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Gail Delano

Real Name: Gail Elizabeth Delano
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Westport Island, Maine
Date: June 21, 1986

Bio[]

Occupation: Graphologist
Date of Birth: December 4, 1950
Height: 5'5" - 5'6"
Weight: 130 - 140 lbs.
Marital Status: Divorced
Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown, wavy hair and dark brown eyes. She suffers from clinical depression.

Case[]

Details: Wiscasset, Maine, is a picturesque town of 3,000 people. Each year, vacationers go there to escape. But for thirty-five-year-old Gail Delano, who lived in Wiscasset, this vacation paradise was a prison. She wrote about it in her diary: “Maine seems to bring out the worst in me. I don’t see an end to my loneliness. It just seems to go on forever. I need someone so desperately, but nothing seems to work.”
Gail was twice divorced and the mother of two teenage boys. She looked for companionship in the personal ads of her local newspaper. When she placed the ads, she described herself exuberantly: “Unique female, 34, attractive, trim, intelligent, affectionate, independent, slightly crazy night owl. Likes music, movies, dance, dining. Seeks easygoing, intelligent, responsible, not overweight male for growing relationship. I'm in Wiscasset. Where are you?”
On June 21, 1986, Gail drove alone to a restaurant in Brunswick, Maine, to meet a blind date. Her family never saw or heard from her again. Despite the tone of her personal ads, Gail was shy and withdrawn. For her, placing these ads was an act of courage. It was also an act of hope. The last entry in her diary read: “it would be nice to find someone to date over the summer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and find someone interesting.” Gail was searching not only for companionship, but also for a father figure for her two boys. Her desperate need to find love placed her in the center of an unsolved mystery.
According to Gail’s sons, on Friday evening, June 20, 1986, she had a two-and-a-half-hour telephone conversation with a man named John. They assumed that she had met him through the personal ads. The next morning, she told her sons she planned to have coffee with John at the Howard Johnson’s in Brunswick; if things went well, she planned to spend the afternoon with him.
That night, Gail’s thirteen-year-old son, Ryan, returned home from a friend’s house. He discovered that Gail was not home. He was concerned, but not alarmed. When she did not return home the next night, her family called the police. By that point, it had been thirty-seven hours from the time she had left home to meet her date. Police immediately searched the Howard Johnson’s parking lot and located her car, a 1980 Toyota Tercel. At that point, there was no indication of foul play. They considered it a case of an adult woman who had gone out and spent the night. They learned that it was not unusual for her to spend the night out. However, it was unusual for her to do it without calling her family.
Gail’s father, Platt Monfort, knew something was wrong because she always let her children know where she was. Her family was forced to wait until 11am Monday morning to have her officially declared a missing person. Only then could the police search her car. Her family hoped that she had left a note behind explaining her whereabouts and naming the person she had gone on a date with. However, nothing of importance was found in the car.
Gail’s mother, Betty Monfort, said that Gail would normally tell her the first and last name of the person she was going on a date with, along with where he was from. However, on this particular occasion, she did not give her that information. Betty spoke to her earlier that afternoon; she said that she had a feeling that she was going to have a date and that she was going to be happy and have fun that weekend. It turned out to be the last time Betty spoke to her.
Two hours after the police had removed Gail’s car, a Howard Johnson’s busboy made a startling discovery: a set of keys in the parking spot where her car had been parked. Betty identified the keys as belonging to Gail. According to her, Gail never went anywhere without those keys. She said that “they” would have had to hurt or kill her to get her away from those keys. She knew that something bad had happened to Gail. Two weeks later, a nine-year-old boy playing on the other side of the Howard Johnson’s made a second startling discovery: Gail’s purse.
After the purse was discovered, detectives began to suspect that foul play was involved in Gail’s disappearance. Betty said that Gail never would have been separated from her purse, unless someone attacked her and dragged her away. Detectives examined her purse and noticed that it was neat and orderly inside. It appeared that it had not been rifled through by anyone looking for money or valuables. Curiously, while the purse appeared untouched, there was no money in it. Even the emergency $5 bill that Gail always kept tucked in a secret compartment was missing.
Using a datebook they found in Gail’s purse, detectives compiled a list of the men that she might have dated in the last year. One of them was a man named John from Old Orchard Beach. This man swore he had never dated Gail. He said the only time he might have talked to her on the phone was months before she disappeared. He had a rock-solid alibi for the day she vanished. So did all the other men the police questioned.
The police were totally baffled. Gail kept detailed records of the men who responded to her ads, yet there was no record of a man named John in her files. Who had called her and talked for two-and-a-half hours the night before she disappeared? Why were her keys found in exactly the spot where her car had been parked? Why was her purse found on the other side of the restaurant, apparently untouched, but with no money in it? Were the keys and purse thrown where they lay by someone who attacked her? Or is it possible she placed them there herself?
