In 1997, the suburban neighborhood of Tampa, Florida was rocked by a horrific occurrence.
When Steve and Marlene awoke on the morning of November 24, they thought it was just a normal Monday. They had no clue of the tragedy that had taken place while they slept….
That Fateful Morning
Marlen awoke at 6 AM on the morning of November 24 and made her way down to the kitchen. As she fixed her morning coffee, she noticed something peculiar…and terrifying out of the corner of her eye: the garage door was wide open. Without a second thought, she ran to the first-floor bedroom of her five-month-old daughter.
But it was too late. The Aisenberg’s newborn third child had vanished from her own crib. Marlene was hysterical. How could it have happened? Who could have broken into their home and stolen their poor little girl?
Many young parents in the sleepy Tampa suburb were frightened. Even as the Aisenberg’s home turned into a crime scene, the community at large was beginning to panic. “It was a quiet, safe, out-of-the-way place,” said Marty Rosen, a local journalist at the time. “And then a baby just disappears.”
A Dangerous Mistake
The house soon filled with police officers. But after a thorough investigation, the police came to the same sad conclusion as Marlene and Steve. There had been no sign of forced entry. The Aisenbergs had simply left their garage door open overnight. Their mistake had meant that the kidnapper had been able to enter the house uninhibited and leave without making a sound…
The FBI were also brought in and aided in the Tampa police force’s investigation of the Aisenberg’s Suburban home. The baby’s crib, blankets, and belonging were removed from the Aisenberg home and were sent to an FBI lab for further analysis. In the end,even the FBI could find no conclusive evidence of any outsider coming in and stealing little Sabrina.
While they waited for more news from the FBI, the Aisenbergs taped a public appeal, pleading for Sabrina’s safe return. The plea meant to inspire sympathy from local Floridians who might know something about their missing daughter, instead worked the opposite effect. It seemed that their fairly upbeat demeanor, in lieu of their current situation, seemed very suspicious. Did the Aisenbergs have something to do with their daughter’s disappearance?
The day after Sabrina vanished, members of the media taped the Aisenbergs smiling as they left their Tampa home. People in the community quickly jumped to conclusions based on that smile. How could two grieving parents have any occasion to smile after such a tragedy? Surely they were guilty or involved in some way with Sabrina’s disappearance?
At the suggestion of the Tampa police, and under scrutiny following their press conference, the Aisenbergs decided it was time they hired an attorney. To some, it was just another sign of their guilt. The police, having no other leads, decided that it was high time they investigated the girl’s parents. They believed that Marlene and Steve knew where Sabrina was. That they knew who had taken her…
To stop accusations and prove their innocence, Sabrina’s parents agreed to voluntarily take a polygraph test. Though the Tampa sheriff’s office wouldn’t divulge the pass or fail results of the polygraph, they said that Marlene’s results were apparently inconclusive. Though, given the circumstances, it is reasonable to assume that Marlene’s test reflected the heightened emotional stress she was currently experiencing.
The police, even without conclusive proof of their involvement, were still determined to press charges against the Aisenbergs for the kidnapping. All they had to do was process the remaining evidence and then it would be open and shut. No charges were ever levied against Marlene and Steve and months passed with no sign of baby Sabrina.
The police were still turning up only dead ends. Though they could not conclusively prove it, it seems that the answers to this heinous crime lie somewhere within the Aisenberg’s small, suburban community. “We have not ruled the Aisenbergs out,” states Lt. Greg Brown of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office. “With everything that’s happened, it’s difficult to rule them out as having some involvement in the case.”
The Aisenbergs in the meantime, believe that the explanation is a simple one. Someone simply came in and took her. Perhaps even someone who knew they had a baby and wanted one of their own. Some desperate person who seized an unfortunate opportunity. Years after Sabrina’s disappearance however, something new was unearthed…
A criminal and police informant named Dennis Byron was on a mission. Armed with a walkman and hidden tape recorder, he was attempting to get his cellmate, Scott D. Overbeck, to tell him everything he knew about the disappearance of 15 month-old Sabrina Aisenberg.
Byron had known Overbeck before they were in jail and he had informed the police about Overbeck’s involvement in the kidnapping. Whilst living with Overbeck at their Dana Shores home near the waterfront, they spent their days partying with Overbeck’s inheritance. It was after one of these parties that Overbeck had confessed something…
Overbeck explained to Byron, that he had been asked to dispose of the 5-month-old’s body, which he said he chopped up and dumped into crab traps in waters along the Courtney Campbell Parkway. Overbeck went on to say that he had retrieved a boat with the dead baby inside from the Aisenbergs’ home in Valrico before Sabrina was reported missing.
Overbeck had shown Byron a small ski boat he owned near the waterfront in 2005. The front compartment had been just big enough for an infant girl. It was there, Overbeck said, that he had kept baby Sabrina when he had sailed out to dispose of her. Apparently, he had done so at the behest of a longtime investigator for the law firm that would eventually represent the Aisenbergs following the accusations of the Tampa police…
The Parents Again
The Aisenbergs were again suspects in their daughter’s disappearance. Detectives showed the still grieving parents a packet of mug shots and asked whether the couple had seen any of the men in them. They also asked if they had ever owned a boat and whether Marlene Aisenberg had had an affair with Overbeck. The couple answered no to all of the questions.
A Frame Job?
Cohen, the Aisenberg’s lawyer had apparently had a history of bad blood with the Sheriff’s Office regarding the Aisenberg case. When federal prosecutors indicted Steve and Marlene Aisenberg in 1999, accusing them of lying about their daughter’s disappearance, Cohen was incensed. He called for a motion to dismiss…
Eventually, the charges were dropped after a judge questioned the way law enforcement officials went about collecting evidence. “It’s putting facts in the story to make it fit.” said the judge. Despite the admission of guilt, Overbeck was not found guilty of killing Sabrina Aisenberg. With no corroborating evidence, it can’t even be proven that he disposed of her body.
As of this date, there has been no sign of Sabrina Aisenberg, since she disappeared from her parents home on the night of November 24, 1997. Though the case is not officially closed, the sheer amount of time since the kidnapping makes it almost certain that baby Sabrina may never be found.