Police suspect a woman, found burned to death in her crashed car, was murdered.
On the morning of April 29th, 1986, a farmer working his fields near Lawton, Oklahoma,
The body was burned beyond recognition. Skid marks indicated that the car’s speed at impact was 50 to 60 miles per hour. To the highway patrol, it seemed like just another senseless accident.
A computer check revealed the car belonged to Pat Conway, who lived with his family in Lawton, 15 miles from the crash site. The next day, the victim was identified as Aileen Conway, Pat’s wife of 33 years. Authorities reported Aileen’s death as an accident. But soon, Pat noticed a number of conflicting facts that led him to doubt the official story. Pat Conway would eventually conclude that his wife had been murdered:
Pat first became suspicious when he returned home a few hours after his wife’s death to find the patio door wide open. Aileen’s purse, which she always carried with her, had been left behind. Her driver’s license and glasses were inside. An ironing board was set up and the iron left on. Water from a garden hose was running into the backyard swimming pool. In the master bathroom, the tub was still full of water and the phone was off the hook. All of these clues seemed more than suspicious to Pat:
There was another disturbing detail that nagged at Pat: what would Aileen have been doing out on that lonely country road? Neither of them had ever been in the area. Nothing about his wife’s death made sense. Pat contacted Investigator Ray Anderson of the District Attorney’s office:
A few days later, Pat and Ray Anderson went to the crash site, looking for clues. Ray found a church bulletin in the grass, a considerable distance from the bridge. Pat recognized it as having formerly been on the dash of Aileen’s car. But Aileen always drove with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning turned on. The bulletin could not have flown out of a moving car. So the car would have to have been stopped. Ray Anderson began to come up with theories of his own:
As a result of Anderson’s investigation, the Lawton DA changed the official cause of death from ‘accidental’ to ‘unexplained’. The D.A. then asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the state fire marshall to evaluate the possibility of arson. Sonny Sansome of the Oklahoma State Fire Marshall’s Office:
Informal burn tests on dashboard and upholstery samples from a car similar to Aileen’s suggest the inside of her car may have been doused with gasoline. Sonny Sansome was among those who conducted the test:
If Aileen Conway was murdered on the bridge, that raises two questions: Who killed her, and why? Paul Renfrow of the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation:
Aileen’s husband Pat refuses to give up: