It’s not uncommon for women to jog alone. Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon for women to go missing while jogging or exercising.
Millions of women exercise daily while alone, and most come home safe. However, imagine your friend goes out for a jog or bicycle ride and is never seen again. Women who go missing while jogging are not an isolated event. It may be hard to comprehend, but sadly, stories like this are becoming more common in today’s society.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there are approximately 100,000 people missing in the United States right now. As of May 31, 2018, there were 19,183 women over the age of eighteen listed as missing in NCIC. Many of them go missing while jogging or exercising.
Stories like Molly Tibbets, who was abducted and murdered, make national news headlines, creating fear throughout the country. Women being attacked or kidnapped, or going missing while jogging is a nightmare we cannot run away from and one that continues to haunt families of the missing.
The Disappearance of Rachel Cooke
Our first woman who went missing while jogging is Rachel Cooke. Rachel Cooke, 19, was visiting her parents in Georgetown, Texas, during her winter break from college. No one knew that would be her last trip home. On January 10, 2002, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Rachel went out for her four-mile daily run and was last seen 200 yards from her family home. Somewhere in that short distance, the beautiful young college student with a smile that could light up the Texas plains—vanished.(Northlake subdivision in Georgetown, Texas, where Rachel Cooke vanished while taking a morning run.)
Northlake subdivision is a quiet place, about 45 minutes from Austin, where streets are named after Native American tribes and the only people there are residents and their visitors. The houses are set back on several acres of property with expansive drives. The serenity is rarely disturbed by strangers, making it a perfect storm of cirumcstances to go missing while jogging.
224 Navajo Trail was the Cooke family’s dream home, and they loved its spaciousness and tranquility. Robert and Janet Cooke raised Rachel and her little sister Joann there while Janet taught English at a nearby high school. Robert was a long-time software engineer for IBM and commuted daily to Austin. It was a place where people felt safe going outside alone and kidnapping did not happen—until Rachel.
The Cooke family’s idyllic life came to an end that fateful Thursday, but the day started like any other. Robert and Janet left early to work, and Joann went to her classes at the local high school. Rachel was enjoying her winter break as a freshman at Mesa Junior College San Diego, and her family let her sleep in.
(Rachel Cooke was last seen at her parent’s home in Georgetown, Texas on January 10, 2002.)
When the family left that morning, Rachel was asleep on the living room sofa. Her mother kissed her goodbye.
Authorities believe Rachel got up and left the home at approximately 9:30 a.m. for her morning run. She went missing while jogging that morning.
When Robert got home at 5:00 p.m., Rachel was still not there and had no contact with anyone in the family the entire day. At first, Robert was not that concerned thinking Rachel was out with her friend Shannon, who she had plans with that evening. But, as time went by, Robert began to worry. He called Wildfire, a local restaurant, Rachel sometimes worked at while visiting. To the worried father’s relief, they told him Rachel had worked a shift that evening. However, morning came and there was still no sign of Rachel, so Robert called the restaurant again. To his horror, they told him, in fact, it was another Rachel that had worked the previous night shift.
Rachel was missing—and a sinking feeling overcame her father.
In the days following Rachel’s disappearance, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search with help from hundreds of volunteers. After the initial search efforts concluded, Robert and Janet continued to organize searches on weekends.
“We carried on for nine months, but at some point, we thought we’ve done our best,” Robert told the Guardian. “If they took her 12 miles, there is no reason why they wouldn’t take her 15 miles. We could search the entire state of Texas and still not find her.”
Robert Cooke passed away in November 2014, never knowing what happened to his daughter.
(The FBI erected billboards of Rachel Cooke in the state of Texas offering a $100,000 reward for information.)
In May 2019, the FBI erected billboards throughout Texas offering a $100,000 reward for any information about the whereabouts of Rachel.
As drivers passed Rachel’s smiling face along I-35, it read “Missing but not forgotten,” and placed there on Rachel’s 37th birthday. Janet Cook saw it as a Mother’s Day gift as well. Time has not lessened the mother’s hope of finding her daughter—and at least knowing what happened.
(In 2020, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office released two suspect composites in the disappearance of Rachel Cooke.)
In 2020, for Rachel’s 38th birthday, deputies met with Rachel’s mother Janet and released two new composite sketches of potential suspects in the case.
Her mother had a remembrance ceremony at the campus of Georgetown High School where they planted a tree in memory of Rachel. Sheriff Robert Chody spoke at the ceremony to remind the public his investigators are still working the case.
