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Dateline: Missing in America podcast covers the June 2020 disappearance of Dia Abrams in Mountain Center, California

Keith Morrison reports.

Play Episode 6 of the second season of Dateline: Missing in America Podcast below and click here to follow.

Read the transcript here:

A few hours east of the storied beaches of southern California... east along famous boulevards and endless crowded freeways and out past the ranks of desert-hugging suburbs… is a winding road up and up into the San Jacinto Mountains... to a town called Idyllwild. A small unhurried place -- rustic by intent, planted among ancient rock formations and lofty pines.

And just outside that little town, perched like a postcard among the trees, is Bonita Vista Ranch, the home of 65-year-old Lydia Abrams. Or ‘Dia,’ as everyone called her. Bonita Vista was Dia’s Eden. Within its 116 acres was everything she loved: nature, peace, and most of all, said her friend Julie Stanford, her animals.

Julie Stanford: “So, a number one little animal is Ruby. That's her baby, that cute little doggie. She had miniature donkeys, she had a miniature pony named Fonzie. And that's what she was out there doing every day -- was being with her animals, making sure they were OK.”

Dia’s son, Clinton Abrams, said there was absolutely nothing that could make her leave that ranch of hers. Not even the threat of wildfires.

Clinton Abrams: “My mother wouldn’t leave the property when there was a large fire surrounding three sides of her land.”

Keith Morrison: “She refused to leave?”

Clinton Abrams: “She refused to leave because she felt that if she left, the fire -- the department would let the structures burn.”

Keith Morrison: “And she wouldn’t -- wouldn’t want that to happen.”

Clinton Abrams: “She did not want that to happen. That’s how much she loved the ranch and the animals."

But something -- or someone -- did make Dia leave her ranch and her animals.

It happened -- whatever it was -- on Saturday, June 6, 2020. All morning Dia was home in the ranch house, as usual. And by sundown on that warm summer evening, she was gone.

Behind her, she left a trace of evidence in the form of a text message. At least, according to the man who said he received it.

Keith Harper. 74 years old, and the man who calls himself Dia’s companion.

Keith Harper: “She texted me at 4:20.”

Keith Morrison: “Oh, she did? OK.”

Keith Harper: “And she says to me, ‘Harper, you cannot save me from all things. Even if you believe you can, you cannot.’”

Dia was afraid, said Harper. Desperately afraid.

I’m Keith Morrison, and this is ‘Missing in America,’ a podcast from Dateline.

The disappearance of Dia Abrams is a genuine puzzle, so listen carefully. Someone can provide the final piece of that puzzle. Maybe you…

To help tell Dia’s story, we’ll speak to two men at the center of her life: her son, Clinton Abrams, and the man she lived with, Keith Harper.

As you will hear, they do not like each other — at all.

Keith Morrison: “The two of you are opposing sides in this thing in more ways than one.”

Keith Harper: “More ways than one.”

Keith Morrison: “Like two angry guys looking across a chasm.”

Keith Harper: “Well, there's some truth to that.”

Keith Harper, who goes by “Harper,” told us this about what he said was the last time he spoke to Dia that day on the ranch that Saturday afternoon.

Keith Harper: “She said, ‘Harper, you got a minute? I have something I need to talk with you.’ And I said, ‘Dia, I’m down mowing the meadow. It's going to take me till dark to get it done. I need to finish the meadow. Can we talk once I get done?’”

Keith Morrison: “Wait a minute, you said -- she said, ‘You got a minute?’ And you said you couldn't give her a minute?”

Keith Harper: “I look back on that and I’m deeply regretful about that. I'm not sure what her concern was, but I wish I had listened.”

And that last strange text message, “You can’t save me from all things”?

Although it was marked 4:20 p.m., said Harper, he didn’t see it until he was headed back to the ranch house around 7.

And when he walked inside -- silence.

Keith Harper: “I look around, I don't see her there. So I call her. When I call her, that ring goes upstairs to the bedroom. So I think, ‘Hmm, she must be upstairs.’ So I go upstairs. Her phone is plugged in. I cannot find her anywhere. I then go downstairs, and I think, ‘Well, she's taken the truck.’”

