AZ BRIAN BLEYL: Missing from Phoenix, AZ - 28 Feb 1981 - Age 12

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NCMEC: Have you seen this child? Brian Bleyl
NamUs: The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

Brian's photo is shown age-progressed to 43 years. He was last seen while collecting money for his newspaper route. Brian has a red birthmark the size of a quarter on his forearm. He is a diabetic and requires insulin.

edited by staff to add media link

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Brian, circa 1981; Age-progression to age 43 (circa 2011); Stephen Wilson, circa 1989

Details of Disappearance
Brian disappeared while collecting money while working his Phoenix Gazette newspaper route in Phoenix, Arizona at approximately 3:00 p.m. on February 28, 1981. He was riding his bicycle and was last seen in the area of north 9th Avenue and west Myrtle Avenue. He has never been heard from again. The day after his disappearance, his bike was found in an alley in the 1100 block of west Glendale.

Stephen Michael Wilson was arrested in 1989 and charged with Brian's abduction, molestation and murder. A photograph of Wilson is posted below this case summary. He allegedly confessed to three witnesses, one of them his doctor, about his role in Brian's case. Wilson, who was openly gay, reportedly became enraged and attacked Brian after the boy made homophobic remarks to him and threw rocks at his home.

Brian's bicycle was found a few yards from Wilson's apartment, and neighbors reported seeing the boy near the apartment around the time he vanished, but there were no bloodstains or any other physical evidence to indicate that a crime had been committed. A jury acquitted Wilson of all charges in 1990. He died of AIDS-related causes in 1994. He maintained his innocence in Brian's case until the end.

Brian was a sixth-grade student at Orangewood Elementary School in 1981, and lived in the 900 block of west Myrtle Avenue. He has five siblings. He has never been located and his disappearance remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected.
Arizona Republic 03 Mar 1981,


Jury gets newsboy-slaying case 'confessions' disputed
By Brent Whiting The Arizona Republic

Phoenix resident Stephen Michael Wilson, accused of murdering a newspaper carrier who disappeared in 1981, should be acquitted in the case because of a lack of evidence, a defense lawyer argued Tuesday. Bruce Blumberg, a court-appointed lawyer for Wilson, told jurors there arc least 1$ areas casting reasonable doubt on Wilson's involvement. Among those areas, he said, are no body, no proof the boy is even dead and no physical evidence, such as fingerprints, blood or body fluids, that has been uncovered by investigators to link Wilson to a crime. Cleve Lynch, a deputy Maricopa County attorney, admitted that the details of the crime remain a mystery, but he argued that Wilson should be found guilty based on confessions that he offered to three people. Blumberg and Lynch offered their arguments at the close of trial for Wilson, 40, who is charged with first degree murder in the disappearance of Brian Bleyl, who was 12 when he vanished in February 1981 while collecting from subscribers on his route for The Phoenix Gazette.

Jurors briefly deliberated Wednesday after receiving legal instructions from Judge Kenneth Fields of Superior Court, but they went home for the evening without reaching a verdict. The deliberations resume today. At the time of Brian's disappearance, Wilson lived in an apartment complex in the 1 100 block of West Glendale Avenue, where the boy, a diabetic who needed daily doses of insulin, was last seen. Lynch argued that Wilson should be convicted based on the testimony of three people, two acquaintances of Wilson and the defendant's former personal physician, who all testified that Wilson confessed the slaying to them in early 1982. Two of the witnesses, including the doctor, told jurors that Wilson, a homosexual, said he killed Brian because the boy taunted him, calling him a "***got." But Blumberg argued Tuesday that the alleged confessions lack credibility because of, among other things, psychological evidence that Wilson has personality disorders that cause him to make false confessions. Noting that, under the law, Wilson is presumed innocent unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Blumbcrg asked jurors, "What arc you going to tell your kids and grandkids if you convict this man?"


Paul Rubin | January 5, 1994 | 4:00am

Someone raised the subject of "Steve's ordeal" about midway through Stephen Wilson's funeral service last week.

