Tiffany Daniels finished work a little early on Monday, August 12, 2013. The 25-year-old, who worked for the theater department at Pensacola State College, normally worked until 5:00 pm but clocked out at 4:43 pm that day after getting approval from her supervisor to take off a few minutes early. If she had any special plans for the night, she didn’t mention them to anyone; her roommate had expected to see her at home later that night and was surprised when she never showed up. Exactly what happened to Tiffany after she left work that Monday remains unclear; she never contacted any of her loved ones and was never seen again.
Gary Nichols, Tiffany’s flatmate, wasn’t too worried when she didn’t come home right after work on Monday because Tiffany was very independent and liked to try new things. He thought she had gone out with friends and would be home later that night, even though she hadn’t said where she was going. Sharon and Gary had not lived together for very long. Gary was the father of one of Tiffany’s friends. Tiffany used to have a few roommates, but they stopped paying their bills, which made it hard for her to pay her rent and utilities. When they finally moved out, she put up ads for a new flatmate. She was happy to find out that Gary was looking for a place to stay after splitting up with his wife. At the end of July 2013, he moved in with Tiffany.
Cindy Daniels, Tiffany’s mother, said she wasn’t happy at first when she found out Gary was moving in with her daughter. “It made us uncomfortable because we thought it would be weird. I didn’t want Tiffany to feel like her father was living with her.” It might have seemed like an odd match, but it was perfect for both of them. Gary had a place to stay, and Tiffany finally found a flatmate who could pay his bills on time.
By 10 p.m. Monday, Gary was getting worried because he hadn’t seen or heard from Tiffany. When he called his daughter Noel, he told her he hadn’t seen Tiffany, but she didn’t seem to care. “He was overreacting, and she was an adult,” she said with a laugh. She then told him that Tiffany had probably gone out because she didn’t want to spend the night with someone her dad’s age.
Tiffany was still missing when Gary left for work on Tuesday morning. She didn’t answer her cell phone, so he couldn’t reach her. No calls got through. He tried to ignore his worries by telling himself that Tiffany would probably be home from work and excited to tell him about her latest adventure. But when he got back to the house, the power was off. Tiffany had been having a hard time with money because she had been living with bad roommates. It looked like she forgot to pay the electric bill.
Gary called his daughter again, hoping she would know how to get in touch with Tiffany’s parents since he still couldn’t reach her. Even though Noel didn’t have their phone number, he did call Tiffany’s mother on Facebook to let her know that no one had been able to reach Tiffany.
On August 17, 2013, Cindy read Noel’s Facebook message. Cindy didn’t think much of it at first. “At that point, I never even thought that she might be missing,” Cindy said. She called Tiffany’s cell phone and left a message asking her to call her back as soon as she could. After hours, Tiffany still hadn’t said anything.
Cindy and Noel called all of Tiffany’s friends and coworkers in the hopes that someone would know where she was. Since Monday, when she was at work, no one had heard from her. Cindy called the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday night to say that her daughter was missing.
The sheriff’s office sent deputies to Cindy’s house to take the missing person report, but Tiffany didn’t seem to worry them much. They told Cindy that her daughter was an adult and could go where she wanted. When Cindy asked about it, they said they would send the missing person report to the Pensacola Police Department because Tiffany had been seen last in Pensacola city limits.
The case was given to Pensacola Police Sgt. Daniel Harnett. “As police, we’re going to look into missing person cases as if they were crimes,” he said. He chose Tiffany’s house as the place to start his investigation. He looked through the house but couldn’t find any signs that the missing woman had been there or that something bad had happened. There were no signs of a fight or any other wrongdoing, and Tiffany’s things seemed to have been left behind. “She hadn’t done anything to show that she was planning to leave.”
Some of Tiffany’s family and friends decided the next morning to create a Facebook page called “Help Find Tiffany” in the hopes that the power of social media would help them quickly find the missing woman. Volunteers made posters for missing people and started handing them out in Pensacola’s Long Hollow neighbourhood, where Tiffany lived. It had been since Monday since anyone had seen Tiffany. Many of the residents knew her and all of them said she was a nice and friendly neighbour.
Tiffany hadn’t been seen since August 19, 2013, which was a whole week. A press conference was held by the Pensacola Police Department and Tiffany’s family to let people know that she had been reported missing. Police officer Harnett said that Tiffany’s grey Toyota 4Runner was also missing and asked people to keep an eye out for it.
