Bonnie Dages and her four-month-old son, Jeremy, left their home around 8:30 pm on the evening of Wednesday, April 28, 1993. The 18-year-old planned to buy a few things for her son and meet up with a friend. She drove her minivan to a shopping center in Brandon, Florida, about eight miles away from her Lithia, Florida home. She pulled into a spot in the parking lot, but what happened to her and her son after that is unknown. They never returned home and they were never seen again.
Bonnie and Jeremy were reported missing when they failed to return home by the next day. Her van was found Friday night, parked and locked in the Kash n’ Karry grocery store parking lot. Inside, detectives found Bonnie’s purse, which contained $75 in cash, and Jeremy’s diaper bag. The only thing that appeared to be missing was Jeremy’s car seat.
Bonnie was the oldest of five children born to Larry and Linda Dages; Jeremy was their first grandchild. Bonnie was a recent high school graduate who was raising her son on her own; it’s unclear who his father was. In order to support herself and Jeremy, Bonnie found a job as a nanny for a family in Lithia.
Initially, detectives thought Bonnie may have voluntarily disappeared with her son. Since she was 18 years old, she was legally an adult, free to come and go as she pleased. They found no signs of foul play in or around her minivan, and though they were initially concerned when they found her purse and money in the vehicle, they soon learned that Bonnie had taken $15,000 out of the bank shortly before she vanished. This meant she had ample money if she wanted to disappear for a while.
Bonnie’s father, Larry Dages, didn’t believe that the teenager had voluntarily vanished; he was certain she had been a victim of foul play. He pointed out that Bonnie left her minivan — her only source of transportation — behind, as well as all of her clothing and all of Jeremy’s belongings. If she planned to go anywhere, she would have taken Jeremy’s diaper bag along. The fact that it was still inside the vehicle indicated to him that Bonnie had planned to return to the minivan shortly after she left.
While Larry had no idea why his daughter had taken so much money out of her bank account, he noted that she left $25,000 in the bank. She had inherited the money from her grandparents and had always said she wanted to use it to buy property. It didn’t make sense that she would disappear with only some of the money.
There were rumors that Bonnie had been secretly dating someone, but investigators were unable to confirm this. Detectives interviewed those close to Bonnie but couldn’t find anyone who had anything bad to say about her; there were no indications that anyone wanted to hurt the missing teenager or her son.
Three weeks after Bonnie was last seen, detectives admitted that her disappearance was suspicious. No one had heard from her since she left for her shopping trip, and the identity of the person she was planning to meet that night was still a mystery. Hoping to turn up some clues about Bonnie’s whereabouts, officials with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office organized a search of the land surrounding Bonnie’s home and the shopping center where her minivan was found.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Lt. Craig Latimer admitted that the department had few leads to go on in the case. He hoped that canvassing Bonnie’s neighborhood and the area surrounding the Brandon shopping center would yield some new information for detectives, but unfortunately, they didn’t learn anything that led them any closer to finding Bonnie and Jeremy.
Larry told reporters that he feared the worst. “It’s absolutely clear to me that my daughter did not just go away…my daughter was a victim of foul play. What’s unclear is I’m unable to put a reason behind it. I’m unable to put a motive behind it. I can’t understand any of it…my whole problem is we just don’t have any information.”
On June 3, 1993, Larry spent the day at the Kash ‘n Karry where his daughter’s minivan had been found. He told reporters he was there to remind people that Bonnie and Jeremy were still missing. He believed that there had to be someone with information about their disappearance and hoped that they would come forward and tell investigators what they knew. He also said that the family had started raising money so they could offer a reward for information leading to Bonnie and Jeremy’s whereabouts.
Larry stated that he believed Bonnie and her son were being held somewhere against their will. “We believe she cannot get in touch with us. We know she did not run away.” He also brought up the mystery person Bonnie was planning to meet the night she disappeared and pleaded for them to come forward. “We have no desire to destroy this man. We just want to get past these questions and take the next step in the investigation.
Months went by and it was clear the investigation was starting to stall. Detectives were unable to develop any solid leads about the missing mother and son. Bonnie’s mother, Linda Dages, was certain that her daughter and grandson were dead and she was devastated by the fact that investigators were unable to find their killer.
Linda noted that the uncertainty surrounding Bonnie and Jeremy’s disappearance was hard for the family to take. “We hope to find someone who will give us the evidence that we need just to find out where they are and to bring them home. And, of course, to find out who did this to them.”
Detectives said they had interviewed hundreds of people but had been unable to find anyone who knew what happened to Bonnie. They had even consulted a psychic from California to see if she could offer any new information. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Marsicano told reporters the department paid $1,000 to fly parapsychologist Kathy Rhea to Florida. “She had worked for other agencies…we had no other leads coming in and she was willing to donate her time.” Nothing she told them helped them find Bonnie and her son.
