On a frigidly cold night in November 2015, Deanne Hastings vanished. Her disappearance would open a life struggling with bi-polar and leave a family with mysterious questions. What happened to Deanne Hastings?
In November 2015, Deanne Hastings, 35, vanished in Spokane, Washington. The mother of three, and a beauty school student, was engaged to get married before she disappeared. She seemed to have it all.
Deanne was born on February 27, 1980, in Pahrump, Nevada. Deanne was the second child and Carson was her older brother.
According to Trace Evidence Podcast, Carson said they had great parents and wonderful childhood. “We would go everyplace together, on picnics, hikes, and bike rides,” said Deanna’s mother Patricia. “We were always a team.” Friends described them as the typical All-American family.
Growing up. Deanna was a very compassionate child and always behaved very caring to others. But she also wasn’t afraid to pick up lizards and play in the dirt. Her mother describes her as amazing, bright, and fearless. Deanne excelled in school and was highly praised by her teachers.
While Pahrump offered the family a quiet place to raise children, when Deanne was in the fourth grade, her parents decided to move 1,200 miles north to Spokane, Washington. There, the children would have the opportunity to grow up in a more typical environment, with houses right across the street instead of a mile down the road.
Deanne thrived in her new home in Seattle, but things would take a turn for the worse when Deanne turned 15. Deanne’s brother was joining the Navy and preparing to move to Texas, and their parents were preparing to inform the kids they would be separating. Deanne took the news very hard. “After that, she really turned,” said Deanne’s mother Patricia. “It’s like something in her spirit broke.”
Deanne’s father moved out and Patricia and Deanne lived alone. While circumstances were not ideal, they did well and were very close. Patricia described Deanne as her best friend.
All that would change, however, when Deanne went to her mother at work and told her she was pregnant with a son she would name Hayden. The father of Hayden was a young man who went to school with Deanne and though they were young, they would be described as very good parents.
Deanne moved in with the father, and they spent the next nine years together but after a decade together they decided to separate. Deanne seemed to struggle with the separation due to her own parents splitting up. So, Deanne returned to live with her mother and shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder that would quickly go out of control.
Patricia described her breakdowns as “episodes, “She would have periods where I almost didn’t recognize her and I was afraid of what was happening to her,” said Patricia. “Sometimes she could come back and she would be Deanne and be bright, and happy and lovely and then other times, most of the time, she would be very different and so it was like I had just lost my friend. I lost my daughter.”
Deanne would begin to disappear for days at a time. However, while she would be out of sight during these episodes, she always kept her phone with her and responded to texts.
Hoping things may get better, Deanne decided to move to Texas with her brother. There she thrived, even finishing school to become a nurse’s assistant. It was also in Texas she met her new love and she would end up marrying and having two more children.
But soon, Deanne’s episodes returned. The decision was made that Deanne and her children would return to Washington and live with her mother. And, it was in Washington where Deanne’s episodes would become worse than ever before. Eventually, she would check herself into in psychiatric center in Idaho. Always very proactive with her mental health, when she completed the program, she began thriving once again.
With life finally looking up, Deanne met Mike Tibbets, a successful HVAC technician who made a good living and could provide Deanne the opportunity to pursue her goals. They talked of marriage and she enrolled in cosmetology school at the Glen Dow Academy. Life had turned around once again.
November 3, 2015, Deanne was scheduled to begin her first day at the cosmetology school. “She was spunky, she was ready to go.” Mike Tibbets said. “She was happy. I mean she was getting ready, running around and excited.”
Mike worked late that evening and returned to find a note that Deanne had written telling him she had a great day and she was running to the store located just five miles away. Hours went by and he heard nothing, and Deanne wasn’t responding to texts. Mike decided to drive to the store to look for Deanne but when he arrived at the store it was closed. He began driving around searching for Deanne and suddenly realized he could use the phone’s GPS to locate her phone.
Mike found Deanne’s car parked in a public parking lot at 919 West Sprague Avenue, directly across the street from the Knitting Factory, a venue for local musicians and comedians.
