Marjorie Dabney (70yo) skeletal remains found at DFW 7 years later (murdered)

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Woman's remains found years after she vanished at DFW
By ANGELA K. BROWN Associated Press
Dec. 7, 2008, 10:36AM

GRAPEVINE — After their two-and-a-half-hour flight, the elderly couple found themselves in the bustling terminal of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a whir of scurrying people, food aromas and festive music.

In a wheelchair after recent hip surgery, Joe Dabney kept a close eye on his beloved wife of 34 years, nicknamed Margie, who was slipping further into the grips of Alzheimer's disease.

With an airline attendant's help, the Dabneys slowly made their way through the massive airport, where about 164,000 passengers pass daily, to their next gate during the layover on an Indianapolis-to-Los Angeles flight. The attendant and Joe Dabney entered a restroom, but when they emerged, the 70-year-old woman was nowhere in sight.

Marjorie Dabney had seemingly vanished without a trace from the third-busiest airport in the world.

Seven years later, long after reward posters faded and police leads went cold, the mysterious case still haunts her family and challenges law enforcement. After her remains were found in a field recently, a medical examiner determined that someone killed the 5-foot-2, 95-pound woman.

"The biggest question is how she got there," said Capt. Kevin Deaver of the Lewisville Police Department, now handling the investigation. "It's a very unique situation because it started as a missing persons case and ended up years later as a homicide."

About an hour after she disappeared on Dec. 5, 2001, the airline notified airport police and the search expanded to include all terminals, transportation systems and roads on the 18,000-acre property, said David Magana, an airport spokesman. He declined to say whether any surveillance cameras were in the terminals or elsewhere.

The family was baffled but remained hopeful through the years, returning to the Dallas area to put up new fliers and offer a reward that reached $100,000. The case gained national attention, but none of the tips it generated panned out. A woman resembling Dabney was found in Cerritos, Calif., but her family's hopes were dashed when fingerprints revealed she was someone else.

Joe Dabney, who lives in Bakersfield, Calif., sued American Airlines for up to $75 million, settling for an undisclosed amount in 2003. The airline has declined to comment about Margie Dabney's disappearance or the lawsuit.

Then last month her relatives got shocking news: Skeletal remains found 15 miles from the airport were identified as Dabney's, and the medical examiner ruled her cause of death as homicide.

The nature of the fractures indicated Dabney was either hit or shot in the head and did not fall accidentally, said Dr. Mark Krouse of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office.

"The total circumstances of the case ... show clear and convincing evidence there is foul play involved," Krouse said.

The remains were found a year ago in a field near Lake Lewisville. They were identified through DNA evidence after Dabney's bus pass, AARP card and her American Airlines tag were found nearby in October, Deaver said.

A multicolored sweater and dark pants, apparently what she was wearing when she disappeared, also were found in the area, Deaver said.

While the investigation has just started, detectives believe it's unlikely Dabney wandered into the field because of the distance from the airport, Deaver said. They have no suspects or possible motives so far, he said.

Lewisville detectives also are reviewing evidence from the airport's investigation, including reports that Dabney was seen wandering on the tarmac — a claim airport officials say was never substantiated — and walking on a service road a day or two after she was in the terminal, Deaver said. There were other reported sightings as far away as Canada.

"It'll be difficult," Deaver said. "As time goes on, any trace evidence left at the scene is gone, and people's memories fades, so if they saw something at the scene then that may have been suspicious, they may not remember it now."

Meanwhile, the family says it continues struggling with the loss — first with the uncertainty of what happened, and now with knowing that Dabney was murdered.

Her daughter Candice Price of Indianapolis said that through the years, she convinced herself that someone found her mother and was caring for her. After learning that remains were found, Price said, she imagined that her mother died peacefully after falling into a diabetic coma.

"I'm furious because I'm hearing that someone has killed my mother," Price said last month. "I want to know why. I want to know when."

I had this in my folder since early December 07' and recently learned the ID. I was quite surprised to learn the remains were Mrs. Dabney's. Thanks for bringing this in Muffy. Very sad story. 

Here is a summary....

Lewisville police open homicide investigation in 2001 disappearance of woman from D/FW Airport

Lewisville police have opened a homicide investigation in the case of an Alzheimer’s patient who disappeared from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport almost seven years ago, officials said Monday.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office has confirmed that skeletal remains found last year near Lewisville Lake are those of Margie Dabney and has ruled her death a homicide. Dabney died from head injuries, a spokeswoman for the office said Monday.

Candice Price, Dabney’s daughter, said the news was a shock to the family of the 70-year-old, who vanished during a layover Dec. 5, 2001.