Sgt. Marsicano was hoping that satellite photographs taken over Brandon, Florida by NASA and the United State Department of Defense might help shed some light on what had happened to Bonnie and Jeremy; he ordered copies of the photographs but was still waiting for them to arrive. Unfortunately, the photos didn’t capture anything that assisted the investigation, which soon went cold.Bonnie (Photo credit: facebook.com)
In August 1995, the Walmart in Bloomingdale, Florida dedicated a missing persons display case in honor of Bonnie and Jeremy. The case, which was placed in the store’s lobby, featured dozens of missing person posters from around the country. It was a way of reminding the Dages family that the community hadn’t forgotten about Bonnie and Jeremy.
In 1999, Bonnie’s parents made the painful decision to have her and Jeremy declared legally dead; they were certain that the pair had been murdered. A judge agreed and granted their petition, but it didn’t provide any comfort. They wanted to be able to recover their bodies so they could give them a proper burial.
By 2003, Bonnie and her son had been missing for a decade. Linda Dages felt as if she were frozen in time, her mind constantly going over what might have happened in the Kash ‘n Karry parking lot the night that Bonnie and Jeremy vanished. “People tell you to just move on with your life, and you do the best you can, because you have to…but part of you is always holding out that tiny sliver of hope that they might be found. You can’t stop hoping.”
In August 2003, Linda participated in the “Have a Heart for Missing Children” walk, along with other parents whose children were missing, friends, and law enforcement officers. The walk served to raise awareness about the missing as well as educate parents on ways to ensure their children were safe.
Bonnie and Jeremy’s case failed to gain much traction in the news media, despite the fact that double disappearances are quite rare. There were a few short news articles when they first went missing but the media soon lost interest; not even the anniversary of their disappearance managed to garner any press.
Over the years, detectives interviewed more than 700 people and conducted several physical searches for the missing mother and son, but were never able to determine exactly what happened to them. Capt. Craig Latimer admitted, “It’s as if they vanished into thin air. We got nothing. It’s not only a case of who-done-it, it’s a case of where-is-it.”
In June 2005, Larry told reporters that he was angry about the way the case had been handled. He had lost not only his daughter but also his first grandchild, and he said that Father’s Day was a painful time for him. “I get waking nightmares, the kind that come during the day.” He believed that detectives hadn’t really cared about the case because they looked down on Bonnie for being a teenage mother.
Larry thought he knew who the killer was, though he didn’t provide any names and admitted that there wasn’t evidence to prove anything. “I do believe the killer will be caught one day. I just hope it happens in my lifetime, that’s all.”
There was little progress made on the case over the next decade. In 2019, Linda noted that she still drove by the parking lot where Jeremy and Bonnie were last seen on a daily basis, always wondering what could have happened to them. Over the years she learned more about the mystery man Bonnie planned to meet that night: it was a neighbor who was 20 years older than her. The nature of their relationship is still unclear.
According to Linda, Bonnie had been secretly seeing the man. “She thought she was in love, and that he loved her, but he told her their relationship had to be kept a secret. The reality was, he was using her as he had used other women.” He likely saw Bonnie as an easy source of cash since she had inherited money from her grandparents. She went to the bank and withdrew $15,000 to give to him, telling friends she was investing in a business.
Sadly, Bonnie seems to have been blinded by love and unable to gauge the man’s true intentions. “She said her life was about to change, he was going to marry her soon and she would have a new, happy life, but she had to keep it a secret. Then Bonnie and Jeremy were gone. Vanished.”
Detectives spoke with the man shortly after Bonnie and Jeremy were reported missing but he denied having anything to do with her disappearance. He insisted that he barely knew her, had no plans to meet her on the night she vanished, and wasn’t about to go into business with her or marry her. While it seems unlikely that Bonnie would have lied to her friends about their relationship, detectives found no evidence of foul play and were unable to link this man — or anybody else — to Bonnie and Jeremy’s disappearance.
Bonnie’s friends and family members believe that she was murdered shortly after she vanished, but they are unsure if Jeremy met the same fate. Since he was only four months old at the time, there was no risk of him being able to identify Bonnie’s murderer; it’s possible that he was sold or adopted by a family that had no idea his mother had been killed. One man did come forward several years ago because he thought he might be the missing boy, but a DNA test ruled out this possibility.
As of July 2023, Jeremy and Bonnie have been missing for more than 30 years and detectives still don’t know exactly what happened to them. Linda just wants answers. “You’re always looking and always waiting to hear something…even if it’s a death bed confession. We just want to know what happened.”
Bonnie Lee Dages was just 18 years old when she vanished from Brandon, Florida in April 1993. She told friends she was going to meet a man she had been seeing so she could give him money to invest in a business. While this man has been identified, he denies having anything to do with Bonnie’s disappearance and detectives have no evidence linking him to any crime. Bonnie has blue eyes and blonde hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 150 pounds. She was last seen wearing pink denim shorts, a blue T-shirt, and white sandals.
Jeremy Lee Dages was just four months old when he vanished with his mother in April 1993. He has blue eyes and brown hair; it’s possible he was adopted by a family that had no idea he was missing.
If you have any information about Bonnie and Jeremy, please contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 813–247–8660.