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Real Name: Tiffany Ida Mae Valiante
Nicknames: Tiff, TT
Location: Mays Landing, New Jersey
Date: July 12, 2015

Case[]

Details: Eighteen-year-old Tiffany Valiante lived with her parents, Stephen and Dianne, at their rural house on Mannheim Avenue in Mays Landing, New Jersey, about twenty miles west of Atlantic City. She was a star athlete at Oakcrest High School, graduating with varsity letters in multiple sports. She had received a full scholarship to attend and play volleyball at New York's Mercy College. She was going to be a middle starter, which, according to Dianne, does not normally happen for a freshman in college.
Tiffany dreamed of playing volleyball in the U.S. Olympics. She planned to major in criminal justice at Mercy College and had also considered joining the Air Force or law enforcement. Along with volleyball, she also loved playing softball. Dianne says Tiffany wanted things in life. She describes Tiffany as always beautiful, bright, and energetic. Others describe her as smart, friendly, and hard-working. Dianne and the rest of the family were proud of her.
On the night of July 12, 2015, four weeks after Tiffany's high school graduation, her partially clothed, barefoot, mangled body was found on a lonely, dark stretch of the Atlantic City Rail Line, approximately four miles from her house. She had been hit by a New Jersey Transit train. Within hours, the New Jersey Transit Police claimed that she had committed suicide. But Dianne says there is no way she would do that. Dianne wants to know what really happened to her.
After Tiffany's death, her parents left her room in the same state it was in when she died. They do not let anyone in the room. Stephen says it is like "a tomb." He says that she was full of life and loved it. Her sisters had a blanket made for Dianne with pictures of her on it. Dianne says it is a memorial to Tiffany's life. Seeing it makes her feel close to Tiffany. It makes her feel like Tiffany is with her, which means a lot to her since she misses Tiffany so much.
Stephen and Dianne met in 1989. She had already had two daughters, Jessica and Krystal. In 1997, she had Tiffany. They were shocked when they had her because Dianne did not expect to get pregnant. But Dianne says that when she first laid eyes on Tiffany, "it was like heaven. She was absolutely gorgeous." Stephen describes Tiffany as a "ball of joy". He says she enjoyed what she was doing and did not worry about anything. He says there was nothing she did not like to do.
On Sunday, July 12, 2015, Tiffany and her parents went to her cousin's graduation party, which was being held across the street from their house. They were there for several hours. Tiffany relaxed with relatives by the pool, took pictures, played volleyball, and made plans for decorating her new college dorm room. According to Stephen, she was having a great time. That evening, she invited some friends to come to the party.
At 9:15pm, Tiffany left the party and headed back home to shower and change. Around that same time, Dianne got a call from one of Tiffany's friends. The friend said she was pulling up to the Valiante house and asked Dianne to come over so that they could talk. Dianne agreed. She told Stephen that she had to go over to their house. He went with her. When they walked up to the road between the two houses, Tiffany's friend and the friend's mother pulled up.
Tiffany's friend started "screaming and hollering," accusing Tiffany of using her debit card without her knowledge to buy about $300 worth of clothes and food. Stephen and Dianne called Tiffany on her phone and asked her to come outside. Dianne defended Tiffany, saying she had no reason to use the friend's card because she could use her parents' card. When Tiffany came outside, she denied using the card.
At 9:24pm, about ten minutes after arriving, Tiffany's friend and the friend's mother drove off. By that point, Stephen had gone inside the house. Dianne decided to search Tiffany's car. While doing so, she noticed Tiffany slipping her friend's debit card into her back pocket. When confronted, Tiffany told Dianne that she did use the card and spent $86.
Dianne and Tiffany got into an argument, with Dianne asking her why she used the friend's card and saying, "You know better than that. Didn't raise you that way." Dianne then told Tiffany that she was going to tell Stephen about what she had done. This was not the first time Tiffany had been accused of stealing; a few months earlier, she had been caught by her parents taking money from their bank account.
Dianne went inside and got Stephen. When they walked back outside at 9:28pm, Tiffany was gone. Barely a minute had elapsed since Dianne had left Tiffany outside. They immediately started looking for her. Stephen walked up and down their road several times. There were about twenty cars parked alongside it. However, nobody in the area had seen Tiffany.
