Cold Case: Was It Suicide?

60-year-old Dixie Meeks CBS/The Early Show

Over the years, CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman has repeatedly proven that "Everybody Has A Story."

But because he deals with real people, the tales he tells do not always have happy endings. That was the case when he met an Oklahoma woman trying to comprehend the questionable circumstances surrounding the death of her only daughter.

All his stories come from the phone book. But this one sounds more like something out of the cold case files. Last name: Meeks.

It all began last July on the night 60-year-old Dixie Meeks lost her only daughter, Jo Ann. Investigators called it a suicide.

"I know she didn't jump out of that car," Dixie Meeks says. "Nobody is going to make me believe it ever, because there's just too many things that don't add up."

Jo Ann and a friend named Lisa were on their way home from a concert at a casino. It was late at night. The friend, Lisa, was driving and Jo Ann was in the passenger seat. They had both been drinking and fighting. Lisa told police that she and Jo Ann were in the middle of a huge argument when Jo Ann opened the door and threatened to jump out. Lisa said she told her to stop, looked at the speedometer, and saw she was doing 65. And when she looked back again, Jo Ann was gone.

There were no skid marks. In fact, Lisa told investigators she was so upset, she didn't even think to stop the car at first. And by the time she did turn around, she couldn't find her. Lisa said she looked for well over an hour, but to no avail.

Dixie Meeks notes, "Jo Ann's body was laying right there beside the road. Couldn't miss it."

Investigators considered foul play, but ruled it out almost immediately.

District attorney Robert Schulte says, "I've seen nothing in the case that would cause me any concern.

"It would be very difficult to open a passenger side door, force someone out that door that did not want to exit the vehicle. There were no defensive wounds on the driver. She was not scratched up. There's no blood. There was none of those."

Still, Jo Ann's family isn't buying it. They're not saying Lisa is responsible for Jo Ann's death, just that she isn't telling the whole story. They point at the following evidence: At exactly the time Lisa said she was looking for the body, toll records show she got on and off a turnpike that was miles away. Got on just after the incident at 11:36 p.m., off at 12:39 a.m., and on again at 1:00 a.m., just before she called police.

Shulte says, "There were inconsistencies in her story, yes. But they did not change the evidence as we have it."

Lisa declined a CBS request for an on-camera interview. But off-camera, she told Hartman a new version, one that explains the toll receipts.

Lisa says when Jo Ann jumped out of the car, she panicked, got on the toll road and rode home, about a 20-minute ride, then returned to the scene, went home again and called police.

Dixie Meeks says, "I've just come to the conclusion that nobody is ever going to find out exactly what did happen. Except Lisa is the only one. And until she decides to tell exactly what happened, we're never going to know."

And until she knows, Dixie Meeks says, she'll be open to any explanation, other than the current one.
  • Tatiana Morales

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