The Murder of Sylena Jo Dalton & the Disappearance of Allyson

Sylena Jo Dalton (above) Allyson Dalton (left)

On July 27, 1998, Sylena Jo Dalton was discovered deceased in her apartment in Strasburg, Virginia. She had been stabbed repeatedly while sleeping on her living room couch. Her 10-week-old daughter, Allyson Kathleen Dalton, was reported as missing/abducted. As of 2023, Allyson continues to be listed as missing and Sylena’s murder remains unsolved.

What happened to Sylena and Allyson Dalton?

On July 27, 1998, at approximately 12:00 p.m., an unnamed friend went to Sylena’s apartment at 175 South Charles Street Apt. B-8 in Strasburg because Sylena did not show up for work. She discovered Sylena deceased on her living room couch. The friend called another mutual friend, Kelly Fesler, in a panic. Fesler immediately went to Sylena’s apartment, thinking that her two friends were pranking her. When she arrived, she discovered Sylena, covered with a blanket on her living room couch. It was apparent that Sylena had been repeatedly stabbed. She had been deceased for several hours. The two women noticed that Allyson, Sylena’s 10-week-old daughter, was not in the apartment. They also noticed several baby bottles were missing. Both women contacted police, who immediately launched a search for Allyson and began the investigation into Sylena’s death.

The Investigation and Autopsy Report

The medical examiner determined Sylena sustained five deep stab wounds to her heart, lungs, liver, and stomach, along with defensive wounds to her hands, indicating that she had fought her attacker. They estimated Sylena’s time of death as being between 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Investigators began questioning neighbors to see if anyone had any relevant information regarding the movements around Sylena’s apartment. None of the neighbors heard screams or were alerted to any potential trouble. One neighbor did state that they had seen a man who looked like Sylena’s ex-boyfriend and Allyson’s father, Daniel Pompell, at the apartment earlier that morning at around 9:00 a.m. They said that they had heard a noise outside and looked out their window, where they saw Pompell placing a baby in the passenger side of a truck.

Daniel Pompell is Questioned

Investigators questioned Daniel Pompell regarding the events surrounding Sylena’s murder and Allyson’s disappearance. Pompell denied knowing anything. He stated he had been to Sylena’s apartment at around 9:00 a.m. He had knocked on her front door, and when no one answered, he said that he had left. Police reported that he cooperated during the initial investigation and has continued his cooperation over the years.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Pompell’s residence. It was executed, and the search yielded no evidence. Pompell was initially identified as the prime suspect, but has never been charged in Sylena’s murder or Allyson’s disappearance. Pompell has continued to maintain his innocence over the years.

Sylena’s Family and Friends

At the time of Sylena’s murder, it was reported that she was initiating paternal DNA testing to establish Pompell as the father of Allyson, because she was seeking child support. Establishing paternity is a requirement for the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to the investigator’s timeline, Allyson’s disappearance happened before the paternity testing results were returned, identifying Pompell as Allyson’s biological father.

In 2000, Sylena’s family filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Daniel Pompell for damages in Sylena’s wrongful death. The courts dismissed the lawsuit for lack of evidence.

According to Sylena’s friends, they stated that Sylena was extremely afraid of Pompell, which was the reason that Sylena and Pompell’s relationship ended. They quoted Pompell as saying, “I did not kill her. I have no idea what happened to her. I was her friend, and we had a good time together.”

Allyson Dalton Age Progressed to 20

The Aftermath

In 1986, the very first criminal case that used DNA as an investigative tool happened in 1986 and as years have passed, DNA technology has evolved. The Virginia State Police have stated that they are hoping to utilizing the most current DNA technologies will help in the development of further leads in Sylena’s murder and Allyson’s disappearance. They have stated that they remain hopeful.

As of 2023, no one has ever been officially arrested as a suspect.

Investigators ask anyone has any information regarding the murder of Sylena Dalton or the disappearance of her 10-week-old daughter, Allyson Dalton, to please contact Virginia State Police Senior Special Agent, Mike Jones, at (540) 829-7400 or by email at bci.culpeper@vsp.virginia.gov. The general tip line for the Virginia State Police is (888) 300-0156.

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