Janet Cooke, who also spoke, said she is just “seeking closure” on the case. “At this point I just want Rachel and to be able to tell her sister it’s over,” she told the Statesman.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Rachel Cooke, please call the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office at 512-943-5204 or email email@example.com.
(Suzanne Morphew is missing from the small community in Maysville, Colorado, approximately 120 miles from Colorado Springs.)
An avid cyclist, Suzanne was biking near her home in Maysville, a small community in Chaffee County, approximately 120 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Her disappearance has spurred nationwide press coverage and a Facebook page with over 16,315 followers.
There have been reports that Suzanne’s bicycle was found just west of County Road 225 and West U.S. Highway 50. However, the Sheriff’s Office has only publicly confirmed a “personal item” was found that they believe belonged to the missing biker.
(Barry Morphew, Suzanne’s husband, made an emotional plea to the public offering a $200,000 reward for his wife’s safe return. Photo courtesy of Inside Edition)
Suzanne’s husband, Barry Morphew made a dramatic plea offering a $200,000 reward for the safe return of his wife. “No questions asked,” said Barry. “However much they want. I will do whatever it takes to get you back. I love you and I want you back so bad.” Barry, a volunteer firefighter is said to have been 150 miles away in Denver when Suzanne vanished.
(Suzanne Morphew has been missing from Maysville, Colorado, since May 10, 2020.)
Suzanne is a mother of two daughters and a cancer survivor. A former English teacher, Suzanne is described as “happy and active” who was always at the gym, hiking, or biking. She is loved in her community, and fliers dot the windows in the local businesses. Hundreds of volunteers have helped with the search efforts, organized by her nephew Trevor Noel, who has also become the family spokesperson.
“As time goes by, it gives us concern, but we are searching as if she is still alive and we think she could still be alive,” Sheriff John Spezze of the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office told Inside Edition. In an earlier interview, the sheriff also said they are not ruling out foul play.
Initially, authorities had seized the Morphew home but confirmed on May 26, 2020, that the house has been released back to the family. Investigators have also searched a local home construction site in Salida, approximately 11 miles east of Maysville, spurring rumors that Suzanne Morphew had been located and the husband arrested. The sheriff’s office issued a press release in response to the speculation.
“In response to the widespread rumors, the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office relays that Ms. Morphew has not been located and there have been no arrests in the investigation,” the release said.
Authorities say they have received over 400 tips and continue to encourage the public to call in with leads.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew, please contact the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office at 719-312-7530.
The Disappearance of Amy Bechtel
Amy Wroe Bechtel, 24, vanished on July 24, 1997, while jogging in the Wind River Mountains approximately 15 miles south of Lander, Wyoming.
(Amy Wroe Bechtel vanished on July 24, 1997, while jogging in the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming.)
Amy Bechtel went missing while jogging in a little hamlet of middle America. Lander, Wyoming is located in Fremont County with a population of under 8,000 people. A popular tourist destination with guest ranches, it is located just below the Wind River Mountains where people go hiking, rock climbing, and backpacking.
That Thursday morning of July 24, Amy told her husband, Steve Bechtel, that she was planning on running several errands in town after teaching a children’s weightlifting class at the Wind River Fitness Center. Steve planned to drive with his yellow lab, Jonz, to Dubois, 75 miles north, to meet his friend Sam Lightner, and scout some possible new climbing areas at Cartridge Creek.
After teaching class, Amy stopped at the Camera Connection, a photo store near her home in Lander, and then stopped by Gallery 331, where she spoke to the business owner about submitting her photographs into a competition. Amy was an amateur photographer, an avid runner, and a marathon hopeful who loved the outdoors and pristine beauty of Wyoming.
(A quaint mountain town, Lander is located in Central Wyoming just south of the Wind River Indian Reservation.)
Steve and Amy lived on Lucky Lane, a hipster community where many rock climbers live, drawn by some of the most difficult mountain walls in the United States. Lander is a quirky town with funky shops and art galleries, old school watering holes, and small home-town restaurants. Steve and Amy both worked part-time at Wild Iris Mountain Sports, a local outdoor equipment store.
The couple had just closed on a new house and were busy planning a move. Amy was also organizing a 10k hill climb scheduled for September 7. She planned that the runners would climb a series of mountain switchbacks not far from town, then jump into the Frye Lake and finish with a picnic. On the day she vanished, Amy’s “to do” list included a run and lifting, recycling, get photo mounted, get more boxes, mow the lawn, and get flyers.
