Cieha Taylor dropped her boyfriend, Jason, off at a friend’s home in Plant City, Florida around 4:00 pm on Thursday, February 6, 2020. Three hours later, her Toyota Solara was found, abandoned but still running, on some railroad tracks about a mile away from her boyfriend’s home. The car was unlocked and all of Cieha’s belongings, including her purse and wallet, were found inside. The 28-year-old wasn’t found anywhere near her car and she was never seen again.
Cieha’s car had been found by officers with the Plant City Police Department at 7:00 pm, but it was unclear how long it had been sitting there. The driver’s door was open and Cieha’s phone was on the ground outside the car. An officer picked up the phone and then moved the car off of the railroad tracks and parked it on the side of the road; it doesn’t appear that they made any effort to identify who had been driving the car nor why it had been abandoned there. Their only concern was getting the car off of the train tracks.
Three days later, Jason saw Cieha’s car parked near the railroad tracks and called one of her friends to see if she knew why it was there. That friend and her mother drove to where the car was and called AAA to have it unlocked, then drove it to Cieha’s mother’s house 45 minutes away. Cieha’s family was stunned when they learned that she hadn’t been seen since Thursday, and they immediately called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and reported her missing.
None of Cieha’s friends or family members had any idea where she might have gone; her debit card and identification were found inside her purse, leaving her without access to any money. Her sister-in-law, Porshia Taylor, noted, “Her keys, her phone, her license, her debit card, everything was in her vehicle. If anyone knows Cieha, Cieha never goes anywhere without her phone.”
On Monday, dozens of deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, along with several K9 units, scoured the area surrounding where Cieha’s car was found looking for any evidence of what happened to her. They found nothing.
The search for Cieha intensified on Tuesday. While deputies went door-to-door in the neighborhood distributing missing person flyers, a helicopter crew scanned the area from above. The canvassing continued on Wednesday, but investigators didn’t learn anything that helped them find Cieha.
Porshia stated, “We know that [police] have done some search efforts themselves…canines, helicopters, going door-to-door…” Family members, however, wanted to do their part to try and find Cieha. “We just want to make sure she’s okay…[that] she’s not hurt…we’re going to do everything to find her and bring her home.” To raise awareness about Cieha’s disappearance, her family created a Facebook page called “Finding Cieha” and updated the page frequently to keep everyone informed about the search effort.
On Saturday, February 15, 2020, Cieha’s friends and family members, along with volunteers, conducted a search for her in the area near where her car had been found. Searchers were asked to wear pink for Cieha, and drinks and snacks were provided for those who showed up to help. They spent hours scouring the area but found nothing.
A week later, there was still no sign of Cieha and her loved ones were growing increasingly concerned about her safety. Investigators had no idea what could have happened to her but said that they hadn’t found any evidence pointing to foul play.
None of Cieha’s loved ones believed that she would have left voluntarily, but they were trying to remain optimistic that she would be found. Porshia told reporters, “We’re just hoping and praying that she is still alive and that she’s out there and she’s safe, she’s not in pain, she’s not hurt, and no one’s holding her against her will.”
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office set up a roadblock on Trapnell Road on February 20, 2020. They stopped cars traveling down the road in either direction and handed out missing person flyers to the occupants of each vehicle. Detectives asked people if they routinely drove through the area and if they had seen anything unusual on the afternoon that Cieha went missing.
Cieha’s mother, Canitha Taylor, thanked the followers of the “Finding Cieha” Facebook page for their help and support in the search for her daughter. Her pain was evident as she noted, “My heart is broken into a million pieces wondering where my baby is. I miss her and love her so much…we will not give up until we find Cieha.”
On Saturday, February 22, 2020, Cieha’s family members organized a candlelight prayer vigil at sunset. It was held on Trapnell Road, not far from where Cieha’s vehicle had been found. Dozens of people attended the vigil and prayed for Cieha’s safe return, while an electronic billboard next to the road displayed information about the missing woman and a phone number for people to call if they had any information about her whereabouts.
Detectives admitted that they had little to go on, and some feared that the investigation was in danger of stalling. As they tried to piece together exactly what had happened on the day Cieha vanished, investigators hoped to find someone who had witnessed her car being abandoned on the railroad tracks and could confirm who had left it there. Amanda Granit, a communications officer with the sheriff’s office, stated, “If [you] saw her car, her, or anyone mulling about, give us a call because you never know which tip is the one that helps us find her.”
Canitha told reporters that she felt sick to her stomach whenever she visited the spot where her daughter’s car had been found. “I think she was taken. You worry about her being hurt, suffering…I can’t sleep. I just want to take care of her, she is my child.” She noted that Cieha had just gotten her car for her birthday in November, and there was no way she would have willingly abandoned it.
On February 26, 2020, Cieha’s shoes were found near Foxy Produce on Trapnell Road. This was an area that had already been extensively searched, so it was unclear how long the shoes had been at this location. The shoes were found next to a light pole that had one of Cieha’s missing person posters on it. Canitha noted, “I feel like they were placed there. We searched in that area for weeks and never found anything. Those shoes were ones that I gave her and I definitely would have noticed them.”
Three weeks after Cieha was last seen, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister admitted that he didn’t know what had happened to the missing woman, but the department was worried that she could be in danger. “Time is critical when it comes to finding a missing person. Any tips or information that can help our detectives locate this woman are welcome and encouraged.”
Canitha just wanted her daughter home. She told reporters that Cieha, who was one of four children, could light up a room when she entered it; she had a bubbly personality and a hearty laugh that made others smile. Canitha shot down the possibility that Cieha might have intentionally left because she was suicidal. “I know her better than anyone else and I know that is absolutely not the case here.”
