Last week, Oefelein and Colleen Shipman, the third player in the romance that captured national attention, alerted their hometown papers in Alaska and Pennsylvania that they are engaged and plan to wed next summer.
The two share an Anchorage address, public records show, and earlier this year teamed to create a Web site to market themselves as speakers, photographers and writers of "both fiction and true-life stories" with an adventurous bent – a theme that carried over with their move toward matrimony.
"On June 20, 2009, the couple embarked on a 110-mile canoe trip on Beaver Creek in Interior Alaska," states their. "That night, Billy O. retrieved a ring he had hidden in the fishing box and proposed to his love on bended knee."
The ScandalAuthorities allege that a disguised Nowak – with possessions including a steel mallet, a 4-inch knife and a BB gun – trailed and then confronted Shipman in an Orlando airport parking lot early on Feb. 5, 2007, after driving from Houston to meet Shipman as she returned home from visiting Oefelein in Texas.
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"The police made a mountain out of a molehill in this case and now we have learned there was never a molehill to start with," said attorney Don Lykkebak.
A trial is set to begin Dec. 7. "She’s definitely looking for this to finally be concluded," says Nowak’s spokesperson Marti Mackenzie.
Former AstronautsNowak and Oefelein, who trained together but flew separate missions on the space shuttle Discovery in 2006, both were fired from NASA's astronaut corps after the incident. The mother of three, who was separated at the time, has since divorced her husband, Richard, and is currently a flight-training instructor at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, about an hour from her Houston home.
Oefelein retired from the U.S. Navy as a commander last October and returned to live in Alaska, his base as a non-military test pilot instructor; Shipman, a former Air Force captain, also has left active military duty.
Both have maintained a public silence on the case. In his only published comments since Nowak's arrest – given to promote the March 1 "Running of the Reindeer" event in Anchorage – Oefelein told the Anchorage Daily News he enjoys going mostly unrecognized and making the local rounds after months in the spotlight in a case he wouldn't discuss.