Aileen Ann Conway was a 50-year-old woman who was found deceased behind the wheel of her car on the 29th of April, 1986, at around 10:40am in rural Oklahoma.
The car was on fire, and the heat from the fire was so immensely hot that it had actually melted into the metal guardrail that the car had crashed into. Skid marks found around the car indicated that the car had been going between 50-60mph before it had crashed.
Aileen’s body was burnt beyond recognition. They were only able to identify her by checking who the car was registered to, which was her husband Pat Conway, who was then able to confirm it was Aileen.
The police thought that Aileen had succumbed to just another tragic car accident, but her husband Pat noticed some unusual things surrounding her death.
Firstly, when Pat returned home just a few hours after the accident, he found their patio door wide open. Aileen’s purse, which contained her driving license and glasses, was sitting by an armchair. This raised Pat’s suspicion as Aileen always took her purse with her wherever she went. An ironing board had also been set up, and the iron had been left turned on.
In the master bedroom, which is located at the back of the house, the bathtub in the ensuite was still full of water – as if someone had run a bath. The phone in the bedroom was also off the hook, which makes Pat believe that Aileen was in the middle of making a phone call, possibly to the police department, when she was interrupted.
Water from the garden hose had been left running into the back garden’s swimming pool.
Secondly, Pat wondered why Aileen would have been driving along the rural, isolated road where she had been found. Pat and Aileen lived in Lawton, Oklahoma, and neither of them had any connections to the rural area in which Aileen was driving in, and there was no evident reason as to why Aileen would have been there by herself.
With all of the strange circumstances surrounding his wife’s death, Pat decided to contact Ray Anderson, who worked for the district attorney’s office. Ray initially thought that Pat was just a grief-stricken husband, who was trying to come to terms with his wife’s death, but after reviewing the circumstances in which Aileen left her house, Ray started to believe that foul play might have been involved.
Ray and Pat travelled to the location in which Aileen’s car was found, with the hopes of finding some potential clues. Around 200 feet away from a bridge, they found a church bulletin in some grass. The church bulletin came from the church that both Pat and Aileen attended, and Pat said that he last saw the bulletin on the car’s dashboard.
Aileen always drove with the windows fully up and the air conditioner on. This meant that the bulletin could not have just flown out of the car as it was driving, and instead, the bulletin came out of the car when the car was at a stop.
Ray believes that someone else was with Aileen on the day she died and that the person who was with her opened the door, slammed on the acceleration and put the car into drive with the hope of the car, and Aileen, running off the road and into the creek.
With this new information, Ray managed to get Aileen’s official cause of death changed from “accidental” to “unexplained”.
The District Attorney asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the State Fire Marshal to examine the likelihood of arson being used in Aileen’s case. From looking at photographs of the crime scene, and noticing that there was a large amount of fire damage inside the car, Sonny Sansome of the Fire Marshal’s office suspected that gasoline had been used to accelerate the fire.
Some informal tests were carried out on dashboard and upholstery samples similar to those found in Aileen’s car. These tests led Sonny to believe that Aileen’s car was doused with gasoline because if it hadn’t had any acceleration then the car would not have burnt as badly as it did.
The biggest question that remains in Aileen’s case is why. Why would someone kill Aileen in the manner that they did?
Whilst there is no answer to that question, there are a couple of theories regarding Aileen’s case.
The first theory is that burglars were planning to rob Aileen and Pat’s home, so they snuck in but didn’t realise that Aileen was home. When they realised, the burglars abducted and killed Aileen to escape being arrested by the police. There had been a string of burglaries in Aileen and Pat’s neighbourhood in the weeks leading up to Aileen’s death, which supports this theory.
Pat also believed this theory behind his wife’s death, until he sadly passed away in August 2013.
Ray Anderson believes that Aileen’s case can be solved if someone shares the information that they know, or if someone admits their involvement in her death.
Do you know who was involved in Aileen’s death?
Unsolved, Unexplained, Murder, Homicide, True Crime, Oklahoma, 1986, 1980s, Mystery, Aileen Conway, Strange Circumstances