Details of Disappearance
Tavia was last seen in Pensacola, Florida on December 31, 1985. She lived with her mother on Sunbury Drive near Crescent Lake. She left to go to a New Year's Eve party and never returned.
She and a group of other teens went to their local Chuck E. Cheese restaurant that night. Tavia and one of the friends she was with were supposed to be picked up by the friend's mother, but the two girls got separated that night and Tavia's friend never saw her again. When the friend's mother came to pick her up, she found her daughter looking for Tavia.
Tavia's mother stated her daughter had emotional and behavioral problems as a result of being sexually abused by her stepfather when she was eight years old. She received psychotherapy and spent time in group homes to help her recover from the psychological trauma, but by the age of twelve was she sexually active and involved with drugs.
She had run away several times before, once traveling as far as New York City, but she always kept in touch with her mother. After her December 1985 disappearance, she never called home again. Tavia typically dated African-American men at the time of her disappearance and may have been in the company of one after she went missing.
Foul play is suspected in Tavia's disappearance; authorities believe she may have been taken against her will. Many agencies give the date of disappearance as January 23, 1986.