One half of a quirky married couple is found dead, and the other disappears.
On the surface, Morro Bay, California, is a picture-postcard seaside fishing village. But this charming town holds the secret to a murder, or perhaps two.
Hugh Harlin, a well-known resident of Morro Bay, sometimes worked as a fisherman. Hugh fished when the spirit moved him. Morro Bay businesswoman and resident Catherine Cordero knew him well:
Unfortunately, his wife, Dian, squandered what little money Hugh earned. According to Catherine Cordero, it led to more than one bitter argument:
It seemed Dian cared more for her dogs than she did for Hugh. In fact, around town, Dian was known as “The Dog Lady.”
On October 13, 1982, the badly decomposed body of a woman was found just off the beach at Morro Bay. Police could not identify her. But they could identify the murder weapon. According to Det. Manny Silva of the Morro Bay Police Department, the victim had been strangled with a dog leash:
Hugh told police that Dian had been away from home for twelve days. He said he wasn’t worried until he heard about the body. First, he told detectives that the night Dian disappeared, the dogs had come home with their leashes on. Then he said the dogs were not wearing leashes when they came home. Det. Silva:
Catherine Cordero questioned Hugh point black:
Police eventually ruled out Hugh as a suspect. The case remained unsolved and four years passed. Then, on November 1, 1986, Hugh went to a friend’s house to borrow some tools for a construction job up the coast. Hugh set off for San Simeon, 27 miles north of Morrow Bay. Hugh’s friend, Steve Mathieu, said he soon received a disturbing phone call:
Steve Mathieu said he and a friend, Eddie Grimes, drove to Cambria to check out Hugh’s abandoned truck:
Before Steve and Eddie returned to Morrow Bay, Steve said they did a quick search of the area and found Hugh’s truck keys:
Did Hugh Harlin meet with foul play or did he just choose to disappear? Det. Bill Wammock of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office:
Knowing Hugh, Steve thinks that’s possible:
Det. Manny Silva suspects that Hugh had been hiding a secret:
The case of Dian and Hugh Harlin remains unsolved. The key to the mystery lies in finding Hugh Harlin, if he is alive.