John Strom, the owner of Camera Connection remembers Amy wearing a yellow shirt, black shorts, and running shoes that day. He said she seemed busy and cheerful when she left at about 2:30 p.m.
After completing several of her afternoon chores and leaving the camera shop—Amy’s life becomes that of speculation.
(Steve and Amy Bechtel with their dog Jonz.)
Steve returned from his day out with his friend at about 4:30 p.m. and found the house empty. He had returned earlier than planned and was not concerned but at about 10 p.m. he called her parents to see if Amy had driven to their house on the spur of the moment. She had not.
By 11 p.m. Steve had called the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office who sent two deputies to the house. They alerted the following shift who began to organize a search and rescue team to head out at daybreak. Steve and his neighbor Todd Skinner went to look for Amy’s car on Loop Road, a 30-mile road through the Shoshone National Forest.
(Amy Bechtel’s car was found alongside the road in Burnt Gulch, about 45 minutes from town.)
At approximately 1:00 a.m., Steve received a call that Amy’s white Toyota Tercel station wagon was found alongside the road at Burnt Gulch, about 45 minutes from town in the mountains, so he headed there immediately. Her car unlocked, the keys under her “to do” list on the front passenger seat, along with her sunglasses.
Steve and a small group began searching the woods with flashlights, calling Amy’s name. By the time the official search party arrived, a dozen people were searching for Amy and the site had not been preserved for evidence. Thinking Amy was just lost, no one could have imagined the site might be a crime scene,
For years, evidence remained elusive, and over the last two decades, law enforcement has only developed theories about what happened to her. They believe Amy left the camera shop and then went to scout the location for the 10k.
In recent years, national television and media interest in the case has waned and generated little leads that have been useful to authorities. A $25,000 reward went untouched and was eventually converted into two college scholarship funds in Amy’s name.
Fremont County Sheriff Sgt. Roger Rizor has been the lead investigator and told the Billings Gazette in 2007, that Amy’s case was cold, but it is still an open case. “I believe it was a homicide, and I believe that’s what happened on the day she disappeared.”
(Jo Anne Wroe wanders in the meadows of her log home above Red Lodge to feel close to her missing daughter Amy Wroe Bechtel. Photo courtesy of the Billings Gazette.)
As years passed, Jo Anne stopped marking the anniversaries of Amy’s disappearance with yellow ribbons. She does not have a grave to visit so she loves to meander near the mountain creek among the aspen trees and wildflowers to feel close to her missing daughter.
Amy’s disappearance has deeply affected every facet of Jo Anne’s life and that of her three other children.
“A part of me is realistic, and I’m aware that she is probably not alive,” she said. “I have learned to live with the fact that Amy is gone. But I have not accepted it, and I will not until I know what happened.”
If you have any information about the disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel, please call the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at 307-332-5611.
Kym served as CEO of the National Center for Missing Adults from 1994 to 2010 and advocating for missing persons and their families for over 25 years.
Kym has worked with national media to raise awareness and featured on Anderson Cooper Live, Greta Van Susteren, Montel Williams, the John Walsh Show, CNN, BBC, FOX, L. A. Times, People Magazine, Ladies Home Journal.
Shortly after midnight on May 14, 2008, Brandon Swanson mysteriously vanished in Marshall, Minnesota. Brandon had been celebrating the end of the spring semester with friends from Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s Canby campus.
Between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m., Brandon left the celebration and drove to another friend’s home in Canby to say goodbye to a classmate that was also having a party. Friends say Brandon did not appear intoxicated when he left shortly after midnight to go home. Canby is approximately 45 minutes away from Marshall where Brandon lived with his parents.
Brandon’s parents received a call from Brandon at approximately 1:54 a.m. telling them he had gotten stuck in a ditch on a back road that ran north of Highway 68, the main road he would normally take to get home. He told them he was not injured but needed help to get home.
Why Brandon chose to turn off Highway 68 and take gravel back roads home is but one of the mysteries in this story.
Unsure of his exact location, Brian told his parents he thought he was near Lynd, a small town in Lyon County with a population of only 445 people.
Brandon’s parents, Brian and Annette Swanson, decided to go get him and went to the location but were unable to find him or his car.
The road was dark and the area remote. Annette called Brandon on his cell phone and they both agreed to flash their lights to let each other know they were in the area. On the phone, Annette could hear Brandon flashing his car lights and told him, “We are flashing our lights” We are flashing our lights!” Brandon replied. “Don’t you see me?” They never did see him.
Frustrated, Brandon hung up on his mother. She quickly called back, and they both apologized to each other for becoming annoyed.
