- The 12-year-old disappearance of Amos Mortier — a shy 27-year-old known for his extraordinary kindness.
- Journalist Nathan J. Comp challenges detectives’ theory with new evidence in disappearance of an enigmatic cannabis distributor named Amos.
Amos Mortier was a live-off-the-land type who went missing on Nov. 8, 2004. Investigators quickly uncovered the double-life the 27-year-old introvert led as a marijuana distributor for a trafficking operation based in upstate New York that flew beneath law enforcement radar for six years.
The trafficking operation, headed by an east coast man named Reed Rogala, wasn’t sophisticated, but its operators were disciplined. Between 1998 and 2004, Rogala delivered hundreds of pounds of marijuana to Mortier and another Madison, Wisconsin man named Brian Hutchinson. When Hutchinson left Madison in 2003, Rogala informed Mortier deliveries of marijuana would cease.
The last load Mortier received from Rogala was stolen shortly after it arrived, putting Mortier $90,000 in debt to Rogala. Although Rogala is not known to have ever killed anybody, several people who had done business with him and his girlfriend, Destin Joy Layne, said the couple would make their lives hell. One man said Rogala threatened to cut off his genitals.
A former female associate told federal authorities how Rogala forced her to live in a dingy apartment and grow marijuana for him until she had paid off a debt.
Considering Mortier’s bad news followed a courier mishap resulting in police seizing $250,000 belonging to Rogala, you’d think this might be an open-and-shut case. But Rogala wasn’t in Wisconsin that day. So authorities focused on the man suspected of stealing Rogala’s marijuana.
Big Jake Stadfeld was a local musician who sold marijuana for Mortier. Mortier went missing after allegedly confronting Stadfeld, who Rogala and Layne believed stole the $90,000 load of weed. But a thorough investigation by state and federal authorities turned up zero evidence that Stadfeld or his suspected accessory, Jacob Falkner were behind the disappearance and presumed murder.
Four years after Mortier went missing, an anonymous source leaked 3,300-pages of sealed court records to journalist Nathan J. Comp, who was writing a book about the case.
As indictments came down against those involved in the marijuana distribution scheme, Comp uncovered information that led him to a man named Keith Burney, an associate of Mortier’s whose incriminating statements and alleged confession appeared to have been overlooked by local detectives.
Comp went on to uncover evidence suggesting detectives have known of Burney’s role in Mortier’s murder but willfully cut their inquiry short, fearing the professional implications of having devoted five expensive years to building a case against an innocent man.
Rogala and Layne were eventually convicted in federal court of conspiracy to traffic narcotics and have since been released. Stadfeld was convicted on the same charge and is scheduled for release from prison in February 2021.
Mortier’s disappearance remains unsolved.• • •