Dad Said Mom Wasn't Coming Home. Finding Her Took 40 Years

ESPN looks at the disappearance of Dolores Wulff
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2021 3:35 PM CDT

The last time Paul Wulff spoke to his dad was in 1989. "Until you tell me more information, I don't have a whole lot to say," Wulff recalls saying to him. The "more information" he wanted were details related to the disappearance of his mom, Dolores, a decade prior; from the get-go, father Carl had been suspected of being involved. After Dolores went missing in July 1979, he perplexingly announced to his four kids and her family that she had left and was never coming back. Police found a blanket with blood on it and one earring in Carl's trunk, but were unable to prove he had killed her. As ESPN reports in a lengthy look at the case, Carl never supplied more details to his son, who was 12 when his mom disappeared, was subsequently raised by a kind and inspiring uncle, and went on to become a standout player at Washington State and have a career as a football coach. Though Wulff tried to get those details from his old man.

In 1985, a then-18-year-old Wulff became "his family's final hope for justice" when he wore a wire and tried to get a confession out of his dad. It didn't work. His dad died in 2005 at the age of 70, with Dolores' fate still a mystery. But then, a phone call. Last summer Benicia police detective Kenny Hart requested a DNA sample from Wulff, hoping it would prove a body found in the nearby San Francisco Bay in September 1979 was his mother's. On Oct. 20 came the confirmation: It was a match. "At first, I didn't say anything; I couldn't say anything," Wulff said. "You're thinking, 'Is this real?' The raw emotions [were] brought back ... It felt good, but I think there's a sense of frustration for some of [my relatives]. Here she was found, literally 48 days after she disappeared. They couldn't connect the dots." Carl is still the primary suspect. (Read the full story.)

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