At that point, said Harper, he figured she must have gone to another building on the property called the lower horse ranch. And if she was there, she wouldn’t need her phone. She’d be coming right back.

But then he went downstairs, he said. And there was her purse with her keys on the kitchen counter.

Keith Harper: “I get a little more concerned when I see that. That's when I make the effort to do a search of the property. I go out and check the truck as that would be the element of her ability to leave the property. Her truck is parked where we had designated it. I then go and search the other properties. We have three residential properties at the ranch and then we have two cabins. I look for her 'til about 12:30 that night.”

Despite the late hour, he said, he called one of Dia’s friends who would often pick her up from the lower horse ranch. But no answer.

Keith Morrison: “But is she sort of a person would go somewhere overnight without telling you, or without --?”

Keith Harper: “Not likely, but she does have a place to stay down there if she chooses to do that. My concern was her truck was there, her purse was here, her phone was plugged in.”

Keith Morrison: “Yeah.”

Keith Harper: “So I felt that she was somewhere on the ranch.”

The next morning, said Harper, he got up at the crack of dawn and headed back to the lower horse ranch and still saw no sign of Dia.

And the horses had not been fed. That is when he said he called the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office to report her missing.

Sunday, June 7th. Everything different after that day. But before? There was -- depending on who you talked to -- there was some kind of love story.

To hear Keith Harper tell it, he was the man in Dia’s life. Harper’s history began in Idaho, in a small remote town bordering Nevada -- where he grew up on a ranch.

Eventually, he left Idaho and started a recreational outfitting business in Colorado.

Keith Harper: “We did Hummer tours, whitewater rafting, worked with ziplines, did the sleigh rides, did ATV rentals, did RZR rentals.”

His son took over that business, he said, after Harper connected with Dia. Which happened, he said, on a dating website called “Farmers Only.”

Keith Harper: “She was very personable. One thing I came to realize about the woman -- she was very educated.”

Keith Morrison: “Uh-huh.”

Keith Harper: “Very competent, very capable. She was the kind of lady I was looking for. She was very strong. The more that I got to know Dia, you’ll find her to be one of the strongest women you’ll ever come up against.”

Keith Morrison: “So, you enjoy these conversations online with her?”

Keith Harper: “Oh, without a question. I probably conversed with her for approximately, uh, six months before we actually decided to meet.”

He vividly remembers her fetching him at the airport in her pickup truck.

Keith Harper: “And I looked at her for the first time and I said, ‘God, you are a country girl.’ And she smiled back and said, ‘Why do you say that?’ And I said, ‘You have hay in your hair.’ And she said, ‘I have what?’ I said, ‘You have hay in your hair.’ And she looked in the mirror and she goes, ‘Damn it all, I had to feed the horses before I came here.’ And I said, ‘That’s very convincing.’ We were together approximately four days -- did hiking, took the horses out, rode the horses.”

Keith Morrison: “A four-day date?”

Keith Harper: “Yeah.”

Then, the next year, said Harper, Dia traveled to Colorado to visit him. And on that trip, he said they decided together that he would move to California and help on the ranch.

Keith Harper: “It was her ranch. Obviously, there was times -- I remember we fought and, uh, I’m an alpha male and, uh, like charge and control. That was the only woman I ever bowed to. Very confident.”

But now on that hot June Sunday, the confident woman was nowhere to be found. 

Dia’s son, Clinton, told us it was not Harper, but a neighbor who got word to him that his mother was missing.

Clinton and his mother, Dia Abrams.
Clinton and his mother, Dia Abrams.

A neighbor who said that something seemed very wrong up at Bonita Vista Ranch.

So Clinton gathered some friends and drove two hours from his home down in La Jolla, California, up to the ranch, where, for the first time, he met Keith Harper.

Keith Morrison: “So what was his story about what happened about -- at least as far as he knew?”

Clinton Abrams: “He had a number of different theories. He thought maybe that she had gotten lost hiking. That, uh, she maybe had killed herself -- and that's just not what my mother would do. That's not who she was.”

Keith Morrison: “But you'd heard that your mother had been missing for a day. What was going on in your gut, in your heart, in your head?”

Clinton Abrams: “I would say panic. Panic and devastation and --.”

Keith Morrison: “Did you think she's dead, or --?”