The doors were locked, so Mike looked in through the windows but did not see anything that seemed out of the ordinary. Mike decided to call Deanne’s phone, assuming Deanne was close. His stomach turned when he heard her phone inside the car. He looked down and saw the light from the phone inside. Where could she be? Deanne never left to go anywhere without her phone.
Mike stayed and waited at Deanne’s car until daylight on November 4. At 8:00 a.m. he called the cosmetology school hoping she was there. The man on the phone explained she had not arrived for her second day of classes. Mike explained what was going on and the man on the phone offered to make missing person posters. He called several friends to help.
While canvassing the town, Mike received an alert from his credit card company that his card was being used at the Trading Company, a grocery about 15 miles southwest in Cheney. Instead of rushing to the grocery store, Mike staked out Deanne’s vehicle thinking she should be coming back since she went to the grocery store. This is a decision Mike would come to regret, and one of many that would raise the eyebrows of police.
After several hours of waiting, Mike finally decided to drive to the store where the credit card was used. He showed the flier around, but nobody recognized Diane. He decided to ask if he could see the surveillance video of the timeframe when the card was used but employees told him they needed the manager’s permission and would call him.
The following day, 36 hours after Deanne went missing, Mike contacted the Spokane Police Department and filed a missing person report. He explained that Deanne was bipolar and that she had a history of vanishing for days at a time, but this time was different. According to Trace Evidence, Mike would later say he felt the police were dismissive of Deanne’s disappearance after telling them about her psychiatric history.
Thinking there was a possibility that this may be one of her episodes, rather than concerning her family, Mike contacted the media instead.
Carson, Deanne’s brother found out because a friend called him and told him his sister was on the news. “I figured Deanne was having another manic episode,” said Carson. “That was my initial thought, and she would be back in a day or two.” However, when Patricia found out, it was different. Be it a sixth sense or something, Patricia knew something was not right. She reminded everyone that in the past, Deanne would “always” take her phone with her and stay in touch with someone.
Deanne’s last text was sent approximately 10:00 p.m. on the night she vanished. The text was to her son, 17-year old son Hayden, and said she had had a great day at school, and she hoped he was proud of her.
Drugged and Kidnapped
On November 6, the grocery store called Mike back and invited him in to view the surveillance video. Mike saw Deanne on camera at approximately 12:00 p.m. on November 4, acting erratically and waving her hands while continuously looking over her shoulder. Even more baffling was the items that Deanne bought that included four energy drinks, string cheese, birthday cake candles, cigarettes, and a bottle of vodka.
There were also eyewitness accounts. A nearby salon owner said Deanne walked in and seemed disoriented and addressed the woman as “Mommy,” and told the woman someone had drugged and kidnapped her.
The next sighting occurred only minutes later. Two women saw Deanne sitting nearby and offered to call her family for her and even to drive her home, however, Deanne was combative and refused. So, they called 911.
Spoke Police Department dispatched an officer and EMT’s who tried to treat her but found her belligerent. Again, she told them that someone had drugged and kidnapped her. Deanne ended up leaving and began walking toward a coffee shop and the officer let her go.
This infuriated the family. The Spokane officer would later tell the family that Spokane does not have a public intoxication law and had no reason to detain her.
On Sunday, November 7, Mike received a strange phone call from a man who he had shown Deanne’s flier to on November 4, at the grocery store. The man was an employee at the Trading Post and claimed he had spent time with Deanne the night she vanished. They arranged a meeting and Mike brought his sister along to meet with the man. The man explains he met Deanne outside the Knitting Factory and spoke to her and they smoked a cigarette together. He claims Deanne went home with him, but no sexual interaction occurred. The next morning, he claims he and Deanne drove to the store and he went inside to buy cigarettes but when he returned Deanne was gone.
Her car keys were inside the man’s car, so he gave them to Mike who went and picked up the car. Inside he found Deanne’s purse and wallet and noticed several credit cards missing. Later, police would become frustrated as Mike moving the vehicle removed any chance at finding any forensic evidence in or around the car where it had been parked. However, the frustration worked both ways as Mike did not feel the police took him seriously after divulging Deanne’s psychiatric history.
Shortly after the meeting with Mike, the man moved to Florida which many have found suspicious.
A detective would not begin investigating the case until Monday, November 8.
