On Nov. 24, 1997, Steve and Marlene Aisenberg reported their baby missing. At first, authorities said a kidnapper must have somehow entered the family's one-story house in Valrico and stolen 5-month-old Sabrina from her crib without waking the parents, her two siblings, ages 8 and 4, or Brownie, the family dog. There was no ransom note or sign of forced entry.
Nearly two years later, after authorities interviewed nearly 5,000 people and chased leads to 48 states and three countries, a federal grand jury indicted the Aisenbergs on charges of making false statements. The indictment quoted secretly recorded conversations from the Aisenbergs suggesting that Sabrina had been killed by her father while he was high on cocaine and that the couple staged an elaborate coverup.
But a federal judge said the tapes should be suppressed because they were largely inaudible and investigators lied about their case in order to get permission to record them. The case crumbled and the charges were dismissed in 2001.
In 2003, a judge declared the prosecution frivolous and ordered the government to pay nearly $3-million for the Aisenbergs' legal costs.
But the investigation remained open. Late in 2007, detectives sent an informant to secretly record jailhouse conversations with Scott Overbeck, a cocaine-using felon. The informant said Overbeck told him he had chopped up Sabrina's body and dumped it in the bay.
The informant said Overbeck had done this at the request of John Tranquillo, an investigator for Aisenberg attorney Barry Cohen. But Cohen says the inquiry stems from a vendetta against him on the part of the Sheriff's Office, a charge the Sheriff's Office denies.