Chance Wackerhagen was a 9-year-old boy who lived in Kingsville, Texas, with his mother, Gaye Williams. Chance’s father, Lee Wackerhagen, and Gaye had divorced when Chance was 6-years-old. Lee, who was a truck driver, was now living in Lockhart, Texas, where he had a new girlfriend, Latricia Gail White. Latricia was a recently divorced mother of two and a registered nurse.
On the 17th of December, 1993, Chance left his mother’s home to spend the Christmas period with his father and Latricia in Latricia’s home.
On Christmas Day, Gaye called Chance to wish him a happy Christmas and ask him if he was having a good time. She said he sounded extremely excited about the Christmas presents he had received from his father, especially the Old West-style duster coat and GI Joe figures. In fact, Chance said that he was having such a good time with his father that he asked Gaye if he could stay a few extra days.
“I told him to call me later so we could set up a time when he would come home, but I never heard from him again,” said Gaye.1
On the 27th of December, Latricia was discovered murdered in her home by her father, Jack. “I just called her name and then I went over and felt her. And I knew that she was dead,” he recollected. She had been shot six times in the head with a .22 calibre gun. There was so signs of a struggle and nothing appeared to be missing, ruling out a robbery gone wrong. Chance and Lee were nowhere to be found.
It was announced that Lee and Chance were being sought by federal, state and local law enforcement officials. Three arrest warrants – including one alleging murder – were filed against Lee. “He needs to bring his son home, or at least call somebody and let us know if he’s okay. We’re not even sure if he’s alive,” said Gaye. She said that despite what police were theorising had happened, she didn’t believe that Lee would have ever harmed his son.
However, several of Latricia’s friends came forward to tell police that Lee was a jealous man. “I think she just told him the relationship was over and he just couldn’t take the rejection,” suggested her friend, Susan White.2
Lee’s car was discovered abandoned in Austin, Texas, three days later. Inside, police found Lee’s hunting rifle, check book and wallet. However, an examination of the gun revealed that it hadn’t been used recently. Police also found bloodstained Christmas presents, a toolbox, and spare tire. DNA testing indicated that the blood wasn’t from Latricia. However, DNA testing couldn’t determine if it came from Chance or Lee.
Despite being featured on “America’s Most Wanted,” the case went cold. Around four months later, Chance’s grandfather received a phone call from somebody who whispered “help me” before hanging up. He is adamant that the call was from Chance but Lee’s family aren’t so sure and believe it was simply a cruel prank.
Police originally believed that Lee had killed Latricia before fleeing with his son. However, in 2016 they announced that they had new evidence to indicate that both Lee and Chance were victims of foul play. They now speculated that the murder was a crime of passion, perpetrated by somebody close to either Latricia or Lee.
“Investigators found nothing in the home appeared to be missing and believe that this murder was most likely a crime of passion committed by someone closely associated to one or more of the victims,” the release said.3
Nevertheless, their whereabouts still remains unknown.
- Corpus Christi Caller-Times, 8 February, 1994 – “Mother Still Waiting for Son to Return from Holiday Visit”
- Austin American-Statesman, 30 December, 1994 – “Search Continues for Man Wanted in Caldwell County Woman’s Slaying”
- San Antonio Express News, 18 May, 2016 – “Central Texas Cold Case of Slain Woman, Missing Father and Son Gets New Attention”