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Real Name: Tammy Lynn Leppert
Nicknames: Tammi, Tami-Lynn (stage names)
Location: Cocoa Beach, Florida
Date: July 6, 1983

Bio[]

Occupation: Actress, Model
Date of Birth: February 5, 1965
Height: 5’4”
Weight: 104 lbs.
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Caucasian female with blonde hair and hazel eyes. She was possibly pregnant when she disappeared. She was last seen wearing a blue shirt with flowers, a denim blue skirt, a gray purse, and flip flops.

Case[]

Details: By the age of sixteen, Tammy Lynn Leppert of Rockledge, Florida, had competed in more than 300 beauty contests. She won the crown 280 times. Her mother, Linda Curtis, described her as a very loving, kind girl who was always smiling. She "woke up with a smile and went to bed with a smile." She was described as an “uncommonly beautiful child.” When she was just four years old, she was entered in her first beauty contest. Her parents divorced when she was seven. Her fledgling career fell to the tender loving care of Linda, who was a theatrical and modeling agent. Linda was constantly running around, taking Tammy to different pageants, modeling gigs, and other events. She enjoyed doing it and enjoyed watching Tammy excel. She said that Tammy always tried her best and usually succeeded.
Wing Flannagan, one of Linda’s clients, was just eleven when he began living at her house. He and Tammy were like brother and sister. When she would leave the house, she would kiss him on the cheek, leaving a lipstick mark. At first, he was embarrassed by it, but eventually he wore it “proudly” because it was like a “status symbol.”
In July 1982, Tammy was cast in the teen exploitation film, “Spring Break”, which would go on to earn nearly $25 million at the box office. After the movie was filmed, she went unchaperoned to an out-of-town weekend party. She came back a different person. Wing would often ask her what was on her mind and if anything was bothering her. She would usually evade the question. She would either change the subject or say “nothing” was bothering her and try to laugh it off.
Soon, Tammy’s behavior began to take on paranoid overtones. One day, when Wing went to answer the phone, she told him to tell the caller that she was not there. The caller did, indeed, ask for her, and he told him that she was out. Linda witnessed this exchange and asked Tammy what was wrong. Tammy said that she “saw something awful, something really bad, that [she] was not supposed to see.” However, she refused to talk about it further with Linda. She also said to Linda, “Mom, what would you say if I told you someone was trying to kill me?” However, she refused to expand on her comments.
Tammy also said that “they” would come after her if she talked about what she had seen. Linda tried to figure out who “they” were, but Tammy would never say. She began a steady retreat into isolation. Linda and Wing had no way of ascertaining which of her fears were real, and which were paranoid delusions. On one occasion, Tammy called him over to the window. She said, “Look across the street, tell me what you see.” He said, “Well, the neighbors got a new van.” And she said, “Exactly.” He did not understand what she was getting at. She then said that the van had mirrored windows, and that “they can see us, but we can’t see them.” She was convinced that they were spying on her.
After two weeks of virtual seclusion, Tammy was offered a small part in the big budget Al Pacino film, “Scarface”, which began shooting in Miami in March 1983. She stayed with a family friend, Walter Leibowitz. All went well until the fourth day of filming, when she had a breakdown on the set. There was a scene where someone was supposed to be shot, and they had artificial blood spurt out. When she was watching the scene, she started crying hysterically. It got so bad that they had to take her back to her trailer.
The casting director called Walter to inform him about the breakdown. He immediately went to Tammy’s trailer to check on her. According to him, she was in a tremendous state of fear and anxiety. She was hysterically crying, saying something about money laundering. She also said that “they” were going to kill her and she did not know where to hide. He had no idea what had caused this great fear in her. When he spoke to Linda, he told her that she should take Tammy to a doctor. He also told her that she should take Tammy to the police. He hoped that they could determine if her problem was psychological, or if there was actually someone trying to kill her.
Tammy quit the film and went back home. At Linda’s insistence, Tammy did talk to the local sheriff, but she apparently never mentioned that she felt her life was in danger. Even with her family, her paranoia ran rampant. She became convinced that someone was trying to poison her. She refused to drink from open containers. On one occasion, she made Wing taste a piece of her food to see if it was poisoned. She also would only eat from other people's plates. Wing recalled that there were good days and bad days. There were days when Tammy was almost “normal”, and there were other days when she was real “edgy.” Linda said that Tammy’s personality began to change dramatically, as if she was a different person than before. She also began to take on a different look. She had a “wild” and scared look in her eyes. She was convinced that someone was trying to kill her.
On July 1, 1983, Tammy finally snapped. While Wing was reading on the couch, she accused him of looking at her. He denied it. She went outside, but apparently felt overwhelmed and almost immediately turned around to go back in. When she tried to open the front door, she discovered that it had gotten locked (the wind had pushed it closed). She banged on it, demanding to be let in. She then grabbed a baseball bat and smashed the front window. Wing opened the door and told her to stop. She went after him and began to hit him with her hands, yelling and asking why he locked her out. According to him, she had a “crazy” look in her eyes. He thinks that she did not recognize him.
Linda tried to break Tammy out of her psychological state, saying “Tammy, its mother. I love you,” over and over until she snapped out of it. Linda was able to handle that incident, but she was unsure if she would be able to handle the next one. She checked Tammy into the Brevard County Mental Health Center for a complete physical and psychiatric evaluation. Doctors found no evidence of drug or alcohol use, and kept her in the hospital for seventy-two hours of observation.
