Autumn Marie Traub

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Above Images: Traub, circa 2006

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: September 13, 2006 from Lakeland, Florida
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: March 21, 1973
  • Age: 33 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'2, 225 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Traub has a tattoo of a dolphin with seven hearts on her right calf. She may use the last name Niles.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A purple shirt with images of dogs on it, red sweatpants with paint stains, and flip-flops.
  • Medical Conditions: Traub suffers from seizures.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Traub was last seen in Lakeland, Florida on September 13, 2006. Her stepfather, Roy Phillip Ballard, picked her up at her home between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., and claims he dropped her off at a Walgreens store in the 300 block of east Memorial Boulevard between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. Traub has never been heard from again. She left behind a husband and a fourteen-year-old daughter.

    A photograph of Ballard is posted below this case summary. He and Traub's mother took care of Traub's daughter when Traub was incarcerated prior to her disappearance. After Traub was released from jail, she took her daughter back, and Ballard was upset about it. He asked for custody of the girl, but Traub refused. After she was returned to her mother's care, Traub's daughter accused Ballard of molesting her.

    In October 2006, the month after Traub disappeared, Ballard was arrested and charged with her murder. Authorities believe the custody issue with Traub's daughter was the motive for the alleged homicide. Spots of Traub's blood were found on some bags in the trunk of Ballard's 2004 Saturn, along with plastic shopping bags, duct tape, gloves and a dirty shovel. Ballard claimed he needed the shovel to dig at his workplace, but the dirt on the shovel was not consistent with the soil where he works. Ballard's own blood was found in his car's interior. He is also known to have purchased an 18-inch steel pipe and duct tape on September 2, eleven days prior to Traub's disappearance; investigators believe these items were used in her kidnapping and murder.

    At Ballard's 2008 trial, Traub's daughter testified against him and said he had sexually abused her and told her he wanted to marry her. One of Ballard's cellmates testified Ballard had told him how he killed Traub, knocked out her teeth and disposed of her body. Ballard maintained his innocence, but he was convicted in July 2008. In October, he was sentenced to death. The death sentence was reduced to life in prison without parole in June 2011.

    Traub's body has never been found. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

    Ballard
    Above: Roy Phillip Ballard

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Lakeland Police Department
    863-834-6900

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    Source Information
    Florida Department of Law Enforcement
    Tampa Bay's 10
    The South Florida Ledger
    The Tampa Tribune
    Florida Supreme Court
    Florida Department of Corrections

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    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated December 29, 2016; picture added, distinguishing characteristics updated.

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