32-year-old Rodney Lynn Kiser lived in the Hazel Mountain area of Dickenson County, Virginia. His home was situated off the main road, about a half a mile from the Hazel Mountain Lookout tower, which is a well known local landmark for the area. He worked in nearby Trammel, Va running an H&G Market which his brother owned. Before that, he had been a Sheriff’s Deputy but had chosen to resign.
Not far from where he was currently living, he owned more property. This location had a mobile home, large storage building, and several junk cars occupying it. Rodney enjoyed tinkering with the cars, and if he couldn’t fix them he would often salvage for parts.
On April 26, 1990, Rodney’s sister saw him drive past her house in the direction of the latter of the properties. I’m not sure why, perhaps he’d recently moved, or just didn’t want the headache of a ringing phone… but he didn’t have any telephone service at his new location. However it was still active at the other property, and he would go there frequently to check his messages.
After several hours had passed without Rodney showing up at work or back to his home his family grew concerned. A girlfriend of his said that he had gone to Alexandria to see his brother, but he never showed up at his brothers home either. The girlfriend also went on to say that he was going to stash some stolen cigarettes he’d purchased, which made no sense to his family given that he had plenty of places he could hide something if that had been the case.
Law Enforcement was called, and given the story about the stolen cigarettes, so they assumed he would show up in a few days.
His family knew the story made no sense, so they set out to find him.
May 4, 1990, his truck, a tan colored 1983 Dodge Ram, was found parked at his old place, the keys were in the ignition, the drivers’side window was rolled partially down, and the tailgate was up. Given that his family had been searching for him I’m assuming it hadn’t been there from the beginning. Now, according to Rodney’s family, he never left his truck unlocked. Relaxing at his home…truck was locked. Walking away for a few seconds to buy a drink…truck was locked. So him actually leaving it unlocked, window down, with the keys still in it… that was something that Rodney would never do. The tailgate was another issue to them, he was known to always keep it down.
Upon further inspection of the vehicle, a small brown case (like a shaving case) was found under the seat of the truck. Inside was Rodney’s checkbook, cash, food stamps from the stores deposit the last night he’d worked, and a few other unnamed items. The .357 Magnum that he always kept in his vehicle, it was missing. It’s still never been located.
Blood was found on the wall of a room that was built onto the back of the trailer, and despite there being recent attempts to have DNA extracted, it’s never been successful. Sadly, his family didn’t know what blood type Rodney had, and even after calling his Doctor’s Office and the local hospital, it was still left unanswered.
According to Law Enforcement, there have been several leads in his disappearance, but they’ve all lead to dead ends. At the beginning of the investigation, LE believed there were 3 people who knew what happened to Rodney, but they’ve all since passed away. Let me stop here and just say that even if LE has a notion that someone may have been involved, they can’t just go after them without some form of evidence. That would be a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
His checking and savings accounts remain untouched.
Another important, however, heartbreaking/infuriating piece of information is that since 1990, a lot of the evidence in Rodney’s disappearance has since been lost.
I suppose you can label it a ‘local legend’ at this point, but the most well-known story about what happened to Rodney was that he was murdered on the property his truck was found and then taken to an area known as Bear Ridge and dropped into a cavity in the Earth. Now, I’m not 100% sure of the location of ‘Bear Ridge’ but if it’s the one that comes up in Dickenson County, Va, it’s about a 20-30 minute drive from the Hazel Mountain Lookout Tower.
Unfortunately, I do think he was probably killed at his property where the truck was located, and I think that perhaps the girlfriend who told the story about his trip to Alexandria may have been involved. What else would have been her reasoning to tell such a diluted story, other than to buy someone some time. I just can’t figure out what the actual motive behind his murder would have been. Cash was found in the brown case under his truck seat….so whoever it was didn’t do a very thorough job if they were motivated by money. Maybe he was involved in something that his family didn’t know about? Maybe he knew information about something from his time as a Deputy that got him killed? Maybe someone lied about him and manipulated the whole scenario into happening?
I did locate Rodney’s niece and reached out to her, but I’ve never received a response. I’m hopeful that eventually, I will. If I do, I’ll update accordingly.
Dickenson County Sheriff’s Office (276) 926-1600 Case# 90-84-02-0459