Missing Person: Abdi Sharif

Missing Person: Abdi Sharif

Abdi Sharif, 18, went missing from a Target in Merle Hay where he worked. He was last seen on CCTV camera after leaving his shift.

Abdi Sharif, 18, went missing from a Target in Merle Hay where he worked. He was last seen on CCTV camera after leaving his shift.

The search continues for missing Iowa teen Abdi Sharif, who went missing on January 17, 2020. A second organized search party is set to commence this week after a search of Des Moines’ north side last week turned up no clues to Abdi’s whereabouts. There is currently a $5,000 reward for any persons who come forward with information on Abdi’s disappearance.

Abdi Sharif, 18, went missing from a Target in Merle Hay where he worked. He was last seen on CCTV camera after leaving his shift. Details emerged in local media that before he went missing, Abdi posted on his Snapchat, “I got bad news…bad bad news.” Police have advised they are not ruling out foul play in Abdi’s disappearance.

In regards to the Snapchat with the cryptic message, his family and friends say they have no idea what he could have meant by that. Abdi’s mother, an immigrant from Somalia, went to the Target that night to pick him up after his shift, but she says he never appeared. She has been calling his cell phone nonstop since his disappearance, but the cell phone remains off. With Abdi’s cousin Ahmed Hashi translating for her on KCCI in Iowa, Abdi’s mother claims that whatever circumstances befell her son that night, she believes he left the store voluntarily. “He’s not in trouble. His mom loves him. She just wants to see him home.”

Abdi Sharif’s disappearance has sparked a great deal of activism in his community, particularly his high school. According to the principal, Kevin Biggs, it is very uncharacteristic for him to disappear without warning, “This is a young man that was not involved, as far as we knew, in any type of gangs, drugs, alcohol. He was never caught in trouble doing anything. He was just a kid who went to school and did the best he can.” The school held a coffee fundraiser for Abdi to help fund the missing persons search. In addition, volunteers also passed out ribbons for Abdi during an annual game that raises awareness for children with special needs. The community is also hopeful that the posted reward of $5,000 will be an incentive for people to come forward with information that will lead to Abdi’s safe return.

Vanished: Missing Beauty School Student Deanne Hastings

Vanished: Missing Beauty School Student Deanne Hastings

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?

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(Deanne Hastings mysteriously vanished in November 2015, from Spokane, Washington.) 

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. 

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(Deanne Hastings moved to Spoke, Washington where she would be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.)

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. 

The Disappearance

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.

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(Using GPS, Mike Tibbets, Deanne’s boyfriend, found her car parked in a public parking lot in a rough part of Spokane, Washington.)

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.

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(Missing person posters of Deanne Hastings, missing from Spokane, Washington, on November 3, 2015.)

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.  

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(A credit card belonging to Deanne Hastings was used in Cheney, Washington, about 15 miles from where her car was parked in Spokane.) 

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. 


(Local news began reporting about Deanne Hasting’s disappearance in Spokane, Washington in November 2015.)

Media Intervention
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. 

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(Media coverage of Deanne’s disappearance generated several leads including a call from a man who said he had picked Deanne up at the Knitting Factory on November 3, 2015.)

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. 

Police Investigation

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. 

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(A man, along with two other individuals were seen on surveillance video using Deanne’s credit cards in Spokane and Spokane Valley.) 

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.

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(Deanne Hastings driver’s license was found several weeks after her disappearance in front of a local deli.) 

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. 

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(Volunteers search for missing Spokane woman Diane Hastings. Photo courtesy of KREM.)

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.

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(Deanne’s case has become a cold case with few leads or evidence.)

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).


Into the Breeze: The Disappearance of Tiffany Daniels

Into the Breeze: The Disappearance of Tiffany Daniels

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(Tiffany Daniels disappeared August 12, 2013 from Pensacola, Florida.)

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.  

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(Tiffany Daniels took off work for several days prior to her disappearing on August 12, 2013.) 

The Disappearance

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.

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(Tiffany Daniel’s was driving a Toyota 4 Runner (similar), that was found on August 20, 2013 at Park West in Pensacola.)

