"It's a wonderful story about adoption," says AMW correspondent Angeline Hartmann, who worked on the story. "They gave the two kids a beautiful life."
While Deana grew up to be a beautiful and talented hair stylist, friends and family said a few rocky relationships left her unlucky in love. She was struggling as a single mother to her young son, Gabriel, when things started looking up in 2006. Deana met someone who seemed to be the man she had been waiting for -- Christopher Meade. The two began dating and eventually moved to North Carolina for a fresh start.
"Deana thought he was a good father to her son, Gabe," Angeline says. "Her sister tells me that Deana just liked him -- thought he was cute in his cowboy hat and boots."
But the rest of the family was less than impressed. From the beginning, their relationship appeared to be a tumultuous affair.
"They had a history of domestic violence," Angeline says. "They would break up, get back together, etc. So when they got married on New Year's Day 2009, her family was really surprised. She was in love with him, so they couldn't really argue with her. It was her life."
Deana's brother Jack even took it upon himself to have a heart-to-heart with Meade, asking him to end the toxic relationship before anyone got seriously hurt. According to Jack, Meade obnoxiously brushed off the advice and said something along the lines of, "I've already made my bed, and I'm going to sleep in it. If I kill her, I kill her. If I go to prison, I go to prison."
In early November 2009, those close to Deana grew even more concerned when they hadn't been able to reach her or her husband at all. Deana had always been good about keeping in touch, so family and friends alerted the police of this development.
When police arrived at the couple's home, they found a note on the door indicating that the family took a trip. Deana never mentioned anything about a trip to her parents, and they spoke on the phone every day.
After about a week, cops say Meade showed up at his mother's house to drop off 4-year-old Gabe, and then Meade took off with no word about where he was going.
Happy to see Gabriel home safe and sound, family members still worried about Deana, knowing it was highly unlikely she would simply leave her son behind. Suspecting possible foul play, cops began searching the couple's residence and the surrounding areas, but the search yielded no results. Things started to look very fishy, however, when it was revealed Meade had been using Deana's credit cards illegally. His November 2009 transactions took place in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and other areas. The transactions and photos taken at ATMs are the last traces of Meade, and he hasn't been heard from since.
The investigation picked up momentum in December when a meticulous cop decided to take visit the couple's home again.
"This is a very tiny department; officers would all kinda search on their own spare time," Angeline says. "He was just walking around her house and saw where animals appeared to be digging. Even though he was searching for her, it was a very emotional moment for him. He couldn't believe he found her."
Deana was dead, and her child had become an orphan. Her story had sadly come full circle. Worse yet, cops believe young Gabriel was there on the day of Deana's death.
"The biggest thing for me is the 4-year-old left behind," Angeline says. "Turns out his biological father committed murder-suicide years ago, so the Gabriel has no mom or dad. Cops think he probably saw what happened that day."
Gabriel now lives with Deana's sister and her husband, who have lovingly adopted him. Cops have charged Christopher Meade with credit card theft and want to talk to him about his wife's murder. Tune in Saturday night to get the full story and call in with any information regarding Deana's death. In the meantime, get all the info from the case file at AMW.com