Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

DeFallah Al-Salem

Real Name: DeFallah Al Salem
Aliases: DeFallah Mohammed, Al Salem, Danny Abraham
Wanted For: Abduction
Missing Since: September 21, 1988


Details: Thirty-six-year-old DeFallah Al-Salem is a defector from the Jordanian Army who came to the United States in April of 1980 and met Nancy Hardy of El Paso, Texas. The two came from different worlds: Nancy was a devout Christian who had spent almost all of her life in Texas; DeFallah was a Muslim and had told Nancy that he had come to the United States for a training exercise with the Jordanian Army. Just one month after they met, the two married. In 1983, Nancy gave birth to a daughter that they named Shafaa Lucinda, which means "healing light". Starting at the age of one, Shafaa began competing in beauty pageants. In 1988, she was a Texas state finalist in the Miss American Princess pageant.
However, the marriage between Nancy and DeFallah began to disintegrate by 1987 because of DeFallah's alleged angry and violent behavior. He was very demanding and domineering towards Nancy. He didn't like when she did stuff on her own. He was verbally abusive and violent towards her in front of their friends. Nancy soon discovered that DeFallah had deserted the Jordanian Army; he had earlier told her that he was merely on a leave in the US. Also, DeFallah began spending more time with Middle Eastern friends that appeared to be involved in extremist political activities. Finally in 1987, Nancy had enough. Shee and DeFallah separated, but they remained friendly for the sake of their daughter.
On September 19, 1988, when Nancy left town to attend to her late father's estate, DeFallah agreed to take Nancy to the airport and have the housekeeper watch Shafaa while she was away. Before leaving, Shafaa asked to go with her; however, she said no because Shafaa was in school. Around 1:30AM the next day, DeFallah called Nancy's motel room to check on her. He called again later that morning and told her that he was going to take Shafaa to school.
Nancy became suspicious; she called DeFallah and the housekeeper several times but never got an answer. She finally called Shafaa's school, only to learn that she had been on the absent list that day. At 10:30PM on September 21, she quickly returned home but found no trace of Shafaa or DeFallah. She then discovered a tape recorded message from DeFallah. He said that he was taking Shafaa to Jordan for about three weeks. Soon after returning home, Nancy learned that DeFallah had dismissed their housekeeper and bought two one-way tickets to the Middle East.
The local authorities and FBI investigated, but little could be done because DeFallah had left the country. Nancy began to search on her own for her husband and daughter. For four years, she received no new information regarding their whereabouts. In the meantime, she moved from El Paso to her hometown of Longview, Texas. She put up some of her inheritance as a reward; she hoped that someone would come forward with information about her daughter. Soon after the reward was posted, she finally received a lead.
In January of 1992, Nancy returned to El Paso and met a man who claimed be a Lebanese newspaper reporter. He had called her and said that he had important information regarding Shafaa. Unbeknownst to the reporter, Nancy had a friend watch them from the parking lot. Her friend soon noticed a station wagon circling the restaurant, watching them closely. The car circled the restaurant for two hours; Nancy later learned that it belonged to a Lebanese couple. However, she could find no connection between the couple and DeFallah or the reporter.
Meanwhile, the reporter told Nancy that DeFallah and Shafaa were in Lebanon. He then outlined a complicated scheme to fly Nancy to the Middle East where she would be reunited with Shafaa. He said that he needed $250,000 in cash for the plan to work. He said he also wanted $250,000 upon Shafaa's safe return. Nancy was able to stall with the reporter long enough to get the FBI involved.
Ten days later, she met him at an El Paso airport; she was shadowed by FBI agent Mike Pierce. The reporter claimed that he would arrange a phone call between Nancy and Shafaa. He also claimed that he could get a document that would allow Shafaa back into the United States. However, he said that he needed the money from her first. Nancy refused to give any money to him, now believing that he was a con artist. The FBI was unable to determine if the man was actually a reporter, but they believe that he knew nothing about Shafaa or DeFallah's whereabouts.
Three months later in April of 1992, Nancy's close friends, Carolyn and Pat Mitchell were driving in El Paso when they had a strange encounter. First, a woman wearing an Islamic headdress drove past them. Then, a man that they believed to be DeFallah passed them in a car right behind the first one. The Mitchells followed the car until it reached a house. The car then made a U-turn and quickly sped away.
Nancy began staking out the house; she was accompanied by the same friend that had helped her earlier. A Black Monte Carlo was parked in the driveway. Although several people were seen going in and out of the house, they did not see DeFallah. Eventually, they decided to leave because it was around 2AM. However, as they left, they were intercepted by the same Monte Carlo that was parked in the driveway earlier. As the two drove away, the car started chasing them at high speeds. Fortunately, they were able to lose the car that was following them.
Although they did not see DeFallah that night, Nancy believes that he is still in El Paso; she believes that his friends were trying to scare her away. Nancy is desperate for any information about DeFallah or Shafaa.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 5, 1994 episode.
Results: Captured. In January of 1999, Shafaa Salem walked in the American Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, and told them that she was a missing person in the United States. The FBI was soon contacted and arrangements were made to return her to the United States. On February 14, 1999, Nancy was joyously reunited with Shafaa, now 15. Police at that time were trying decide if they could charge DeFallah Al-Salem, as he had shared custody of Shafaa and didn't technically break any laws when he took her. It is unknown if he has ever been charged in the case.