Dianne called Tiffany's friend and told her Tiffany had "run away." The friend quickly came back and helped search for Tiffany, along with two other friends. At first, they thought Tiffany might have been playing a joke on them by hiding in the woods and watching them search for her. But it soon became clear that was not the case. A large group of family and friends split up into search parties, searching by foot and by car.
Dianne believes someone would have seen Tiffany if she had walked down the road since she was 6'2" and difficult to miss. Stephen's brother, Robert Sr., says they walked up and down the streets, searched the woods, and looked behind houses and other nearby places. He did not believe she would have walked far because she was "scared to death" of the dark.
Over the next few hours, several of Tiffany's friends and family texted and called her, trying to find out where she was and asking her to come home. Stephen left her a voicemail: "Tiff, please, just come home. I love you to death. You mean everything in the world to me. Please just come home." However, she never answered.
At around 11pm, while walking up the road next to their house, Stephen discovered Tiffany's phone on the ground. It was about five feet from the side of the road. He claims he had looked in that area before, and the phone was not there. He says she would never have left her phone there. He claims she never went anywhere without her phone. It was in her hand 24/7, seven days a week; she even took showers with it. When the phone was found, Dianne knew something was wrong.
While searching, Stephen remembered that he had a deer camera stationed at the end of their driveway. He discovered that the camera photographed Tiffany walking down the driveway at 9:28pm. Just one minute later, at 9:29pm, the camera took a photograph of Stephen, Dianne, and their dog walking by.
According to Dianne, Tiffany was wearing a black shirt and white blue-jean shorts. She was also wearing flat shoes that she had just bought. She had put her hair up with a "messy bob" on top and a white headband. Dianne says Tiffany was doing her "regular stride" walking down the driveway. Based on how her head appears turned, Dianne believes that someone was calling Tiffany's name. The deer camera photograph was the last confirmed sighting of her.
At 11:30pm, Tiffany's family called the police. After learning about her disappearance, Stephen's brother, Michael, went to his mother's house, believing Tiffany had gone there, as it was within walking distance (about a half mile) of her own house. However, she was not there. Michael and the others started driving around to different places around town. But no one could find her.
At around midnight, more than two hours after Tiffany was last seen, Michael decided to drive down South Pomona Road, which was not far from her house. When he got to the railroad tracks, he noticed several police cars parked on the transit access road. A Galloway Township police officer told him that someone, possibly a female, had been hit by a train. However, Galloway Township police did not get any further involved because the incident happened in the jurisdiction of New Jersey Transit.
Michael approached a New Jersey Transit police officer and asked if he had seen anyone matching Tiffany's description. The officer said he had not seen her but told Michael the person struck by the train matched her description. At that point, Michael was hoping that the person was not Tiffany. But the police were pretty confident that it was her.
The officer asked Michael if he could identify the body. He says he is glad he was the one who identified Tiffany because he does not believe Stephen would have been able to handle it. The state her body was in was "one of the most horrific things" he had ever seen. After identifying her body, he went with the police to tell her parents.
At 2:30am, Dianne's son-in-law told her that Michael had called and told them to "stay put." A few minutes later, a cop car arrived with Michael inside. He told Dianne and Stephen that Tiffany had been hit by a train. Stephen wanted to go to the scene, but Michael told him he did not need to see that. Stephen says it felt like he had lost part of his life. He says he misses everything about her.
Robert Sr. says he and the rest of the family held each other and cried. What happened to Tiffany was the most horrible thing he could imagine. Dianne was in total shock. It did not make sense to her that Tiffany had been hit by a train. At the time, they did not know what really happened.
The next morning, local newspapers started reporting that Tiffany had committed suicide. According to at least one report, she had been standing on the tracks and did not move as the train approached her. Dianne was devastated. She could not understand how they concluded that Tiffany had committed suicide. She says Tiffany was happy and was not depressed or suicidal.
Dianne notes that Tiffany was making plans to go to college that fall. She was making plans with her roommate. She was planning a trip to Six Flags with friends. She was making plans to play softball that Wednesday. She had plans to go to Great Adventure Park the next morning with friends. She and her half-sister had also planned to pick up a kitten for Dianne's birthday at the end of the month.
Tiffany's cousin, Robert Jr., says that she showed no signs of stress when he spoke to her at the party that night. According to him, she had purchased school clothes and had things prepared. He says she was ready to make that next move.
