Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unsolved Murder Spotlight: Dalton Mesarchik

Dalton Mesarchik. Police handout.

On March 27, 2003, fishermen found the body of 7-year-old Dalton Mesarchik in the Vermillion River, two and a half miles south of his hometown, Streator, Ill. He had vanished the evening before, while waiting for a church van in front of his house.  The van never came to pick Dalton up for Bible study — his parents hadn’t been informed that the driver was unable to make it. Dalton’s mother Michelle last saw her son around 7:15. By 7:45 she’d called police. Bloodhounds brought to the scene tracked Dalton’s scent from the porch to the middle of the street, which led investigators to believe he’d gotten into — or was forced into — a vehicle.

After Dalton’s body was found, police combed the area for clues.  In a trash can outside the Polish Alliance National Hall in Streator, police located the murder weapon: a Benchtop Pro three-pound hammer (seen below.)  Dalton had been bludgeoned to death.

In the nine years since his death, multiple agencies have been involved in the search for Dalton’s killer. In 2004, the Illinois State Police formed a Dalton Mesarchik task force.  Over the years, the ISP, Streator Police Department, Livingston and LaSalle County Sheriffs’ Departments and other agencies in the task force have amassed thousands of tips, but the case remains unsolved.

Since her son’s murder, Michelle Mesarchik has been active in raising awareness of crimes against children and how to prevent them. In a video seen below, she educates parents on protecting their children from predators.  She plans to become a private investigator specializing in missing children, and is currently working on a criminal justice degree.

Thanks to reader Shanna for suggesting this case. If you know of an unsolved murder you’d like to see featured on Crime Library, email us at

The hammer used to kill Dalton Mesarchik. Photo: Illinois State Police.

The location where Dalton's body was found. Photo: Illinois State Police.

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