NAPLES — For the family members of a missing Golden Gate woman, one year has yet to bring them any closer to bringing her home.
A year ago Tuesday, Marie Delly left her job at an East Naples Walmart, not to be seen again. To her family, who reported her missing two days later, it seems as though Delly — who would now be 35 years old — disappeared completely.
A year later, there are no new leads, and while the family hopes for the best, they’ve prepared for the worst.
“We’re at a loss,” said Bobbi Lene, Delly’s 26-year-old sister. “We’re leaving it up to the investigators. That’s all we can do.”
Collier County sheriff’s detectives have called her husband, Mathnald Dareus, 32, a person of interest in the case. But without any hard evidence, Dareus has not been charged with a crime.
“Anytime a wife disappears, the husband is automatically a suspect unless there’s an iron-clad alibi,” Detective Scott Peterson said. “(Dareus) hasn’t been eliminated as a suspect.”
Dareus told investigators he dropped Delly off at work at 8:30 a.m. May 17, 2010, but he did not pick her up, and does not know who did. Surveillance footage from the Walmart shows Delly exiting the store after work and walking into a blind spot, creating a question of who she left with or if she even got into a vehicle.
The family says Dareus failed two questions on a polygraph test, and has been in and out of the Naples area since his wife’s disappearance, traveling to Orlando and Haiti.
“He was not very close to the family,” Lene said. “We didn’t like the relationship ... My mom didn’t get along with him because there were issues between him and my sister.”
A year without any new leads has Lene and Delly’s family pleading for someone to come forward with any new information. Investigators have told Lene they believe Delly to be somewhere in Miami — a lead based on phone records showing Dareus made a call from the Miami area, Lene said.
“At this point, we’ve tried everything we know,” Peterson said. “There’s always somebody who might know something, but for whatever reason doesn’t come forward.”
As the caretaker for three of Delly’s children — a fourth lives with Delly’s mother — Lene watched as her sister’s children experienced their first Mother’s Day without their mother, a stark contrast to Mother’s Day 2010, when the entire family celebrated at Cape Coral’s Sunsplash Family Waterpark.
“It was weird, but they got through it,” she said.
For Detective Peterson, the case is far from being closed. While there may not be any new leads, he remains in close contact with Delly’s family and hopes Delly may someday return home.
However, Peterson said the Sheriff’s Office prepares for the worst.
“The worst thing you can do is treat it like she’s just a missing person and down the road she’s deceased and you don’t have any evidence,” he said. “We’ve gathered all the evidence so, if something did happen to her, we’re left with something to work with.”
Tuesday, the family plans on spending the day together, remembering their missing sister and mother. For Lene, she misses her sister’s humor and their time spent at home.
She knows the children miss their mother, but despite their loss, continue to do well at school and stay involved.
“These kids need their mother,” she said. “If they can’t have their mom back, at least they can have some closure.”