The family held out hope for years that Dabney was being taken care of somewhere, Price said Monday. But last month, authorities asked the family for a DNA sample to compare with skeletal remains found last year near the lake.

"We really had to sit down and say, 'What if this is Mama?’ " said Price, 38, of Indianapolis. She began preparing herself for bad news and imagined that her mother, who was diabetic, might have died peacefully in her sleep.

"Now, to hear that somebody has killed my mother, that’s a blow to my heart," she said.

The medical examiner’s office could not determine when Dabney died or whether she was killed where her remains were found, spokeswoman Linda Anderson said. Police have no leads in the case, said Capt. Kevin Deaver, who oversees criminal investigations in the Lewisville Police Department.

Detectives began reviewing D/FW Airport police files from the disappearance last month, after Army Corps of Engineers workers discovered Dabney’s clothes and business cards near the area where the remains were found, he said.

D/FW Airport police officials could not be reached for comment Monday.


Case background
December 2001: Margie Dabney disappears while traveling with her husband, Joe Dabney, from Indianapolis to Los Angeles. Relatives had asked American Airlines to provide a courtesy escort, and airline officials said the couple were met on the plane by an assistant who handles passengers with special needs. When the couple said they needed to use the restroom during their layover, the attendant accompanied Joe Dabney, who used a wheelchair. Margie Dabney went alone to the women’s restroom and was to meet them at the gate, but she never arrived. Authorities and relatives searched the airport and surrounding area for months to no avail.

March 2003: The Dabney family and American Airlines settle a lawsuit alleging that airline officials misidentified Margie Dabney as an unaccompanied minor instead of an Alzheimer’s patient and gave Joe Dabney an escort who didn’t speak English. The suit also alleged that the escort bullied Joe Dabney — using a racial epithet — to get on the airplane to California against his will when Margie Dabney disappeared. Details of the settlement were not released.

November 2007: Skeletal remains are discovered near Lewisville Lake, about 13 miles north of the airport, after an Army Corps of Engineers burn.

October 2008: Clothing matching the description of what Margie Dabney was wearing when she disappeared and business cards bearing her name are discovered after another burn. Authorities seek DNA testing to identify the remains.

Body of Bakersfield woman missing for seven years found near airport
The Bakersfield Californian | Monday, Nov 17 2008 5:53 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, Nov 18 2008 8:43 AM

The seven-year mystery of the disappearance of Joe Dabney’s wife is over.

But it didn’t end the way Joe wanted it to. And the end of that mystery is the start of another.

The disappearance of Marjorie Dabney, an Alzheimer’s patient who went missing during a layover at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport seven years ago, became a homicide case Monday after an examination of skeletal remains found miles from the airfield.

The Tarrant County medical examiner used DNA tests to identify the remains as 70-year-old Marjorie Dabney and ruled that her death was caused by a blow to the head, police said.

The remains were found last year near Lewisville Lake, about 15 miles north of the airport. Last month, Dabney’s clothing and business cards were found near the lake.

“I don’t feel too good,” Joe said Monday from his Bakersfield home. He was hoping Marjorie would be found alive.

And the search took too long.

“I can’t see why they took all that time,” he said.

Dabney’s daughter, Candice Price, 38, of Indianapolis, said she was shocked to find out her mother was the victim of a homicide. The remains were found in 2007 and authorities contacted her family last month to ask for a DNA sample, she said.

She said that in the years after her mother went missing, she convinced herself that someone had found her mother and was caring for her. Her mother was diabetic and an Alzheimer’s patient.

“What did she ever do to anybody to be knocked upside the head?” Price asked.

Authorities could not determine when Dabney died or if she was killed at the location where the remains were found, Linda Anderson, a spokeswoman for medical examiner, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Price said she hoped the people of Texas, who helped the family distributed fliers when her mother was missing, would help the family find her killer.

Dabney disappeared Dec. 5, 2001, while traveling with her husband from Indianapolis to Bakersfield, where they were to move into a new home. During the layover, an airline escort accompanied Mrs. Dabney’s wheelchair-using husband to the restroom and asked Dabney to meet them at the gate. She never showed up and couldn’t be located.

Her mysterious disappearance drew national attention when trial lawyer Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. joined the family in the search. Cochran was one of the attorneys who represented O.J. Simpson during his 1995 murder trial in Los Angeles.

In 2003, Dabney’s husband, who had filed a $10 million lawsuit against American Airlines, agreed to an undisclosed settlement.

