It seems that detectives used one inmate, Dennis Byron, to get information on another inmate, Scott Overbeck. For some reason law enforcement had become interested in Overbeck in connection with this cold case. They wired up Byron and put him in the cell with Overbeck. Over the course of a little over a month, police listened to hundreds of hours worth of conversations between the two inmates. The details of what Overbeck told Byron are horrific.
Overbeck told Byron he was asked to dispose of the 5-month-old’s body, which he chopped up and dumped in crab traps in waters near the Courtney Campbell Parkway, according to a sworn statement to investigators from Byron obtained Saturday by the St. Petersburg Times.
Overbeck said he had retrieved a boat with the dead baby inside from the Aisenbergs’ home in Valrico before Sabrina was reported missing, Byron claimed in the statement. Byron said he was under the impression that Overbeck had done so at the behest of a longtime investigator for the law firm that would soon represent the baby’s parents.
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.
Marlene Aisenberg reported her baby missing on November 24, 1997 at 6:42 am. She reported that her husband, Steve Aisenberg, had put the baby in her crib at about 11 p.m. the prior evening. She checked on the child about midnight. When she went to check on the baby in the morning, the crib was empty.
The Aisenbergs had left the garage door open during the night, but the family dog, Brownie, didn’t bark and there were no signs of an intruder. A massive search was immediately launched with no signs found of the baby.
After the parents were interviewed by law enforcement they decided to hire an attorney and refused to cooperate further. They then started on a media blitst to gain support from the public in finding their baby. They were highly critical of law enforcement and people began to grow suspicious of them.
Law enforcement tapped the family’s telephone and filed indictments against the parents. The Aisenbergs were indicted for obstruction of justice and for responsibility in the death and cover up of their baby Sabrina.
Steven and Marlene Aisenberg were under investigation for 18 months. All charges against them were dropped in February 2001.
There were allegations of misconduct on the part of the investigators. Florida Governor Jeb Bush appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the conduct of two Hillsborough County, Florida sheriff’s detectives who first investigated the case and put the Aisenbergs under investigation. One investigator, Stephen Kunz was demoted and stripped of his supervisory responsibilities. The other, Rachelle DesVaux Bedke, Federal Attorney, was transferred to a different department.
With no new leads, the case grew cold and has remained unsolved.
The Aisenbergs had two other children in their home, a 4 year old girl and an 8 year old boy at the time of Sabrina’s disappearance.