Murder of Jaclyn Dowaliby

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Jaclyn Dowaliby
Born Jaclyn Marie Guess
(1981-05-17)May 17, 1981
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died September 10, 1988(1988-09-10) (aged 7)
Cause of death Homicide of unreleased etiology
Body discovered September 14, 1988
Midlothian, Illinois, US

Jaclyn Marie Dowaliby (May 17, 1981 – September 10, 1988) was an American girl who disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Her body was found five days later.[1]


On September 10, 1988, seven-year-old Jaclyn was taken from her home in Midlothian, Illinois at some point during the night.[2] The next morning, her mother Cynthia Dowaliby reported her as a missing child, possibly an abduction, and claimed that she "prayed for her return".[3] Police reportedly found a broken window, but it may have been a phony entry area as her adoptive father David Dowaliby later recalled the back door was left open. Search parties were organised, but for five days Jaclyn was nowhere to be found.

Death and legacy[edit]

On September 14, 1988, Dowaliby's body was found abandoned at a dump site six miles away from her home. Even though an autopsy couldn't reveal when she had been killed, the police suspected that Cynthia and David were involved in the crime. In 1990 they were put on trial for her murder. Cynthia was acquitted but David was convicted on eyewitness testimony which placed him at the scene where her body was found.[4] In October 1991, an appellate court overturned his conviction,[5][6] ruling that there was no more evidence against him than there had been against Cynthia. On November 13, 1991, David Dowaliby was released from prison. Nobody else has been arrested or convicted for her murder.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1996, a television film was released, entitled Gone in the Night. It was based on Dowaliby's disappearance and murder, and starred Kevin Dillon and Shannen Doherty as David and Cynthia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jaclyn Marie Dowaliby (1981 - 1988) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2017-08-23. 
  2. ^ "Jaclyn Dowaliby cold case reexamined 28 years later". Retrieved 2017-08-23. 
  3. ^ Pantelina (2009-07-24), The story of Jaclyn Dowaliby, retrieved 2017-08-23 
  4. ^ "David Dowaliby, Center on Wrongful Convictions: Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law". Retrieved 2017-08-23. 
  5. ^ Tristan (2015-10-11). "The Case of Jaclyn Dowaliby: An Unreliable Witness and a Wrongly Accused Man". Bizarre and Grotesque. Retrieved 2017-08-23. 
  6. ^ "UNSOLVED CHILD MURDER : JACLYN DOWALIBY - Protect Your KiDs". Retrieved 2017-08-23. 
  7. ^ Goudie, Chuck; Tressel, Christine (2016-05-14). "Jaclyn Dowaliby cold case reexamined 28 years later". ABC Eyewitness News. Retrieved 2016-10-02. 

External links[edit]