Details of Disappearance
Darlene was married to Earl Bamber in 2001. The couple resided in Zephyrhills, Florida with their young daughter. Darlene's loved ones have stated that the Bambers' marriage was abusive. Her mother said that Darlene filed for a restraining order against Earl during the summer of 2001. The couple continued to live together in their home in the 37400 block of Terrain Court.
Darlene phoned her mother at approximately 4:00 a.m. on August 13, 2001. She said that she had insomnia and was resting on the couch with her four-year-old daughter. Darlene told her mother she planned to take her brown station wagon to the mechanic for a maintenance check soon. She also mentioned she needed a manicure.
Darlene planned to take her child and relocate to the Dallas, Texas area later in the month. Her family said that she wanted to move away from Earl and decided to drive to Texas with her brother. Darlene did not have any immediate travel plans on the day of her disappearance.
Darlene was last seen dropping her daughter off at a daycare center during the day. She has never been heard from again. Earl claimed first that Darlene had taken all her clothes and departed the residence in a Lincoln or Cadillac parked by the street. Later he said Darlene drove away in her station wagon and took their child with her, but authorities saw that their daughter was still at home. Darlene's vehicle was also parked in the driveway of their residence.
Earl changed his version of his wife's disappearance several times before claiming that Darlene departed in an unknown vehicle. Earl claimed that she had called him several times after August 13, but authorities have been unable to confirm that statement. Most of Darlene's clothes and personal belongings, including her makeup, perfume and toiletries, were discovered inside the couple's home.
Earl had an extensive criminal history, with forty-two arrests for crimes such as for attempted murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, felony possession of a firearm, grand larceny, theft and selling cocaine. He had been married six times, according to Florida state records. One of his wives died in a reported suicide. Another of Earl's former wives stated that he was abusive, but he was never convicted of domestic violence.
Earl died of natural causes in April 2002, in the home he had shared with Darlene. He was fifty-four years old. His and Darlene's daughter was removed from his custody after Darlene disappeared and placed in the care of Darlene's mother.
There have been no arrests in connection with Darlene's case, but her family believes foul play was involved. Her disappearance remains unsolved.