Real Name: Dian Lenore Eakes Harlin
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Morro Bay, California
Date: October 2, 1982
Details: Dian Harlin was married to a quirky fisherman named Hugh Harlin and they lived in Morro Bay, California. They were both known locally as eccentric, but their relationships with others differed. He was somewhat sociable with others and enjoyed his work as a fisherman and tinker, whereas she maintained few social contacts, and had become known in social circles as the "Dog Lady" due to the gossip. According to him, she cared more about her dogs than she did for him.
Hugh and Dian where known locally to have a stormy marriage, with her squandering his meager income and doing things to intentionally enrage him. She often used his money and spent it on her dogs, her friends, and even beggars. Sometimes, she would serve him dog food for dinner. According to one rumor, she even baked it into a casserole for him.
On October 13, 1982, the badly-decomposed body of a woman was found just off the beach at Morro Bay. She had been strangled with a dog leash. A jade bracelet and a silver bracelet were found nearby. At first, she could not be identified, so a description of her was released to the public. A friend urged Hugh to go to the police, believing that she was Dian.
When Hugh met with investigators, he identified the bracelets as Dian's. He claimed that she had been away from home for twelve days, last being seen on October 2. He said he was not worried until he heard about the body. The investigators considered him a suspect since he never reported her missing and had an obviously stormy relationship with her. However, he claimed that she would often leave for days without contacting him.
When the investigators asked Hugh about the day he last saw Dian, he claimed that her dogs had come home that night with their leashes on. However, when they told him that she had been strangled with a dog leash, he abruptly revised his statement and claimed that her dogs found their way home and were without their leashes. The change in his story made the investigators more suspicious of him. He asked for an attorney and did not want to be questioned further.
Hugh later claimed that the police were wrong and that Dian's death was not a homicide. He believed that she had died as a result of an aneurysm, which she had sought treatment for in the past. Police considered him a suspect but never charged him in connection with her murder. Although the investigators later stated that they didn't believe he committed it, they felt that he knew more about it than he claimed, and may have been concealing facts out of fear. Four years passed; then, on November 1, 1986, he went to a friend's house to borrow some tools for a two-day construction job in San Siemian, twenty-seven miles away. He left that evening and was never seen again.
A few days later, friends found Hugh's pickup truck deserted on the side of the road near Cambria. Several personal possessions were left behind in it, including his glasses, backpack, sleeping bag, and some tins containing tobacco and ragweed pot. Its keys were found on the ground a few feet away. His friends later discovered that a fuel line had been removed from it.
Some people believe Hugh vanished on his own due to guilt about Dian's murder. Some of his friends believe that he may have just left for other reasons. Several people believe he was harmed by Dian's killer. They don't believe that he would have left his truck on the side of the road.
Suspects: Hugh was considered a suspect by police, but he was never charged and some now believe that an unknown person killed Dian, and he was killed by that same person because he knew too much.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 6, 1994 episode.
- Dian and Hugh Harlin on Unsolved.com
- Dian Harlin: Found dead in Morro Bay in 1982
- Wife is Murdered; Four Years Later Husband Vanishes
- Dian Harlin on Find a Grave