On November 24, 1997, Marlene Aisenberg woke up at 6:00 am and went downstairs to her kitchen. As she made her coffee, nothing was out of the ordinary. Her three children, William (8), Monica (4), and Sabrina (5 months) were asleep, as was her husband, Steve.
Marlene went to check on a noisy fish tank and suddenly she realized she could see directly through the laundry room, through the hallway, through the garage and onto the sidewalk. When all the doors were open, it was a straight shot from the hallway onto the street. A chill ran down Marlene’s spine as she realized that someone had walked through the garage and left all of the doors open in the house.
She ran into Sabrina’s bedroom and found the baby missing from her crib. A panicked Marlene woke up her husband and called 911. When the operator asked Steve if he had searched the house, he said no, and asked the 8-year old to look for her. There was no sign of Sabrina.
Who Took Sabrina?
The Aisenberg family had left their garage door open overnight. The interior door may have also been unlocked, which would explain why Tampa police could not find any sign of an intruder. Sabrina’s baby blanket was still in the crib. After an exhaustive search, the police had no leads. The community was terrified – was their a kidnapper lurking? The Aisenbergs were distraught.
Then they became prime suspects.
Deputies removed the crib and bedding from the home and sent them to the FBI for analysis. Steve and Marlene made a public appeal for the safe return of Sabrina, but the police thought their demeanor was suspicious. One day after Sabrina had vanished into thin air, the media caught the Aisenbergs smiling as they walked out of their home. This was not the demeanor of a distraught couple, many reasoned.
The couple took polygraph tests. Although Steve passed, rumors insisted that Marlene’s was inconclusive. She later said the test was inconclusive, but the result could’ve been because of the incredible stress she was under. The police have never confirmed the results of either polygraph test.
The police released several statements indicating that someone in the community must know what happened to Sabrina. The Aisenbergs said they feared someone had kidnapped the child in order to sell her. However, the police told the Aisenbergs that they had evidence the couple knew what happened.
The FBI got involved and indicted the couple on the charges of civil conspiracy, for allegedly withholding important details about their daughter’s disappearance from law enforcement. A judge, however, threw the charges against the Aisenbergs out because of the way the police went about collecting the evidence. A federal judge awarded the Aisenbergs 2.8 million after they sued police for malicious prosecution.
Panicked, the Aisenbergs hired a lawyer. Their lawyer, Barry Cohen, had a history of run-ins with local authorities. The relationship between the police and law enforcement deteriorated. Several years went by with no leads and no new information. The Aisenbergs left Florida and moved to Maryland. But in 2008, there was a sudden break in the case.
A confidential police informant, Dennis Byron, had recorded a conversation with his cell mate, Scott Overbeck, in which Overbeck begins to explain that he had information about Sabrina. After hundreds of hours of conversations, Overbeck said he was asked to dispose of Sabrina’s body. He claimed to have chopped her into pieces and dumped her in crab traps in the water off of Tampa Bay.
Oberbeck claimed that he had been hired by a private investigator who worked for Cohen’s law firm. He went to the Aisenberg’s house and retrieved a small boat that had a dead baby inside. This all happened before Sabrina was reported missing.
The police interviewed the Aisenbergs again, showing them mug shots of Overbeck and Byron, questioning the couple about the boat, and asking about Marlene’s potential affair with any of the men. The couple answered no to all questions and cut off cooperation with police.
Overbeck had a reputation as a hard-partier. He had told other people that he knew what happened to Sabrina, but warned them he would kill them if they told anyone. Overbeck told police that he had owned a boat near the waterfront in 2005. It had a small compartment that was used to conceal Sabrina’s body. Overbeck said Cohen’s law firm had connected Overbeck with one of their investigators.
Is Sabrina Alive
Despite these leads, the police could not make the allegations stick to the suspects and Aisenbergs. Cohen accused the police of pursuing a vendetta against him and the AIsenbergs because of the earlier lawsuit. Since the allegations did not lead to any direct evidence, they were just stories.
Twenty years have now passed since Sabrina’s disappearance. The Aisenbergs believe their daughter, who could be 25 years by now. Although police claim to have an open case, there have not been any further developments.