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Old 02-05-2007, 09:18 PM   #1
AVERMAN
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Default Ayleen Conway

This story originally aired in 1987.

On 26 April 1986 at 10:40am, A farmer in rural Oklahoma notices a plume of smoke from the road. A body was found in the car but the body was burned beyond recognition. The car was found to belong to Pat Conway. Not long after, the body in the car was found to be that of Ayleen Conway, Pat's wife.

Initially, the cause of death was said to be an accidental death, however some facts point to another cause.

On the day of the accident, Pat returned home to find the patio door was open, his wife's handbag was still there despite never leaving the house without it, the iron board was setup with the iron on, the garden hose was running into the swimming pool, and upstairs, the bathtub was full with the phone next to the bathtub off the hook.

Pat went to investigate at the crash site, which according to Pat, was on a lonely country road which they had never travelled before. Around 200 metres from the crash site, they found a church bulletin from their church, suggesting the bulletin was thrown out of the car.



I'm starting to think that this could also be a possible suicide. Ayleen could have planned the whole thing. Why would you be doing the ironing, filling the swimming pool, and running a bath all at the same time?? She could have also poured petrol inside the car at a remote location and crashed the car deliberately.

Any updates?
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Old 02-05-2007, 09:37 PM   #2
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No updates but since we are lacking any information that Aileen may have been suicidal at the time of her death, I think Pat Conway's scenerio of an interupted robbery turned into a murder seems like the most plausible explanation of what happened, given some of the inconsistencies brought out in the segment.
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Old 02-05-2007, 09:43 PM   #3
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Maybe she was subtle and kept her problems to herself. Eventualyl she just had enough. But I still find it odd that she could be doing all of those things prior to being "abducted".
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Old 02-06-2007, 12:09 AM   #4
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I read an article once indicating that jewlry was missing from the home - a detail not mentioned on UM to my knowledge.

This was a burglary gone bad.
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Old 02-06-2007, 12:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AVERMAN
Maybe she was subtle and kept her problems to herself. Eventualyl she just had enough. But I still find it odd that she could be doing all of those things prior to being "abducted".

Well, speaking as someone who grew up with a pool in the backyard, filling the pool like so even if just topping it off is something that is almost never supervised. You turn on the hose and either remember to go turn it off after a half hour or so, or you set a timer to remind yourself. It could have been that she was preparing to run errands and needed to bathe and also needed a single article of clothing ironed so she decided to iron while the bath was running. When someone broke in she ran for the bathroom to make the call for help and the assailant broke into the bathroom while she was on the phone.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:52 AM   #6
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One of my all time favorite UM segments. I agree that it was a robbery gone bad. I knew there were burglaries in the area and maybe they didn't realize anyone was home. I'm curious as to why they went to such links to kill her away from the scene though and I wonder if she was killed because she recognized the robber. As far as the strange things going on in the house she could have just been finishing up the ironing (maybe even forgot to unplug it) and knew filling up the pool would still take a while and decided to go start the bath water when she was suprised. I also remembered that her phone was off the hook which makes you wonder if she did that before anyone broke it so she wouldn't be interrupted during her bath or if the people that took her did that so she couldn't call for help. I also think its possible that Aileen was killed or knocked out at the house and then transported to the scene in her car by the robber and the crash was set up. Very strange case and nothing about it online. Maybe a relative will post on here one day and give us some more details.
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Old 02-06-2007, 09:43 AM   #7
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I understand that filling up a pool takes time since I ALSO have a pool. If I remember correctly, the bath tap was turned off and the iron was left on. I guess this could mean she had finished the bath and thought she would do some ironing while the water cooled down. But then what was Ayleen doing driving in an area where she didn't usually drive? Where was she going? Was she alone? Where were the other people afterwards?
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crystaldawn
I'm curious as to why they went to such links to kill her away from the scene though...

My gut feeling is that they didn't want to kill her and leave her body in the house because they knew full well that doing so would lead to a homicide investigation. However, if her death could be made to look like an accident, it wouldn't be questioned, and this did work, at least initially.
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:34 PM   #9
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I don't know about anyone else, but Ithink that this may be one unsolved mystery that will never be explain. Something just tells me that we'll never truly know why Aileen was out on that deserted country road or who killed her.
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:56 PM   #10
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I don't know about anyone else, but Ithink that this may be one unsolved mystery that will never be explain. Something just tells me that we'll never truly know why Aileen was out on that deserted country road or who killed her.

Yes thats why its one of my favorite segments. Its so eerie the scenes of her empty house and its just so baffling how she was killed and the fact it was such a deserted road that she had never even been on before. I totally agree unsolved88 that we'll probaby never know what happened to her. I can't imagine what it must be like for her husband and all her children still not having any idea about the circumstances surrounding her death to this day.
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Old 04-03-2007, 01:11 PM   #11
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I had never seen this case before I saw it on You Tube awhile back, and it is one of the most mysterious I have ever seen. On the one hand, the general state of disarray found in the house suggests that Ayleen had, indeed, left under duress (if we can take her family at their word for what was left behind: an iron still plugged in, her purse, water running into a pool, a waiting bath, and the telephone off the hook). I just re-watched this segment, and this time I, like AVERMAN, was initially struck by how much was evidently going on here: she was planning on bathing, ironing, and filling the pool all at more or less the same time? However, as others have pointed out, this really doesn't seem all that onerous when you think about it: the water in the pool must have been fairly low (if we take the UM segment as accurate in what it depicted), because even when Ayleen's husband returned home hours after the accident, the pool was not overflowing. So it would have been simple for her to be filling the pool while she ironed some clothes for the day and prepared to take a bath.

