'I’m being chased, and I need help!': Mom of missing man recalls phone call from distressed son

During the early morning hours of December 15, 2018, Daniel Decker made a frantic phone call to his mother. 

"Oh I’ll never forget, he said ‘Ma?’ I said, ‘Hey,’ and he’s like, ‘Where’s dad?’ And I said ‘He’s sleeping,’ and I said ‘What’s going on?’ and he said ‘Mom, I got people chasing me," recalled Mariann Decker, Daniel’s mother.
Decker says Daniel sounded scared.

"He just needed help, ‘I need dad, or I need help, because I’m being chased, and I need help!" she said.

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Detective Clay Watkins explained Decker had borrowed a friend’s car, a silver Pontiac Bonneville. They had left a house in Carlton Palms, pulled off into a dirt road and that’s when the call was made. That’s when he said Decker made the call in distress. Det. Watkins said Decker and the other person in the car ran off, leaving the Pontiac behind.

"I have conducted interviews with the owners of the car," said Det. Watkins with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. "There's also leads that have led us into the area of County Road 42 in Marion County, and of course, those people have been interviewed."


Still, those interviews have not led to Decker or credible information about his disappearance. His family tells FOX 35 News that he had a drug problem.

"But he had been off of them, and really very good for two, two-and-a-half years," his mother explained.

Det. Watkins has not ruled that out as a possible link to his disappearance. Whatever it was that led to his disappearance, his family just wants answers.

"It’s bad enough when you know that someone was taken from you – and they give you the remains for you to bury – it’s bad enough, but to know that he’s gone, and you don’t even have the remains?" she said.

If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 352-343-9529 or email ColdCase@lcso.org. You may also call Crimeline at 800-423-8477 (TIPS) to report any crime tips anonymously.