Dalene Carlson was a 23-year-old woman who moved from Idaho to Stockton, California, in July 2011, hoping to pursue a degree in child development. She was described by her family and friends as a cheerful, outgoing, and caring person who loved children and animals. However, her dreams and aspirations were cut short when she went missing on August 7, 2011, after a night out with some acquaintances. Her disappearance sparked a massive search effort that lasted for more than two months, until her remains were found in a cornfield near Escalon, California, on October 15, 2011. The main suspect in her murder was Jason Gilley, a 25-year-old man who was seen with her on the night she vanished. This article will explore the details of Dalene Carlson’s cause of death, the evidence that led to Jason Gilley’s conviction, and the impact of this tragic case on the community.
The Night of Disappearance
According to the police and the witnesses, Dalene Carlson went out to Finnegan’s Bar and Grill in Stockton on the night of August 6, 2011, where she met some friends, including Jacob Evangelisti, James Cosens, and Jason Gilley. She had dated Jacob briefly before getting close to James, who was friends with Jason. At the bar, she had a few drinks and danced with Jason, who seemed to be interested in her. Around 10 PM, she left the bar with Jacob, who drove her to her aunt’s house, where she was staying. She told Jacob that she was going to Jason’s house to continue drinking, and asked him to text her later. Jacob agreed, and left her at the doorstep. However, when he texted her around 11 PM, he did not get a reply. He also texted Jason, who claimed that he was at the hospital with his son, who was sick. Jacob became worried and tried to call Dalene several times, but her phone was turned off. He also called Jason, who did not answer.
Meanwhile, the surveillance footage from the bar and a nearby grocery store showed that Dalene and Jason did not go to his house, but instead left the bar together around 1:15 AM on August 7, 2011. They were seen at the Food For Less store, where they bought some alcohol and snacks.
The Investigation and Arrest
The police launched a massive search for Dalene, involving her family, friends, volunteers, and media. They also questioned Jason, who gave inconsistent and contradictory statements about his whereabouts and his relationship with Dalene. He initially denied being with her after leaving the bar, but later admitted that he took her to his house, where they drank and had sex. He claimed that she became angry and left his house on foot, and that he never saw her again.
The police found several holes in Jason’s story, and also discovered that he had a history of violence and sexual assault. He had been accused of raping a woman in 2006, but the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. He had also been arrested for domestic violence and battery in 2009, but the case was dismissed after he completed a counseling program.
The police also found physical evidence that linked Jason to Dalene’s disappearance and death. They searched his truck and his house, and found traces of Dalene’s blood and DNA. They also found a .22-caliber handgun, which matched the shell casings found near Dalene’s body. They also recovered Jason’s cell phone, which showed that he had deleted several text messages and calls from Dalene and Jacob on the night of August 7, 2011.
Based on this evidence, the police arrested Jason on August 21, 2011, and charged him with kidnapping and murdering Dalene Carlson. He was held without bail, and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Trial and Verdict
Jason Gilley’s trial began in September 2013, and lasted for about a month. The prosecution presented the evidence that showed Jason’s involvement in Dalene’s death, including the surveillance footage, the blood and DNA samples, the gun and the shell casings, the cell phone records, and the inconsistent statements. They also called several witnesses, including Jacob Evangelisti, James Cosens, Dalene’s aunt, and the police officers who investigated the case.
The defense tried to cast doubt on the evidence, and suggested that Dalene was killed by someone else, possibly a drug dealer or a gang member. They also tried to portray Dalene as a troubled and promiscuous woman, who had multiple sexual partners and used drugs and alcohol.
The jury deliberated for about two days, and returned a verdict on October 25, 2013. They found Jason Gilley guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping, and also found the special circumstance of lying in wait, which made him eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The jury spared him the death penalty, and recommended life in prison without parole.
The Impact and Aftermath
Dalene Carlson’s cause of death was a tragic end to a young life that had so much potential. Her family and friends were devastated by her loss, and expressed their grief and anger at Jason Gilley. They also thanked the police, the prosecutors, the jury, and the public for their support and justice.
Jason Gilley’s conviction and sentence were a relief and a closure for Dalene’s loved ones, and a message to the community that such crimes would not go unpunished. However, they also acknowledged that nothing could bring Dalene back, and that they would always miss her and remember her.
Dalene Carlson’s cause of death was a heartbreaking reminder of the fragility and preciousness of life, and the need to protect and cherish it. Her case also showed the importance of seeking and speaking the truth, and holding the perpetrators accountable for their crimes. Her case also inspired many people to join the efforts to prevent and end violence against women, and to support the survivors and their families. Dalene Carlson’s cause of death was a tragedy, but also a catalyst for change and hope.