PHOENIX—Saying this time of year always dredges up memories of that fateful night, local man Alan Dahlgren admitted Wednesday he becomes emotional on the anniversary of his father’s passing, a death he personally orchestrated.
Dahlgren, the 36-year-old owner of a lucrative family-run investment firm, said the 17th of January inevitably brings back the same raw, overwhelming feelings he experienced on the night in 2011 when a car “accident” he had meticulously planned over a period of more than six months took the life of his father.
“I still remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday: hearing my phone ring, stepping outside to take the call, getting the news about what had happened to Dad from the contract killer I’d hired,” said Dahlgren, sitting in his office near a portrait of his late father, a hard-drinking man with a short temper who “needed to be hurt the way he hurt us,” according to his son. “As soon as I hung up, I tossed the burner phone in a storm drain and went back into the restaurant to tell my wife about my father’s car exploding. I was pretending to cry so hard she could barely understand what I was saying.”
He added, “Afterwards, I was in such a daze I almost forgot to wire the hit man his remaining $50,000.”
Now, every January 17, Dahlgren reportedly feels a creeping sense of dread when he visits his father’s grave to keep up appearances, offering a silent prayer in which he asks God to condemn the soul of “that miserable son of a bitch” to eternal hell. He acknowledged he is still searching for closure and is often haunted by thoughts of how, if he hadn’t done something to intervene, his father might still be alive today.
According to Dahlgren, the anniversary always stirs up a variety of emotions for him, from the devastating sorrow he feels knowing his father probably died instantly upon impact, to the ongoing stress that stems from law enforcement officials keeping the case open despite a lack of hard evidence. He said he is learning to accept that some feelings, like the fear that someone will discover the truth about why his dad’s Lincoln Town Car appeared to accelerate drastically before careening into a retaining wall and bursting into flames, will likely stay with him for the rest of his life.
“I was an absolute mess after Dad died,” said Dahlgren, noting he had little time to process his feelings in between disposing of all the incriminating evidence, meeting with police, and outmaneuvering his brothers to ensure he succeeded his father as president and CEO of Dahlgren and Sons Equity. “But now, all these years later, when I think about how my father will never get to meet his grandkids or enjoy a weekend relaxing on the yacht I inherited from him, I feel at peace with what happened to that selfish, browbeating piece of shit. I have to remind myself to focus on the positive parts of Dad’s life, like how it was brutally cut short.”
“Those last months of his life were so hard,” continued Dahlgren, citing the pressures of plotting to kill his father without getting caught. “I’m just glad the last time we talked I got the chance to tell him he would pay dearly for everything he put our family through.”
Dahlgren remarked that even seven years later, he can hardly believe he will never see his father again, something he will always remain grateful for. There are some nights, he said, when he wakes up thinking his dad is still alive and then, after remembering that he’s not, falls asleep again with a contented sigh.
“The loss of a parent is an emotional ordeal no matter how prepared you are—even if you’ve prepared everything down to the very last detail,” Dahlgren said. “There are all these ‘what ifs’? What if my accomplice rats me out? What if the police question me about the huge life insurance policy I took out on my father six weeks before he died? There are so many things I wish I’d done differently to mislead the homicide detectives, and I just have to live with those regrets.”
“The best thing I can do now is take comfort knowing Dad is finally where he belongs, rotting six feet underground,” he added.