published Friday, December 7th, 2012

Man thinks missing wife is dead, friend may be responsible (with video)

Tom Wilkes speaks about the disappearance and possible death of his wife, Dana Wilkes, during an interview in Hamilton County Jail on Thursday. Wilkes, who is in jail for violating his probation as a habitual traffic offender, believes the partial human remains discovered last month belong to his wife.
Tom Wilkes speaks about the disappearance and possible death of his wife, Dana Wilkes, during an interview in Hamilton County Jail on Thursday. Wilkes, who is in jail for violating his probation as a habitual traffic offender, believes the partial human remains discovered last month belong to his wife.
Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Tom Wilkes speaks about his wife's disappearance
In a video from our news partners WRCB-TV, Tom Wilkes speaks about the disappearance and possible death of his wife Dana Wilkes during an interview in jail Thursday. Wilkes, who is in jail for violating his probation as a habitual traffic offender, believes the partial human remains discovered last month belong to his wife.

Sitting in a blue concrete-block room at the Hamilton County Jail, Tom Wilkes says he thinks he knows who could be responsible for his wife's disappearance and perhaps death.

"I have murder in my heart," Wilkes said in an interview about the disappearance of Dana Wilkes, his wife of just over a year.

Wilkes, 57, said one of his friends -- a man with a violent criminal record -- may have had something to do with the crime.

"There had to be some trickery somewhere," he said. "Maybe he was on drugs. ... I believe he knows something."

Wilkes said he believes the partial remains of a woman found on Nov. 25 in the 3700 block of Youngstown Road are those of Dana Wilkes, 48.

Chattanooga Police Department detectives showed him pictures of the Mickey Mouse and butterfly tattoos on the body to help confirm the identification.

"When I seen the tattoos, I knew they were hers," Wilkes said.

Chattanooga police have made no arrests in the case and have not officially identified the body. DNA samples were taken from the body and submitted to a lab to confirm the identity.

Dana Wilkes was last seen Nov. 9 near her home in the 100 block of Palo Verde Drive.

Tom Wilkes said he spoke with her on the phone the same day.

Her 2000 green Jeep Cherokee was found near Wilcox Tunnel on Wilcox Boulevard a day later with blood splattered inside on the dashboard.

Wilkes said his friend's relative lives a short distance from where the vehicle was found.

Wilkes has been incarcerated since Oct. 21 without bond for violating probation on motor vehicle offenses. He is expected to appear before Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern on Monday.

Handcuffed and confined to a wheelchair as he talked with reporters for about 45 minutes, Wilkes said he's frustrated that he cannot take care of arrangements for Dana.

"I'm upset I can't go out there and bury her properly," he said.

He still calls his wife's cellphone just to hear her voice. He still wears his wedding band. He said he dreams about her at night, but knows the woman he met five years ago, fell in love with and courted intensely for several months is not coming back.

"I told [God], you gave me an angel, and you took her away," Wilkes said.

The couple met five years ago when Tom Wilkes, who suffers from kidney failure, went to Dialysis Clinic Inc. for treatments. Dana Wilkes, who worked for the company for 14 years as a certified patient care technician, cared for him.

"I romanced her for about two to three months," Wilkes said.

Now he finds it hard to accept that the life they shared has ended.

"I can't believe it," Wilkes said. "It don't seem like it's real."

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