CLUTCHING A SPARE KEY, KATHLEEN Fahey-Hosey climbed the two flights to her sister's apartment with a growing sense of dread. Thirty-year-old Anne Marie Fahey hadn't answered her phone in two days and had failed to show up for a dinner date with a man she hoped to marry. "I was nervous when I put the key in the door," says Fahey-Hosey, 36. "I thought she might have slipped in the shower and hit her head." Inside, Kathleen found Anne Marie's purse sitting on a chair, groceries left on the counter and the bed rumpled—signs of casual disarray that the meticulous Anne Marie would never have tolerated in her tidy apartment. "Things didn't look right," says Kathleen. And Anne Marie was nowhere to be found.
The next day—June 30—the Wilmington, Del., police launched an investigation into the disappearance of Anne Marie, an energetic young woman who worked as a scheduler to Delaware Gov. Thomas Carper. Friends and colleagues describe her as a vivacious beauty, a loving sister, a valued confidante—and a troubled soul. Details of the case have captivated Wilmington (pop. 72,000), the biggest city in a little state. "You've got wild rumors, a Who's Who list of names involved, from the President on down. How much bigger can it get?" says former Mayor Thomas Maloney. He isn't exaggerating. A few days after Kathleen Fahey-Hosey discovered her sister's apartment empty, President Clinton, a friend of Governor Carper's, volunteered federal investigators to help with the case.
Fahey was last seen June 27, dining at a posh restaurant in Philadelphia with Thomas Capano, 47, a prominent Wilmington lawyer—married, with four daughters—who was once chief legal counsel to former Delaware Gov. Michael Castle. For nearly three years, Fahey had conducted a clandestine and, at times, volatile affair with Capano, but she was apparently trying to end it. In a diary found after her disappearance, Fahey wrote about trying to break off the relationship: "I realize just how vulnerable I had become.... I allowed someone to take control of every decision in my life." In the same entry she described Capano as "a controlling, manipulative, insecure, jealous maniac."
"Annie got in over her head," says her brother Kevin Fahey, 42, a Chadds Ford, Pa., insurance agent. "This is one crisis she got herself into that she couldn't get out of. God knows what really happened." Like his siblings, Kevin believes his sister never made it home that night and that someone else—he suspects Capano—rumpled her sheets to throw off police. The family strongly doubts that Anne Marie, who left her car and cash behind, has simply run away.
Like Richard Jewell, the suspect in the Atlanta bombing case, Capano has been named by authorities as a suspect in the case but hasn't been charged. Through his lawyers he firmly denies any involvement. He drove Fahey home that night, he says, and dropped her off around 10 p.m.—the same time a neighbor downstairs reported hearing footsteps in Fahey's apartment. A month later, FBI agents swarmed through the handsome $2,000-a-month redbrick house Capano has rented since separating from his wife, nurse-practitioner Kay Capano, last fall. With a crowd of neighbors watching, agents dug holes in the backyard, led trained dogs through the living room and filled two vans with possible evidence, including vacuum cleaners and soil samples. After initially talking to investigators, Capano is no longer cooperating.
J. Brian Murphy, a Wilmington businessman and Capano's friend, says Capano's reputation has been ruined by the publicity. The emotionally vulnerable Fahey had recently been struggling with bulimia, he says, and Capano had asked her to dinner because he "was trying to be helpful to her." Their relationship was no longer intimate, Murphy says; rather, Capano saw Fahey as a "friend" and is "devastated" by her disappearance.
Fahey grew up in Wilmington, the youngest child in a protective but troubled family, with Kathleen and four brothers—Kevin, Mark, now 40, Robert Jr., 38, and Brian, 34. When Fahey was 9, her mother, Kathleen, died of lung cancer at 45—the first in a series of losses that would leave Fahey seriously depressed and lead her, in her 20s, to seek professional help. At the time, the children were left in the care of their alcoholic, often-unemployed father, Robert Fahey. "It was pretty chaotic," recalls Brian, now a fifth-grade teacher in Wilmington. "We sort of had to figure out our own way."
Freckle-faced Anne Marie frequently visited the homes of friends and relatives, longing for the stable family life that was missing at home. At Springer Junior High School and Brandywine High School she immersed herself in sports, competing in field hockey and basketball as well as Irish step dancing. By her late teens she was striking and popular yet remained "afraid and insecure," says Brian. In 1986 she was studying international relations at Wesley College in Dover, Del, when her father died of leukemia, but not before Anne Marie had managed to reconcile with him during the 10-month illness. Says Beth Barnes, a childhood friend: "God gave them a chance to know each other."
After graduating, Fahey found a fatherly mentor in then Representative Carper, who hired her as a receptionist in his Washington office. When Carper was elected governor in 1992, he chose her for the difficult job of keeping his schedule. It was while working in the governor's office that she met Capano. Friends say Fahey had a taste for the good things in life and Capano indulged it, showering her with gifts well beyond the reach of a $31,000-a-year government worker. Capano, says a friend, made Fahey "feel safe and secure."
Then last year a car crash claimed the life of a therapist who had been treating Fahey for her psychological problems for more than a year. "I lost my best friend, mentor, the man with the greatest smile," she wrote in her diary. Close friends think that's when her eating disorder started. Fahey, who stood 5'10", began taking laxatives to lose weight and by late 1995 had begun to appear dangerously thin.
In the middle of Fahey's crisis, Governor Carper introduced her to Michael Scanlan, 31, a successful credit-company official with a Mercedes and a six-figure salary. "She was excited about Michael," says Beth Barnes. "She was like, 'He's the one.' " When Fahey tried to ease out of her affair with Capano, "he took the news hard," says a close friend. "He just went nuts. He'd call at 10, 10:30, 11, 11:15. It was total obsession, not love."
Fahey, a woman so wary of confrontation that as a teenager she had asked a girlfriend to help her break up with boys, agreed to meet Capano socially from time to time. Brian Murphy says that Capano, concerned about Fahey's weight, took her food and treated her to meals even after their relationship had cooled. "I wanted to drop you a wee note to let you know how much I appreciate all you've done," reads a note Fahey wrote to Capano last May. It was just a few weeks later that Capano invited Fahey to dinner at Philadelphia's trendy Ristorante Panorama, a 30-minute drive from Wilmington. She was never seen again.
Now, Kathleen Fahey-Hosey's 2-year-old son Kevin, who is Fahey's godson, picks up his toy phone and tries to talk to Anne Marie. "He asks every day, 'Where's Aunt Annie?' " says Kathleen. For the moment, there is no good answer.
MARY ESSELMAN in Wilmington
- Mary Esselman.