfied the requirements and ordered their immediate release. Dale and Mark were not physically in the courtroom but participated in the review via Zoom.
The court proceeded to continue hearing the petition filed by Dee’s adult children to declare her dead. Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Drewyor, lead investigator of the Dee Ann Warner case, took the stand. After describing the steps taken to investigate Dee’s disappearance using bank records, phone records, and police databases as well as conducting an international query to border crossings and international facial recognition technology, he indicated he had found no evidence of Dee being alive.
“Dee Warner is dead, sir,” Drewyor told Dale Warner’s lawyer, Lawrence Leib.
When asked by Michael McFarland, attorney ad litem for Dee Warner, if he could rule out the possibility of Dee being abducted, Drewyor said, “Absolutely.” Drewyor explained there were no ransom demands, no sign of forced entry, and no sign of an unknown third-party abducting Dee.
When asked if there were suspects, Drewyor said, “Are you asking if there is a suspect for her murder? Yes. Dale Warner.”
Because Dee’s disappearance is an ongoing investigation, Drewyor estimated he had revealed about 2% of the evidence he had collected. “There’s overwhelming support of facts that her death was the result of a criminal element,” Drewyor said.
Mark Weisberg was an accountant before being charged with embezzlement in 2012. He once worked for Dale and Dee, taking care of financial matters for their various businesses. Drewyor indicated Dee and Mark did not get along and Dee ended up firing him. “It was her opinion, and others’, that he was setting the stage for embezzlement,” Drewyor said.
Shortly after Dee was reported missing on April 25, 2021, Dale resumed his business relationship with Mark. Last week, Mark testified his duties included accounting, invoicing, and helping Dale procure documents for the conservatorship.
Dee’s adult children and extended family believe Dale used a false power of attorney to take out a $1.5 million small business loan after Dee vanished and has been siphoning funds from her estate. On June 20, 2023, Dr. Roy Fenoff, Forensic Document Examiner and Handwriting Expert, testified Dee’s signature on the document was forged. “Dee Ann Warner did not sign the document,” Dr. Fenoff said.
Rikkell Bock, Dee’s youngest adult daughter, visited Dee the afternoon before she was reported missing. Dee was very upset and crying. Dee and Dale had been arguing about a business matter. Dee told Rikkell she wanted a divorce. “They’ve had many, many fights — almost daily — and I’ve never seen my mom in that state,” Rikkell told the court today. She described Dale and Dee’s relationship as, “extremely toxic.”
“One of the last things my mom said to me was, ‘I watch Dateline every night. He could do something like that to me,’” Rikkell said. Sadly, Dee Ann Warner has been featured on Dateline and other nationwide true crime shows and podcasts since she went missing.
Rikkell was adamant her mother would have never voluntarily left her children and grandchildren. Dale and Dee’s only minor child was 9 years old when Dee disappeared. Rikkell described how Dee took her little sister with her everywhere and described them as, “inseparable.”
The night before Dee’s disappearance, a friend came over to take Dale and Dee’s daughter overnight to shield her from what was expected to be a heated argument. The next morning, Rikkell and her family went over to Dee’s to have their usual Sunday breakfast together.
Dee’s vehicles were there, but Dee was gone. Hours later, Dale showed Rikkell her mother’s wedding ring. “He pulled it out of his pocket and said he found it on his desk,” Rikkell testified.
The ring is now missing. The diamond ring has been estimated to be worth about $50,000.
Rikkell testified Dale wanted to wait another day before reporting Dee missing. Instead, Rikkell and her siblings reported their mother missing that evening.
When asked if she believed Dee was murdered, Rikkell said, “Yes.”
The court will hear closing arguments on September 13, 2023, at 9 AM and rule on the petition asking for a declaration of death.