Molly Laura Dattilo

Dattilo, circa 2004; Dattilo's birthmark

  • Missing Since 07/06/2004
  • Missing From Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 06/13/1982 (37)
  • Age 22 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'0 - 5'1, 100 - 105 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A pink tye-dyed shirt with a collar.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, hazel/green eyes. Dattilo had blonde highlights in her hair at the time of her disappearance. She wears clear contact lenses or occasionally eyeglasses. The tip of Dattilo's left thumb and the nail on that thumb are slightly deformed, shortened and made hook-like from a childhood accident. She has a dime-sized brown birthmark on the outside of her right elbow; a photograph of the birthmark is posted below this case summary.

Details of Disappearance

Dattilo dropped off an employment application at a Wendy's fast food restaurant near 10th Street and Highway 465 in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 7:00 p.m. on July 6, 2004. She also purchased supplies for school and for her hobbies, and dropped one of the three classes she was taking at Indiana University; it was the last day to drop a class without a penalty.

At 11:00 p.m., she placed a call from a pay phone at a Thornton's gas station in the 5700 block of Crawfordsville Road. The call was to a friend, but the line was disconnected when the friend picked up the phone. She has never been heard from again.

All of Dattilo's personal belongings, including her car, voice practice equipment, cellular phone, wallet, bank card, contact lens solution, and identification, were left behind when she vanished. She left additional job applications inside her vehicle.

She had taken her cellular phone with her when she left her brother's apartment and it was found later in his home, which indicates that she made it back there.

Dattilo's brother was not immediately concerned when his sister did not come home that at Westlake Apartments night, as she had gone on impromptu short visits to people in the past. He did not report her missing until July 8, two days after she was last seen.

Dattilo was a student at Eastern Kentucky University in 2004. She was in her fifth year and was very close to graduating. She had enrolled in the school on a running scholarship, which expired in 2003.

Dattilo was taking summer classes at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) at the time of her disappearance, and also taking private voice lessons. She attended all of her classes and lessons up until the day of her disappearance.

She was preparing to audition for the American Idol contest in August 2004, and also planned to attend her nephew's birthday party which happened later in July 2004. She left a substantial amount of money behind in her bank account, which has not been accessed since her disappearance.

In October 2008, authorities announced they were investigating Dattilo's case as a homicide. John E. Shelton is considered a person of interest in her case. He is the last person known to have seen her; he was with her when she placed the call at the gas station. He has a criminal record for theft and traffic offenses, and his driver's license has been suspended for life.

John was a friend of one of Dattilo's friends. The two of them met on the day of her disappearance, and they went on a boat ride and ate dinner together at a Taco Bell restaurant.

No criminal charges have ever been filed in Dattilo's disappearance. However, in November 2010, John and his father, Ed Shelton, were found civilly liable for her wrongful death and ordered to pay $3.4 million in damages to her family.

The Dattilo family alleged that John committed battery on her which led to her death. The Sheltons never came to court to defend themselves against the suit, so a default judgement was issued against them. John is currently imprisoned on unrelated charges; Ed's whereabouts are unknown.

Dattilo is the youngest of nine children and a native of Madison, Indiana. She is an excellent student, runner and singer and is described as a very social and trusting person. Her loved ones believe she was abducted, as it is extremely uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. Her case is unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Jefferson County Sheriff's Department 812-265-2648
  • Madison Police Department 812-265-3347
  • Marion County Sheriff's Department 317-231-8154

Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated November 18, 2010; details of disappearance updated.