Details of Disappearance Michael was reported missing on February 18, 2008 by a coworker with the Snowflake School District in Snowflake, Arizona. Michael was employed as a bus driver with the district. He didn't return to work on February 18 after the President's Day holiday weekend, didn't call his employer, and didn't answer the phone when his supervisors called him.
No one besides his wife, Gina Tapley, has seen or heard from him since February 15. Prior to leaving work on February 15, Michael told coworkers he planned to spend the weekend scouting areas for an upcoming elk hunting trip.
Gina initially couldn't be located after Michael's disappearance. She got in touch with his family on March 1, and met them in person on March 5. On March 10, she went to the police station to make a statement.
She claimed Michael impulsively left home on February 20, two days after his disappearance was reported. His family doubts this, however, as it's uncharacteristic of him to leave without warning or to be out of touch with his relatives.
Gina says she and Michael were visiting her relatives in Raymore, Missouri at the time of his disappearance. She says she dropped her husband off at a casino in Kansas City, Missouri, and when she went to pick him up, he was gone. She also said he gave her the keys to his 1998 Ford F-150 truck and let her drive it.
Authorities in Adrian, Missouri located and impounded Michael's truck after his disappearance. Gina had given it to someone there and said Michael had told her to get rid of it. An auto repair shop in Wichita, Kansas had repaired the truck.
The mechanic stated Gina drove to the shop alone, and that the truck's cab and bed were so full of items that there would have been only enough room for one person. A photograph of the truck is posted with this case summary.
Michael's truck was his only means of transportation and he had never let Gina drive it. She was in fact specifically listed on the vehicle's insurance policy as someone who wasn't supposed to drive it. The note signing over ownership of the truck was signed "Mike Tapley," and he always signed documents "Michael A. Tapley."
Handwriting tests on the note were inconclusive. Michael is not a gambler and surveillance cameras at the casino don't show his image. Gina's relatives in Raymore stated they had seen her that weekend, but they hadn't seen Michael.
The couple were having financial problems and their marriage was troubled. Michael got a restraining order against his wife in 2005, after he claimed she assaulted him and threatened to shoot him. They reconciled, however.
Authorities don't believe Gina is being truthful about the events leading up to Michael's disappearance, but there's no evidence to charge her or anyone else with a crime.
Michael's family believes foul play was involved in his disappearance; they think something happened to him before he was reported missing on February 18.
He has adult children by his first marriage, and had been married to Gina for approximately three years before he went missing. He and Gina owned a primitive cabin on a forty-acre property in Snowflake and lived back and forth between Mesa, Arizona and Snowflake.
Michael's case remains unsolved.
- Navajo County Sheriff's Office
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 11, 2008; details of disappearance updated.