Dianne says the New Jersey Transit Police determined that Tiffany committed suicide in less than twenty-four hours. People who knew Tiffany could not believe she would do that. Her parents initially accepted the suicide ruling. But now they are certain that she did not commit suicide.
The New Jersey Transit Police and the local Medical Examiner's office maintain that Tiffany committed suicide by throwing herself in front of an unscheduled passenger train after walking barefoot for four miles through unlit, remote woods along a rocky train track.
Paul D'Amato is the attorney for Tiffany's family. He has been a trial lawyer for forty-six years, primarily representing victims. When he first met her parents, he noticed they were broken and upset. After hearing their story, he decided to get the records from the New Jersey Transit Police Department. He and the family had to file a lawsuit to subpoena the records from them.
D'Amato expected that the records would confirm that Tiffany had committed suicide. But that did not happen. He reviewed what was known about that night. New Jersey Transit Train #4693 left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 9:50pm, heading east to Absecon Station in Atlantic City. There were about sixty passengers and crew aboard.
At 11:12pm, the train passed under the bridge at Tilton Road in Galloway Township and headed toward the crossing at Genoa Avenue. At 11:15pm, on a dark stretch of track near Prague Avenue and mile marker 45, Tiffany was hit by the train. It dragged her body for about a quarter-mile before coming to a stop. The incident occurred about an hour and a half after she was last seen. When the train was examined later, it showed that the impact occurred on the lower left side, close to the track.
Two engineers were on board the train: a senior engineer, Wayne Daniels, and a student engineer, Marvin Olivares. Olivares was at the controls and had been on the job for about a year. That night, they both signed a report saying that Tiffany dove in front of the train. Daniels told investigators that he instructed Olivares to blow the horn and ring the bell as he put on the emergency brake.
D'Amato notes that Daniels told a completely different story when he was put under oath six days later. He said he was talking to the conductor when she was hit. He said he did not see anything because his back was turned. However, he did note that Olivares blew the horn, put on the emergency brake, and told him, "A girl jumped out in front of us."
D'Amato also finds issues with Olivares' testimony. Initially, when he was asked, "When did you first see [Tiffany]?" He answered, "I didn't see her until I was right on top of her." Ten days later, when he was put under oath, he also changed his story. He stated that he saw her crouched next to the tracks when he was half a mile and a quarter of a mile away. Then, he saw her stand up and dive in front of the train.
In another interview, Olivares said that Tiffany "darted out" from the woods and ran onto the tracks right before she was hit. D'Amato notes that Olivares was the only witness, and he gave variations of what he saw that night. D'Amato says the New Jersey Transit Police Department stands by Olivares' inconsistent, contradictory statements.
Louise Houseman, a retired medical examiner from the Atlantic County Medical Examiner's Office, examined Tiffany's case and wrote a report about it. Houseman had worked for the medical examiner as a senior investigator for twenty years. She had been to several thousand scenes throughout her career. She was concerned by the sworn statements from Daniels and Olivares. She notes that a great deal of "weight" was given to the information they provided – information that turned out not to be correct.
The train carried a "major incident event recorder," which records several parameters, including the train's speed, when the hand brakes are used, and when the horn is sounded. It also gives the distance the train has traveled while these events occur.
According to the recorder, in 4.1 seconds, Olivares sounded the horn, struck Tiffany, and applied the emergency brake. The train was traveling 80 miles per hour. Houseman is not sure if Olivares would have been able to see Tiffany jump in front of the train in that time frame. She believes Olivares was in a type of trauma or shock – as anyone would be in that scenario – which made it more difficult for him to remember and describe what happened.
Houseman believes Olivares was "rambling" during his testimony and was not sure of what he actually saw. She thinks it is possible that he saw Tiffany's body parts flying in all different directions because she was being dismembered. Houseman does not think he saw Tiffany jump in front of the train. Houseman suspects Tiffany may have been dead on the tracks before she was hit. She believes that investigators should have tested Olivares for drug and alcohol intoxication.
Houseman notes that suicide by train is "extremely unusual." She says the loud sound of an approaching train is much more likely to invoke a "flight" response in a sober individual. She theorized that if Tiffany had wanted to commit suicide, it would have been easier to do it by walking in front of a car on the much closer, heavily traveled four-lane highway.
D'Amato asked private detective Jim Brennenstuhl to help with Tiffany's case. He has done police and private detective work for forty-five years. He believes the police assumed Tiffany's death was a suicide from the beginning and then "tailored the facts" to fit their assumption.
