How did Molly Dattilo die? Was she murdered?

Molly Dattilo appeared to have disappeared without a trace in July 2004 while attending a party at her apartment complex. However, investigation of what happened seemed to lead to very few clues and no explanations. Molly’s case is one of two featured in the episode of Still a Mystery: Indiana Unsolved, which airs on Investigation Discovery. Over the many years, the family has struggled mightily to find a solution, being prevented from receiving adequate information. So in case you were curious as to what became of Molly, we know this is the case.

Molly Dattalo

How did Molly Dattilo die?

Molly was the ninth and last child in the family and spent her childhood in Madison, Indiana. The young woman had many skills and was an outgoing, sociable and reliable person. Molly was not only successful in classes, but also a talented athlete. As a result, she received an ongoing scholarship to attend Eastern Kentucky University. Everything seemed to be going wonderfully for the 22-year-old. She attended Indiana University-Purdue University’s 2004 summer session in Indianapolis with the intention of applying for American Idol at a later date. Molly’s day on July 6, 2004 began with the same routine as any other day. She shared an apartment with her brother in Indianapolis at the time, and they both called the city home.

After getting some supplies and heading to her class around 7:00 p.m., Molly went to a nearby fast food restaurant to apply for a job. Afterwards, Molly attended a party held at her apartment complex. Molly called her pal at around 11pm from a payphone located at a gas station three miles from her home. Unfortunately, the call was cut off before the friend could finish his sentence. After that no one ever heard from or about her again. After more than a decade had passed, Molly’s family finally got their death officially acknowledged in 2017. However, the cause of death cannot be determined at this time.

What Really Happened to Molly Dattilo?

Molly ran into a familiar face on her way to the fast food restaurant, and this person reminded her to keep her phone on her. After some time, the device was in her apartment. At the party that took place in her building on the evening of July 6, 2004, she met John Shelton. She was introduced to him by one of her other close friends. After leaving the party, the two took a boat trip and then had dinner at a Taco Bell, the investigation found. The call came in around 11:00 p.m. and was placed from a phone booth three miles down the opposite direction from the home.

When questioned later, John confessed to being with Molly at the time of the call, but claimed he dropped her off after the call ended. He was the very last person she had ever seen alive. Nick, Molly’s brother, did not immediately report his sister missing because it was not uncommon for Molly to embark on unplanned trips. Nick believed Molly had returned home safely. On the other hand, Nick was concerned when, as of July 8, 2004, Molly still hadn’t returned home or made contact with anyone. He contacted the authorities, but they did not take his report seriously, thinking she had left her of her own free will.

However, all of Molly’s belongings, including her wallet, ID, car and phone, were still at the home when police arrived, leading them to suspect foul play had been committed. However, authorities lacked a significant amount of information to follow up. The family continued to speak out about Molly and her disappearance in the hope that other clues would surface. According to the episode, two years after John’s disappearance, they decided to hire a private investigator to find out more information about him. He has been in and out of prison for a variety of offenses throughout his life.

When the family decided to go public with John’s name, the show alleged that his former girlfriends confided in the family about how John made them feel uncomfortable and threatened. They claimed John bragged about doing something to Molly and then threatened to do the same to them if they didn’t keep their distance. Some of the other ladies in the family described how he would smother them when he was drunk. The fact that there was no body or other evidence made it impossible for authorities to arrest John. In October 2008, the police received additional information.

According to the show, the tipster claimed that John spoke to his father, Edward, on the night of Molly’s disappearance and told him that he accidentally killed someone else. Supposedly in response, Edward asked him to find a suitable burial place for the deceased. Not long after, the investigation into Molly’s disappearance was turned into a murder investigation by authorities. Over the years, John has been the only person interested in the investigation. In 2010, the family prevailed against John and Edward in a wrongful lawsuit that resulted in a $3.5 million reward for Molly’s loved ones. The Sheltons, on the other hand, failed to appear in court, leading the family to believe they would never see the money again.

It was revealed on the show that John is currently connected to drug trafficking and armed robbery charges and that he will be eligible for parole in 2038. Molly’s family decided to officially acknowledge her death in September 2017, provided that she had passed away on July 6, 2004. Celestra Dewey, her sister, stated that “we currently assume that she is deceased”. With that in mind, I don’t consider it a form of surrender. Even if someone has been legally pronounced dead, that doesn’t mean you give up the search at any point.

Molly Dattalo
Molly Dattalo

The mysterious disappearance of Molly Dattilo

On Tuesday July 6, 2004, Molly went about her normal daily routine and went to her classes. She went shopping that afternoon that day, mainly to buy a present for her young nephew’s upcoming birthday, and she also wanted to submit applications.

Later that evening, around 7:00 p.m., Molly made the decision to walk to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant. She had an application to drop off at Wendy’s, which was about half a mile from her home. When Molly went for a walk or maybe even at Wendy’s, she would meet one of her brother’s friends face to face. They had a brief discussion for a minute before Molly parted from them to return to her apartment.

After getting home, she went to one of her friends’ apartment where she saw a number of other people just hanging around. Molly started talking to a young man named John Shelton when she saw him walking down the street. John was able to convince her to take him on a boat trip on one of the smaller ponds located within the complex. Coincidentally, John had access to the apartments because his brother Benji worked there as a caretaker. Benji was able to help John retrieve the boat, which was stowed in a shed. After salvaging the boat, John and Molly took a short boat ride.

After that, they drove to a Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat.

After leaving Taco Bell, they did not return to the apartments they had stayed in. They did not stop when they reached the apartments, but continued a few kilometers in the opposite direction. Molly urged John to drive by the Thornton gas station around eleven o’clock that night. No one knows why or where they went back then. Molly approached a payphone to call one of her friends.

Molly owned a mobile phone, but she didn’t have it with her at the time. And there are many hypotheses as to why that is, although there could be a variety of reasons. First, there was the year 2004. Of course, cell phones existed back then, but they weren’t smartphones in the modern sense, and people didn’t always carry them around. Second, it was possible that her phone’s battery was low and needed charging since she’d been out all day. Third, it’s possible she expected to be gone a few minutes at most. It’s also possible that she simply forgot.

Still, Molly was only a few miles from her apartment complex when she felt compelled to stop and use a payphone to call a friend. When later questioned about this communication, the friend admitted that she did indeed receive a call from Molly; However, the line went dead before Molly could say anything. She just thought they were off for the moment; There seemed nothing out of the ordinary about the situation.