Sabrina Aisenberg, one of the youngest missing children, was only five months old when she was abducted from her crib in November 1997. There were no witnesses, no sounds, and no indications of a forced entry. The investigation into Sabrina’s disappearance is still ongoing more than 25 years later.
Details of Disappearance
On November 24, 1997, between 12 and 6:42 a.m., Sabrina vanished from her family’s home in Valrico, Florida. When Sabrina’s mother, Marlene Aisenberg, checked on her at around 2:00 a.m., the baby was asleep in her crib, according to Aisenberg. She claimed that Sabrina had vanished when she went back to her daughter’s room at 6:42 a.m.
Her crib also lacked a handmade blue and yellow blanket with yellow piping and animal imprints. No one has ever seen Sabrina again.
The morning of Sabrina’s disappearance saw both the garage door and one of the Aisenbergs’ front doors left unlocked. Near the infant’s crib, a shoe print, an unidentified blonde hair, and seven unidentified fingerprints were discovered by the detectives.
Authorities were informed by neighbors that there had been a number of incidents involving possible break-in attempts in the neighborhood at residences with young children. On the morning of Sabrina’s disappearance, one of the Aisenbergs’ neighbors claimed that his dog barked at around 1:00 a.m. The man thought he heard a baby crying in the distance after letting the dog outside. He claimed that at the time, none of his nearest neighbors had young children. It is unknown if Sabrina was the source of the cries the witness heard.
According to Sabrina’s parents, at the time of her disappearance, she remarkably resembled her older sister Monica. . At the time of her disappearance, Sabrina had brown hair, but as she grew older, it might have turned blonde.
Why no one inside the Aisenberg residence awoke
Authorities questioned why no one inside the Aisenberg home woke up if Sabrina had really been kidnapped. The family had a dog, which they claimed didn’t bark the night Sabrina vanished. Investigators believed Marlene and Steve had something to do with their daughter’s case. With this case summary are pictures of the child’s parents.
Three weeks after Sabrina vanished, authorities were given permission to install listening devices inside the family’s home. Marlene and Steve both claimed that Sabrina passed away while the tapes were being made, according to the police transcripts of the Aisenbergs’ conversations.
Sabrina’s parents were indicted
Nearly two years after Sabrina went missing, her parents were indicted on conspiracy and other charges in September 1999. A judge determined in February 2001 that investigators had lied when requesting authorization to install wiretaps at the Aisenbergs’ home.
No charges were brought against Steve or Marlene. The judge further declared that none of the evidence mentioned in the transcripts of the Aisenbergs’ conversations could be found on the tapes. In July 2001, the prosecutor who was handling the Aisenbergs’ case was demoted.
In August 2001, after the charges against Steve and Marlene were dropped, their attorneys filed motions requesting that the government pay their clients’ legal fees. Damages totaled between $2.7 and $2.9 million for them. Later, the sum was dropped to between $1.3 and $1.5 million. Once more suing for additional damages, Steve and Marlene accused their prosecutors of plotting to violate their civil rights, creating false evidence, and lying about it.
A judge dismissed this lawsuit in 2004 on the grounds that the law protects prosecutors from claims regarding their official conduct. The Aisenbergs dropped a similar lawsuit against the sheriff’s office in 2006 because they believed it was “materially obstructing” their daughter’s disappearance investigation.
In August 2005, Steve, Marlene, and their lawyer met with the detectives from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to discuss Sabrina’s case. Sabrina’s parents underwent in-depth interrogation as well as polygraph exams administered by the sheriff’s office and their attorney. Steve and Marlene assert that they both passed the tests, though the sheriff’s office has not yet made the test results public. Although they haven’t been ruled out as suspects in Sabrina’s disappearance, they have assisted law enforcement as they reopened their investigation.
It was suggested in April 2003 that Sabrina might be “Paloma Unknown,” a child who had been left behind in May of 1998. A teenage girl posing as Paloma’s mother brought the infant across the border from Mexico into Texas.
Molly Garza, a Spanish woman who might have been employed in the textile business, received Paloma from the adolescent. Paloma was given to a friend who worked as a registered nurse at a migrant clinic because Garza was being deported to Spain and was unable to take the child with her. In order to allow the nurse to place Paloma up for adoption, Garza signed her name. These illegal adoptions are common near the Mexican border.
The nurse gave Paloma to her sister, who brought up the child in Pontiac, Illinois, along with her husband. Without a birth certificate or any background information on Paloma, they attempted to adopt her but were denied permission. Instead, they were given guardianship over her. Numerous organizations have looked into Paloma’s parentage but have not found anything.
Her case remains unsolved
In the spring of 2003, a woman in Michigan noticed the similarities between Paloma and the pictures of the missing infant after seeing Sabrina’s missing-child poster. Paloma’s parents confirmed that she did resemble their daughter when she contacted them. Paloma’s DNA sample was taken, and it was compared to a sample of Sabrina’s that the police already had. It did not line up. Paloma is still unidentified.
After Sabrina vanished, Steve and Marlene relocated to Maryland with their older two kids. They continue to insist on their innocence in Sabrina’s disappearance, and they’ve said they think their daughter is still alive and somewhere in the United States, living with another family. Many investigators continue to believe Sabrina was a victim of fraud. Her case is still open.