Brandon said he would leave the car and walk toward Lynd and they agreed to meet him at the Lynd Tavern parking lot.
While talking to his father, Brandon described seeing lights in the distance and continued to walk down the gravel road. He described hearing rushing water and saw two fence lines, all the while continuing to talk to his dad.
The call lasted 47 minutes when suddenly Brian yelled, “Oh shit!” and the call disconnected. His parents tried to call him back numerous times, but the phone rang each time until the following day when calls went straight to voicemail.
The Search for Brian
At 6:30 a.m. the following day, Brian’s parents called the police to report him missing. To their dismay, the police told them to wait as it was not unlike a young man Brian’s age, to disappear for a bit.
Later that day, cell phone records showed Brandon was near Porter, Minnesota, not Lynd when he called them. Porter is between Canby and Marshall along Highway 68.
A search began and at approximately 12:30 p.m., Brandon’s Chevrolet Lumina was found about a mile and a half north of Taunton, right on the border between Yellow Medicine, Lincoln and Lyon Counties.
According to True Crime Files, the car was found with no physical damage and no evidence of physical injury.
“It was off the side of a field approach, and the vehicle was hung up,” Lincoln County Sheriff Jack Vizecky told CNN. “It’s sort of a sharp incline, nothing major but enough that the car would get hung up, so the wheels are too high off the ground to gain traction.”
In the months following Brandon’s disappearance, law enforcement, volunteers, and emergency personnel search the area by ground, horseback, and all-terrain vehicles to search all three counties in the vicinity of where Brandon disappeared and the Yellow Medicine River.
Authorities believed Brandon may have fallen into the river and drowned, but canines followed his scent to the river’s edge but did not signal and continued walking on. To the police, this suggested Brandon may have fallen into the water but managed to get out and continued walking. However, the temperature that evening was around 39 degrees, and he could have succumbed to hypothermia.
Cadaver dogs picked up the scent of human remains during several searches, in the area of Porter near Mud Creek, but a body was ever found.
Police do not have any evidence of foul play and believe Brandon’s body would be found within a 122 square-mile search area.
“It’s by far the biggest search I’ve ever been involved in terms of length of time, the number of missions and number of searchers involved said Jeff Hasse, founder of Midwest Technical Training Associates.
Porch Light is Still On
Brian and Annette turned on their porch light on May 14, 2008 – the night Brandon vanished.
The light remains on every night. “There’s no reason to turn it off now,” Brian said. “I’m pretty sure we’re not going to find him alive, but I still want to believe that we will find him. That’s probably a stretch, but I still want to believe that.”
One positive thing has come out of Brandon’s disappearance. Brian and Annette spearheaded legislation that was signed into law in 2009. Brandon’s Law requires police to make a report whenever a person of any age, is reported missing and investigation must ensue. It also clarifies jurisdiction.
The Swansons face a life of ambiguity, never really being able to move forward, no way to gain closure. “They call it ambiguous loss,” Annette said. “It’s that state in your life – in our case it’s the loss of our son – without knowing what happened. It’s extremely challenging. It’s really hard to grapple with and to come to terms with. I think for Brandon’s father and I, and for his sister, we’ve kind of figured out how to live in that gray area. But it’s really not someplace you want to live.”
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Brandon Swanson, please contact the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office at 507-537-7666.
Gannon Stauch, 11, went missing from his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Janury 27, 2020. More than two weeks after his disappearance the search has expanded to northern El Paso County and neighboring southern part of Douglas County.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office did not provide an explantion for the expanding the search so far north, which was originally focused over an hour away around the young boy’s neighborhood on the southeastern edge of Colorado Springs.
“We are running this investigation, the search piece of the investigation, and the investigative piece are running parallel with each other” said El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jackie Kirby. “So, as we get tips and leads and information through our investigation that determines our search areas.”
Over 130 people including members of search and rescue teams and canines searched for Gannon on Wednesday, February 12. The search Thursday also included dogs and more than 80 people.
“It’s 35 acres, very different terrain. There are some treed areas, there’s very rough terrain. There’s terrain that goes down into deep ravines that would have to be gotten down to by rope,” said Kirby. “So again, very various terrain that they’re navigating here yesterday, today and we’ll see how long into the weekend this search out here will go.”
The sheriff’s office has received over 500 leads in the case.
Gannon was reported missing January 27, by his stepmother, Letecia “Tecia” Stauch, who said Gannon left to go to a friend’s house in the afternoon. Gannon had stayed home from Grand Mountain School that day. When he didn’t come home, Tecia said she called the sheriff and reported him as a runaway. In fact, when authorities first requested the public’s help to find him, they referred to him as a runaway instead of an endangered missing child.