Clinton Abrams: “I thought that it's -- that it was extremely likely that she met with foul play. I didn't know if she was actually deceased or not, but that something was awry. Something was amiss.”

A group of Dia’s friends and neighbors organized a search party that Sunday and Julie was part of it. But she said she wasn’t overly alarmed, not initially anyway. She said she thought Dia might have just wanted to get away for a while.

Julie Stanford: “I thought she had just took off. It was June 6th, D-Day. You know, Dia Day. So I thought, ‘Well, maybe she did that on purpose.’ But if that was the case, within the next couple of months, at least, she would’ve let us know where she was and that she was OK. And there’s been nothing like that, of course. It’s been silence.”

Silence from Dia -- but not from those around her. They have plenty to say. At odds when it comes to most of their opinions of each other and what may have happened to Dia, there is one thing though that they agree on.

Julie Stanford: “She would never leave her animals, never leave her precious little dog, Ruby. She would never do that.”

Anyway, that first Sunday, the searchers found nothing at all. No Dia. No sign of what may have happened to her.

And then, the very next morning, as the sun rose over the Bonita Vista Ranch, Julie turned up to search some more. And she saw Harper -- on his way out. Out of the ranch, out of town, out of state.

Julie Stanford: “And we’re all, like, eyes wide open. Like, ‘You’re what?’”

A small search party of Dia Abrams’s neighbors had done all they could do that first day, to no avail. And then -- once Dia had been missing 36 hours --deputies arrived at the ranch to conduct an official search. No small thing, either.

They would employ helicopters and divers, search and rescue teams, and bloodhounds.

But Keith Harper didn’t stick around.

Julie Stanford: “Harper loaded up his little camper and said he was leaving, that he had a meeting that he couldn’t miss. And I forgot if it was Arizona or New Mexico.”

Harper told Julie and the other searchers he had some business out of state to take care of. To them that seemed very strange.

Julie Stanford: “’You’re leaving? Dia’s missing under weird circumstances and you’re taking off?’ And we were kind of, like, flabbergasted about that. And I remember him standing behind the camper sobbing and saying, ‘I’ll never see her again.’ And I had thought at the moment: ‘Why would you say that? Why would you say never?’”

Clem and Dia Abrams.
Clem and Dia Abrams.

It was all especially puzzling, Julie said, considering recent developments in Harper’s relationship with Dia -- which we’ll get to shortly.

Both had been married before. By then, Harper was divorced from his third wife. Dia was a widow.

She had been married for 34 years to Clem Abrams. And together, they had two children: Clinton and his sister, Crisara.

Clinton Abrams: “My father was a very gentle, intelligent, caring individual.”

That’s Clinton.

Clinton Abrams: “And my mother was -- was perfect as a parent. As a little kid she took me everywhere. We had so much fun together and just laughed and laughed. And we were best friends.”

Keith Morrison: “Was it a good marriage?”

Clinton Abrams: “Yeah, they did. Uh, in the later years, they were separated.”

Keith Morrison: “OK.”

Clinton Abrams: “But there was always a love there.”

Dia’s husband was a developer. Very successful -- very. When he and Dia separated, he stayed in the San Diego area where most of his business ventures were, while Dia lived at the ranch a couple of hours away.

Keith Morrison: “Is that a place that she had owned for a long time?”

Clinton Abrams: “She'd owned that probably about 15 years. I was with her, uh, when she purchased it. I went with her and, uh, my father as they were looking at various properties up there.”

Keith Morrison: “’Let’s buy a country property,’ that kind of thing?”

Clinton Abrams: “Yeah. The intention was to build a second home, build a ranch-type home. And they owned it jointly.”

Keith Morrison: “The family. There's a certain amount of property and money involved in this family?”

Clinton Abrams: “I would say so, yeah. Substantial, sure.”

When Dia’s husband died, she inherited the ranch. To Clinton’s knowledge, his mom lived alone up there. He didn’t find out otherwise, until later.

Clinton Abrams: “My understanding of the events prior to her disappearance, me being told after the fact that Keith Harper was -- was, um, helping her with the property.”

Julie Stanford: “Harper's a man of mystery. Yet with a history.”

Dia’s friend Julie met Harper at the ranch not long after he moved in there in 2016. That was four years before Dia disappeared.