"It's hard to imagine what Steve and his family went through after his arrest," a close friend of Wilson's told those gathered at the Grimshaw Bethany Chapel. "But he stuck it out and stayed sober. He was an example of faith, hope and courage."

Several in attendance wept a little harder upon hearing that. Everyone present knew the friend was referring to Wilson's 1989 arrest and trial for allegedly murdering and molesting Phoenix paper boy Brian Bleyl in 1981.

The disappearance of 12-year-old Bleyl has been one of Arizona's most enduring tragedies. In 1981, paper boys just didn't disappear from middle-class, north-central Phoenix neighborhoods in broad daylight, never to be seen or heard from again.

Though Wilson became the chief suspect, compelling proof against the Phoenix native had been hard to come by. The boy's body never was recovered, and there was no persuasive evidence to link Wilson to a crime.

The case languished.

In 1989, however, Phoenix police announced the arrest of Steve Wilson and a "solution" to the lingering mystery. News stories portrayed Wilson as an HIV-infected pervert. Police reports detailed Wilson's alleged 1982 murder "confession" to two acquaintances and, in a separate conversation, to a Phoenix doctor. In arguing for Wilson's guilt, county prosecutors cited the twin towers of murder prosecution--motive and opportunity.

Motive? Brian Bleyl and other youths had hurled homophobic insults at Wilson, which caused him to strike out against Brian. (An out-of-the-closet gay man, Wilson didn't mask his effeminate leanings.)

Opportunity? The Bleyls found Brian's bike a few yards behind Wilson's apartment, and a neighbor said she'd seen the boy at Wilson's front door around the time he vanished.

But a trial jury didn't buy it. It acquitted Wilson of all charges. After the trial ended, deputy county attorney Cleve Lynch sent feelers to Wilson through intermediaries: Just tell us where you put the body, so the Bleyl family can finally have some peace, Lynch wanted to tell Wilson.

But Wilson and his family saw no reason for further discussion. "He's not going to say he did it because he didn't do it," his mother, Stella, said at the time.

Wilson's dad, L.B., says his oldest son gave no confession before dying at the Wilsons' home December 23 of AIDS-related causes. Steve Wilson had been very ill for some time, L.B. Wilson says, but he had felt up to attending the Nutcracker performance with family members the night of December 22. Early the next morning, he died. Wilson was 44.

After his 1989 acquittal, family members say, Wilson had continued to make jewelry and tried to keep his frail health intact. A nearly fatal heart attack a few years ago sapped much of his remaining strength, and he spent his last days at his parents' Phoenix home.

But Wilson's family and many friends didn't want to dwell on sad matters at his well-attended funeral service. Wilson's younger brother, Rick--a major with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office--recalled "Steve's generosity, his friendship. . . ." Friends spoke openly of his long battle to maintain sobriety.

Those who spoke also referred to Wilson's wacky sense of humor, which, they said, he displayed to the end of his days.

"Steve was about having fun," one friend said, gesturing to the open casket a few feet away. "He'd say, 'Life is too goddamned short. I've got so many things I want to do.'"
The friend added that he and Steve Wilson often spoke of death and dying, and Wilson didn't seem frightened about his premature fate.
"I asked him if he'd be keeping an eye on me after he died," the friend said. "He said, 'I'm going to haunt you.' We had a good laugh about that one.

Brian Bleyl
Brian Bleyl

When: 1981.
Where: Phoenix.

Brian Bleyl, 12, disappeared in 1981 while on his Phoenix newspaper route. His body was never found. Stephen Wilson was arrested in 1989 a year after police re-opened the case due to new information. During trial, witnesses claimed Wilson admitted to killing the child.

A jury acquitted Wilson, saying the confessions to the witnesses presented during trial were not convincing and not enough for them to convict Wilson of murder.
Brian Bleyl was last seen riding his bicycle in the the area of north 9th Avenue and west Myrtle Ave in Phoenix, AZ on Feb 28, 1981. His bike was later found in an alley in the 1100 block of West Glendale.



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