Texas police begin sifting through evidence in case of slain Bakersfield woman
Tuesday, Nov 18 2008 5:59 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, Dec 2 2008 1:49 PM

For seven years, Marjorie “Margie” Dabney's whereabouts were unknown after she disappeared during a trip to Bakersfield at Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport. Then her skeletal remains and belongings were found near a lake in Texas, after fire burned away the brush.

Officials on Monday said the 70-year-old was killed. But the questions of who killed her, how, when, where and why is what police are now facing.

“Certainly it's going to be an uphill battle,” said Joni Eddy, Lewisville Police Department assistant police chief. “Now is the point we really gear up and hopefully develop some leads.”

The police department has begun sifting through seven years of airport police files including videos, to figure out how Dabney wound up murdered. Officials said she died of blunt force trauma to her head.

Dabney, a diabetic and Alzheimer's patient, disappeared in Dec. 5, 2001 while traveling with her husband from Indianapolis to their new home in Bakersfield. During a layover, an airline escort took the wheelchair-bound husband to the restroom and asked Margie to meet them at the gate. She never showed.

She was last seen walking on the tarmac, which is outside of the airport building in the area where planes load and unload, by two pilots, said Bruce South, the original attorney in a lawsuit brought against American Airlines by Margie’s husband, Joe Dabney.

South said Tuesday he guessed she just walked out one of the doors.

In November 2007, an environmental preservation center conducted controlled burns in a remote area by Lewisville Lake, about 15 miles northwest of the airport area. It revealed Margie’s skeletal remains by a dirt road. Another burn nearly a year later revealed Margie's clothes and AARP card.

DNA tests later confirmed it was her.

Joe Dabney said on Monday that he had hoped his wife of 34 years would be found alive.

Joyce Dabney, one of the couple's daughters, said Tuesday police had not contacted her, but hoped they would work hard on solving the case.

Police said taking over the case after so many years since the investigation first started is actually a good thing because you have a “different set of eyes looking at it,” Eddy said.

Margie's disappearance drew national attention, and a lawsuit was settled in 2003 for an undisclosed amount. South said he rejected a $550,000 offer while he was their lawyer. Joe Dabney asked for $10 million.

The lawsuit alleged that American Airlines was negligent in not keeping close tabs on Margie because she was an Alzheimer's patient.

Plane passenger remembers the day woman went missing
Location: 3200 East Airfield Drive, Dallas, TX 75261

From Indiana to Texas to Bakersfield, no doubt many have been affected by the disappearance and alleged murder of Marjorie “Margie” Dabney.

Dabney, a diabetic and Alzheimer's patient, disappeared in Dec. 5, 2001 while traveling with her husband Joe from Indianapolis to their new home in Bakersfield. During a layover in Dallas, an airline escort took the wheelchair-bound husband to the restroom and asked Margie to meet them at the gate. She never showed.

For seven years, Margie’s whereabouts were unknown. Then recently, her skeletal remains and belongings were found near a lake a few miles from the Dallas airport. Officials said the 70-year-old was killed. But the questions of who killed her, how, when, where and why is what police are now facing.

Margie's disappearance drew national attention, and a lawsuit was settled in 2003 for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit alleged that American Airlines was negligent in not keeping close tabs on Margie because she was an Alzheimer's patient.

Renee Baker remembers the day Margie went missing. Margie’s husband Joe sat next to her that day on the plane seven years ago. Here she shares what she remembers:

“I first laid eyes upon Joe in the terminal in Dallas. Most everyone already had their boarding passes and Joe came in on the scene late, visibly and verbally upset about something.
“I boarded the plane and sat in a window seat. The plane was full.  The seat next to me was empty. Here came Joe, down the aisle. He was disabled and barely could walk. He used left and right aisle seat shoulder rests as handrails. 
“No doubt, Joe sat down next to me. Joe started to share his story to me. He had lost his wife Margie.
“He told me that they both went into the restroom. He went into the men’s room, while she went into the women’s room. When he came out, he waited for her, but she never came.
“Joe didn’t have any money. He had no food and had not eaten all day.
“He asked American Airlines for help, but they just put him on his flight and sent him home. They should have taken action. For her sake, the airline should have kept Joe behind to help in the search.
“Joe explained Margie had Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember her identity and home address and the basics. So, if she wasn’t found soon, she was gone for good.

“What I regretted most for years was never taking any real action. I should have gotten off the plane with Joe right then and there and helped him search for Margie. I should have stood up for him. I should have given him money. I should have told the airlines that this man was being mistreated. But no, I did nothing more than lend him my ear. How many times have I had to mentally drive the highways of Dallas, wondering where she was?  Too many.”


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