Julie Stanford: “My first impression of him was that he didn't seem like her type, normally. But he turned out to be a guy that did a lot of work around the ranch and helped a lot.”

Nothing formal about the relationship. After all, though Dia was separated. Her husband -- who provided her main financial support — was still alive.

Then, in December 2018, the moment came. Dia’s husband died, and Harper said he made a life-altering decision.

Keith Harper: “I proposed to her right behind us and up on the hill towards the east is a rock formation called "The Butterfly.” And I brought her up there and I proposed to her. When I went to hand her the ring, she says, ‘Harper, you don't need to give me a ring.’ And I said, ‘That's the only way I know that you're actually with me -- and a part of our lives -- if you accept the ring.’ So, she accepts the ring. We were going to get married in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and we're going to do it somewhere around the 24th of July.”

What made Harper’s story truly baffling is that no one else close to Dia seemed to know a thing about it. 

Dia Abrams and Keith Harper.
Dia Abrams and Keith Harper.

Julie said Dia never once divulged this happy story to her. And, anyway, it didn’t sound like the Dia she knew.

Julie Stanford: “I don't think she would ever get married again at all, just knowing everything she's went through being married before. But I do remember her saying something along those lines about never getting married again.”

Clinton didn’t hear about any such thing, either. Not a word. In fact, he said, before his mother’s disappearance, he never once heard her mention the name Harper.

Clinton Abrams: “Never heard of him, not one time.”

Keith Morrison: “So when he claimed that he had a relationship with your mother -- what did you think?”

Clinton Abrams: “Um, I would think that she would never go out with somebody like that, frankly. And I think that he was misrepresenting the facts. He talks about how they were engaged, supposedly, but nobody ever saw my mother wear a ring.”

Keith Morrison: “You don't know anybody who heard about an engagement?”

Clinton Abrams: “Definitely not. No. I would put it like this: My mother was an attractive lady, with a bright personality and a lot of stuff going for her, she just simply wouldn't date -- and there's no kind of nice way of saying it -- that she wouldn't date, you know, kind of a vagabond, criminal guy.”

Criminal guy? So, of course, I asked Harper about that. And he admitted he does have a criminal record.

Here’s what he said about it.

Keith Harper: “There’s only one charge that ever comes up.”

Keith Morrison: “Uh-huh.”

Keith Harper: “That occurs in my final years as a recreational outfitter.”

Keith Morrison: “And that was --?”

Keith Harper: “Unlawful sexual contact. That charge was done out of Silverton, Colorado.”

Keith Morrison: “I think the conviction was for groping two women on a snowmobile tour.”

Keith Harper: “It was not groping.”

Keith Morrison: “It's unlawful sexual contact.”

Keith Harper: “It's illegal -- unlawful touching.”

Keith Morrison: “OK.”

Keith Harper: “It's not groping.”

Let me explain, he said. He’d taken a group on a snowmobile tour, he said. And one of them, a woman, did something rash.

Keith Harper: “I get on the back of her machine. She floors it. I mean, actually goes full throttle on the machine. You have probably one tenth of a second to make a decision what to do -- what you do. You're in a wooded area. If that machine continues at that rate there will be, without a question, an incident and an injury. So, I come around her and actually hit the kill switch. You're talking exactly about three to four seconds.”

Keith Morrison: “So, if that got a -- a charge and -- and subsequently a conviction of unlawful touching --?”

Keith Harper: “We filed an appeal to that and that went before the supreme court, was directed basically back to Silverton. Nothing was ever done.”

So, the conviction stood. For the record, Harper had been found guilty on two counts of unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor. With that, he served a year in jail and had to register as a sex offender.

We also learned about another incident in Harper’s past.

In the year 2000, his second wife accused him of sexual assault in Colorado. So we asked Harper about that, too.

Keith Harper: “Those charges were -- were dropped. And a lot of it had to do with no facts to the case, so --.”

Keith Morrison: “OK. What do you mean, no facts to the case?”

Keith Harper: “She had no evidence of anything, so --.”

Keith Morrison: “Uh-huh. And yet it's there in the, you know, when we look it up.”

Keith Harper: “If you --.”

Keith Morrison: “It's in the record, right?”

