In July 2004, Molly Dattilo seemingly vanished without a trace during a party at her apartment complex. But the inquiry into what happened seemed to lead to few clues and no answers. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still a Mystery: Indiana Unsolved’ features Molly’s story as one of the two cases highlighted on the show. Over the years, the family has been plagued with a lack of information and has tried hard to find closure. So, if you’re wondering what happened to Molly, here’s what we know.
How Did Molly Dattilo Die?
Molly grew up in Madison, Indiana, as the youngest of nine children. The young woman was a talented, driven, social, and trusting person. Besides being good in the classroom, Molly was a gifted athlete, landing at Eastern Kentucky University on a running scholarship. It all seemed to be going perfectly for the 22-year-old. She took summer classes at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis in 2004 and planned to audition for ‘American Idol’ later. The day of July 6, 2004, started like any other day for Molly. At the time, she lived in an apartment with her brother in Indianapolis.
Molly attended classes at around 7 pm and went to a local fast food restaurant to drop off a job application after shopping for some supplies. Molly then went to a party in her apartment complex. At around 11 pm, Molly made a call to her friend from a gas station pay phone three miles from her apartment. However, the line was disconnected before the friend could talk. That was the last anyone heard from her. In 2017, the family had Molly legally declared dead after more than a decade. However, the cause of death remains unknown.
Was Molly Dattilo Killed?
While Molly was on her way to the fast food restaurant, she bumped into an acquaintance who remembered that she had her phone. The device was later found inside her apartment. On the evening of July 6, 2004, she met John Shelton at the party in her complex. She met him through one of her friends. The investigation revealed that the two left the party to go on a boat ride and then had dinner at a Taco Bell. At around 11 pm, the call came from a payphone, but that was three miles from the apartment in the opposite direction.
When John was questioned later, he admitted to being with Molly when she made the call but said he dropped her home after that. He was the last person to have seen her alive. Molly’s brother, Nick, didn’t immediately report his sister missing because it wasn’t unusual for her to go on impromptu trips. However, Nick was worried when Molly didn’t come home or contact anyone by July 8, 2004. He called the police, but they didn’t take it seriously, believing she left of her own accord.
However, all of Molly’s belongings, including her wallet, identification, car, and phone, among other things, were still at the apartment, leading to the suspicion of foul play. But the authorities didn’t have much information to follow up on. The family continued to keep Molly’s story alive and hoped more leads would come up. As per the show, they hired a private investigator two years after the disappearance and learned more about John. He had been in and out of prison for various reasons.
When the family went public with John’s name, it was stated on the show that his past girlfriends told the family about how they were scared of him. They alleged that John bragged about doing something to Molly and threatened to do the same to them. Some other women the family how he would choke them when drunk. However, without a body or any other evidence, it became impossible for the police to arrest John. In October 2008, the police received another tip.
As per the show, the tipster claimed that John contacted his father, Edward, on the night of Molly’s disappearance and said he killed someone accidentally. In response, Edward allegedly asked him to bury the body somewhere. Soon after, the authorities reclassified Molly’s case as a homicide investigation. Over the years, John has remained the only person of interest in the case. In 2010, the family won a wrongful suit against John and Edward that awarded Molly’s loved ones $3.5 million. However, the Sheltons never showed up in court, and the family believed they would never receive the money.
It was stated on the show that John is currently in prison on armed robbery and drug charges and would be eligible for release in 2038. In September 2017, the family had Molly declared dead, presuming it happened on July 6, 2004. Her sister, Celestra Dewey, said, “We presume that she is dead at this point. So I do not feel that it is a way of giving up. Just because someone is legally dead does not mean that you will ever stop searching for them.”
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