After a 2 ½-hour flight, the elderly couple found themselves in the bustling terminal of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Joe Dabney was in...
GRAPEVINE, Texas — After a 2 ½-hour flight, the elderly couple found themselves in the bustling terminal of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Joe Dabney was in a wheelchair after recent hip surgery but kept a close eye on his beloved wife of 34 years, Marjorie — nicknamed Margie — who was sliding into the grips of Alzheimer’s disease.
With an airline attendant’s help, the Dabneys slowly made their way through the sprawling airport, used by about 164,000 travelers daily, to their next gate during a layover on an Indianapolis-to-Los Angeles flight. The attendant and Joe Dabney entered a restroom, and when they emerged Marjorie Dabney was nowhere in sight.
The 70-year-old woman had vanished, seemingly without a trace, inside the world’s third-busiest airport.
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Seven years later, long after reward posters faded and police leads went cold, the mystery has deepened. Her remains were found in a field, 15 miles from the airport, and a medical examiner has 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.
About an hour after she disappeared Dec. 5, 2001, airport police were notified and the search expanded to include all terminals, transportation systems and roads on the 18,000-acre property, said David Magana, an airport spokesman.
Family members remained hopeful, 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.
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.
Last month, her relatives got the shocking news that skeletal remains found a year ago in a field near Lake Lewisville had been identified as Margie Dabney’s. In addition to DNA evidence, her bus pass, AARP card and her American Airlines tag were found nearby in October, Deaver said.
The medical examiner ruled her cause of death as homicide. Fractures indicated Dabney was struck or shot in the head, said Dr. Mark Krouse of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
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.
Margie Dabney’s relatives say facing the loss is still a struggle.
Her daughter, Candice Price, of Indianapolis, said she had convinced herself someone found her mother and was caring for her. The homicide ruling has dashed those hopes.
“I’m furious because I’m hearing that someone has killed my mother,” she said last month. “I want to know why.”