Gannon’s father Albert Stauch is an active-duty Army National Guardsman and had been in training. He flew home from Oklahoma the same day.
Gannon’s biological mother Linden Hiott lives in South Carolina and also arrived in Colorado Springs to help search for her son.
Stepmother’s Statement to Media
On February 11, 2020, Gannon’s stepmother put out a public statement implying the boy had been abducted. In the statement she also reaffirmed that she last saw Gannon between 3:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on January 27, heading to a friend’s home in their neighborhood.
“I encourage you to think of any suspicious cars that may have been in the area watching a few days prior and keep praying for G,” Letecia said in the statement.
Letecia also included a plea to Gannon to return home.
“To Gannon, please come home soon because your daddy is waiting to watch the new Sonic movie that comes out this week and the cool shirt I got you to wear to the theatre is in your closet, Letecia’s statement said.
Letecia also addressed the blast of social media the case has received. “Social Media has been devastating from the harsh comments, speculations, threats, cyberbullying, etc. It has been a challenge when people are trying to run you off the road, waiting outside your hotel, threatening to kill you, etc.,” the statement said.
Letecia also offered a timeline of activities she did with Gannon, beginning January 25, and went on to say she has shared the timeline and cell phone photographs with police as well.
“Saturday night, G was helping me unload in the garage and cut his foot because there are a lot of tools because Albert does woodworking,” the statement said. “He sat on the edge of the car and we bandaged it up. He was good to go.”
Letecia went on to say that afterwards she noticed Gannon kept going to the side of the house to see if the gate was locked as he had the only key.
Letecia claims she and Gannon hiked on January 26, and shopped together on January 27, the day he vanished.
With mounting pressure from media and police, Letecia claims she hired an attorney because the questions detectives were asking her were making her feel uncomfortable and she felt her constitutional rights were being violated.
“I took care of Gannon for the last two years, in our home, because his mother didn’t want to do it, and I would never, never, ever hurt this child,” Letecia told CBS 11.
Roderrick Drayton, a neighbor of the stepmom, said his surveillance video showed a female relative and Gannon get into a truck that Monday morning. When the woman returned about four hours later, only she got out of the truck and went inside, Drayton told the Denver Post.
Letecia has contested Grayton’s statements, claiming Gannon did come home with her that day and states she has proof.
“Please don’t think for a minute that there isn’t enough technology to determine shadows and movement around the truck. There was also proof from my phone that we had taken a selfie in the truck in our driveway that was time-stamped.,” Letecia wrote.
Police have asked Letecia to keep quiet about other details of the case.
In response to Letecia’s recent statement, Colorado police say they currently have no reason to believe the boy was abducted.
“Right now, there is no threat to the community as far as this case goes,” El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Deborah Mynatt told People Magazine. “We don’t have those specifics to put out there [yet], and we haven’t done so. There’s reasons for that and we just can’t go into those details.”
In response to concerns from the public, police have been very closed mouthed about the case.
“We really want to stay on track and stay focused,” Sgt. Deborah Mynatt went on to say. “And I can understand the community’s concern with the lack of information being provided, but we hope that the community can trust that we’re doing that because we’re trying to ensure there’s no … potential of it being jeopardized.”
A Mother’s Plea
Linden Hiott, who has been staying at the home of Albert Stauch has made several public pleas for her son’s safe return and remains active in the public eye. Linden, Albert and Gannon’s little sister made a heartbreaking plea that was posted on the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office YouTube page.
“How would I describe my Gannon, my “G Man,” my hero. I love him so much,” Linden said in the video. “He’s full of life, he’s happy, he’s energetic, he loves sports, he loves Sonic, he loves going outside and playing with his friends, his sister, his neighbor, especially Braydon.”
Linden and Albert have been working cooperatively with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and says she is moved by the support she has received from the community.
“I don’t have answers for my feelings, other than I’m afraid,” Linden said. “I’m afraid that I’ll never hear his voice, that I’ll never hear him run and say, Mommy!”
At the end of the emotional four-minute video, Gannon’s little sister Laina said, “I love you brother.”
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Gannon Stauch, please call the El Paso Sheriff’s Office at 719-520-6666 or 719-390-5555.
Tiffany Daniels, 25, mysteriously vanished on August 12, 2013, from Pensacola, Florida. She was last seen leaving Pensacola State College where she worked as a theater technician.