All of this does much to suggest that she was interrupted by someone during daily chores/housework, etc., and was abducted from her home.

However, I find the evidence at the actual scene of the incident somewhat less suggestive of murder. First, according to the segment, there were skid marks approaching where the car impacted the guard rail which suggested she was traveling between 50 and 60 mph when she hit the guard rail. To me, this rules out a few things:

1) suicide
2) a staged accident to cover up a previous murder

Skid marks happen when you break. If it were suicide, why would she break? And why would she choose to drive 19 miles away from her home, only to select a very crapshoot method of killing herself? People have certainly survived accidents of this kind, often under conditions worse than death itself (total paralysis, etc.). The only way I could see it being suicide would be if she herself had doused the inside of the car with gasoline, then ignited it shortly before going over the bridge, intending, essentially, to incinerate herself, but hide that act by intentionally crashing the car. This seems far-fetched and unlikely to me, unless she had some enormous life insurance policy or other very distinct motive for wanting to kill herself in such a way that it did not appear to be a suicide. And, at any rate, I doubt she could have actually hidden a self-immolation from investigators --- there would have been some evidence that this was what she had done.

I also think this evidence tends to rule out a scenario in which someone killed Ayleen prior to the crash, got out of the car, then sent it speeding along on its own to crash it, and then, finally, doused it with gasoline and incinerated it to hide the details of the crime. The UM segment suggests this as a possibility, based mostly on the finding of the Church bulletin found along side the road that Mr. Conway identified as having come from his wife's car. First, I'm not exactly sure how Mr. Conway could say that that particular Church bulletin came from his wife's car --- surely the Church gave out a few hundred of them, if not more, and so it could have come from anyone in the community. Hard to say it was definitely the one from his wife's car. The UM segment goes on to speculate that this evidence points to a scenario in which Ayleen's killer got out of the car when it was at presumably a full stop (about 200 yards from the eventual crash site), at which time the Church bulletin fell out (the UM segment claims that since Ayleen always drove with the windows up, there are only a limited number of ways this bulletin could have ended up by the side of the road), then somehow rigged the automobile so that it would speed up and crash off the bridge. Obviously, this assumes that Ayleen is already dead inside the car. Instead, it crashed into the railing. There are a couple of things wrong with this scenario: if Ayleen, already dead, was the lone occupant of the vehicle as it hurdled toward the guard rail, how is it that the car broke just in front of it, producing the skid marks? And, with just 200 yards separating the car from the guard rail, could the car have been rigged well enough, and was there enough space, to achieve the apparent speed of 50-60mph before impact that was estimated from the skid marks? I say the answer to these two questions is "there was no way the break was hit in this scenario prior to hitting the guard rail" and "there is no way the car would have been travelling that fast on impact, coming as it was from a dead stop only 200 yards away." That rules those scenarios out.

So what are we left with? The forensic expert interviewed in the segment argued that arson was a strong possibility, because of the missing gas cap and because of burn tests done to the inside of the car. However, the car really was travelling somewhere between 50 and 60 miles per hour before impacting the guard rail, with skid marks leading up to the point of impact. It suggests to me a driver who was aware of what was happening, who tried to prevent it, but who could not. That, in turn, suggests to me that Ayleen was alive and driving the car when it crashed. The only opportunity for arson, then, would be if someone doused the car after impact with gasoline, lit a match, and bolted. Only where would this person have gotten the gasoline? This was in the middle of nowhere; did they come prepared with a canister of gasoline, just in case they had to douse the car and incinerate it before heading away on foot? This doesn't seem very likely to me; indeed, everything at the scene points to an unfortunate accident. Perhaps the gas cap had been missing for some time before the day in question, a circumstance that unfortunately worked against Ayleen when she accidentally crashed the car.

Even though I think the evidence at the scene itself most strongly supports an accident, I realize there are some unsatisfactory elements here. Why was the house left the way it was if Ayleen was out on a planned trip? Why would she have left her purse behind? And why was she out at this place, on the road to nowhere, if it wasn't under someone else's direction?

