Diana Harris, Missing Person 1981 Cold Case
Diana Harris is a missing mother of two children who are still searching for her 28 years after she went missing in the Florida Keys. She disappeared in the Summer of 1981 from a home owned by a well known Key West Attorney, Mitchell Denker. In 1995 Diana's case was re-investigated. Diana's daughter, Christine was told by Monroe County Sheriff's Department that there was no new information found at that time - this was not true. Christine was told she would be contacted if new information arose. She was contacted again in 2003 after a Kansas Detective contacted Monroe County Police about an unidentified female they had, they thought it possible this may be Diana. It was not and at that time Christine asked for the 1995 case files and was shocked at what she learned.
Over the years Christine has heard many theories from several individuals. Christine's paternal uncle and her step-grandmother claimed to have both seen Diana in Michigan in 1983. About 4 years later Christine's same uncle's friend told her he heard Diana was in Turkey. Christine was 17 years old then and believed it to be another rumor, however she's always kept this in the back of her mind. What if it was true? She's been told also by a few people in the Florida Keys that they believe it to be highly likely that her Mom was sold into slavery.
Diana first left for the Florida Keys on February 27, 1981 with her boyfriend, Marty Delong and her two children, Christine and Michael Harris. At the time she was still depressed over her 21 year old brother's sucide two years earlier. She divorced her husband, Dan in 1973 and was awarded custody of the children they shared, however they stayed with their father every other weekend. Diana took the children to Florida without his approval because he was planning to take her to court to get the children every weekend. Diana was trying to stop this from happening because the children would cry when they had to leave on the weekend.
Diana did not tell anyone in her family they were leaving for Florida, instead she told them they were going on a weekend vacation for her daughter's birthday. She needed to pass a few days in order to get to Florida before anyone found out what she had done.
Diana immediately began a new job at the No Name Pub on Big Pine Key, FL. The kids started school and Marty had a hard time finding work at first. Eventually he found work for a construction company, working on the local bridges and highways and Diana found a second job at Sugar Loaf Lodge on Sugar Loaf Key, FL. Diana worked at No Name Pub on certain nights and some weekends. Her children were regulars at the pub where they'd hang out to see their Mom, play darts and eat pizza. When Diana worked there was when the first dollar bills began being hung on the walls and much illegal money passed through the No Name Pub.
Diana, her children and Marty lived across from the pub and the kids play yard was also owned by the owner of the pub. At night it became the adult play yard. The customers and workers would hang outside and drink around a bon fire, even after the pub closed. There was always a big party outside the door to where Diana lived. Diana worked hard, she wanted to fit in and make friends for her and the children. There were no children around except a two year old blonde haired boy named Travis.
Diana's plan was to save enough money to move to a better place in the Keys and have a nice life raising her children near the ocean, a place her and her children loved to go.
One night after an outside party Diana came in early and Marty arrived later on. He walked into the house with a tall, thick stalk of marijuana. Diana became enraged and began yelling at Marty, they argued and he left and then moved out. Diana didn't seem suprized when her daughter told her that Marty's truck was gone. The children were told that Marty moved back to Michigan to be with his pregnant wife. Diana believed that he was in the middle of a divorce because he said their divorce was soon to be final, and he was always with her and the kids at her home in Owosso, Michigan. Marty was a tall, husky man with long dark hair and a mustache and younger than Diana by 6 years. He was nice to the kids and also seemed a bit quiet around them. Diana didn't seem to mind that he moved out, she stayed focused on her two jobs and her two children, making sure to spend quality time with them every chance she could.
Some time after the children's father Dan showed up at their elementary school on Summerland Key. Dan showed the school court papers and wanted to take the kids from their classrooms. The school wouldn't allow this and Diana had already spoken to them about the possibilty of this happening. Dan waited outside the school for them. He saw Christine and grabbed her arm and quickly began looking for Michael, when he saw Michael he did the same. The kids were screaming for their Mom. Dan had his brother Gary with him, Gary was the driver. Inside the school a lady in the office called Diana at the Sugar Loaf Lodge to let her know what was going on. Outside the other school children began screaming, they thought Dan was a kidnapper and Christine and Michael were being kidnapped. Dan's brother Gary headed toward the exit when a school bus pulled in front of them blocking the way, then a little old lady stood in front of their car and Dan yelled, "Run Over The Bitch!" The little lady was also the principal of the school. Instead Gary headed out by trying to go into a ditch. After getting stuck a few times they finally got out with the tires squeeling all the way. The children were kicking the back seat telling their father they wanted to see their Mom, so he took them home.
When they arrived Diana was standing in the yard waiting. A decision was made to let the children decide to stay with their Mom until school was out and spend the Summer with their Dad, or to leave with their Dad right then. The children stayed with their Mom and left for Michigan that Summer.
After Marty moved out Diana met a man named Gary Argenzio at the No Name Pub and they began dating. Gary was nice to Diana and the children, he took them all to stay on the boat he was captain of on Marathon Key. Diana was told the boat was his boat. Gary visited Diana's house a few times and Diana really liked Gary. She didn't know that he was a convicted felon, he seemed nice enough. After the children left for Michigan, Diana decided to move into the home Gary lived in. Gary was also the yard caretaker of this home owned by Attorney Mitchell Denker. Diana told her mother in Michigan she was moving in with her boyfriend and planned on trying to save enough money while there to get a nicer place on time for when the children came back and started school. It was assumed Gary was not only dating Diana, but that he knew her situation and was also trying to help her out.
June 7, 1981 was the last time Diana saw her children. Gary Argenzio drove her and the children to the Miami, Florida airport, told her kids she loved them and hugged and kissed them good bye, Good Bye Forever.
July 15, 1981 was the last time that anyone in Diana's family ever heard from her.
In 2009 Diana's daughter Christine found Marty Delong, she spoke to him for the first time in 28 years. Marty told Christine that even though he moved out of their home on Big Pine Key he stayed in the Florida Keys for another 3-4 months. He occasionally saw Diana at her place of work at the No Name Pub. He said he was questioned about 20 years ago by police about Diana's disappearance and he doesn't know what happened to her. It was never known until then that Marty was still in the Keys when Diana went missing and Christine wondered if he did know more. Marty said he didn't know at the time he was still in the Keys that Diana disappeared. To Christine's knowledge and all she has learned about the Florida Keys and the people there, everyone in the Keys in 1981 knew about her Mother's disappearance. Christine was told that it was the talk of every bar in the Keys and so this makes what Marty says not so believable. Marty also said something that surprised Christine, he said he was told that Diana was back in Michigan in 1983. Although he couldn't remember who told him this, it was the 1983 that Christine picked up on, this was the 3rd person from Michigan that mentioned that year. Marty said he always thought she was alive until the police made first contact with him 20 years ago. Apparently Marty left the Florida Keys back to Michigan after the construction company he worked for moved back to California where they originated. He said he ended up moving to California and joined a group of bikers while there. He again, eventually moved back to Michigan and joined another group of bikers in Lansing, Michigan. Christine was told by another individual that he left this biker group later because he was afraid for his life, stating that Marty had many enemies.
During the 1995 re-investigation there were many things in the case files that seemed not to fit with things Christine had been told over the years by everyone, especially by the police. It seemed to her that everyone was lying to her and had lied to Diana's mother over the years. The family had always been told that it was most likely that Gary Argenzio, Diana's boyfriend at the time, killed her and dumped her body into the ocean before or on his way to Mexico after he stole a boat. Many things now show Christine that this is likely not the case.
more on case file information to come