Keith Harper: “Well, then, it should not be, because it was expunged. And it should not even be a part of the record.”

In fact, according to court records, Harper did plead guilty to third-degree assault in that case and received probation. That was in 2002.

Still, Dia didn’t give Harper’s past very much thought, said Julie.

Julie Stanford: “She believed his version of whatever had happened. And then -- she told me that.”

But according to Julie, something else was weighing heavily on Dia’s mind when she vanished: money.

Could greed have had something to do with her disappearance?

When we spoke with Clinton Abrams about the disappearance of his mother, he made it clear he had nothing to gain from his mother’s demise.

Keith Morrison: “Is there anybody in the family who would benefit from your mother's death?”

Clinton Abrams: “In the family? No, I don't think so. I mean, it would just be -- it would be my sister and I that are the immediate family.”

Keith Morrison: “And you're both, uh, involved in the family business or -- or at

at least --? I mean, it's not like you're -- you're not kind of searching for money or anything like that.”

Clinton Abrams: “Right. That's correct. Yeah.”

Keith Morrison: “There's no giant bequest that would come to you if your mother died versus if she didn't.”

Clinton Abrams: “No.”

But he did not deny that his relationship with Dia was not exactly storybook-perfect, either.

Keith Morrison: “Would you say your relationship with your mother was steady, or was it troubled in any way? Was it --?”

Clinton Abrams: “I would say it was troubled. I don't think any more so than any other kind of, uh, you know, mother-son dynamic of that sort. There's a lot of good points and some negative points. But in general, there's always a -- a sincere reciprocity and reservoir of love between us.”

Keith Morrison: “You've loved each other, no question. But that probably it was a little bit, perhaps, unusual?”

Clinton Abrams: “I would say it could be tempestuous.”

What were the issues between them? Money, primarily, he said. It caused so much tension that he and she didn’t communicate much after his father died.

Clinton and Dia Abrams.
Clinton and Dia Abrams.

But when he heard about Keith Harper and that man’s claim that he and Dia intended to get married? He, as they say, smelled a rat.

Keith Morrison: “Are you convinced she would have told you had she become engaged to someone?”

Clinton Abrams: “I don’t think she would ever be engaged to anybody. She just simply wouldn’t do that, especially not without extensive prenuptial agreements given everything that she had.”

Keith Morrison: “Had she become legitimately engaged to somebody with whom she’d made the proper arrangements, would you know about this?"

Clinton Abrams: “If it was somebody who was above board and was a good individual -- upstanding individual, yes. She absolutely would have."

Keith Morrison: “But how can you be so sure that she would demand prenuptials, that she would be that, may I use the expression, hard-assed about financial matters?”

Clinton Abrams: “Just knowing her for all of those years and how she was just with people -- and especially people trying to get her stuff. She was not the type of person that would be careless in terms of trusting somebody with major finances.”

In other words, somebody like Harper. To which Harper responded... 

Keith Harper: “There was a fear and concern that she had -- that her life was at risk and in danger.”

Keith Morrison: “Why would she think that?”

Keith Harper: “Well, because there had been threats.”

Keith Morrison: “From whom?”

Keith Harper: “From Clinton.”

Keith Morrison: “Clinton threatening his own mother's life?”

Keith Harper: “It goes far beyond that.”

Far enough, said Harper, to lead him to a bold accusation.

Keith Harper: “I think there's enough evidence to suggest that Clinton was involved.”

Keith Morrison: “So what was the trigger, then, to make her disappear?”

Keith Harper: “The trigger was that she had filed a trust suit against the family. Not only that, Clinton was fearful that he would lose control of the trust that he was given.”

The Abrams had a family trust, which Clinton and his sister assumed control of when their father died. And they were supposed to pay for Dia’s expenses on the ranch out of the trust. But the kids weren’t paying the bills, according to Harper and Julie. So Dia decided to take the matter to court. Clinton denied the claims, saying the bills were fully paid.

Julie Stanford: “I just remember hearing her talk about the lawsuit. And she talked about the lawsuit so much because it was really obviously dragging her down. I think it was a misunderstanding on both the children's and her part that they didn't know what was going on with her financially.”