According to the reports, the train strike occurred approximately 2.6 miles from Tiffany's house. Brennenstuhl wonders why she walked that distance and jumped in front of the train there. Houseman says she was surprised when she saw the place where Tiffany was struck by the train. It was a mile from the closest intersection. It was dark, with no light sources nearby. Houseman felt there was "something wrong" with the official story.
Stephan Rosenfeld, an advocate for Tiffany's family, is convinced she did not commit suicide. He notes that New Jersey Transit is one of America's largest transit operators and has a significant-size police force. According to him, most transit police officers have told him their wheelhouse is not homicide or suspicious death investigations.
According to Rosenfeld, the first thing investigators need to do, even in the case of a suspected suicide, is determine whether there was any foul play. He says there is no indication that that was ever done in Tiffany's case. According to D'Amato, the area was not treated like a crime scene. It had not been roped off properly, so people were walking all around it.
To Rosenfeld, the case appeared from the outset to be a "textbook example" of a rush to judgment. He believes they misclassified the manner of Tiffany's death. Her death certificate reads: "Tiffany Valiante died shortly before midnight, July 12th. On the 17th of July [date of certificate], the manner of death is suicide." Rosenfeld says they cannot draw conclusions that early in an investigation. D'Amato believes the inquiry by the medical examiner was "flawed, unprofessional, and uninformed."
Houseman notes that a suicide ruling closes Tiffany's case as far as the prosecutor's and medical examiner's offices and the New Jersey Transit Police are concerned. But for the family, it is anything but closed. Dianne says the police should have investigated it like they were supposed to. She claims that they did not follow New Jersey state procedures.
Dr. Donald Jason, a former medical examiner hired by D'Amato, believes that the New Jersey Transit Police wanted to rule Tiffany's death a suicide because it gets them "off the hook." He notes that a death on the tracks due to negligence can cause increased oversight, hefty fines, and possible criminal charges. He believes that investigators treated her death as a suicide from the beginning, and this bias negatively affected how the scene was processed by responding police and medical examiner staff.
According to Rosenfeld, a complete autopsy was never conducted on Tiffany. Also, a rape kit was never performed, DNA was never tested, and no organs were examined. He wonders why these things were not done. A toxicology report was done, however. It showed that there was no alcohol or drugs in Tiffany's system. Dr. Jason and Houseman believe that this information should have caused the manner of death to be changed to "undetermined." She says there is no reason to rule the case a suicide unless they are absolutely sure about it.
According to D'Amato, Tiffany's body was cremated a few days after her death. As a result, they cannot exhume her body and have a fresh look at it. Dianne says they had her cremated because they believed investigators had already "done what they were supposed to do."
According to Houseman, a detective wrote in his report that Tiffany's shoes were not found with her body or at the scene. She finds this suspicious. Dianne says that when Tiffany walked away, she was wearing a headband, shorts, a t-shirt, and shoes. But when they found her body, all she had on was a sports bra and underwear. Dianne wonders what happened to her shoes, shorts, and shirt. Houseman says the medical examiner should have tried to figure out what happened to Tiffany's clothing.
Houseman notes that the medical examiner's report was small and scant. It stated that Tiffany's limbs were ripped from her torso and that her face and head were completely crushed. It listed her cause of death as "multiple traumatic injuries."
Houseman found no evidence that the medical examiner reviewed Tiffany's medical records or contacted Tiffany's doctor or anyone from her school. Houseman and D'Amato claim that investigators never interviewed Tiffany's family or friends. Dianne and other family members claim that no one ever questioned them about the case. Her cousin, Robert Jr., believes they just ruled it a suicide because she had been hit on the tracks.
Houseman and Rosenfeld criticized the police for not conducting a psychological autopsy, which could indicate whether or not Tiffany was at risk for suicide. Rosenfeld says that every pathologist he talked to said that before a suicide ruling can be made, they must determine why the victim did it. According to him, no clear motive for suicide was ever identified.
According to Houseman, Tiffany had no history of medical or emotional problems, mental illness, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse. She was an active athlete who was loved and doted on by her family. Houseman examined some of Tiffany's text messages (this was reportedly not done by police). She did not find anything unusual about them. Tiffany had recently broken up with her girlfriend, but to Houseman, the breakup seemed amicable.