Pensacola is the westernmost city on the Florida Panhandle in Escambia County. From the pristine beaches and Bay area attractions to day trips and nightlife, Pensacola is a popular tourist destination.
On August 11, Tiffany started her day with a goodbye breakfast with her boyfriend, who had just been accepted into the robotics program at the University of Texas in Austin. Though he encouraged her to come with him, she objected. She said she wanted to continue the relationship and was making plans to visit him in Austin, but she expressed she wasn’t ready to leave Pensacola yet.
After the breakfast, her roommate Gary Nichols recalls Tiffany was a little depressed, but it was mitigated with enthusiasm for a later visit to Austin, a place her friends thought she would easily adjust to if she did decide to move there.
Gary Nichols, 54, was the father of one of Tiffany’s friends who was separating from his wife and wanted to live closer to his job. Tiffany had placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate and Nichols thought it would help both and he agreed to rent the room. Though Tiffany’s parents were not particularly happy with her sharing her place with a man twice her age, they were happy she was with someone safe. They both shared similar interests such as bicycling and eating healthy and got along great according to Gary.
The theater department had Tiffany scheduled to start working on set for an upcoming musical comedy called Spamalot. That evening Tiffany and Gary decided to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a film on which the musical she was working on was based. They both went to their bedrooms after the movie because they were both scheduled to work early the following morning.
Between 3:00 – 5:00 a.m., Gary heard the front door open and close several times and peeked out but did not see Tiffany. Assuming Tiffany had just gone to work early, Gary went back to sleep.
On August 12, Tiffany went to work at the beginning of her shift and began painting the sets. Later, she asked her supervisor if she could leave work early and take off a couple of days following not citing a reason just saying she had a couple things to do. The supervisor approved the time off and she clocked out at 4:43 p.m. as she left the theater.
She returned home briefly after she left work. Her roommate was home but was distracted on the phone with his out-of-state girlfriend, and says he did not see her come in.
That night, Gary became concerned and tried to call Tiffany when she had not returned by 10:00 p.m. Again, he tried to call her the following morning when she had not returned. That evening, he returned the house and found the electricity had been shut off. He assumed Tiffany had forgotten to pay the bill so he called his daughter Noel and asked her if she would contact Tiffany’s mother Cindy Daniels.
Cindy and Noel began to contact every friend of Tiffany’s they could think of. None had seen her. By the end of the week, when Tiffany had not yet shown back up, they decided to call the police.
First, Cindy went to Escambia County Sheriff’s Office where they referred her to the Pensacola Police Department inside the jurisdiction of where Tiffany lives. Detective Daniel Harnett met Cindy at Tiffany’s home and searched it. He found no signs of foul play. Her family thought maybe she went camping but the police found her tent inside her room.
Hartnett investigated both Tiffany’s boyfriend and Gary Daniels and found they were not deceptive.
“As law enforcement, we are going to investigate missing person cases as if they are a crime, said Detective Harnett. “The way we work this case it’s as if it’s a worst-case and we hope for the best.”
Theories regarding Tiffany’s disappearance include foul play to accidental drowning. However, based on an anonymous tip and several possible sightings, the family believes she may have been a victim of human trafficking and may still be alive.
Car Is Found Abandoned
The case had been on the local news and family and friends distributed and posted fliers throughout Pensacola.
On August 20, a biker, who was a friend of the Daniels family, recognized Tiffany’s silver Toyota 4 Runner during her morning ride. It was parked at Park West in Pensacola Beach, near Fort Pickens, which is at the western end of Santa Rosa Island.
Tiffany had often hiked the sweeping dunes of Gulf Islands National Seashore, even though her mother warned her not to go hiking alone.
Inside her vehicle, police found her bicycle, purse, cell phone, wallet, clothing, paintings, a jar of peanut butter and a jug of water.
Police impounded the vehicle and towed it to the police garage for further examination and found two fingerprints, one on the door handle and the other on the steering wheel. These prints could not be matched to Tiffany.
A resident at a nearby condo said the vehicle had not been parked there until two days earlier, meaning it had parked there on August 18, six days after Tiffany’s disappearance. This lead could not be confirmed but two other residents told investigators they had seen a man getting out of the car earlier in the day on August 20.
To try to determine a timeline of when the car was driven there, Detective Harnett examined security footage from the toll booths at the Bob Sikes Bridge, the only road connecting Pensacola and the island. The footage showed Tiffany’s car passed through at 7:51 p.m. on August 12, the evening she vanished. However, it could not be determined if she was the one driving the vehicle.
