Skip to Content

SPECIAL REPORT: Who Killed Dalton Mesarchik?

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

"This was the house that everybody's children came to. I had my 2 kids and my 2 step kids were all in junior high together. I might have 40 kids in my front yard when there was a game."

Every now and then Michelle Mesarchik drives into Streator, past the place she use to call home.

She spent 8 years there, creating memories with her family.

"He always played with his cars. He had matchbox cars. Oh my gosh he played Super Nintendo all the time."

March 26th, 2003.

Michelle's 7-year-old son Dalton was waiting for a van from Church of the Nazarene to pick him up for a bible study.

"They didn't show up. We came out and told him to go in the house. My daughter called and said the church said the van was coming, that it's on the way. I said buddy do you still want to go? He put his shoes on, put his coat back on, and I told him to wait on the porch."

A little while later her daughter was home and asked where Dalton was.

"What do you mean where's Dalton? She said the van didn't show up and we came out and looked for him. I called the church. They said oh the van is not running tonight and it was their policy to contact you if they didn't have transportation for your child and they didn't do it."

Police lights and officers filled the area of West Morrell Street as police started investigating.

A missing person's report was filed.

"The dog went out from the front porch and sniffed and stopped so that's when we knew somebody had pulled up."

Police had this to say about the search for Dalton shortly after he was reported missing.

"We would obviously advise anyone with small children to use caution. They should keep their child in view."

Community members and law enforcement searched for any sign of the young boy.

Michelle said, I didn't know where he was. I didn't know why he was gone. You don't want to think that your child could be dead."

Police confirmed his body was found between 11 and 11:45 March 27th.

A fisherman found Dalton's body in the Vermilion River, less than 24 hours after he was reported missing.

During a news conference in 2003, loved ones of Dalton's said, "This is such a terrible, terrible tragedy. We want to thank everyone that came forward. We want to thank everyone that went out searching."

Police determined that a hammer was the murder weapon.

"When I found that out I was like ugh, how do you feel anything when you're already numb? Still to this day I don't feel a lot of anything. It's weird, part of you shuts down," said Michelle.

A task force was created to find the answers, State Police said it no longer exists.

Michelle and her family have had to deal with a number of questions over the years.

Members of her community speculated she or a family member were involved.

"It hurts. We've all went through everything. I had my daughter on the Steve Wilkos show just to squash those rumors."

Michelle has continued to care for her son as a mother does, while Heart of Illinois ABC was at Dalton's grave with Michelle she wiped up water that was on the headstone.

There's no date of death on it because Michelle doesn't know when he died.

Michelle told Jessica Cook that she has an idea who killed Dalton.

"After all these years yes, but it's proving it and having the evidence and unless they have enough evidence that it's going to stick, you can only try someone once."

She said even if the person responsible for her son's death told her why they did it, it would never be good enough.

"He was going to learn about Jesus and I figure it was pure evil that took him. Nothing but pure evil."

This murder impacted the entire community and like Michelle many people still have questions.

"Did the person who stopped here know why he was here? Did he say I'll give you a ride there? Dalton wouldn't have just jumped in the car. Was he grabbed? Was there more than one person involved? Don't know."

Michelle said she never wants another parent to experience what she's gone through.

"I don't have the answers. The only thing I can do is talk about Dalton, talk about being safe. Tell everybody."

Michelle said she doesn't remember having Dalton's fingerprints when he disappeared.

That's why she started making photo id's for parents.

Each one has a child's print, height, weight, eye color, birth marks, and more.

She stopped a couple years ago, but wants to start again.

Dalton would be turning 25 at the end of April.

Michelle said her little boy talked about becoming a Harley Davidson mechanic.

A memory she holds onto, as secrets to her son's murder still remain hidden, almost 20 years later.

Jessica Cook

Skip to content