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office posted an update to their Facebook on March 6, 2020, exactly one month after Cieha went missing. The post indicated that the HCSO Criminal Investigations Division, along with the assistance of the Homeland Security Division’s Special Incident Response Team, continued to actively search for Cieha. Although they had received a few tips, they still hadn’t developed any solid leads about her whereabouts.
As the search for Cieha continued into its second month, the COVID-19 pandemic forced her family to cancel some planned fundraisers and vigils. They worried that her disappearance would be forgotten in the midst of the pandemic; they continued to post about the case on social media and do everything they could to keep it in the news. They also hired a private detective to assist in the investigation.
There was a lot of speculation on social media that Cieha’s boyfriend might have known more about her disappearance than he admitted. Cieha’s family did everything possible to keep rumors off the Finding Cieha page, but they admitted that he had not participated in the search for Cieha at all. In a post addressing if Jason had been questioned, they answered, “We do not have contact with the boyfriend. That relationship was never approved of. What we do know is if he loved her like he says he does or still loves her he would be assisting in helping to find her. As of now he has not.”
The family was also concerned after Cieha’s phone records showed that her boyfriend hadn’t tried to call or text her at all after she dropped him off at his friend’s house. There were numerous missed calls and text messages from friends and family wondering why she wasn’t getting back to anyone, but none from her boyfriend. Detectives said that they had interviewed both Jason and the friend whose house he was dropped off at and found no red flags in their account of what happened the day Cieha vanished. Investigators also searched the friend’s home but found nothing of interest.
Others speculated that the police officer who found her car and moved it off the train tracks without bothering to run its license plate or look for the owner could have been involved in Cieha’s disappearance. Detectives with the sheriff’s office said that they had interviewed the Plant City officer in question and his story had remained consistent. Without any solid evidence of foul play, investigators weren’t prepared to call anyone a suspect.
In August 2020, Cieha’s loved ones held a candlelight vigil to mark the six-month anniversary of her disappearance. Canitha said the fact that her daughter was still missing was overwhelming. “There’s no trace [of her], there’s no evidence, there’s nothing…it’s kind of like the twilight zone.” She said she wasn’t going to give up the search for Cieha. “Someone somewhere knows something…we really are going to continue to look for her until we find closure.”
Around the same time, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced that it was going to launch a cold case podcast, and Cieha’s case was picked to be featured in the first episode. They were hoping the podcast would bring in some new information for them to follow up on, as investigators had exhausted all available leads and considered the case to be cold despite it only being six months old.
The podcast provided some facts about the case that hadn’t previously been made public. When investigators interviewed Cieha’s boyfriend and his friend, both of them said that Cieha had been acting strangely on the day she vanished. They believed she might have been having some kind of mental crisis. This observation was backed up by one of Cieha’s friends, who said Cieha was supposed to visit her that day after she dropped her boyfriend off. She recalled that Cieha sounded strange when she spoke with her, and Cieha never arrived at her house. Her friend believed Cieha had been fighting with her boyfriend.
On September 4, 2020, Cieha’s family announced that they were offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Cieha’s whereabouts. They asked anyone who thought they knew something to call Detective Florio at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. In December 2020, the reward was increased to $6,650.
Cieha’s loved ones held a vigil to mark the first anniversary of her disappearance. They gathered at the spot where her car had been found and conducted another search of the area. Detective Florio made another public appeal for information that would help find Cieha. “There’s plenty of avenues to go down to not include your name…but ultimately, this family needs their daughter found.”
In July 2021, Canitha spoke with reporters and said there was nothing new to report about the investigation. “The sheriff’s office has done extensive searching and has brought in cadaver dogs. They talked to her boyfriend and friends. There are no new leads. There’s no information.” The uncertainty about what had happened to Cieha was ripping Canitha apart; although she wanted to remain optimistic, she admitted that she believed her daughter had been a victim of foul play.
Cieha should have been at home with her family to celebrate her 30th birthday on November 16, 2021, but instead, her loved ones spent the day at the spot where her car had been found. They had spent countless hours there since Cieha disappeared, praying for some kind of sign that would lead them to the missing woman, but her fate remained a mystery.
By February 2022, Cieha had been missing for two years and investigators still had no idea what had happened to her. Her heartbroken family announced that they were once again raising the reward for information; they added $10,000 to the reward being offered by Crime Stoppers, bringing the total to $15,000.
Despite the increased reward, investigators received few tips about the case. By June 2022, detectives admitted they had exhausted all leads and the investigation was at a standstill. Canitha just wanted to bring Cieha home one way or the other. “We just want to know what happened, more so than how it happened or who did it…let’s have closure.”
As of May 2023, the search for Cieha continues. While she is still classified as a missing person, her family believes that she was mu*rdered. Her loved ones believe they know who k*illed her, but investigators have not publicly named any suspects in Cieha’s disappearance.
Cieha Annette Taylor was just 28 years old when she vanished from Plant City, Florida in February 2020. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance are murky but it seems likely that she was a victim of foul play. Cieha has brown eyes and reddish-brown hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 170 pounds. She was last seen wearing a red, white, blue, and gray short-sleeved dress, a pink cardigan, and tan boots. She has several tattoos, including a rose on her left forearm, a sun on her right thigh, two X’s on her back, an infinity sign on her left upper chest, and a ladybug on her left calf. If you have any information about Cieha, please contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 813–247–8200. There is a reward for information leading to Cieha’s whereabouts.