Police also found sand on the bicycle tires, suggesting Tiffany may have gone for a bike ride that evening as the Perseid Meteor Shower was happening at the time.
Hoping someone saw something, family and friends canvassed the area and surrounding residential complexes, but law enforcement received no new leads. KlaasKids, a volunteer organization organized a search party and conducted a search of much of the island with canines finding some clothing and jewelry, but none was determined to be Tiffany’s.
Rodney and Cindy Daniels, Tiffany’s parents, set up a Facebook Page “Help Find Tiffany” that has over 21,000 Likes. The site has generated numerous leads over the years and has been a source of constant support for her parents.
One such sighting occurred in 2014, leading Tiffany’s family to Louisiana and down the winding road of human trafficking.
A woman who worked at a restaurant as a waitress in Metairie, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, reported she had seen a woman that matched Tiffany’s description come inside the restaurant. She entered with two women who were possibly Latina, one older than the other. Each was nicely dressed. The waitress told investigators, the younger women had both acted oddly and would not look her in the eye, while the older woman did all the talking. Despite the warm weather, both young women had been wearing long-sleeved shirts, with the cuffs of the shirts pulled over their hands. When the waitress told the women that the Caucasian woman looked very similar to the missing woman that had been on the news, the older Latino asked for “to go” bags and the three left.
When investigators talked to the waitress, she was adamant that the Caucasian woman looked just like Tiffany. Sadly, the surveillance from that day had been recorded over so the sighting could not be confirmed.
For two reasons, Tiffany’s family believe it was her that day. First, Tiffany would always put her sleeves over her hands when she was cold. Second, the waitress said she asked whether one of the soups on the menu used chicken or fish broth. Cindy recalled a time she was at a restaurant with Tiffany and she asked the same question, as Tiffany was pescatarian and avoided chicken products.
This sighting prompted Tiffany’s parents to begin researching the horrors of human trafficking. They found traffickers prefer women in their late teens and fear Tiffany’s very trusting nature would have allowed her to fall for whatever ploy traffickers would have used to lure her. In addition, Interstate 10 which is a major trafficking corridor runs from Pensacola through Louisiana.
Though Detective Harnett has found no evidence to substantiate this theory, he is not entirely ruling it out either.
Another promising lead came in during 2018 and steered Rodney and Cindy into the world of the homeless. A mother and daughter in California contacted them and claimed they had watched an episode of Investigation Discovery and saw a woman who looked like Cindy living within a homeless community in California.
“I was in the area and assisted them with some of the searching and the person that they found was not Tiffany because she didn’t have the tattoos on her feet,” said Rodney. “However, it led me to have a firsthand look at homeless people and how they attempt to survive, and it really grabbed us by the heart. It absolutely did.”
Though the family has not yet received the lead they need to find Tiffany, the Daniels did disclose that another witness had come forward regarding the day Tiffany vanished. They said they saw a man in his thirties wearing red shorts and no shirt opening the tailgate of Tiffany’s truck. A witness sighting that corroborated the other two witnesses that came forward early in the case. The man said he remembered this incident because the car had been parked facing oncoming traffic, in an area that was strictly reserved for wildlife.
Tiffany was born March 11, 1988, in Dallas, Texas. Early in her life, her parents Cindy and Rodney moved to Pensacola where Tiffany would grow up, along with her two sisters.
Tiffany went to high school and took many extracurricular classes and would receive multiple scholarship offers. Tiffany attended both Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida.
Tiffany became an exceptional artist and a skilled painter. She loved to dance and often held dance parties at her home. According to friends of Tiffany’s friends, she is fun-loving and free-spirited and would light up a room when she walked in.
Always wanting to adventure, Tiffany was drawn to picturesque places and people who shared her love for art.
“Everybody loved Tiffany. Tiffany is a light and that the best way I can describe her,” Said her sister Candice. “When you are around her you just feel light, everything gets brighter, more colorful, more beautiful.”
When she was not working Tiffany could be found biking, surfing, hiking or camping. Tiffany’s father described his daughter as a “butterfly girl” saying, “She would be talking or doing something and if a butterfly would come by, she would take off and follow it.”
Tiffany’s spontaneous nature would often lead to long bike rides or hiking just to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Often a loner, Tiffany loved to commune with nature, it was her way.
Tiffany is an adventurous young woman who seemed to be achieving her dreams, but there was a dark side. Tiffany had financial troubles.
