NBC’s ‘Dateline’ has been a staple of the newsmagazine genre ever since it premiered in 1992, bringing us tales that range from compelling mysteries to powerful documentaries to in-depth investigations. Although it does occasionally air editions that highlight other topics, it mostly tends to focus on true-crimes that shine a light on the dark side of human nature, all the while giving us the full picture of the offense itself. In its most recent endeavor, they are putting the cold case of the disappearance of Diana Lynn Harris, which occurred more than 39 years ago, back into the spotlight. And, within it, we see how Gary Argenzio, her then-boyfriend, could have had a role to play in her vanishing.
Who Is Gary Argenzio?
Diana Lynn Harris, originally from Owosso, Michigan, moved down to the Florida Keys in 1981 with her boyfriend and two kids to start a new life for herself. She had had a difficult time in the past years, and when she lost her job, she decided that it was a good time for her to take the risk of migrating. In Florida, Diana landed two jobs: at the No Name Pub and at the Sugarloaf Lodge. And, although her relationship with the boyfriend that she had moved with didn’t last for long, she wasn’t heartbroken, because she soon began dating Gary Vincent Argenzio.
After a short while, in the summer of 1981, Diana and Gary moved into a house on Tortuga Lane in Big Pine Key, known by locals as the “party house.” This place was owned by one of Gary’s friends, a lawyer, Mitchell Denker. Some reports claim that Gary, who was supposedly an ex-convict, then introduced Diana to hard drugs and a group of dealers who were his friends. Subsequently, when she ended up being a major threat to their ongoing operation, she was made to disappear, forever. Of course, because there is no hard evidence to support this statement, it is all speculation at this point.
Is Gary Argenzio Dead or Alive?
When Diana’s case was re-opened in 1995, thanks to her daughter’s urging, a lot of new information came to light. Two men who knew Gary – Mitchell Denker and Mark Ripin – told detectives that he had killed his girlfriend at the “party house” and had then dumped her body into the ocean to get rid of the evidence. But again, there was nothing to support this conjecture. Gary was always considered to be a suspect in Diana’s case, especially after he disappeared himself, but he was never charged. Approximately a week after Diana was last heard from, he stole a boat and sailed to Mexico, where he stayed until he was arrested in 1982 for theft. Apparently, he had also stolen two motorcycles and even a gun.
Gary was extradited to Florida, where he was convicted of the theft charges against him and sentenced to five years in prison. Then, a few years before Diana’s case was even re-opened, Gary Vincent Argenzio died in his home, in Broward County, Florida, in February of 1992, allegedly from pneumonia, according to a medical examiner’s report in Diana’s file. A few days before he had passed away, though, he was arrested once again, for impersonating a police officer. Therefore, when Diana’s case resumed its investigation, he couldn’t be cross-questioned, and thus, his role in what happened to her during her last known days remain unclear. (Featured Image Credit: NBC News / Dateline)
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