In November 1997 Marlene Aisenberg awoke to find her five month old baby Sabrina Paige Aisenberg was missing from her crib. The husband, Steve had put the baby to bed at around 11PM the night before. They left the garage door open but the family dog never barked at an intruder nor was there any evidence that there had been one.
A pretty large search went on around the house and neighborhood and after police interviewed the parents they hired an attorney and stopped cooperating with police. Obviously when a child goes missing or is murdered police suspect (rightly in most cases) the family first. In this case they may have been a bit heavy handed.
Police tapped the phones in the Aisenberg household as part of the investigation. Indictments were handed down against the parents but all charges were later dropped. The indictments claims that the parents admitted to obstructing justice and were responsible for the death and cover up in the case.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the conduct of two of the sheriff’s deputies investigating the case. One of them was demoted and the other was transferred to a different department. The last I heard they were being investigated by the Justice Department.
The case has never been closed and apparently police are interested for some reason in Scott Overbeck, a convicted felon who is serving time for drugs and weapons charges as well as battery against a police officer.
Police have gone back to the neighborhood where the Aisenbergs lived and are asking about people that might have had boats for sale at the time and they are also asking questions about Overbeck as well.
Since 1997 the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department has followed up on around 2,000 leads in the case since Sabrina disappeared.
In the current investigation police wired up Dennis Byron and put him in a cell with Overbeck. Apparently the two had been cell mates before and Overbeck seemed to trust him at least enough to admit to chopping up the baby and then dumping her in crab traps near the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa Bay. He was asked to dispose of the baby and picked up a boat with the dead baby inside from the Aisenberg’s home before she was reported missing. Byron said that he got the impression that Overbeck had done so at the behest of an investigator for the law firm that was going to represent the baby’s parents.
The St. Petersburg Times has the story.
These jailhouse chats appear to play into a new line of questioning in the decade-old investigation into Sabrina’s disappearance. Byron’s attorney, John Trevena, said Saturday that the Hillsborough sheriff’s attorney spearheading the investigation told him there were independent sources who corroborated the information gleaned by Byron.
Sheriff’s attorney Tony Peluso said “he had a rock solid case,” Trevena told the Times. Barry Cohen, the attorney for Steve and Marlene Aisenberg who has long feuded with the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office over the case, blasted the current focus of the investigation as a misguided attempt to implicate him in Sabrina’s disappearance.
On Saturday, he gave the St. Petersburg Times copies of sworn statements he took last week from Overbeck and Byron, in which both men said they had no proof that Cohen or an investigator from his firm had orchestrated the removal of Sabrina’s body but that detectives had tried to get them to say as much. Byron said detectives told him that Cohen was “a prime target in their investigation.”
“That is the most ridiculous, absurd thing,” Cohen said. “What facts after 11 years of investigating support any such nonsense?”
Peluso and Sheriff David Gee did not return calls for comment Saturday.
Apparently Barry Cohen has gone on the offensive now and is claiming that the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department is trying to frame him.
At a meeting in May, detectives showed the Aisenbergs a pack of mug shots. They asked whether the couple had ever owned a boat and whether Marlene Aisenberg had had an affair with a man featured in the photos. The couple answered no to both questions, Cohen said.
Investigators told Marlene that they might have discovered what happened to her baby and that the outcome wasn’t good, Cohen recalled.
Cohen has also launched his own investigation into the matter, believing that the Sheriff’s attorney has a vendetta against him and is trying to build a case on the word of two convicted felons.