Real Name: Aileen Ann Conway
Nicknames: Aileen Anderson (maiden name)
Location: Lawton, Oklahoma
Date: April 29, 1986
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: At 10:40am on April 29, 1986, a farmer in rural Oklahoma noticed smoke coming from a nearby road. He called police; twenty minutes later, the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol arrived at the scene. They found a burning car that had apparently crashed into a bridge. The heat was so intense that the car had melted into the bridge's metal guardrail. A body was found inside. By the time the fire was extinguished, the body was burned beyond recognition. Skid marks indicated that the car's speed at impact was 50 to 60 miles per hour.
The car belonged to a man named Pat Conway, and the body was soon identified as Aileen, his wife of thirty-three years. They lived with their children in Lawton, fifteen miles from the crash site. Authorities believed that she died in a tragic accident, but Pat found convincing evidence that she was murdered.
On the day of Aileen's death, Pat returned home and found several things out of place: the screen door in the back was left open; her purse was left behind with her driver's license and glasses; the iron was left on; the garden hose was filling up the pool; and in the bathroom, the tub was full with water and the phone was left off the hook. Pat believed that she may have been calling for help.
Also, Pat found that the road on which Aileen died was unfamiliar. Neither of them had ever been there before her death. He contacted investigator Ray Anderson and the next day they went to the crash site. They found a church bulletin laying on the ground, 200 feet from the bridge. Pat identified it as coming from their church; he had last seen it on the car's dashboard. He did not believe that it could have flown out the window, as Aileen always drove with the windows closed and the air conditioner on.
Anderson believed that someone was in the car with Aileen, and that person opened the door, set the accelerator, slammed it into drive, hoping to send the car into the creek, and making it look like an accident. As a result of Anderson's investigation, the DA had the cause of death changed from "accident" to "unexplained". The DA asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the State Fire Marshal to investigate the possibility of arson.
Sonny Samsone of the Fire Marshal's office was surprised at how the fire caused such great damage to the car's interior. He believed that it was similar to what would occur if gasoline was used to set a fire. He also noted that the gas cap was missing. According to him, in most arson cases, it is removed to help increase the spread of the fire.
Informal burn tests on dashboard and upholstery samples from a car similar to Aileen's suggest that the inside of hers may have been doused with gasoline. According to Samsone, the type of damage to it would not have been found if it were an accident.
To this day, nobody knows why Aileen died.
Suspects: Authorities believe that Aileen'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 some sources, jewelry was missing from the home, which supports the burglary theory.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 29, 1987 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Pat died on August 20, 2013, without ever learning the true circumstances behind Aileen's death. A reward is being offered for information leading to a conviction in this case.
There has been some speculation that Aileen may have suffered from a serious medical emergency or brain ailment that caused her to leave her home and crash her car. However, this has not been confirmed.
- Aileen Conway on Unsolved.com
- Reddit Discussion of Aileen Conway
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Aileen Conway
- Aileen Conway on Find a Grave