Details of Disappearance
Panek was last seen checking into the Capril Motel in the 1500 block of northeast 83rd Avenue in Portland, Oregon. She checked in at 11:00 p.m.
At 7:00 a.m. the following day, her 1994 Dodge Spirit was found abandoned near a Greyhound bus station with her two-year-old son locked inside, unharmed. There were bloodstains in the trunk of the car and in its interior.
When the hotel did a wake-up call that morning, no one answered. A maid was sent up to check Panek's second-floor room at 10:00 a.m. and found it deserted. Both beds had been stripped, the bedclothes and all the towels were missing, and one of the mattresses was soaked through with blood.
The police were summoned and found a smear of blood on the sidewalk outside Panek's window. The blood-soaked linens were later located in the motel trash bin, along with a section of cut electrical cord that had also been missing from the motel room. Panek's shoes, socks and tank top were in the bin as well.
A week after her disappearance, Panek's ex-boyfriend, Abdur Rashid Al-Wadud, was charged with her murder. Al-Wadud is also known as Darryl Devereaux. The couple had been married in a Muslim ceremony in 1993, but the marriage was not legal.
A few weeks after their son's birth, Panek requested a restraining order, saying Al-Wadud had shoved her, tried to strangle her and threatened to slit her throat. They separated and Al-Wadud was living in East Palo Alto, California by the time of Panek's disappearance. He was arrested there and extradited to Oregon to face trial.
Investigators believe Al-Wadud planned Panek's murder beforehand and killed her by slashing her throat. He had threatened to murder her several times because he thought she'd betrayed Islam by not raising their son in the Muslim faith.
Al-Wadud bought a knife a few days before Panek disappeared, then drove to Portland to meet her and their son at the Capril Motel.
According to the prosecution's theory, Al-Wadud murdered Panek at the motel, tossed her body out the window, put it first in the trunk of her own car and then in his rental car, and disposed of it in an unknown location. He drove Panek's car to the bus station, left it there with their son inside, and made an anonymous 911 call directing authorities to the vehicle and the boy. He then returned to California.
Al-Wadud's attorney, Edward Jones, suggested that if Al-Wadud had actually committed the murder, he did so while under "extreme emotional distress." He asked for an acquittal or a conviction of manslaughter.
Jones also claimed Panek was a prostitute, an assertion her family strongly denied. They later filed a grievance with the Oregon state bar, claiming Jones had "knowingly made false statements of fact."
Al-Wadud maintained his innocence, but was convicted of murder in 1996 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Panek's body has never been found, but foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.