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. 

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(Fort Pickens in Pensacola Florida where Tiffany Daniels vehicle was found abandoned.)

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.

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(Detectives investigating Tiffany Daniels disappearance review surveillance footage of Bob Sikes Bridge in Pensacola, Florida.) 

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. 

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(One of the most solid sightings came in from a waitress in Metairie, Louisiana.) 

Sightings

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. 

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(Tiffany Daniels has tattoos of a seed growth progression from seedling to bloom on both her feet.) 

“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. 

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(Friends of Tiffany Daniels describe her a bubbly and always making people laugh.)

Early Life

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. 

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Cindy and Rodney Daniels continue their search for their missing daughter Tiffany Daniels.)

Moving Forward 

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?

Remains of 6-year-old Faye Swetlik found

Remains of 6-year-old Faye Swetlik found

Faye Swetlik disappeared on Monday from her parent’s front yard in Cayce, South Carolina. Her remains were found on Thursday, along with another unidentified male.

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 Snellgrove, 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.”

Police have released images of two cars who were in the area where Faye’s remains were found, denoting that the drivers may have pertinent information.

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) 205-4444.

Coronavirus: Citizen journalists disappearing following criticism of Chinese government

Coronavirus: Citizen journalists disappearing following criticism of Chinese government

Chen Qiushi is a Wuhan-based lawyer who has been regularly covering the coronavirus outbreak in China, regularly criticizing the governemtn for their handling of the pandemic. He is now missing.

The coronavirus has reportedly killed more than 1000 Chinese residents since the outbreak of a new coronavirus, restricting travel and forcing the quarantines. The Chinese government is under immense pressure to solve the crisis, and scientists are racing to find a way to contain the unnamed virus before it has global repercussions. In another disturbing, yet not altogether surprising, turn of events, persons who have been critical of the government’s handling of the virus outbreak are starting to disappear.

Many Chinese residents have taken to social media to document how the virus is effecting their communities and how those communities are effected by the government. Chen Qiushi is one of those citizens, a lawyer who has been at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. He started posting about the virus on January 25 after the Chinese government locked the city down in order to contain the virus. Chen Qiushi’s remarks regarding the government and its handling of the outbreak have been—in a word—critical, citing lack of medical supplies, crowded hospitals, and accusing the Chinese government of incompetence and suppressing freedom of speech in discourse regarding the pandemic.

Chen Qiushi’s latest update was last Thursday, February 6, and no one has heard from him since. In a recent tweet, Chen’s friend Xu Xiaodong, stated that Chen has been “taken away to quarantine by force.” He went on to say that Chen has not had access to his personal cell phone. This is interesting, because Chen’s Twitter account still appears to be active despite his disappearance.  In a statement released by the Human Rights Watch, they stated that friends and family have applied for an audience to speak with Chen, but their queries have not been returned.

Another Chinese “citizen journalist” has also gone missing, just days after the disappearance of Chen Qiushi. Fang Bin, a Wuhan-based businessman, has also been documenting the devastation in his community via social media. He had reportedly dared the Chinese government to come seize him for his comments regarding their handling of the virus on the same day that he posted a 12-second video of a paper that read “resist all citizens, hand the power of the government back to the people.” Authorities used the fire brigade to break down his door and arrest him. 

In China, government focus appears to be split between containing the spread of the virus, and controlling the narrative surrounding the containment. Yaqui Wang, a Cinhese researcher for Human Rights Watch, commented on the government’s repeated pattern of censoring or controlling narratives that concern disasters or pandemics, “authorities are as equally, if not more, concerned with silencing criticism as with containing the spread of the coronavirus.”

American watchdog organizations and lawmakers have called for the Chinese government to account for Chen Qiushi’s and Fang Bin’s whereabouts. Steven Butler, the program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists stated, “Authorities in Wuhan must disclose whether they are holding journalist Chen Qiushi. If they are, then he should be released immediately. China does not seem to have learned the clear lesson that bottling up the truth about a spreading illness will only make matters worse.”