A new theory about Gail’s disappearance emerged when police interviewed Christin Roy, a local late-night disc jockey. He said that Gail would often call sometime after 1am just to talk and go on in general about life experiences. Finally, one day, she asked if he would like to meet her. According to him, she always seemed to be very sad or depressed, almost to the point of not being able to move. He always felt that she was going to one day “give up” and “cease to exist”.
For years, Gail had struggled with depression and had been on medication for it. Several times, she had considered taking her own life and talked about it with her sister, Susan Monfort. Her family reluctantly considered whether her disappearance might have been a suicide. It was noted that she was unemployed, living on welfare, and her trailer had been destroyed by a fire two years before she vanished. However, Susan does not believe that Gail committed suicide; she does not believe that Gail would have left her family and let them go through the pain and uncertainty that they have went through. She believes that Gail is out there someone, possibly suffering from amnesia.
With the help of truck drivers, Gail’s family distributed missing posters throughout the eastern United States. On Friday, August 14, 1987, over a year after she disappeared, truck driver John Scott of Swansea, South Carolina, spotted her missing poster in a Georgia truck stop and called the police. He recognized her as someone he had given a ride to several months earlier.
John said that he was with the woman for about twenty-four hours. She did not talk very much. He said that when she did talk, she spoke with a northern accent. He recalled that she was dressed very “neat”, unlike the hitchhikers he would normally pick up. Detectives asked him if he noticed if she was on any medication. He said that he did notice some pill bottles in her purse; however, he did not know what was in them. They next asked him how sure he felt that the woman was Gail. He said that he would “bet money on it”.
John’s story suggested another possibility: that Gail had engineered her own disappearance from the Brunswick restaurant. Detectives suspected that she could have told her sons a fake story about going on a date, gone to the restaurant, parked her car, either concealed the keys under the car or tossed them under it, thrown the purse in the bushes, and then caught a ride with somebody leaving the restaurant area or a truck driver leaving the area.
Christin, however, does not believe that Gail had it “together” enough or was brave enough or sure of herself enough to just pack it up and head for another part of the country without telling anyone what she was doing. He said that her family could not even get her out to go for a Sunday drive, or get ice cream, or go to a restaurant. Betty believes that it is possible Gail may have voluntarily left, but she fears that she is wandering somewhere, unaware of her identity and needing help.
Betty said that she wants Gail to know that if she is well and happy, she does not have to come home. They just want to know that she is alive and safe. Her family is no closer to the truth than they were on the day she disappeared. Was she the victim of foul play? Or is she wandering somewhere, unaware of her own identity? Or could the blind date with John merely have been an elaborate ruse she concocted to cover up her own disappearance?
In Gail’s diary, she wrote: “The only thing I want is to find a man to share my life. I know I’m lonely and tired of doing it all by myself. Time is becoming a big enemy to me. To say it passes slowly is a laugh. For me it seems to stand still.”
When truck driver John Scott last saw the woman he thinks is Gail, she was headed for Abeline, Texas, along U.S. Route 20.
Suspects: The man named "John" whom Gail was supposed to go on a date with is considered a possible suspect, but he remains unidentified. Police questioned several men who were in her datebook, but all were ruled out.
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the October 5, 1988 episode; it was updated on the November 16, 1988 episode.
  • It was submitted to the show by Gail's family.
  • Some sources state that Gail was from Westport Island, while others state that she was from Wiscasset.
  • Some sources incorrectly state that Gail was thirty-four or thirty-six when she disappeared.

Results: Solved. The two-and-a-half year search for Gail came to an end in Mobile, Alabama. Tragically, it was discovered that she took her own life shortly after she disappeared. Chuck Elliott, a forensic administrator in Mobile, watched the broadcast and recognized her as a woman who had died in a local hotel room in 1986. When he saw her photograph, he immediately saw the resemblance between her and the unidentified woman that they had in their laboratory in Mobile.
After two weeks of forensic tests, which included a comparison of dental records, a positive identification was made. Police now theorize that Gail orchestrated her own disappearance. They believe that, after she drove to the restaurant, she hid her keys somewhere on her car, removed all the money from her purse, discarded it, and then flew to Alabama. That evening, between 10 and 11pm, she checked into the Hilton Hotel in Mobile, where she registered under the name “Jackie Stafford” of San Diego and paid for two nights. Three days later, police discovered her body. She had died of a drug overdose. A bag of prescription drugs found in the room matched those prescribed for Gail, some of them for depression. On November 11, 1988, Gail’s family held a memorial service for her in Brunswick, Maine.
On June 8, 2005, Gail's father Platt passed away at the age of eighty-four. Tragically, in September 2021, Gail's son Tim committed suicide at the age of fifty-two.
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