After looking at all of this, I think the most likely explanation is that there was someone in the car with Ayleen when it crashed, but that person was able to get out before it burst into flames, and either made no effort to help Ayleen, or discovered that she was it was already too late by the time he extricated himself (the UM segment does not make it clear if Ayleen died as a result of injuries from the crash or from burning to death). This still doesn't make total sense, because there was evidently no evidence there had been another person in the car (would a fleeing would-be robber turned into murderer close the door of the car before heading out --- and, after the accident, assuming the passenger door could even be opened, would it have been all that easy to close it again?). But I don't know how else one can account for the state the house was left in, on the one hand, and the evidence at the scene, on the other. The only other two scenarios that seem possible to me are that this was indeed an accident caused by Ayleen because she was in some sort of hurry that went unexplained (perhaps she received a phone call about something she felt was an emergency, ran out of the house, as quick as she could, and was in such a hurry that she accidentally wrecked her car? But if this is so, what was it that had her so upset?) or that (and this seems extremely unlikely) the body in the car was misidentified (not unheard of with sever burn victims --- see the man who died in two fires case) because it was so badly burnt, and it was not Ayleen at all. Perhaps Ayleen was killed first and her body dumped elsewhere, and, in speeding away to make good an escape, the killer lost control of the vehicle and ended up a victim him/herself. This scenario would explain a lot, but it has major holes --- though it is possible, I doubt a body ID could be so far off base that not only would it get a person's name wrong, but the person's gender as well (because the killer/intruder here was likely a man, statistically speaking), and, in the comparatively little time that was had, the killer would have had to have hidden Ayleen's body so well that it was never discovered anywhere. This scenario, in short, is almost (if not entirely) impossible, even though it would help to explain some of the facts of the case.

So, what does anyone else think? No matter which way I look at this one, things don't add up. Anyone else have any ideas?

EDIT: In looking at the first part of the segment one more time, Stack's voice-over says the body in the car was burned "beyond recognition," that the car was identified as belonging to Pat Conway by a computer check, and that the victim was "later identified" as Ayleen Conway, which doesn't really give any indication as to how that identification was made (something irrefutable, or snippets of evidence coupled with a best guess?). They didn't have DNA back then; I wouldn't mind seeing the body exhumed for a DNA test today, just to be sure.

Last edited by mozartpc27 : 04-03-2007 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 04-03-2007, 11:17 PM   #12
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mozartpc -

First off, let me just say that this is the BEST post I have read on here.

Second, I really think you are on to something, and you have even changed my way of thinking. I never before considered the skidmarks. The fact that they were there indicates that someone was stepping on the brakes, and I think it is reasonable to assume that someone was Aileen. That being said, this IS clearly a traffic accident and nothing more. What was she doing out there? Who knows. I've always wondered if she could have been leading a double-life (IE. cheating on her husband).

Are you sure Stack et al. said "skidmarks" though? I don't remember this from the segment. Granted I have not watched it in some time, but I do remember them saying there was evidence of where the car left the road. I'm not sure beyond that...
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Old 04-04-2007, 06:14 AM   #13
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The iron was left on, which runs the risk of burning the house down. I don't think Aileen would have burdened her family both by taking her own life and possibly destroying their house.

However, the car being found in an area Aileen never travelled gives me flashbacks of Gayle Delano, who flew from Maine to Alabama to commit suicide. Was Aileen doing something similar here?
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justins5256
mozartpc -

First off, let me just say that this is the BEST post I have read on here.

Second, I really think you are on to something, and you have even changed my way of thinking. I never before considered the skidmarks. The fact that they were there indicates that someone was stepping on the brakes, and I think it is reasonable to assume that someone was Aileen. That being said, this IS clearly a traffic accident and nothing more. What was she doing out there? Who knows. I've always wondered if she could have been leading a double-life (IE. cheating on her husband).

Are you sure Stack et al. said "skidmarks" though? I don't remember this from the segment. Granted I have not watched it in some time, but I do remember them saying there was evidence of where the car left the road. I'm not sure beyond that...

Thank you for the compliment! To answer your question, yes, skid marks are specifically mentioned --- it is from the pattern of these marks that they are able to determine the car's speed at impact.

The more I think about it, the more I think a DNA test of the corpse found in the car would be an excellent idea. Though the timeline does not favor a scenario in which a killer could have so thoroughly disposed of a body that it would never be found, I think that, if it in fact was someone else driving her car that day, it would explain almost everything else about the case. And, the killer would have had one major advantage here: if the killer's body was indeed incorrectly identified as Ayleen's, nobody ever looked for Ayleen. This might explain why she was never found.

It's a long shot, but I think one worth exploring.
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Old 04-04-2007, 11:42 AM   #15
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Some interesting theories there mozart. The reason this is one of my all time favorite UM segments is that it is so baffling....nothing completely adds up. It does seem strange that she would be driving in unknown territory but possibly she wasn't thinking clearly and was trying to flee from the robbers. A scenario I never thought of until just now was that maybe Aileen tried to flee from the people that possibly broke into her house. Maybe there was a car chase and in Aileen's attempt to get away decided on a rural route and thus lost control of her car and hit the bridge. The people chasing her could have then doused the car if the impact alone didn't cause it to burst into flames. It does seem strange that someone was in Aileen's car and got out relatively unharmed when Aileen herself suffered such a horrible death. I don't think the things left on and running at her home seem strange although I am suprised at the phone being off the hook. Maybe the intruder (assuming there was one) took it off the hook. She certainly was interrupted while in the middle of doing her daily routine it seems. The scenario of Aileen fleeing and possibly being chased by a car would explain why she didn't think to bring her purse. Any opinions on that theory?
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