According to Dianne, Tiffany's girlfriend was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The couple broke up the Friday before her death. However, according to Dianne, the breakup was mutual. Based on the phone records, Houseman says there did not seem to be any hostility between the two. In fact, according to the records, Tiffany had started another relationship with a woman she had met online. According to Dianne, the night before Tiffany died, she posted, "...I'm kinda content rn." Houseman wonders why Tiffany would commit suicide.
The morning after Tiffany's death, her uncle, Robert Sr., and cousin, Robert Jr., went to the area where she died. They did not want her parents to see what had happened. They claim there were "pieces" of Tiffany left behind. They searched the area to see if they could find anything of hers that was missing, such as her shoes, headband, earrings, jewelry, and shorts. Robert Sr. remembers picking up various pieces of bone that belonged to her.
Robert Sr. found one of the bracelets Tiffany was wearing and gave it to Dianne. He says picking up her remains was the most devastating thing he has ever done. While walking along the tracks, Robert Jr. found bloody rubber gloves lying on the ground. He believes the scene was contaminated. He says the New Jersey Transit Police were not trained for that type of scene, and they did not do a good job of cleaning the tracks. They searched for several hours but never found Tiffany's shoes, headband, or clothing.
On August 3, 2015, three weeks after Tiffany's death, Dianne was walking down Tilton Road, which intersects with the train tracks, when she discovered Tiffany's shoes underneath a tree next to the road. She claims they searched the area before but never found anything. She also discovered Tiffany's headband about six feet away. The location was about one mile from their home and two miles from where Tiffany had been struck by the train.
According to Dianne, the shoes were almost side-by-side and about a foot apart. The way they were positioned led her to believe that someone had taken Tiffany right out of her shoes. Others believe they were placed there. Dianne immediately called Stephen, who called the police. The New Jersey Transit Police took pictures of the shoes and put them in a brown bag. Dianne says she has not heard anything else about the shoes since then.
Houseman says the items belonging to Tiffany were never sent out for DNA testing. Five years after her death, her family won a court order and paid to have the items tested. But, according to Houseman, the chain of custody was broken, and the evidence was stored in a "reckless" manner. So, it was not of any use.
For example, Tiffany's shirt had been stored in a plastic bag tied into a knot; it became covered with mold, making it scientifically useless. Other key items had been left outdoors and exposed to the elements, making them contaminated. Furthermore, the "blood card", which contained Tiffany's DNA, was so mishandled that analysts reevaluating it could not be sure it was hers without testing her parents' DNA.
According to D'Amato, an ax with "red markings" on it was found near the scene. The ax could not be tested because it had since gone missing. A knife was also found nearby. A towel found near the scene had blood belonging to an unknown male on it. However, the blood could not be tested for DNA because the sample had been contaminated. An unidentified male DNA profile was found on another piece of evidence, but it is not known if it belongs to a suspect or someone involved in the collection process.
After Tiffany's shoes were found, her family and friends searched the woods along Tilton Road. A keychain (similar to one attached to rental car keys) was found about ten feet away. About fifteen feet away, a sweatshirt was found. According to Dianne, neither item belonged to Tiffany. Unfortunately, the police misplaced the keychain before it could be analyzed.
According to Dianne, Tiffany's shorts are still missing. D'Amato wonders how Tiffany's shoes got to that area. He theorizes that whoever was responsible for her death picked up her shoes and threw them in the woods as they left the scene.
Another theory is that Tiffany took her shoes and headband off at the spot where they were found and then walked barefoot to the tracks. Brennenstuhl says it does not make sense for her to take off her shoes, put them in the woods, and then walk barefoot to the tracks. He notes that the access road's surface was rough and had sharp rocks.
D'Amato claims there were no markings on Tiffany's feet, even though she had apparently walked barefoot along the tracks. Houseman says there were no lacerations, abrasions, or indications of soil, grass, stone, glass, or gravel. Dianne says that if Tiffany had walked on the tracks themselves, she would have had splinters on her feet. She says the fact that Tiffany's feet were "clean" proves she did not walk from the woods to the tracks. Robert Sr. says he had difficulty walking on the tracks with work shoes on. He does not believe she walked there.
Houseman believes that if Tiffany had walked along Tilton Road, someone would have noticed her since she was so tall. Houseman says it is unusual to see anyone walking on that road. She does not believe Tiffany walked barefoot, alone in the woods, without her cell phone, over stones and brush, in the dark, and along 1.5 miles of tracks to commit suicide.
