His blond hair, bright smile and warm personality made him a popular member of his beloved Huntington Beach surf culture.
Those same qualities also helped 23-year-old Dane Chandler Williams earn an internship at Hurley International, one of the biggest names in surf and skate apparel.
It was while Williams was in San Diego to attend a convention for Hurley that he disappeared in the early morning of Saturday, Jan. 26, after leaving the bar at the Hard Rock Hotel, in the Southern California city's popular Gaslamp area. Williams never returned to his hotel room, and family and friends launched an aggressive search for the missing young man.
Three days later, a San Diego citizen leaving home early in the morning called the police to report a dead person in an alley behind his home.
"The decedent bore a strong physical resemblance to Williams, and he was clad in the same clothing Williams was wearing when he was last seen," according to a release from the San Diego Police Department. The body, wrapped in a blanket and dumped 10 miles from the hotel in a rougher San Diego neighborhood, was identified by Williams' family.
The case remains classified as a "suspicious death." Williams had been dead for several hours when he was found, Lt. Kevin Rooney of the San Diego Police Department said at the time, but there were no obvious signs of trauma or struggle. Toxicology reports are not expected for another three weeks.
The reward for information leading to a felony arrest in Williams' case jumped to $10,000 this week. Jack's Surfboards of Huntington Beach put up $9,000, on top of $1,000 offered by the San Diego Crime Stoppers organization.
Rooney did not return a phone call from ABC News, but Valen Williams, Dane's mother, said that family and friends continue to plaster fliers featuring Williams' image around San Diego in the hope that someone may remember seeing something the night he disappeared or during the three days that passed before his body was found.
"We're trying to get the word out because we're really at a standstill as far as what happened that night and what occurred after he disappeared," Valen Williams told ABC News.
Surveillance cameras captured her son leaving the Hard Rock, where he was supposed to meet two friends from Huntington Beach, she said. He had a new phone with him at the time, but it was not working properly. Authorities have not told the family if the phone, Williams' wallet and watch were recovered with his body.
Dane Williams was not a drug user, his mother said, and had never gotten in any serious trouble with police. He went to high school in Huntington Beach and was taking marketing classes at Santa Anna College.
She also said she did not want to "sugarcoat" the situation, acknowledging that her son likely had been drinking the night he disappeared.
The fact that three days elapsed between her son's disappearance and the time his body was found is the most troubling aspect of her son's death, Valen Williams said, leading her to imagine "so many scenarios," many of which involve some type of violence.
"Dane was 6 foot 1," Valen Williams said. "Two to three people would have been needed just to carry him."
After his body was recovered, friends and family gathered at his favorite surf spot, just a few blocks from the Williams' family home. On surfboards, the group held a "paddle-out" in his honor, forming a circle and leaving flowers in the ocean.