The remains of a Pennsylvania woman missing for nearly three months may have been found, Allegheny County Police announced on Monday.
Police said in a press release that a hunter spotted a motorcycle on a hillside in Worthington Township and provided the license plate number to Pennsylvania State Police.
They determined it was registered to Darlene Harbison, who has been missing for months, and responded to the scene. There, they found human remains near the motorcycle, which were to be turned over to the medical examiner for formal identification.
As previously reported by Oxygen.com, Harbison, 59, was last seen on Sept. 11. Her daughter requested an unsuccessful welfare check on Sept. 13 after repeatedly being unable to reach her.
Allegheny County police detectives and Frazer Township Police announced in October that Harbison had been in a “volatile relationship” with Eric Gibbs, 57, before her disappearances.
Photo: Allegheny County Police Department
Harbison had accused Gibbs of shattering the driver's side window of her car in April as she was attempting to leave her home, the newspaper reported. She reported the incident to police on April 28, and disclosed that she wanted Gibbs out of her home but was afraid he would commit suicide if he was forced out, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The mother of two daughters and grandmother to four also told police that Gibbs would sometimes brandish a gun to keep her from calling the police. She wanted to press charges over the window incident and reportedly said “something needs done.”
Harbison ended her meeting with police and said she “better get home before he gets suspicious.”
Gibbs was charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, harassment and felony firearms charges over the window incident. Harbison also received a protection from abuse order against Gibbs, and he was ordered to have no contact with her and to stay away from her home, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
That order was supposed to remain in place until November, but Harbison had it modified in June, according to the Post-Gazette.
Gibbs was arrested again on Sept. 9 — two days before Harbison went missing — outside of her home for indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness charges, the newspaper reported.
When the police arrived at Harbison’s home, they found Gibbs shouting profanities: “She’s an [expletive]” and “that [expletive] is ruining my life.”
He reportedly told officers that he was unarmed, but offered to prove it.
“I’ll show you,” he allegedly told police, and proceeded to pull down his pants and expose himself.
Police described Gibbs as “intoxicated” and reeking of alcohol, according to the Post-Gazette.
They ordered Gibbs to leave Harbison’s home and later determined that he did leave, but his car remained parked outside of her home.
Harbison was last seen on Sept. 11.
Gibbe appeared in court for a preliminary hearing on the April charges on Sept. 12, the Post-Gazette reported. He pleaded guilty to two summary citations of disorderly conduct, and the other charges were withdrawn.
Her daughter reported Harbison missing the following day, and Gibbs was the lead suspect. He was found dead from an apparent suicide in West Deer Township on Sept. 17.
Harbison’s family seemed relieved that her remains appeared to have been found.
"Going through it felt like a living hell," Charlotte Ruediger, Harbison’s mother, told KDKA. "The search is all over, but we still don't really have Darlene."
"There's really no joy," she added. "Now we have to put her to rest and spend the rest of our lives without her."
One of her daughters, Jen Harbison, said in a statement to KDKA that the family’s prayers have been answered and they can now have a proper goodbye.
"My mom was mine and my sister's best friend. She lived for us and her grandkids; we were her world. She was caring funny adventurous," Jen Harbison said in the statement. "She will greatly be missed by us all and we are tremendously thankful for everything everyone has done for our family."
Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call the Allegheny County Police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477); callers can remain anonymous. The department can also be reached via its social media sites.