According to D'Amato, the deer camera photograph of Tiffany shows a car's headlights coming towards her from the opposite direction. He believes she voluntarily entered a vehicle that night. Dianne believes Tiffany got into a vehicle with someone she knew and was comfortable with. D'Amato believes that once Tiffany entered the vehicle, someone grabbed her phone and threw it out the window as they drove away.
Dianne theorizes that the people in the vehicle tried to rape Tiffany, but she escaped and ran into the woods. Dianne believes that Tiffany hung onto the tree (next to where her shoes were found) to keep them from taking her. Robert Sr. believes they took Tiffany to an area next to the tracks. He describes the area as desolate and "spooky." He believes the train and a nearby highway would have drowned out any noise. Robert Jr. says the area was remote, which could have made it easy for someone to kill her without anyone noticing.
Another theory brought up by Dianne was that Tiffany escaped from her attackers and was chased directly onto the train tracks, where she was hit. Dr. Jason feels that this theory is more probable than suicide.
According to D'Amato, the crime scene photographs show what appears to be a large pool of blood at the point where the train hit Tiffany. This suggests to him that she was lying there bleeding before she was hit by the train. According to him, the police did not test the blood because they claimed they had enough evidence to conclude it was a suicide. So it was never determined if that was Tiffany's blood on the tracks.
According to D'Amato, the medical examiner's report says that Tiffany's arms and legs were "cut" from her torso. He believes she was harmed before her body was placed on the tracks. He believes she was laid across the tracks, with her arms off one side and her legs off the other. Dianne says the fact that Tiffany's feet and hands were intact indicates she was not standing on the track when she was hit by the train.
D'Amato asked private investigator Chuck Atkinson to help work on Tiffany's case. He had worked for the New Jersey State Police for twenty-six years. He was a detective for seventeen years. Following Tiffany's death, D'Amato and her family set up a hotline, hoping for anonymous tips from the public. In November 2016, they received a call from a convenience store manager who had overheard three teenage coworkers discussing Tiffany's case. The manager also went to the police with this information.
In a police interview, the manager said he had overheard his coworkers saying that Tiffany's death was a homicide. According to the manager, the coworkers did not have anything to do with her death but were merely retelling something they had heard. One of them claimed to have seen Tiffany at the graduation party that night.
According to the manager, the coworkers mentioned the argument between Tiffany and her friend about the stolen debit card and that Tiffany had left after it. They said that the friend was still angry about her card being stolen. The friend reportedly called someone (a woman) who came by and picked her up in a truck with an "unidentified guy." They then went and picked up Tiffany.
According to the coworkers, the three people in the truck took Tiffany to an area near the train tracks, stripped her naked, held her at gunpoint, and humiliated her. The police later interviewed the coworkers. However, they all denied saying anything about Tiffany's death. They also claimed to have not heard any rumors about her death. Each appeared to have an airtight alibi for that night.
The police also noted that the manager's information was third-hand and "full of holes." He erroneously claimed the argument between Tiffany and her friend occurred at the graduation party in front of a crowd. The manager also said that the friend never reached out to Tiffany's parents after her death. However, the friend wrote a speech for Tiffany's funeral and brought over mementos of Tiffany for Dianne. D'Amato claims that the manager was deemed "credible" by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, but there was not enough evidence to bring the case to a grand jury.
The New Jersey Transit Police and the New Jersey Medical Examiner's Office reviewed Tiffany's case in 2018. The finding of suicide was upheld. Some evidence does seem to support the suicide theory. On July 16, 2015, four days after Tiffany's death, the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office sent a K-9 handler with a bloodhound to see if they could pick up her scent from her house to the tracks. They wanted to see if she might have been picked up by a vehicle that night and driven to the tracks. If that were the case, then the bloodhound would most likely lose her scent along the way.
The K-9 handler was not told where Tiffany was killed; he wanted to conduct the test blind. Over the next hour, the bloodhound led the handler from Tiffany's driveway along a 3.2-mile route that ended in the "general area" of where she was hit by the train. D'Amato, however, claims the test was unreliable because it had rained in the days following Tiffany's death.
Dianne admitted that she and Tiffany had been having issues in the year leading up to Tiffany's death. However, she considered it to be "normal teenage stuff" and nothing that went beyond the typical problems teenage girls and their mothers often have. It was noted that the two had been bickering more frequently. In 2014, child protection officials visited their home three separate times after one of Tiffany's teachers noticed bruising on her arm. Dianne admitted to punching Tiffany during an argument.
