Doe Network

4945DMMO - William Francis Hoag

William is on the left; circa 1967

Name: William Francis Hoag
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: May 10, 1967
Location Last Seen: Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri

Physical Description

Date of Birth: circa 1956
Age: 11 years old
Race: White
Gender: Male
Height: "5'5"
Weight: 80 lbs.
Hair Color: Red/Auburn
Eye Color: Blue
Distinguishing Marks/Features: He has a scar under his right arm in the shape of a V from a picket fence incident, fair skin with freckles, and a crew cut hair style. His nicknames are Bill and Billy.


Dentals: Unavailable
Fingerprints: Unavailable
DNA: Unavailable

Clothing & Personal Items

Clothing: White T-shirt & blue jeans.
Jewelry: Unknown
Additional Personal Items: 1 scout shovel, flashlights, homemade lantern.

Circumstances of Disappearance

William disappeared with his brother, Joel Hoag, and a friend, Edwin "Craig" Dowell. The boys were last seen on the south side of Hannibal, Missouri between 4:20 and 5:00 p.m. They were carrying shovels and a flashlight, and said they were going to explore Murphy's Cave, near the Highway 79 construction project. The three boys have never been heard from again.

That day, the construction work resulted in a cave-in at Murphy’s Cave. Because of the circumstances, authorities theorized the three boys were trapped inside the cave when it collapsed and weren't able to get out. Extensive search-and-rescue efforts turned up no sign of any of them, however. In 2006, construction workers building a new elementary school on Highway 79 found a small cave about 50 feet long. Authorities checked it to see if the Hoag brothers or Craig were there, but they didn't find anything. Because nothing was ever found, there's speculation that the children weren't lost in the cave and something else caused their disappearances. There's no evidence to support any other theories, however. A memorial marker for the boys has been placed in the vicinity of the cave.

William and Joel left behind five brothers and four sisters. Their family owned Hoag's Tavern, a popular restaurant on Main Street. William attended A.D. Stowell Elementary School at the time of his disappearance, and was a member of the Royal Ambassadors, a youth group at his church. The three boys' cases remain unsolved. In 2010, author Charles Stewart published a book about them, entitled A Sorrow of the Heart.

Investigating Agency(s)

Agency Name: Hannibal Police Department
Agency Contact Person: Lieutenant John Zerbonia
Agency Phone Number: 573-221-0987
Agency E-Mail: Unknown
Agency Case Number: Unknown

NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: N/A

Information Source(s)

ABC News 7, KHQA
BGHS Missouri History

Admin Notes

Added: 4/26/2016; Last Updated: 4/26/2016

Submit an update to this case file.

Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team

** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.

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