Darlene Ellen Conklin, age 21, was last seen in Monsey, New York, on April 19, 1981.
Darlene was living with her boyfriend, Stephen Szanyi, near Routes 59 and 306 in April 1981. Her mother reported her missing after not hearing from her for awhile.
Because missing adults, especially of the young, somewhat rebellious variety, were considered voluntary disappearances, nobody made a connection as the other half of the story likely played out in another jurisdiction.
It would be 29 years until someone brought to the attention of police that an acquaintance had talked about a girl being killed back in 1981. Following that tip, police learned that a homicide was investigated around that time, although it’s not clear whether the body was actually found.
Apparently, back in April 1981, around the time Darlene went missing, some law enforcement officers paid a visit to Whalen’s Moving and Storage in Mt. Kisco, New York. They had with them a Polaroid photo of a deceased woman, wrapped in a Whalen’s Moving and Storage moving blanket. She had reportedly been murdered and disposed of.
Investigators now believe the woman in the photo was Darlene, as her boyfriend was an employee of Whalen Moving and Storage. However, it is not known which agency investigated this homicide, and Ramapo Police are attempting to locate this information to determine whether her remains have indeed been recovered. It’s worth noting that Whalen’s is a national company with many locations, and the deceased woman could have been found anywhere in the country, if she was found at all.
Former employees of Whalen’s recall being shown the photo, and each stated that the image was of a Caucasian female with light brown hair, but they were not able to recall additional details, such as which law enforcement agency was involved.
Police located Szanyi in recent years and questioned him. He claimed that Darlene up and left, and that she’d done so multiple times in the past. They stopped short of calling him a suspect, but said they did not believe he was being completely honest.
Darlene’s brother describes Darlene as a girl who liked to have fun, and noted that she and Szanyi frequented an area near the U.S. Gypsum Plant that was used as a party spot. She had tattoos on her hands, which read “love” and “hate”, along with a tattoo of the name “Terry”, who was her former boyfriend. She spoke with her mother on a regular basis prior to her disappearance.
A $2500 reward is being offered by New York State Crimestoppers.
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