• Back Road Mysteries Staff

Was 1974 murder a cover-up or merely a killing to facilitate a scam?

Gary Simmons, 32, was the owner of a chain of gas stations across Kansas and Missouri who was scheduled to meet with a man on October 14, 1974 about the possible sale of an Appoloosa horse.

The next morning, an agent acting for the horse’s owner showed up at Gary Simmons’ Overland Park office. His name was Tom Dixon.

A little while later, Simmons left his office with Dixon. Gary told his secretary that he would return shortly, but he didn’t say where he was going.

Tom Dixon

Fifteen minutes later, he called in and asked his secretary to write the check to Tom Dixon for $30,000. Dixon picked up the check thirty minutes later and walked out of the office. Dixon then took the check to Gary Simmons for his signature, but no one knows where that meeting took place.

Gary was spotted later that morning at an area truck stop where the owner observed him walking back and forth between the counter and the window. A witness said Simmons was alone and there did not seem to be anybody with him or waiting with him

No. one ever saw Simmons alive again.

Around five hours later, Tom Dixon was seen at a salvage yard 11 miles from the bank. He was driving Gary’s Lincoln Continental. He supposedly told the salvage man he needed to get rid of the car and asked if he could use his crusher to flatten it. The salvage men suggested he ditch the vehicle in the Missouri River.

The following day, one of Tom Dixon’s friends dropped him off at a truck stop near Kansas City. Dixon said he was catching a ride with a cross-country trucker. No one has seen Tom Dixon since.

Six months later, on April 25, 1975, Gary Simmons’ Lincoln Continental was pulled from the Missouri River less than six miles from the salvage yard where Dixon reportedly had tried to get rid of it.

Depending on who you ask, Simmons was killed by Dixon to keep the $30,0000 and the Appoloosa. Dixon was used as a pawn in a deadly game involving a high stake gas price-fixing investigation or the entire Simmons-Dixon connection was just a coincidence and Simmons was murdered for another reason.

The only thing that is certain is that Simmons was murdered. In 1991, a bus driver for the Independence, Missouri School District who said "he had an eerie feeling about the rocky outcroppings behind the bus yard" decided to look around one day and found a hidden cave.

He discovered the body of Gary Simmons, where it had lay undiscovered for 17 years. Simmons remains were clad in cowboy boots and decaying clothing. Simmons’ drivers license was in the pants’ pocket.

Police said he died of a bullet wound to the head.

Police at first suspected that Simmons had been the victim of a bogus horse deal, and that Dixon, acting alone or with a partner, stole his money and killed him.

But Simmons brother James said there was some more nefarious underpinnings to the murder, claiming Simmons had closed the bulk of his stations because of the fact of lack of available gasoline and he was about to testify in a federal pricw-fixing trial that would have indicated some "important people".

A private investigator later said he thought black market operators used Dixon as a lure to get Simmons so he could be silenced before providing testimony in federal court.

But Dixon, described as a ″dabbler″ whose occupations included carnival operator and job painter, was considered incapable of plotting Simmons’ murder.

Dixon is also now thought to have been murdered within a day or two of the death 0f Simmons, but his body has never been found.

An anonymous woman emerged in 2015 claiming she was the widow of Tom Dixon who she said passed away passed away October 21, 2014 at the age of 76. That claim was never confirmed by investigators.

The $30,000 check for the sale of the Appaloosa has never been cashed, according to authorities.

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