It was late August of 1984 when she left her six-week-old baby girl and was never seen again. Is Gina Ortega Crow dead, missing, or covered by witness protection? The stories that have circulated over the last 30+ years have never yielded Margo (Gina’s baby girl) any real answers but all of the sudden, a new theory surfaces that just may make sense of this bizarre situation. My points of contact for this story were Michelle Bates and Margo Crow.
Gina Ortega was originally from California and moved to the Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) area where she met her husband Phillip Crow. He traveled there from Fort Payne, Alabama to work as a brick layer and had a real hand at construction. Phillip and Gina supposedly married and had a baby girl named, Margot Marie Crowe. Strangely, nobody on the Crow side was at the marriage and not one picture was ever seen.
When Margo was just six weeks old, they decided to move to Alabama, perhaps to be closer to his family. Phillips younger cousin, Michelle Bates picked them up from the airport and brought them to her house where they would stay the night. In the morning, Phillip, Gina, and baby Margo drove 2 hours Northeast to Fort Payne. A small, red-neck town named after Major Payne who built a fort during the Trail of Tears era. Nothing was out of the ordinary, Gina loved her baby girl and her and Phillip seemed happy enough.
A couple of days later, Gina came back to Michelle’s house and asked if Michelle could take her to the airport. Her plan was to fly back to Dallas, pack up their belongings and Phillip would drive out to bring Gina and their household goods to Alabama. Michelle remembers,
I was the last person to see her from here. I dropped her off at the airport. I have always had a skin chill thinking of her walking in the airport in her brown leather jacket with her beautiful silky long hair flowing in the wind. She was the most glamorous person I had ever seen in real life.
It was a good plan except it was never executed. Philip came back to Alabama without Gina claiming that when he arrived at their home in Dallas, she was not there. The boxes were there, all their belongings were half-packed, and her purse was there however, Gina was not.
I asked Michelle if Phillip ever filed a missing person’s report and she said no, not to her knowledge. She stated that even though most of the family suspected foul play, nobody questioned Phillip because he was a hot-headed alcoholic and wasn’t someone to mess with.
Margo, now in her mid-30’s, still living in Fort Payne, Alabama, doesn’t remember her mother. She was raised by her grandmother, Phillips mother, until she passed. Around elementary age, Margot moved to her dad and stepmom, Libby’s house. She was mistreated, left out, and grew up lonely and somewhat unidentified. See, she had heard her mother’s name was Gina but was confused because there were two birth certificates and one of them listed an “Elaine Ann Mitchell” as the birth mother of Margo. Margo also said that her social security card spells Margo’s name with a “T” so her legal name is Margot.
I spoke with Margo and asked her what she grew up believing and what she was told about her mother. She said she got conflicting stories and that all she knew was her father had once been arrested for “almost killing someone” and the family told her that the reason she wasn’t with her mother was because she tried to kill Margot.
Michelle has distanced herself from the family insisting it is bible-thumping, religious hypocrites who hide the truth like nobody’s business but shared her assiduous concern and empathy for Margot. She knew that that no answers would really be found as long as Phillip was alive, and she also held the families rumors loosely. Since Phillip passed away, she’s reached out to Margo and it seems more people are talking. But the most recent notion is quite perplexing.
Michelle did a little digging and her half-sister who was Phillip’s age said that Phillip never declared Gina dead. Rather, Gina had to be a witness against a cartel and was admitted into the witness protection program. Additionally, Gina’s parents supposedly tried to visit Margot for years, but Phillip forbid it.
Could the witness protection theory be true? If so, is that why Margot’s birth certificate was changed to reflect a benign name in place of her real mother? Also, Margot was raised to believe she was white, but she is clearly bi-racial.
Is that the real reason Gina Ortega Crow left Margot in Alabama only pretending it would be easier to pack and move across country without a newborn? The thing is, as a mother, I find it hard to settle with the fact that Gina would leave her brand-new baby just to serve the judicial process of convicting and punishing the cartel.
Lastly, were Gina Ortega and Phillip ever really married or did the family just assume this?
The story has so many holes and versions, but somebody knows something, someone other than Phillip. Phillip died a few years ago leaving behind a thriving business who he left to his wife and stepchildren while his biological, bi-racial daughter Margo bobbles through town unwanted and lonely. I couldn’t understand why Margot hadn’t searched for more clarity.
Well, Margo has had a very unlucky life that has seeped into adulthood. She had five children with a Guatemalan immigrant who abandoned her and moved to Florida. He was found dead somewhere in North Carolina and as times got harder and money became scarcer, she relinquished her babies to live with her stepbrother.
For many years, Michelle has wanted to help Margot get answers and pull her away from the secrets in Fort Payne. She even purchased an ancestry DNA kit for Margo. Margot’s instability and deep-rooted issues has kept her out of touch but since I’ve spoken with them both, Margo agreed to go to Birmingham this weekend and stay with Michelle for a couple of days, as well as, take the DNA test!
I don’t believe that Gina vanished from her Dallas home. I don’t believe that she would leave Phillip and her baby because she would’ve her purse that obviously contained her identification and any form of money. And, if that narrative was a true depiction of what happened to Gina, Phillip would’ve filed a missing person’s report and the family would have one story, not three, four, or five.
Even though the witness protection theory is a stretch, it is possible, and the other clues seem to fit that theory the most. Mostly, I believe Phillip was with Gina and they had a baby. Gina’s family probably didn’t know anything about Phillip or even where he was from since they were all the way in California. I believe he constructed a plan to move her to Alabama and after he got his baby there without Gina, he would get rid of Gina and never look back, which is what he did, never brought up Gina’s name again.
We will know more when the DNA results come back and hopefully, with the help of Michelle, Margo will learn who her mother really is finally find out if she is dead, missing, or covered by witness protection.