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Human remains found in Watertown identified as David Riemens

Jacob Smith • Jan 26, 2018 at 3:15 PM

Wilson County sheriff’s detective closed the missing persons case Friday on David Riemens, who disappeared in Watertown nearly six years ago.

An intact skull found Sunday afternoon on a property off Taylor Road in Watertown, which led investigators to the rest of the remains, was identified Friday as Riemens.

Riemens was missing since Aug. 8, 2012. His case received national attention after he vanished from the parking lot of the Dollar General in Watertown.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to the community of Watertown, where he was very well thought of by everyone who knew him,” said Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan. “We appreciate all of the help we received in an attempt to locate Mr. Riemens. He lived off the grid, with no social media accounts, credit cards or cellphones, which made this case very tough on finding leads; tracking his movements digitally was out of the question. This case will continue to be investigated by our criminal investigation division.”

Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore said detectives wouldn’t know until they receive a full report from the state medical examiner’s office as to whether foul play was involved in Riemens’ death.  

Riemens planned to leave for Michigan to see his family Aug. 8, 2012, around noon. The trip was delayed by a couple of days due to the prospect of a new job offer he received.

He told friends and family he wanted to bid the job before leaving so he would be ready to work when he got back. Those close to him said he was excited about this new prospect of rock-facing the block foundation of a house. A man Riemens had met just off the square in Watertown owned a house where he once worked.

Riemens mentioned to the man he was looking for some old brick, and the man said he had some old brick he could have.

While at the man’s barn gathering the antique bricks, he noticed some construction at a house nearby. The man knew about Reimens’ work as a stonemason and offered him a job to rock face the block foundation of the house. According to his friends, Reimens said the man told him it was his daughter who wanted the work done to the foundation.   

No one really knows if he ever met with the contractor that day. The people involved with the job and the construction site itself never came forward. So no one was able to ask any of the people involved with the job if they met up with him. 

One of his friends, Toni Tatu, a Watertown resident, saw him pull into the Dollar General as she was leaving. He came to her car, and they spoke for about 10 minutes before she left. She was the only person who saw Reimens that day, to anyone’s knowledge.

He did not go home that night, but Laura and Donnie Nusstle did not think too much about it. The next day, when Riemens did not return home, Nusstles became worried. They noticed the bag he packed to take to Michigan was still at their house. They called around to see if anyone had seen or heard from him. Then, when they found out from a friend his truck was parked at the local Dollar General, they called the Wilson County Sheriffs Office. When more people from Watertown began to call authorities and tell them it was unlike Riemens to do this, Detective B.J. Stafford was assigned to investigate the case.  

The search that ensued after Riemens’ disappearance included many people and resources from several different places. Law enforcement, family, friends and Watertown community members did everything in their power to try to find out where Riemens went after his encounter with Tatu in the Dollar General parking lot. The information that came to light is a set of circumstances that left many baffled. 

Stafford said it was hard to track down Riemens due to his lifestyle of living off the grid. He had no modern amenities that most people do to connect them to the world digitally such as a cellphone or even a bill in his name. Even though Riemens had a bank account, he had no credit or debit cards connected to the account. So there was little in the way of tracking phone and transaction records. Stafford said investigators were able to discover Riemens withdrew a sum of money from his account, but it was most likely for his trip to Michigan.

With tracking his movements digitally out of the question, Stafford put boots on the ground. He and his unit went out and began to interview anyone and everyone thought to have any information on Riemens’ whereabouts. He and his unit were able to build a timeline of where he had been, not only on the day he disappeared, but also the day before. The timeline went completely cold at the Dollar General, Stafford said.

Investigators took evidence from Riemens’ truck with the hope it would give them any clue as to what happened. This included samples of the bricks from the barn and biological evidence. They have yet to match the bricks. They were of such antique design and so old, they can only match them to the original pile from where Riemens pulled them.

Investigators attempted to find the construction site to find out if he made it there that day. Without the names of the people at the construction site and them not coming forward, Stafford said he knew they would have to physically find the site. With the knowledge of how long it took him to go there and back home, Stafford figured the site was 20-30 minutes from his house. With the knowledge of how the roads are around his home, they developed a 10-mile radius to search for the site. Searching that big of an area proved to be difficult for both the people searching, as well as authorities.  

All of the men involved with the job in question were not identified. Reportedly, there were two men at the house doing brick work while Riemens was there for rock work. The people searching for Riemens have a small description of the house where the work was done. At the time, detectives had not found the house, either.

Family and friends requested tracking dogs be used at the truck to see if they could get a scent. The dogs tracked Riemens’ scent from his truck to the spot next to where his truck was parked as where the trail ended. The dogs’ handler said he most likely got out of his truck and into another vehicle. Friends said it was behavior unlike Riemens. It was widely known he did not like to be the passenger in another person’s car. Even a passenger in a close friend’s car was said to make him nervous.

Family and friends searched tirelessly for Riemens on the side of the road, in case he did get into some one’s car, and they ran off the road into a ravine or brush. There are many areas around Watertown where if a car ran off the road, it would not be found for along time. Stafford and the family realized if that was the case, then there would be another person missing. After not finding another missing person within the search area, they revoked that theory.    

His family and friends all described Riemens as a loyal and kind man who would not leave without saying anything. Those close to him said he had no known enemies. He was well liked by many in the community, which was shown by the number of people who helped search for him. With no resolution to his disappearance, several theories surfaced about what happened to Riemens.  

Stafford said the people who know what happened remained silent.  

“Somebody knows something or saw something and needs to come forward,” said Stafford at the time.   

He said 90 percent of the case hinged on getting the right tip. Investigators needed information from someone who directly saw something.   

Riemens’ story was featured in May 2016 on the Investigation Discovery television show, “Disappeared.”

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