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Aileen conway1

Aeileen Conway

Real Name: Aeileen Ann Conway
Nicknames: Aeileen Anderson (maiden name)
Location: Lawton, Oklahoma
Date: April 29, 1986

Case[]

Details: Fifty-year-old Aeileen Conway and her husband, Pat, had been married for thirty-three years and had seven children. On the morning of April 29, 1986, she disappeared from their home in Lawton, Oklahoma. At 10:40am, a farmer in rural Oklahoma noticed an ominous plume of smoke rising from a nearby road. He called the authorities, and twenty minutes later, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrived at the scene. They found a burning car embedded in a deserted bridge. The heat was so intense that the car had actually melted into the metal guardrail into which it had crashed.
Highway patrol officers discovered a body inside the car behind the steering wheel. However, they were unable to get to it initially because of the fire. By the time the flames subsided, it was burned beyond recognition. Skid marks indicated that the car's speed at impact was fifty to sixty miles per hour. To the officers, it seemed like just another senseless accident.
A computer check revealed the car belonged to Pat. The next day, the victim was identified as Aeileen. They lived fifteen miles from the crash site. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol ruled her death a one-vehicle fatality accident. Within hours of the crash, however, a number of mysterious discrepancies emerged, which led Pat to believe that Aeileen had, in fact, been the victim of foul play.
Pat is now certain that Aeileen was murdered and wants to find those responsible. He first became suspicious when he returned home a few hours after the accident. The patio door was wide open. Aeileen's purse, which she always carried with her, was sitting by an armchair. Her driver's license and glasses were still in it. An ironing board was set up, and the iron had been left on. Water from a garden hose was running into the backyard swimming pool. Most significantly, in the master bathroom at the back of the house, the tub was still full of water and the phone was off the hook. Pat believes that Aeileen attempted to make a phone call, possibly to the police department, and was interrupted.
Another disturbing detail nagged at Pat. What was Aeileen doing out on that lonely country road? Neither of them had ever been in the area, and there was certainly no reason for her to be there by herself. Nothing about her death made sense. He contacted Ray Anderson of the district attorney's office. Anderson's first impression of this case was that Pat was a grieving spouse who was unable to grasp what had happened and wanted it to be something other than an accident. However, when he started looking at the extenuating and surrounding circumstances, such as the way Aeileen left home, it led him to believe that foul play may have been involved.
A few days later, Pat and Anderson went to the crash site, looking for clues. 200 feet from the bridge, they found a church bulletin in the grass. It belonged to the one that Pat and Aeileen attended. Pat had last seen it on the car's dashboard. Interestingly, Aeileen always drove with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning turned on. The bulletin could not have flown out of a moving car; the car had to have been stopped. Anderson believes that someone else was with her that day. He believes that they opened the door, set the accelerator, and slammed it into drive, hoping to run her and the car off into the creek and make it appear as though it was an accident.
As a result of Anderson's investigation, the Lawton district attorney changed the official cause of death from "accidental" to "unexplained." The DA then asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the state fire marshal to evaluate the likelihood of arson. Sonny Sansome of the Fire Marshal's Office first became suspicious when he looked at the accident scene photographs and saw a large amount of fire damage inside the car. In fact, it was completely burned and destroyed. He thought that the burn was similar to what one would see when gasoline is used to set a fire. Another thing that made him suspicious was the fact that the gas cap was missing from the car. He noted that in most arson cases where a vehicle is involved, the gas cap is removed. This is usually done to help spread the fire.
Informal burn tests on dashboard and upholstery samples from a car similar to Aeileen's suggest that the inside of hers may have been doused with gasoline. Sansome took the material and applied a blow torch to it. He set fire to it and then removed the torch. Immediately, the fire went out; this is consistent with a flame-retardant-type material. Then, he soaked it with gasoline. When a lit match was placed on it, it was completely destroyed. He believes that, without an accelerant like gasoline, the car fire would not have burned as extensively as it did.
If Aeileen was murdered on the bridge that day, one question still remains: why? Paul Renfrow of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation states that they do not know why she was there that day. However, several theories have floated around. One is that she interrupted a burglary. Renfrow discovered that there had been reports of burglaries in her neighborhood in the weeks and months prior to her death. Pat believes in this theory. He believes that the assailant(s) did not know that she was home. When they came in and found her, they did not want to leave her in case she could identify them.
Anderson believes that this case can be solved if someone talks and admits their involvement in it. No one knows what exactly happened to Aeileen on the remote country bridge that day. Pat is still searching for answers. Her death is constantly on his mind, day and night. He will not stop looking into it until it is solved.
Suspects: Authorities believe that Aeileen's death may be connected to several burglaries in her neighborhood. They suspect that burglars planned to hit her home, assuming that nobody was there. They believe that when she walked in on them, they abducted and killed her. According to one article, some jewelry was missing from the home, which supports the burglary theory.
There has been some speculation that Aeileen may have suffered from a serious medical emergency or brain ailment that caused her to leave her home in a hurry and crash her car. However, no evidence has been found to support this theory.
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the November 29, 1987 Special #4 episode. It was later reprofiled in the Dennis Farina hosted series on the April 5, 2010 episode.
  • It was also featured as the first episode of the podcast, The Trail Went Cold.
  • OSBI investigator Paul Renfrow was also interviewed for those of Dwayne McCorkendale and Michael St. Clair and Dennis Reese.

Results: Unsolved. Sadly, on August 20, 2013, Pat passed away at the age of eighty-one without ever learning the true circumstances behind Aeileen's death. In 2018, their son, Fred, passed away at the age of fifty-six. A reward is being offered for information leading to a conviction in this case.
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