Real Name: Doreen Ann Marfeo
Nicknames: Doreen Dobson (maiden name)
Location: Johnston, Rhode Island
Date: March 29, 1990
Occupation: Purchasing Editor, Rhode Island School of Design
Date of Birth: January 7, 1955
Height: 5' 7"
Weight: 115 lbs.
Marital Status: Married
Characteristics: Doreen had brown hair with green eyes, a chicken pock mark on the front of one calf, capped front tooth and noticeable Massachusetts accent.
Details: Thirty-four-year-old Doreen Marfeo was the wife of Stephen Marfeo. The two had met in 1976 and learned that they both enjoyed active lifestyles. In 1978, they were married. Stephen worked in the jewelry business and enjoyed weightlifting and driving fast cars. Doreen was a successful career woman. She was the purchasing editor at the Rhode Island School of Design. She was also a tidy, punctual person who visited her elderly mother often.
In October of 1989, she abruptly quit her job, saying that she wanted a change. According to Stephen, she began behaving erratically. At some points, she seemed on the edge of a nervous breakdown. He remembered waking up in the middle of the night and finding her crying in the living room. She refused to tell him what the problem was.
On March 29, 1990, she didn't make her usual call to her mother, and when Stephen came home, he found that she was not there. However, he waited two days to declare her missing, doing so only after her mother threatened him into it. When asked about her, he claimed that she had taken only a week's worth of clothes in a suitcase and had only $600 with her. She left behind her curlers, toothbrush, pet cats, and 1984 Ford Tempo. She also had left no note explaining where she may have gone.
Police questioned her family and friends and could find no reason for her to just disappear. Investigators soon considered Stephen the most likely suspect in her disappearance after they learned that he had hired private investigators to follow her for eleven months. They were shocked when they learned that he did not have the investigators look for her after she went missing. They were also suspicious about his delay in reporting her missing.
On June 13, three months after she vanished, two anonymous letters were sent to police. One attacked her character, accusing her of having affairs with several men that she worked with, and using these affairs to get promotions in her job. The second letter described how Stephen strangled her to death on a couch and dumped her body into a pond. Investigators believe that Stephen was the author of the letters.
Police could find no evidence of an affair with any co-workers. Her co-workers and friends said that she would never have an affair with a co-worker. Interestingly, some of the names listed were of elderly or retired co-workers, making it more likely that the letter was merely written to defame her.
However, ten years earlier, Doreen apparently told her sister Lorna that she was having an affair and contemplated leaving Stephen. Her sister convinced her to stay with him. Authorities however found no evidence to suggest that she had done this again. Doreen's disappearance remains unsolved. Investigators are certain that Stephen is responsible, but he denies any involvement. Surprisingly, Doreen's mother and sister also believe that he is innocent.
Suspects: The police long suspected Stephen Marfeo of killing Doreen. During the police investigation, he changed his story about the last time he saw her several times. Authorities felt it was suspicious that he had hired two separate private investigators to follow her around prior to her disappearance, but when she actually vanished, he seemed unconcerned with locating her. He not only waited two days to report her missing, but he also did not have his investigators look into her disappearance.
Investigators suspected that Stephen may have written the anonymous letters that were sent to them. A psycho-linguistics expert examined the letters; he believed that the letter writer was close to Doreen and knew her well. He felt that the letters were written to throw off the investigation. Overall, he concluded that Stephen most likely wrote the letters, and that he was most likely responsible for his wife's disappearance. A type style comparison later confirmed that the first letter was written on Stephen's mother's typewriter.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the November 17, 1993 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Doreen's mother eventually came to accept that Stephen was most likely involved in her disappearance. Although no trace of Doreen has ever been found, a shocking development came about in July of 1999. Stephen shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, Laura Vincent, and seriously wounded her new boyfriend, Sal Puleo. He then drove to the secluded Barkhamsted Reservoir and committed suicide.
His suicide letter mentioned that he was alive "nine years too long" and that he had "felt guilty" for Doreen's disappearance, but he did not claim direct responsibility. However, these actions seem to imply that he had something to do with it. Many detectives are certain that Stephen killed his wife, but believe the case cannot be closed until Doreen's remains are found. A search of the area near where Stephen committed suicide turned up no trace of her remains.
- Doreen Marfeo on the Charley Project
- Doreen Marfeo on the Doe Network
- Doreen Marfeo on NamUs
- Police To Search For Body Near Barkhamsted Reservoir
- Search Yields No Clues To Woman's Disappearance
- Did suspect die knowing wife's fate?
- (Article Mentioning the Marfeos) Illuminate the Psychology of Abuse
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Doreen Marfeo