Julie Stanford: “I just remember hearing her talk about the lawsuit. And she talked about the lawsuit so much because it was really obviously dragging her down. I think it was a misunderstanding on both the children’s and her part that they didn’t know what was going on with her financially.”

And then -- just two weeks before she went missing -- Dia apparently took a very big step: She signed away all legal decision-making about her affairs to Keith Harper and a woman named Diana Fedder, who described herself as a friend of Dia’s. 

Keith Morrison: “Why would she sign her power of attorney over to you?”

Keith Harper: “Because she trusted me, without a question. She no longer trusted her children and felt that a change was in place.”

Julie said she and Dia had talked about her making some financial and legal changes. 

Julie Stanford: “We had talked, you know, and she said she was going to change her will. She said she was going to write the kids out of the will because of the way they were treating her.”

But handing control of her financial affairs over to Harper? That, said Julie, was a surprise. 

Julie Stanford: “Two weeks before she disappeared. So, a real coincidence there.”

Clinton said he doesn’t believe in coincidences. 

Clinton Abrams: “Trust, estate, power of attorney, just about everything you can sign that has significant legal effect, she changed two weeks before she went missing.”

Keith Morrison: “So if anything happened to her, whatever was left wouldn't go to her family. It would go to them.”

Clinton Abrams: “That's correct.”

He finds it all very suspicious. Along with Harper’s engagement story and his odd behavior in the aftermath of Dia’s disappearance.

Clinton said he’s talked to the police about all of it.

Clinton Abrams: “I’ve spoken with them a number of times. I've sent them everything I have. I've sent them extensive notes.”

And the notion that he would ever threaten Dia, that he was somehow involved in his own mother’s death? That’s all ridiculous, said Clinton.

In a recent statement to us, he wrote: “Keith Harper’s accusations are desperate attempts to throw mud at the wall in hopes that something will stick.”

In fact, Clinton said, if he was running the investigation, he’d be focused on one man and one only.

Clinton Abrams: “It's so obvious that Keith Harper, with this criminal history, was the last person to see her alive -- that he did something to her. To me, that would be the most simple explanation.”

Of course, we wanted to know what the Riverside County Sheriff thought about all this. He declined to be interviewed, but released a statement to us saying their homicide unit is pursuing all leads they can, but they cannot comment about evidence in the investigation.

The sheriff also noted they are “fully aware of conflicting statements given by Mr. Harper, and he remains a person of interest.”

So, detectives are investigating this as a possible homicide, that much seems clear. But what evidence might they be looking at? Clinton told us that when he arrived at the ranch that Sunday -- the day after his mother disappeared -- one of the doors to her bedroom looked like somebody had smashed it. 

Clinton Abrams: “I saw that personally, and as did the detectives. So did a number of other people. The trim was all cracked and it was clearly kicked in from outside.”

And from police documents, we know a few other details. Investigators found two shell casings on the front porch. And some drops of blood on a bed sheet. Harper said that’s all explainable. 

Keith Harper: “I have a drug that I take that -- my skin is constantly thinned by that. I bleed all the time. Every week you can come, and you'll find blood drops on the sheet.”

Keith Morrison: “So you think it's your blood?”

Keith Harper: “It’s -- without a question. They've got the capabilities of testing that. If it had been her blood, do you think you would have not heard about that? Obviously, it's my blood.”

Keith Morrison: “They found two spent shell casings.”

Keith Harper: “Two .22 shell casings on the front porch. Every time that we have an incident with coyotes, we fire two shots into the air to drive the coyotes away. If you're going to kill somebody, you ain't going to kill him with a .22.”

We also wondered what made him leave town that Monday morning, just 36 hours after Dia disappeared. He didn’t return to the ranch until seven days later.

Keith Morrison: “I mean, there's -- there's a search on for this woman you want to get married to, and you go to Arizona.”

Keith Harper: “The sheriff is coming. I -- they're supposed to be there at 8:30. I don't leave until 11:30, after.”

Keith Morrison: “Supposedly you love this woman. You're heading out of town. Why did you leave to go off to -- where -- where'd you go?”

Keith Harper: “I had some tax issues that I had to take care of in Arizona.”

Keith Morrison: “Why do you have to go to Arizona to pay a tax debt?”

Keith Harper: “Because I own a ranch there as well.”

