The Cover-up of Robert ‘Shorty’ Wilson’s Murder

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Western Nebraska MysteriesThe Cover-up of Robert 'Shorty' Wilson's Murder


October 30th, 2022 marks the 66th anniversary of the disappearance of Robert “Shorty” Wilson, a lifelong Kimball, Nebraska resident whose vanishing remains as much a mystery as it did in 1956. In a follow-up to our story about Robert Wilson and the haunting of the Wheat Growers Hotel in Kimball, Nebraska, further information has come to light about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance, and the police investigation that followed.

Robert’s twin brother, Dick, always believed that the authorities botched their investigation. He and his brothers spent hundreds of hours on the case, hoping to find even the smallest trace of their beloved sibling, to no avail. The now long-deceased Sheriff George Bradt was in charge of the investigation, and the case was hampered by sloppy police work. Suspects in the case were allowed to leave town without ever being questioned, and Bradt appeared uninterested in following up on potential leads.

The car that Wilson was driving was found with what appeared to be blood spots on the seats and a 30-inch long rope in the trunk, yet the vehicle was not even looked at by the authorities for at least three weeks, and James Dalton’s wife had been driving it in the meantime. The FBI refused to become involved in the case since no clear evidence of a murder or kidnapping had been found. It’s most likely that whatever happened to Robert occurred during daylight hours before the temperature dropped to a low of 26F since his coat was found on the seat of his car. The old Buick, which had been found with the keys in it at the garage where Wilson normally parked it, was never dusted for fingerprints.

It remains unclear who actually saw Wilson last or where. Conflicting news accounts state that at 3 pm, Mrs. Ramona James, of James Taxi Service, dropped Wilson off at Ray’s Sinclair Service Station at 315 East 3rd St., right next door to Dalton Buick, after taking him to the bank to deposit some checks.

His brother, Dick, remembers it to be Plains Body Shop at 110 South Webster Street, which is still in business today. James stated that she and Wilson made arrangements for her to return and pick him up in the cab in 30 minutes for a cup of coffee, and he told her they would have to hurry, because he had an appointment with two men from Fort Morgan, Colorado concerning a used car.

When she called the service station to let Robert know that she was busy and unable to meet up with him, she was informed that he wasn’t there, and thought nothing of it, until Wilson failed to show up at 6 p.m. for his regular cab-driving shift.

Everyone connected with the case, even in passing, believes that Robert “Shorty” Wilson is dead, and has been since October 30th, 1956.

His bank account remained untouched, and all of his clothing, specially tailored to fit his 4’8”, 200 lb frame, was still in his room at the Wheat Growers Hotel. The only speculation left is why anyone would want to kill him, and what they did with his body after the fact.

It’s highly likely that the pint-sized car salesman was strangled and dumped into the trunk of a car, possibly his own, and disposed of at one of the dozens of oil rigs that dotted Kimball County. If this is the case, it’s unlikely that Robert Wilson’s body will ever be located, and there will never be justice for his murder.

Dick Wilson related to the Western Nebraska Observer in 1976 about the last time that he saw his twin brother. Their brother, Bill, was in Denver to purchase a truck and wanted Dick’s opinion before parting with his money. Dick asked Robert to come along to drive Dick’s car back if they purchased the truck, but Robert was too busy. That was October 30th, 1956, the day that he stepped out of a cab and became one of WyoBraska’s greatest unsolved mysteries. If their beloved “Bobby” had canceled his appointments and traveled to Denver with his brothers instead, today he would be 97 years old.


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Western Nebraska Observer – 1956.

Story by: Kathrine Rupe
Photos by: Hawk Buckman

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