Gay Castro hair stylist found dead in Grand Canyon

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday March 28, 2023
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Hair stylist Michael Dille. Photo: Facebook
Hair stylist Michael Dille. Photo: Facebook

A gay man who had worked at a Castro neighborhood hair salon was found dead in the Grand Canyon in Arizona earlier this month.

The body of Michael Lee Clayton Dille, 51, of San Francisco, was found March 12 after it'd been "discovered by a bystander," according to Joelle Baird, who is a public affairs specialist for the National Park Service.

Dille, who worked at Every Six Weeks at 491 Castro Street, was reported missing by friends last month, having been last seen February 2. One described his behavior before his disappearance as "very erratic" in a Facebook post.

"Our rangers discovered a body below the Trailview Overlook," a popular observation point for visitors to the national park, Baird told the Bay Area Reporter on March 27.

"We successfully recovered the body," she continued, adding it's estimated it'd been there for about a day.

Baird said there was no evidence of foul play, though Dille had fallen "approximately 200-300 feet" from the southern rim of the canyon. An autopsy has to be done by the Coconino County Health and Human Services Medical Examiner's Office, she added.

Trish Lees, a community relations manager with the office, told the B.A.R. that the autopsy has not been completed and it could take up to 60 days.

Dille had lived in the Castro for decades. A 1997 San Francisco Examiner piece described him as a "hairdresser" who'd previously lived in San Diego, where he knew the gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan. In the report Dille, talking to a friend at The Cafe, said he did not want to return to San Diego because he was frightened of Cunanan, who killed five people in 1997. Cunanan died by suicide in July 1997.

A memorial for Dille was put up at what is known as "Hibernia Beach" outside the Bank of America building at 18th and Castro streets, a regular site for memorials of deceased LGBTQ community members.

Every Six Weeks did not return a request for comment for this report as of press time, but a former co-worker, Doyle Lavarias, told the B.A.R. that the last time he saw Dille, he "gave me the biggest hug."

When Dille went missing, Lavarias thought "Oh my God — was that the last hug?"

Lavarias, a gay man, described Dille as "super positive."

"He never said anything bad about anyone," Lavarias said. "He always made the day fun. He was like my work roommate in the salon, making chit-chat."

Lavarias' clients were sad to hear of Dille's disappearance, he said, as the latter had made conversation with them and gave tarot card readings.

"He talked about portals, energy, the Grand Canyon, and rock formations," Lavarias said, adding that to hear Dille died in the Grand Canyon "gave me chills."

"For his last breath he went to the Grand Canyon, where he always wanted to go," Lavarias said. "I hope he found peace, and what he was looking for."

Updated, 3/29/23 This article has been updated with comments from a former co-worker of Michael Dille.

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