The next day, Tiffany’s 4Runner was found in the Park West parking lot at Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island. Angela Huntsinger, Tiffany’s sister, said, “A friend of mine was out for a bike ride and found the car parked at the very last public parking lot at Pensacola Beach.” Tiffany’s things were in the car, but she wasn’t there.
To get to Pensacola Beach, Tiffany would have had to take the Bob Sikes Bridge across Santa Rosa Sound. The toll booth on this bridge had licence plate cameras. Detectives watched video from the toll booth and found that Tiffany’s 4Runner had gone over the bridge on Monday at 7:51 p.m. The camera could only see licence plates, so it was impossible to tell who was driving at that time.
It was impossible to tell how long Tiffany’s 4Runner had been parked in the parking lot where it was found because there were no security cameras there. But Angela wasn’t so sure. The police thought it had probably been there since Monday night. “Across the street, a neighbour who lives in a condo said that the car was not there two days ago.”
There were no signs of foul play in or near Tiffany’s car, but Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons told reporters that they hadn’t ruled out anything either. “The car is being looked over to find out where she might be and what might have happened to her.” Something doesn’t point to foul play right now, but we also don’t know what happened either. We are following all leads.
People in Pensacola came together to help Tiffany’s family. A lot of people offered to search the Pensacola Beach area and hand out flyers. They put up posters on the boardwalk and searched the thick brush around the dunes. Searchers went through the nearby condos, knocking on each door and talking to people who lived there. Dozens of businesses in the area printed thousands of copies of Tiffany’s missing person flyer and gave them to the search parties for free. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t figure out where Tiffany was.
While search teams looked all over the island for Tiffany, detectives began the difficult task of talking to her family, friends, and coworkers. In the days and weeks before Tiffany went missing, they were especially interested in learning more about her mood. They found out that her boyfriend had moved to Texas the day before Tiffany went missing.
Todd Grey Thomas, Tiffany’s boyfriend, got into the robotics graduate programme at the University of Texas in Austin. Tiffany had said she wanted to stay in Pensacola even though he asked her to move to Texas with him. They would have to deal with being in a long-distance relationship, but Tiffany was excited about the idea of visiting him once he moved into his new flat. She also said she was looking forward to making new friends in Austin.
Tiffany planned a breakfast to say goodbye to Grey on August 11, 2013, but he left for Austin that same day. Police talked to him and found that he was in Austin when Tiffany went missing, so he wasn’t a suspect in her disappearance. He had not talked to Tiffany since Sunday and was just as confused as everyone else about what had happened.
Since Tiffany didn’t seem sad about Grey moving to Texas, the police couldn’t help but wonder if the situation had made her feel worse than she would have said. They were unable to rule out the possibility that she had ki*lled herself.
Candy McAdams, Tiffany’s sister, remembered that Tiffany wasn’t being her usual bubbly self in the weeks before she went missing. “She seemed like something was really bothering her, like there was a secret or something.” But she was sure Tiffany would never have thought about committing suicide. Candace was also sure Tiffany hadn’t just vanished on her own. It’s not like she would have done something on her own that made us worry about her.
Detective Harnett agreed that Tiffany probably hadn’t gone off by herself. “She had plans for the next day, the next week, the next month—it doesn’t look like she just wanted to leave everything behind and walk away.” He thought about the idea that she might have gone swimming and drowned, but said that if she had done that at Pensacola Beach, her body would have been found. He didn’t think that drowning was likely because it hadn’t happened.
There was still a chance of foul play. Friends of Tiffany said it was possible that she had gone to the beach that night to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Tiffany was interested in those kinds of things, so even though she hadn’t said she wanted to see them, it sounded like something she would do. Someone with bad intentions might have been interested in Tiffany when she was a young woman on a dark beach by herself.
With the Klaas Kids Foundation’s help, Tiffany’s family organised a huge search of Santa Rosa Island on August 25, 2017, in hopes of finding clues about where she was. Together with more than 250 volunteers, Escambia County Search and Rescue searched every part of Pensacola Beach, even Fort Pickens. There was a spokesperson for Klaas Kids who said, “We’re looking for anything that will prove she was on this island, like a hat that might have blown off or sunglasses.” They searched the whole island and found nothing that would help them figure out where Tiffany was.
