INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Despite a lengthy investigation and massive report filed, airman Alec Dye’s family and friends say they still don’t know what happened to him.
Alec Dye was a kid who always stood out, whether on the basketball court at Decatur Central High School, or just walking into any room.
“He was always making people laugh. He had that contagious smile,” friend Andrew Kinnaird said.
“He knew everyone. Everyone knows who Alec Dye is,” friend Kelsey Music said.
His story follows a familiar path: a 20-something looking for purpose, joining the Air Force to embark on a new career. After basic training, Dye started his service at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, where he met Marcus Wiggins.
“We had a lot, a lot, a lot of stuff in common,” Wiggins said. “(He was) probably one of the best basketball players I’ve ever seen.”
That should’ve been it: a bright kid with a bright future, well on his way. Months later, though, Dye was deployed to Guam, and after weeks there, disappeared.
Just after Thanksgiving, in 2014, his mom, Donna Dye, answered a call from a higher-up in Barksdale.
“Alec had been missing for eight hours, and I couldn’t really comprehend what she was saying,” Dye said. ” I screamed at her a few times, I believe. I was upset and I told her she better find my son.”
As Alec’s disappearance made the news, Donna was already asking questions.
On December 4, 2014, partial human remains washed up on the same beach where Alec went missing just days earlier. They were quickly identified as him, but that’s when Donna’s questions started piling up.
Her son, she was told, had been out drinking with a friend and gone into the water.
“I know my son and I know he didn’t go into water,” Dye said.
Donna and a large group of Alec’s friends told CBS4 that he didn’t like to swim and is scared of the ocean, especially at night. He’d been drinking and did have alcohol in his system, but his friends said that was something he’d done before near the ocean, on trips to Florida.
“It didn’t happen. I didn’t believe it, it’s very unbelievable,” some of his friends said.
When Donna tried to talk to Alec’s friend, the last person to see him alive, she got nowhere.
“They wouldn’t let him tell us anything and I thought that was really odd because he’s the last person with my son and he can’t tell his parents anything?” Dye said.
For months, Donna tried to get answers and information. Hitting dead end after dead end, she started pushing and taking her own notes.
“Anything they told me, I started writing down,” Dye said.
She had hoped an Air Force investigation report would give her those answers, but when it was delivered to her door last year, she became even more confused.
“I was expecting something and I got nothing,” Dye said.
Breaking down the investigation
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, AFOSI, filed a 2,500 page report on Alec Dye’s death on March 24, 2016.
The investigation spanned 16 months. The report is heavily redacted. Every name is redacted, including those of around 70 people interviewed by investigators.
Included in the report are numerous interviews, handwritten statements, searches, an autopsy report, and other various documents.
It’s clear, in reading it, that one person stood out for the length of the investigation. That person was a fellow airman and friend of Alec’s, who was the last person to see him alive and the person who reported him missing.
According to the report, that friend went through at least two polygraph tests. In a request for approval for one of those tests, investigators said, “(His) recollection of events contained multiple inconsistencies” and they also noted “there were two hours missing” from his story.
The friend said he and Alec spent the day of November 30, 2014 barbecuing and drinking with friends. As they left a friend’s room, Alec asked him for a tour of the base, so the pair hopped in his truck. Investigators found that the two were doing donuts in the truck. They recovered Snapchat videos and talked to a woman who said she talked to them on the phone during that time.
The friend and fellow airman said they ended up at Tarangue Beach near the base, where “(he) received a telephone call from (Dye) who told (him) he was going to the beach and getting into the water.” The friend said he said he saw Alec wave to him, but when he himself got down to the beach, Alec was nowhere to be found.
The friend went on to say that he went into the water to look for Alec, then tried to call for help. When he couldn’t get a signal, he said he went back to his room and called to report Alec missing.
Investigators scrutinized the phone call Alec supposedly made to the friend. Multiple people told them Alec’s phone didn’t work without WiFi and he was not known to make calls, instead using FaceTime on base to communicate with family and friends.
When they asked the friend about about the call, he said “he erased his call log and texts because he was a ‘neat freak,'” and at one point said “he believed it was a ‘message from God’ which allowed” the call.
Meanwhile, Guam’s medical examiner, Dr. Aurelio Espinola, ruled Dye’s death undetermined. CBS4 talked to Dr. Espinola by phone. He said a test turned up no evidence of drowning, and Dye’s remains showed no signs of trauma. Finding only partial remains made the case even more difficult, and Espinola called it “very unusual,” saying “I really don’t know what happened to him.”
Ultimately, though, the report comes to no conclusion about how Alec Dye ended up dead. It says the polygraph tests on his friend rendered No Opinion, and with so much of it redacted, it’s hard to get a complete picture. You can read some of the documents for yourself at the end of this article.
CBS4 reached out to AFOSI for comment. In brief responses to written questions, a spokesperson said “OSI conducts very thorough investigations,” and “After exhaustive investigation, OSI did not develop any new info that indicated suicide or homicide. This case has been closed as an accidental death.”
The spokesperson also said that if new information is uncovered, the case could be reopened.
CBS4 also spoke to the friend, identified to us by Donna Dye herself. In a phone conversation, he stuck to the story he told investigators, saying he could not give the family closure and did not know what happened to Alec that day.
A mother’s search for answers
Donna Dye said the report did not give her the closure she was looking for, and she’s left to guess what happened to her son.
“Everything that I’ve done, I’ve not gotten anywhere and I feel that I’m letting my son down,” Dye said.
She said she’ll never stop pushing for answers, and she believes someone holds the key to unlocking the mystery. She’s hoping for help to get those answers, wherever that may come from.
“It’s wrong that the Air Force or military, whomever, can do this to the families and just get away with it, and not be held accountable for it. Someone needs to hold them accountable,” Dye said.
Click below to read portions of the AFOSI investigation, and a video of Alec Dye’s friends talking about their memories and hopes for the future.
Alec Dye investigation summary
First polygraph in Alec Dye case
Second polygraph in Alec Dye case