Details of Disappearance Tabitha was last seen by her family at approximately 7:00 a.m. on April 29, 2003, when her father woke her up in their home in the 1300 block of Lillian Street in Nashville, Tennessee. She was watching television when he went to work.
She was supposed to board the school bus at 8:00 a.m. at 14th & Boscobel Streets. Witnesses saw her walking in that direction. She was reading some papers as she walked and didn't appear to be in a hurry, or looking for anyone.
Tabitha did not get on the bus and never arrived at Bailey Middle School two miles away. Her parents contacted the school that evening when she failed to return home. When they found out she had been absent from school that day, they reported her missing shortly before 6:00 p.m.
She does not have a history of a runaway and her parents cannot think of any reason why she would want to leave her home. She was a straight-A student with a perfect attendance record, she was active in the choir at Eastland Baptist Church, and there is no evidence that she had a boyfriend.
She was supposed to go visit the Six Flags of America amusement park in Louisville, Kentucky two weeks after she disappeared, and was very excited about the trip. She left behind all her possessions, including her clothes, makeup, and $20 in cash.
Authorities initially treated Tabitha as a runaway due to her age, but they now believe she was abducted. Her parents and two adult siblings were all investigated and none are being called suspects in her disappearance.
A neighborhood boy told police he saw Tabitha get into a red car with a man on the morning of her disappearance. He described the driver as African-American, 30 to 40 years old, wearing a baseball cap. The witness stated once Tabitha was inside the vehicle, it reversed course and headed back up the hill.
The boy's story has not been confirmed and some investigators doubt his credibility, but tracker dogs traced Tabitha's scent along a route similar to the one described by the witness. The dogs eventually traced her scent into an alley, a place Tabitha's friends say she would never have gone to alone.
Tabitha's sister's former boyfriend matches the description of the driver, he drove a red car, and he knew where and when Tabitha took the bus to school each morning, but police have never been able to connect him to her disappearance. Her parents stated they did not believe she would have willingly gone into a car with anyone other than a family member.
A piece of paper found in Tabitha's room after her disappearance may have some connection to her case. The paper reads, in Tabitha's handwriting, "T.D.T. - N - M.T.L." T. D. T. are Tabitha's initials; the initials of the other person are unknown.
Also found was a business card with Tabitha's name, address, phone number, and the notations "call me" and "sexy girl," the latter of which was crossed out and rewritten as "ghetto girl." The card turned out to have been given Tabitha by a friend, though, and had no connection to her disappearance.
Police searched the logs of a computer at the local public library where Tabitha is said to have visited Internet chat rooms, but turned up no information pertaining to her disappearance.
A man who was arrested for trying to lure an eleven-year-old girl into his car four months after Tabitha's disappearance, was looked at as a person interest in her case because of the nature of the crime he is charged with and because the alleged incident happened just a few blocks from Tabitha's home. There is no evidence connecting the man and Tabitha, however, and he was eventually taken off the suspect list.
On October 30, 2003, a trucker reported a possible sighting of Tabitha from Linton, Indiana. The trucker saw a girl accompanied by a man and another teenage girl. The girl who looked like Tabitha appeared to be anxious and afraid. Later, when he saw a missing persons flier of Tabitha, he realized that she resembled the girl he'd seen and contacted police. A hotel clerk in Linton also saw a girl resembling Tabitha with a man and a teenage girl and reported it. These sightings has not been confirmed.
August 19, 2003, almost five months after Tabitha's disappearance, an eleven-year-old girl named Heaven Ross disappeared while on her way to school in Northport, Alabama. Her remains were found in Holt, Alabama three years after her disappearance; her murder remains unsolved.
Like Tabitha, Ross had light-colored hair and disappeared in the morning hours on the way to school. Authorities are considering a possible connection between the girls' cases, though the distance between Nashville and Northport is great and so far no evidence has been uncovered to link the two cases.
Tabitha's case remains unsolved. Investigators are not sure what happened to her, but they believe she is in danger.
- Nashville Metro Police Department
Updated 9 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 27, 2019; age-progression updated.