Diane Ruth Drake was born on May 3, 1960 to a large family that eventually had 9 children. She lived with a roommate, Elaine Gallo, in a small cottage apartment in Easton’s Terrace. She had known Elaine since high school and they were great friends. Diane was in her second year studying criminal justice at Roger Williams College. She worked at the Photo Patio store in the Middletown Shopping Center.
Diane had given up on her car and junked it. Her brother had offered her another car but they hadn’t connected yet so she was without transportation on this rainy, stormy day. She made calls to get a ride from friends without success. Work was a 20 minute walk but this was the first time she’d be walking, so she dressed for the weather in a men’s 3/4 tan raincoat, a shirt, jeans and hiking boots and carrying a shoulder bag and set off on her 20 minute walk about 2:14 – after her last attempt to find a ride. Her sister had disputed this in some reports, thinking she secured a ride with the wrong person. Both could be right, I personally believe she started walking and was picked up by someone she knew. There seems to be several witnesses to indicate she had started the walk, and one witness reported seeing Diane get into a car with someone she appeared to know but she never made it to work.
At 10:25 am the next morning, 2 Highway workers found her nude, severely beated and discolored body along the waterline at Easton’s beach. Medical Examiner’s report indicated that she was beaten, strangled and suffered blunt force trauma. There were horizontal marks on her wrists, biceps and ankles that led the investigators to believe that she had been tied up with soft material such as a scarf. There was no water in her lungs indicating she was likely dead before she entered the water if she was ever submerged at all, but there was sand in her lungs. Her Larynx was crushed. Investigators believe that the wound pattern indicates either a left handed killer or the fact she was in the vehicle when the attack began. Hair found in her hand was tested and found to be her own. Toxicology reports indicate there was no presence of alcohol, drugs or caffeine in her system. The medical examiner reported her time of death was likely between 10:00 pm and 12:00 pm the night before she was found..
Over the years the Newport Police have developed 3 suspects. Her roommate, Elaine Gallo has given an interview that indicate she has a suspect of her own that she believes committed the crime that the police ruled out too quickly. Shortly after this crime there have been at least 2 cases that have similar aspects, leading to the potential the crimes are connected. So far they all remain unsolved.
The police reportedly used over 27 pyschics and at least 1 hypnotist in their attempts to solve this case.
Anyone with information should contact the Rhode Island Cold Case Task Force at 1-877-RI-SOLVE. This family deserves answers after waiting over 42 years.