Keith Morrison: “Yeah, OK. But can't you pay it from anywhere?”

Keith Harper: “No. First of all, it had to be cash or a cashier's check, and it had to be paid on a certain date or they would file liens against the property.”

Keith Morrison: “By a certain date.”

Keith Harper: “Yes.”

Keith Morrison: “I'm just saying that a normal --.”

Keith Harper: “The reason --.”

Keith Morrison: “I mean, if I were -- if my intended was missing, I would not leave --”

Keith Harper: “I had spent --.“

Keith Morrison: “-- until she was found or we determine exactly what happened. I would not go off to Arizona to pay a tax debt. I would just stay right -- rooted in that spot.”

Keith Harper: “And I would have had a lien filed against the property.”

 Soon we arrived at the inevitable question.

Keith Morrison: “Did you kill Dia?”

Keith Harper: “Absolutely not. I love the woman. When you love somebody, you don't kill somebody you love. I was very committed to that woman.”

Keith Morrison: “What did you think had happened to her then?”

Keith Harper: “ I had no idea. I thought that maybe that she had left on her own accord for her own safety. She had talked about that, that she needed to get away from the ranch and not be present because she was under a threat of life.”

In fact, Clinton said Dia left behind some breadcrumbs in her own bedroom. He saw what appeared to be a handwritten note, suggesting she feared for her life. But who was she afraid of? Her children? Harper? Or someone else? For all these three years, Keith Harper has remained on the ranch as the issues surrounding Dia’s estate have worked their way through court.

Crisara, Clinton and Dia Abrams.
Crisara, Clinton and Dia Abrams.

In March, the Abrams siblings and Harper reached a settlement allowing Harper to continue managing the ranch as a co-trustee until the ranch is sold. 

Keith Morrison: “Will this ever be resolved?”

Keith Harper: “It will be resolved, in my opinion, in a very short order.”

Keith Morrison: “So, to all those people who think you're responsible, is there an answer you would like to give them?”

Keith Harper: “I’ve already told that -- you love somebody, you don't take their lives. I loved Dia Abrams. She was strong. She was capable. She was one woman that I trusted with every fiber of my body.”

Keith Morrison: “You miss her every day?”

Keith Harper: “I miss her every day of my life.”

Keith Morrison: “Hmm.”

Keith Harper: “I will never get over her.”

Keith Morrison: “You don't think she's coming home?”

Keith Harper: “Not now. I did for a long period of time. I always expected a phone call from her. I did not believe that it would go into months, weeks, and years.”

Keith Morrison: “Hmm. What would you say to her if, uh --?”

Keith Harper: “To Dia? “

Keith Morrison: “To Dia if she was here today.”

Keith Harper: “I would tell her that I’ve done everything in my capabilities to bring about the resolution of her case. And if she looks at the ranch, she will be well pleased with what she sees.”

Clinton told us he hopes that the lead detective will finally crack this case and find his mother.

Clinton Abrams: “I think I’d really be rudderless and completely lost in this in terms of having any sense of hope if I didn't believe that he was such a good cop -- good, valiant person.”

Keith Morrison: “What has this been like for you personally to go through?”

Clinton Abrams: “It's basically consumed my every waking thought every day, 24 hours a day. And all I’ve wanted is to get answers. The point is she would not just up and go somewhere and leave her wallet, leave her phone, leave her car, leave her bank accounts untapped and unutilized. She didn't just go somewhere. We're extremely confident of that. I think I really know what happened. Yeah. And I want justice.”

Dia’s friend Julie held out hope for a long time. Hope that Dia might have just gone away somewhere. But not anymore. 

Julie Stanford: “I'm not going to give up on anything. I'm not going to let this go ‘til this is solved, ‘til she's at rest. ‘Til she's found and she's at rest.”

As of the release of this episode, no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Dia’s disappearance, which happened in June 2020.

Dia Abrams is 5’6” with blue eyes and blonde hair and weighs 135 lbs. She would be 68 years old today. Clinton Abrams said a $300,000 reward will be offered for any information leading to the location of his mother, dead or alive. If you believe you can help, call the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, at 951-791-3400.

To learn more about other people we’ve covered in our “Missing in America” series, go to There, you’ll be able to submit cases you think we should cover in the future.