The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 12 – Dale Kerstetter

September 12, 1987. Bradford, Pennsylvania. 50-year old Dale Kerstetter shows up to work the overnight shift as a security guard at the Corning Glassworks plant. The following morning, Dale is discovered to be missing and he is never heard from again. A check of the security tape uncovers footage of Dale walking through the plant alongside an unidentified masked intruder and it turns out that $250,000 worth of platinum was stolen that night. The ambiguous nature of the footage causes some debate: was Dale an innocent victim of this masked stranger, or was he actually a willing participant in the theft before he decided to skip town? We shall explore both possibilities, as our latest minisode of “The Trail Went Cold” chronicles a very unique missing persons case.

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The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

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8 thoughts on “The Trail Went Cold – Minisode 12 – Dale Kerstetter

  • This story was kind of hard to listen to. This security guard gets attacked, abducted and probably murdered by robbers because the other employees who were supposed keeping an eye on him ignored the basic measures that were supposed to protect him. Then the company tries to blame him for the whole thing to avoid paying out insurance on him.

    I mean, this guy died trying to defend their property — and his death was probably a result of their laziness and negligence — and they turn around and try to pin it on him.

    The idea that looking at the camera was mocking them is absurd. He was probably looking and wondering why the police hadn’t been called as they should have been.

    Your point that he was due to retire in six months also proves that there was very little motive for him to be involved. In addition to this, the haul was only $250,000. If he had gotten half of that as his cut, he would have made off with $125,000, which is hardly enough to disappear on, even in 1987 dollars. It would be interesting to calculate what his pension would have been worth in comparison with a single $125k haul. I bet the pension that he never collected was worth more than $125,000.

    The only thing that even slightly seems suspicious is the fact that there was no forced entry. But I suspect he was ambushed in the parking lot, in which case the robber would have forced him to enter using his key. Either that, or the robber had his own key to the plant, which is consistent with your theory that the robber was a former employee, which I agree sounds very likely.

    I think the only mystery here is why the police and the courts took that “story” of the plant owners so seriously instead of just investigating it as a robbery and abduction, and forcing the insurance to pay the family immediately.

    The whole thing is a travesty.

    • I’d be inclined to think that the intruder was able to access the plant on his own and possibly had a key. I still believe the evidence suggests that Dale was interrupted after sitting down to eat in the cafeteria.

      And, yes, very well said. The way Dale and his family were treated was a travesty.

      • Thanks for another awesome and intriguing story, Robin! Poor guy, I really think the company sounds shady, especially considering all the circumstances and how they treated him and then the family afterward. How dare they call him a mediocre employee. Stories like these is the reason why I believe companies should always have at least two people working a graveyard shift. I’ve had my own creepy experiences working overnight as the sole employee. I hope one day the family gets closure.

  • Wow! Interesting episode. I grew up near Bradford, so this hits home for me. I can assure you that leaving keys in vehicle ignitions was very common around there at the time; I wouldn’t read too much into that. I wanted to add a little context about Bradford. Small city, and I imagine most jobs at the time were in manufacturing (1987 was slightly before my time, but that was the case in the 90s). Being a rust belt city, $250k would go further in Bradford than you might think, especially in 1987 dollars. Although I don’t know too much about the inner workings of Corning Glass, you might find it interesting that Corning, NY, where the headquarters are, is not too far from Bradford, PA: 2-hour drive at the most. Is it possible the perpetrator worked in Corning but also spent some time in the Bradford plant? If he were a Corning employee, Dale might let him in. If he resided in NY, the police in PA might have a harder time apprehending him. Bradford is right on the state border. What do you think?

    • Interesting to hear the perspective of someone who lived in the area. I definitely think it’s possible it could have been an employee from Corning headquarters since they would have known the factory was set to be sold to another company soon and have limited security. They also would have probably known the furnace was barely used any more, as the platinum lining would have been impossible to steal if the furnace was still functional. A corporate employee might also have more knowledge about where to sell platinum on the black market.

  • Seems like if Dales sister is correct about the fact that Dale had to call in every hour to a central location and report on what was going on, that that goes a long way towards proving that Dale is innocent (and the company seemed to confirm that she was correct in saying that by saying they had a new person on the end of the line that ignored the radio silence from the plant). If Dale was supposed to call in every hour or the police would be alerted for him, it sure seems like if he was a conspirator he would have made sure to do that during the robbery so they could work together in peace before both leaving. He wouldn’t have known, even if he knew there was a new employee at headquarters, that that person would for sure forget to call the police without his call. Had he been in on the robbery it only makes sense to call in at least once to the person and give the “all clear, don’t call the local sheriff” message so that the cops didn’t show up as they were stealing the platinum (considering security tapes seem to indicate they were there More than an hour)

  • Two excellent articles were written about this case in late 2019, and they bring a lot more information to light, including stills from the original security footage!

    I think Robin and the other commenters here nail it. That and information the 2019 articles mention, such as the amount of platinum stolen being pretty light which means Dale was probably killed and placed in that bag, and the possibility that there are actually TWO masked men shown in the security footage not just one, wrap this one up I think. Croning only cared about their financial loss, not Dale, so it was easier to just cover their ass about being neglectful of their own security, a problem they had even before this happened.

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