The “Help Find Tiffany” Facebook page was set up by Tiffany’s family and friends to keep people up to date on the case. Soon, they got a lot of tips from people who thought they had seen Tiffany recently. Every possible sighting was checked out, but surveillance footage could not confirm any of them.
Cindy got a tip in January 2014 from a woman who worked at a restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana. The woman said she thought she had served Tiffany a few weeks before. She had been with two other women, one about the same age as her and one much older. The witness said that the two young women kept their eyes on the table and wouldn’t look at the server, which made it look like they were scared of the older woman. After a quiet meal, the server told Tiffany that she looked like someone who had been reported missing from Pensacola. The group then left quickly.
The witness told Cindy enough personal details about the meeting that Cindy was pretty sure she had seen Tiffany, but she couldn’t be sure. The woman hadn’t reported the tip right away, and by the time Cindy found out about it, the restaurant had already erased the video from the day of the sighting. It was a terrible blow to Cindy. “I would have video footage of that girl in the restaurant if we had gotten that tip on the day it happened. I would know today if it was Tiffany or not.”
After hearing about the subdued behavior exhibited by the young women in the restaurant, Cindy became convinced that her daughter had been a victim of human trafficking. Although Tiffany was older than most sex trafficking victims, her mom noted that she had never met a stranger and might have trusted the wrong person.
Detective Harnett wasn’t sure that Tiffany’s disappearance had anything to do with s*ex trafficking. There’s no proof that that’s what happened, but I’m not ruling it out either. Someone could have been travelling through Pensacola, found her, taken her, and moved her somewhere else.
Brad Dennis, who is in charge of national searches for Klaas Kids, agreed with Cindy that trafficking people was a likely scenario. “There’s no sign of her besides that last thing we saw her do, crossing that bridge.” No one can say where she was after that because we don’t have a video of her. We have no idea what happened. “She may not even have parked the car there, that much we know.”
The case didn’t move forward for months. Cindy said at a candlelight vigil in August 2014, “It’s like she just disappeared.” She and Rodney Daniels, Tiffany’s father, were thankful for the Pensacola community and said it helped them get through the past year. Rodney agreed, saying, “It’s been hard.” But we’re lucky to have a lot of friends and help from the community.
Investigator Harnett said that they still didn’t know anything more than they did when Tiffany first went missing, even after a year of looking into it. “All we know is that she was here and then she was gone.” There’s no solid proof that she was abducted, hurt, or just disappeared. It’s also not clear if there was some kind of accident.
More than two years had passed since Tiffany was last seen. In December 2015, the Pensacola Police Department held a news conference to talk about the case. They asked the public for help identifying a man who had been seen at least twice in or near Tiffany’s car in the days after she went missing. He was white, between 30 and 40 years old, and only wore red shorts.
When police first heard about this unidentified man, it was soon after Tiffany’s car was found in August 2013. As detectives did their first sweep of the condo complex near the parking lot, they talked to two vacationers who said they had seen a man get out of a 4Runner early that morning.
When other residents were asked if they remembered seeing anyone near Tiffany’s car, none of them did. Also, the tip about the man in the shorts was never shared with the public. When someone saw in the news that it was the second anniversary of Tiffany’s disappearance, they called the police and said they had seen a white man in red shorts standing near the 4Runner on August 19, the day before it was found.
Since the resident’s tip seemed to back up what the two tourists said, officials decided to tell everyone about it. They were hoping to find more people who might have seen the man who they couldn’t identify, but no one else did, so the investigation stopped.
Tiffany hasn’t been seen in more than nine years, and the police haven’t found her. Her family still thinks she was a victim of s*ex trafficking, and they have checked out leads about possible sightings of her in several states. None of these sightings could be proven, and they are asking anyone who thinks they see Tiffany to take a picture of the event.
Tiffany Heaven Daniels was 25 years old when she walked off the beach in Pensacola, Florida, in August 2013. Tiffany was a young woman who loved art and throwing dance parties at her house. She was full of life and was always trying new things. Because of tips, Tiffany’s family thinks she was taken by s*ex traffickers and is probably being held against her will somewhere. The last time we saw Tiffany, she was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 135 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes. Tiffany has tattoos on both feet of plants growing from seeds. Please call the Pensacola Police Department at 850-435-1900 if you know anything about Tiffany.