By Dan Hust
CALLICOON May 27, 2003 As the news and more particularly the picture of Diane ODell made national headlines, several staff members of the Sullivan County Democrat remembered the face.
But because her short employment with the twice-weekly newspaper dated back to the early 1980s and she was primarily stationed in the then-fledgling Monticello bureau, few could recall her duties.
Odell, 49, currently of Rome, Pa., stands accused of murdering her three newborns between 1981 and 1984, when she was living in Kauneonga Lake. An Arizona man found the mummified remains of their bodies in a storage shed she abandoned out west years ago. She reportedly admitted to carrying the remains with her through several moves.
Odell has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, and police are reopening a 1989 case in which they questioned her about the allegedly stillborn death of another baby in the early 1970s. That child was found in a suitcase inside a car that was to be crushed.
Odell has at least eight other living children, ranging in ages from 7 to 25. She was employed at a Rite-Aid in Rome, Pa., where she lived with her common-law husband.
I think I was the first one to really place her at this newspaper, Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III said. Someone asked me if I recognized the picture of a Diane ODell, and I said, Sure, she used to work here.
Stabberts own employment history dates back to 1977, when he interned for his fathers newspaper through high school and college.
I remember her as a pleasant person who was proud of her mother and family, Stabbert III said. She worked at our Callicoon location when needed, but mostly her duties were manning our Monticello office.
While many of the long-term employment records of the Democrat were lost in a January 1996 flood which claimed most of the 112-year-old newspapers archives, Stabbert believed ODell worked for the newspaper in either 1981 or 1982.
I met her mother once she was a nice lady who helped Diane a lot, Stabbert recalled. Im sorry her life had to take such a terrible and unbelievable turn.