Detective Jeff Barrington of the Major Crime Unit at Spokane Police Department got the case. Barrington pulled Deanne’s phone records and pinged her phone activity but found nothing suspicious. He also monitored Deanne’s credit cards, a move that quickly paid off.
Deanne’s credit cards had been used November 7, and in the days following, at several locations in Spokane and Spokane Valley, primarily at grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. Barrington viewed surveillance video and found a male individual, along with two other unknown individuals using Deanne’s credit cards.
Releasing the photographs to media quickly identified the man as Randy Riley. Barrington found out Riley had a minor criminal past and had recently been evicted from his home. The detective began his effort to locate Riley.
On November 28, Riley’s former landlord called the police and told Barrington that she had seen Deanne still with Riley and lying in the street. Another witness called saying she saw Deanne in the same area, seemingly disoriented and asked her if she was okay.
With these leads, Det. Barrington quickly found Riley hanging around outside a restaurant he frequented and questioned him.
According to Riley he and a friend, James, met Deanne near a storage unit and they hung out with her and drank. Riley told the detective Deanne “gave” him her credit cards and told him to go get himself something to eat. Riley said he had no knowledge of where Deanne could be but Barrington wasn’t satisfied.
Several weeks after Deanne’s disappearance, her driver’s license was found on the ground outside of Sonnenberg’s Deli in downtown Spokane.
On December 10, 2015, Riley was arrested on identity theft charges and brought in for an official interview about Deanne’s disappearance. This is when his story changed.
He claims that in the frigid cold of November, Deanne went up a hill to go to the bathroom and never came back down. Riley then tells investigators, the following day while he was moving his belongings from his former apartment he and James went back to spot where Deanne had been in the woods. He claimed they found her coat and shoes, so he picked up the items and found Deanne’s credit cards inside her coat. He also admitted being the one who threw Deanne’s license on the ground near the deli.
When questioned, James claimed that when Deanne went to relieve herself in the bushes, she didn’t return right away so he went to check on her, but she didn’t want to move from the spot. He told investigators Riley was up there for 10-15 minutes and came back alone and that he never saw Deanne again.
The location where the men showed investigators this all took place was only 300 yards from Deanne’s home.
Barrington organized a search to canvass the area on foot with cadaver dogs, also using a plane with heat sensors. Nothing was found.
At a dead-end, Detective Barrington began investigating Mike Tibbets. Mike claimed he and Deanne had no marital issues, however, this was contradicted by a text Deanne had sent a friend in October that said, “I want out. Honestly, Amanda, I’m 99% sure he drugged me the other night.”
Mike told investigators that Deanne had been agitated in the weeks preceding her disappearance and that she had accused the neighbors of drugging her water supply. He claims the mental health issues were probably due to a gap in her medication usage because she could not get her normal medication due to an insurance issue.
It seemed Barrington’s investigation was at a standstill.
A Cold Case
In January 2016, Deanne’s friend Amanda received a message from Riley’s friend James via Deanne’s Missing Facebook page. James claimed to be having a mental breakdown and was adamant he needed to speak to one of Deanne’s family members and he would tell them anything they needed to know. Carson and James spoke, and the call became confrontational and James hung up without telling Carson anything new. However, Carson believes he was going to confess to something but changed his mind of chickened out – something Carson may never know.
After that, the case has gone as cold as the night Deanne vanished.
Dealing with The Loss
The family has made public pleas for Deanne’s safe return and fear she met an unimaginable end while struggling to hold onto hope that she will one day call or walk through the front door. “Deanne was an amazing family member,” Carson said. “She cared more about others than she did herself.”
Carson speaks about Deanne in the past tense as he believes too much time has gone by to hold onto hope she is still alive.
Though Deanne had fallen off the grid before, her family agrees she would have never abandoned her children.
“Her son was getting ready to graduate high school and go into the military, she wouldn’t have missed that,” Mike Tibbets said. “I think about her every day.”
The family believes someone knows something and will be forever haunted wondering what James really had to say that day.
Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Deanne Hastings, please call Spokane Police Department-Major Crimes Unit at 509-456-2233 or 509-242-TIPS (8477).