Tecumseh, MI

Dale and Missing Dee Ann Warner: $1M is at Stake in Harvesting Dispute

Tracy Stengel
Dale and Dee Warner.Photo byParker Hardy

The lawyer of the Successor Conservator for missing Dee Ann Warner was in Lenawee County Circuit Court yesterday in order to continue protecting Dee’s estate. Dee and her husband, Dale Warner, have a large farm in Tecumseh, Michigan and the crops need to be harvested.

Dale Warner is currently residing in Lenawee County Jail due to criminal contempt of court. He was sentenced to 93 days, along with fines and an order to reinstate funds to Dee’s estate.

In Dale and Dee’s absence, someone needs to be authorized to harvest. At stake is 1800 acres of corn and soybeans. The potential harvest is estimated to be worth 1.5 or 1.6 million dollars.

The Successor Conservator wants to hire a third party to harvest to ensure the money goes into Dee’s estate. Dale, upon his incarceration, gave power of attorney to his son, Jaron Warner. Dale wants Jaron to harvest the crops.

“Jaron can do it cheaper,” Sean Murphy, Dale’s attorney said.

It was revealed Jaron has already harvested a small portion of the crops in question. Murphy claimed Jaron was only testing the equipment.

John Polderman, attorney for the Successor Conservator argued, “We’re trying to prevent dueling combines to see who can harvest the fastest.”

There is a sense of urgency to determine who is authorized to harvest. The corn can sit up to 30 more days, but the soybeans need to be harvested as soon as possible.

Gregg Hardy, Dee’s brother told me, “It’s been an unusual fall here and the crops are coming in simultaneously. The soybeans are at the highest risk of damage from lack of harvest. You need a sunny, dry day to harvest soybeans. You can harvest corn on a gloomier day with no sunshine and some dampness. With soybeans, you can’t. The window of opportunity is much narrower to harvest soybeans. There’s more time to get the corn out, but the soybeans are definitely more time sensitive.”

Dale was not present in court. Lawrence Leib and his client Mark Weisberg were present via Zoom. Mark is a former accountant who was convicted of embezzlement. He worked for Dale and Dee years ago until Dee fired him.

Shortly after Dee disappeared in 2021, Dale hired Mark back. Court papers refer to him as Dale’s personal assistant.

Earlier this year, Dale was court ordered to terminate Mark’s employment and Dale failed to do so. Polderman, representing the Successor Conservator of Dee’s estate, filed a motion to discharge Mark and remove Dale’s authority over the crops.

Polderman stated the Successor Conservator does not want to be, “forced to use a convicted felon for accounting . . . nor have Dale running things from jail.”

“We want to stop the games,” Polderman said. By hiring a third party to do the harvest, it would, “prevent further mischief.”

Murphy countered Polderman was, “overstepping his boundaries.” As to hiring a third party, Murphy said, “It’s going to cost the estate a tremendous amount of money.”

In regard to discharging Mark Weisberg of his duties, Lawrence Leib assured the court Mark had no access to the checkbooks. He referred to Mark as a consultant. “He’s not an employee. He can’t be terminated as an employee. He never has been,” Leib said.

The Hon. Michael R. Olsaver is expected to email his decision in a day or two.

Dee Ann Warner’s daughter discovered her mother was missing April 25, 2021, the morning after Dee had planned to tell Dale she wanted a divorce. Dee’s four adult children and extended family members have made it no secret they believe Dale is responsible for her disappearance.

They filed a petition for a declaration of death in Judge Sala’s Lenawee County Probate Court. The evidence has been presented and they are now waiting on Judge Sala’s ruling. If Dee is declared dead, they plan to file a wrongful death suit against Dale Warner.

For background on the disappearance of Dee Ann Warner, you can start here. Join the Justice for Dee Facebook page for all the latest updates.

Who do you think should have the authority to harvest Dale and Dee’s crops? I’d love to read your opinion in the comments.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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