After Tammy came back home, she asked Linda to promise her that, “if anything happens to [her], get even with 'that' person for [her].” Linda asked her what she thought was going to happen to her. She said that “he” is still going to try and kill her. On July 5, the day after she was released from the hospital, she went out with her best friend, Rick Adams. Previously, she had told him that someone was trying to kill her. On this day, she told him that she had "seen something [she] shouldn't have seen" but would not elaborate. The two went to church to pray; while there, she cried uncontrollably for several minutes. When he dropped her off at home, they made plans to go to church again the next afternoon. She told him that she loved him and that she might be going away for a while. However, she did not say where she was going.
According to Linda, the next day, July 6, 1983, was extraordinarily normal. She believes that Tammy was trying to show her that she was okay. That morning at around 11am, Tammy left to go out with a friend, Keith Roberts. As she left, Linda suddenly got frightened. She went outside and watched as Tammy left. For some reason, she had a feeling that that would be the last time she would ever see Tammy.
According to Keith, he picked her up at her home and they planned to go to the beach. At some point during the drive, they got involved in a verbal argument. She asked him to let her out at the parking lot of the Glass Bank building in downtown Cocoa Beach, and he complied. He dropped her off along State Road A1A at approximately 3pm on July 6, five miles from her house. She carried no purse or identification. Sometime later that afternoon, she called her aunt's Cocoa Beach costume shop three times, leaving urgent messages for her. She said she was calling from a nearby location. Unfortunately, her aunt was out of town at the time. She also called a friend who was unable to answer. After that, Tammy was never seen or heard from again.
Police questioned Tammy’s close friends. They said that they felt strongly that she was having problems at home. They felt that she left voluntarily. One friend said that Tammy and Linda often got into arguments about her career. Once, she allegedly told her friend, "Man, when I hit 18, I'm out of here." Linda, however, did not believe that Tammy left voluntarily. She admits that they got into arguments, but none of them were serious. She notes that Tammy was getting ready to go to California for three months (which would have put her away from her family anyway). She was reportedly excited about going there. Linda can find no reason for her to run away. Police, however, claimed that they received two calls following her disappearance from a woman who said that Tammy was alive and going to school to become a nurse. Linda said that that would not make sense, as Tammy was "deathly" afraid of blood.
Wing believes that Tammy saw something that she was not supposed to see. He also believes that she knew something she was not supposed to know about someone she was very frightened of. He wishes that he had asked her about her fears, instead of saying that it was all in her imagination. He wonders if she would still be here if they all had taken her more seriously.
What could a seventeen-year-old girl have seen that would cause her to fear for her life? During her breakdown on the set of Scarface, Tammy had mentioned money laundering. According to an official at the U.S. Customs Service, dozens of money laundering cases in Florida were under federal investigation at that time. Some call it sheer coincidence. Linda believes it is no coincidence at all. She thinks that Tammy is either a victim of foul play or has amnesia. Linda wanted to believe everything she told her and wanted to help her. She wishes she could go back and believe everything Tammy said from the beginning and hide her some place until they found out the truth. Now, she just hopes to find out what happened to her.
Suspects: Based on Tammy's behavior prior to her disappearance, her family believes that she met with foul play. They believe that she saw something that she was not supposed to see and was killed because of it. They believe that her disappearance may have been related to money laundering. Once, she told Linda that a friend of hers had bragged about a large-scale, drug-money laundering operation in Brevard County. Several prominent citizens, cops, and bankers were reportedly involved in it. This led her to be fearful for her safety. There is currently no evidence to support these claims. Interestingly, money laundering investigations were occurring in the area at the time. However, it is not known if these investigations were related to this case.
Keith, the friend that was last seen with Tammy, was considered a possible suspect. However, there has been no concrete evidence to link him to her disappearance. Linda later stated that she believed he was not thoroughly investigated and interrogated. She said that Tammy had once told her that she was afraid that he wanted to kill her.
Accused serial killer Christopher Wilder is considered a possible suspect. He had abducted and raped at least twelve women and killed at least eight of them during a spree that started in Florida and went through Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, California, and New York in 1984. It ended when he committed suicide during a struggle with police in New Hampshire. His first known victim was abducted from a mall just a few miles from Cocoa Beach.
Linda claims that Wilder and Tammy met on the set of Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale. She further claims that he traveled to Brevard County (where they lived) in a fruitless effort to convince her to let him photograph Tammy. She also recalled that a man strongly resembling him visited her modeling agency several times in 1983, looking for models. Her family filed a $1 million lawsuit against his estate, claiming that he abducted and probably killed her; it was later dropped after his death. Linda no longer considers him a "strong suspect" in the case. Police were never able to link him to her disappearance and it is possible that her disappearance during his murder spree could be just a coincidence.
At one point, police considered Tammy a possible victim of John Crutchley, known as the "Vampire Rapist". He had moved to Brevard County shortly before she disappeared. However, they later stated that he was not a suspect.
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the September 16, 1992 episode.
  • Some sources have her first name spelled "Tami".
  • Several sources (including the show) have incorrectly stated that Tammy was barefoot when she disappeared.
  • Keith initially agreed to be interviewed for the show, but later declined.
  • It was also featured on the podcast "Murder on the Space Coast".

Results: Unsolved. Sadly, in October 1995, Linda passed away at the age of fifty-four without ever finding out what happened to Tammy. Her siblings are still searching for her. Recently, there have been some claims that she was killed by an ex-boyfriend. The theory has not been confirmed.
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