In July 2013, her parents took notice. In the previous months, friends and roommates that Tiffany had found on Craigslist were moving in and out. Some had taken advantage of Tiffany’s kind nature and had not paid their shares of living expenses. “Most of the time she was too nice,” Cindy said. “Most of time she did want to ask for the rent, utilities when they were due. So, we found out she was paying for things upfront and later trying to collect money from the roommates later.” When she went missing, Tiffany was approximately two months behind on her utility bill.
Tiffany would often find herself broke which led to Gary, who was financially stable, moving in.
But things had changed before Tiffany’s disappearance; she was not her bubbly self and she had drifted away from friends. Police wondered if she might have left on her own or committed suicide because life had just become too much. However, her friends and family said suicide was not even a possibility that Tiffany would consider.
Tiffany’s cell phone had been out of minutes for days prior to her disappearance, making her activities hard for police to track.
Police continue to search for Tiffany, and while the Daniels also continue to search for their daughter, they have also found themselves consumed with wanting to help others. When asked what’s next? “We do continue to work as advocates for families,” said Rodney. “When a search is going on, we stay with the family while the teams are out searching.”
With a lifelong career in fire and emergency services, Rodney now speaks to law enforcement nationwide, educating them on the signs of human trafficking.
As so many families of missing loved ones find themselves, they become experts in the field of missing persons. The Daniels have found that working with other families of missing children and adults gives them the strength to continue searching for their own child. To not only bring her home but to ward off the feeling of desperation and accompanying depression that can be all-consuming.
Tiffany’s parents face the ambiguity with courage and determination and have dedicated their lives to bring their Tiffany home no matter what the ending. “Every family with a missing person’s case needs closure because you fall into that gray area and you don’t know which is worse,” said Cindy.
It is Cindy and Rodney’s hope that keeps them going while daily they wait for some word. “Until someone brings me a body or a piece of her body, I’m never going to give up that she’s alive and that she will come and show up at our door,” said Rodney.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Tiffany Daniels, please call the Pensacola Police Department at 850-435-1900.
Summary: Tiffany Daniels, a free-spirited young woman, vanished from a beach in Pensacola, Florida. Tips would lead her parents into the underbelly of human trafficking. What happened to Tiffany Daniels?
The search for a six-year-old girl from South Carolina is
over after police identified the remains of missing Faye Swetlik, who
disappeared while she played in her family’s front yard. After viewing the
coroner’s report, authorities have announced that they are treating Faye’s
death as a homicide—no arrests have yet been made.
The Cayce Department of Public Safety’s director, Byron
told the media, “As this community has been working hard to find Faye and
bring her home safely, we wanted to let you know as soon as possible.
Snellgrove went on to say, “We also need to inform you that during the course
of our investigation, a deceased male was located in the Churchill Heights
neighborhood. That investigation has just begun.” It is unclear at this point
whether or not the aforementioned deceased male is in any way related to Faye
Swetlik’s missing persons case.
The investigation only began 5 days ago, when Faye disappeared from her family’s front yard shortly after returning home from school. Faye’s mother was home at the time of the disappearance. Friends and family were shocked to hear of Faye’s disappearance, and Ruth Collins, her grandmother, told the local television station WTVD, “I want my baby back. We gotta find her.”
An Amber Alert was never issued for Faye, because
authorities had no reason to believe the girl had been kidnapped, as opposed to
walking out of her yard of her own accord, or other circumstances. Investigators
assigned to Faye’s missing person case have released photos of two vehicles who
were in the area of the Churchill Heights neighborhood subdivision, denoting
that the drivers may have crucial information about the case.
The case has garnered national
media attention, with FBI officials going door to door to canvass the
neighborhood in search of answers. On the day Faye’s remains were discovered in
her neighborhood, Vice President Mike Pence was also in South Carolina, having
stopped in the Midlands. When he addressed cadets at The Citadel in Charleston,
he stated the following, “And as your Vice President, and as a father, let me
say, we were deeply saddened to receive word this afternoon that the remains of
Faye Swetlik, a six-year-old girl who went missing from her parents’ front
yard, just three days ago, has been found.”
Pence went on to say that he’d spoken with the FBI’s Director,
Christopher Wray, and the governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, to ensure
them that the full arsenal of resources held by the federal government would be
made available to investigators in pursuit of answers. “But I would just urge
everyone in South Carolina, “ Pence said, “hug your kids today. And keep this little
girl and her family and her community in your prayers.”
The case is not over for investigators and the Faye Swetlik
hotline is still open for anyone with information that could be useful in the homicide
investigation. Authorities are asking that anyone with information call (803)