A caseworker recommended that Tiffany and Dianne seek counseling. During their only session in November 2014, Dianne said she had been short-tempered due to "menopausal changes." Tiffany told the therapist she was neither depressed nor suicidal. Two days after the session, Tiffany's grandfather died. She started skipping classes and smoking marijuana. She also took money from Dianne's bank account without telling her. The therapist concluded that Tiffany and Dianne had a "stable" relationship but had "trouble communicating." Their case was closed the following month.
In early 2015, six months before her death, Tiffany came out as gay. At first, Dianne told her she was "going through a phase." However, Dianne and Stephen claim that they later accepted Tiffany's sexuality. Some classmates told investigators she might have been having a tougher time with her sexuality than she let on at home.
One classmate claimed that Tiffany had been acting differently in the months before she died, had been feeling distant from her parents, and was lonely. Another classmate heard that Tiffany texted a friend on the night of her death, saying, "Just answer yes or no: should I do it?"
According to D'Amato, some people who knew Tiffany said she was sad and depressed. One of Tiffany's friends said she was popular, well-liked, and appeared happy to most people. However, according to her friend, Tiffany put on a "brave face" and hid her sadness well. She believes Tiffany felt like she could never fit in. She said Tiffany could also be impulsive and have a hot temper. However, she claimed Tiffany did not mention wanting to commit suicide.
A few of Tiffany's friends told investigators that she had harmed herself, intentionally cutting her wrist and leg on two separate occasions. One friend claimed Tiffany had been depressed. The friend suggested untreated mental illness may have played a role in her death. Tiffany's parents do not believe these claims.
D'Amato notes that many questions regarding Tiffany's death remain unanswered. How did she get from her house to the spot where she was hit by the train? Did she walk? Did someone pick her up and drive her there? Was her death an accident, suicide, or murder? He believes there are people out there who know what happened to her. He begs them to come forward and help Tiffany's family.
After her death, Tiffany's family erected a small memorial near the spot where she died. Before she went to college, Stephen promised to build her a volleyball court. After she died, he built it. He also set up a memorial garden in their backyard and put several stone giraffes and turtles around it, as they were her favorite animals. He says she could not wait to go to college and play volleyball. He believes someone took that away from her. He wants justice for her. He says it is rough to wake up and go to sleep every day. But he knows he has to do this until he finds out what happened to her.
Dianne has a cabinet in their house that is filled with memories of Tiffany. Friends and relatives have brought items that remind them of Tiffany to put in the cabinet. One of the items is the bracelet she was wearing when she died. Another item is a solid wood urn that contains her remains. Dianne also has a prayer box in the cabinet that she uses to pray with every night. Inside is the following message: "For justice for Tiffany and hope that the people that did this to her will come forward."
Tiffany's family hopes the state of New Jersey will change the manner of her death from "suicide" to "undetermined." Her family also hopes to identify the person(s) who they believe killed her and left her on the tracks. They have filed lawsuits against several unnamed defendants, alleging their involvement in Tiffany's alleged kidnapping, assault, and murder. A $40,000 reward is being offered for information in this case.
Suspects: A convenience store manager told the police he had overheard three coworkers talking about Tiffany's death. According to the story he heard from the coworkers, Tiffany's friend (whose debit card she used) had picked up Tiffany in a truck with two other people. They drove Tiffany to the tracks, held her at gunpoint, forced her to stripe, and humiliated her. However, the coworkers denied ever talking about the case. Furthermore, Tiffany's friend returned to her house shortly after she disappeared, making it practically impossible for her to be involved.
Extra Notes:

  • This case was first released on October 18, 2022 as a part of volume 3 of the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries. It was released in the first part of a three week Halloween event.
  • Tiffany's friends, the New Jersey Transit Police, and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office all declined requests to be interviewed.
  • It has been noted that several important facts about this case were excluded from the segment, most of which could suggest that Tiffany's death was actually a suicide.
  • Some sources state Tiffany was hit at 11:07pm, and that Tiffany's parents were interviewed the first time after her shoes were found.

Results: Unsolved - In December 2022, Tiffany's family asked New Jersey Transit to examine whether the agency properly handled its investigation into her death.
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