Cold Case: The Mysterious Disappearance of Tammy Lynn Leppert

This is the tale of a tragedy. A story of a beautiful young woman that was on her way to the stars, and just before reaching them, vanished from the face of the earth, like a comet cutting through the skies into the horizon. This is the tragic story of dreams coming true, just a second before the downfall. This is the story of Tammy Lynn Leppert.

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Tammy Lynn Leppert, a gorgeous and talented child, was born February 5, 1965, Rockledge, Florida. The former American child and teen model, beauty queen, and actress has been missing since July 6, 1983. The story of her disappearance remains a mystery to many. In this article, we aim to shade light on Tammy Lynn Leppert’s life and tell the complete story about her disappearance.

“Wishing I Could be a Star”

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As a child, Tammy Lynn Leppert knew what she wanted from life. Being famous wasn’t her aim; her goal was always to become an actress. This was her dream. She was quoted saying in March 1983: I like this place. I’ve lived here all of my life, and I’d like to stay here. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having a house in Cocoa Beach and living happily ever after.

She was just eighteen and had wanted to continue her acting career. She had big plans to move to Hollywood in 1983. Sadly Tammy never realized those dreams.

Starring in “Spring Break”

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Blonde and hazel-eyed, she had started modeling in beauty pageants at the age of 4. By the age of 16, she had competed in almost 300 beauty pageants and won most of them, 280 in total. In 1982, she has begun taking roles in movies. In July 1982, Tammy got a part in the teen exploitation movie “Spring Break” which was directed by Sean S. Cunningham. In the movie, she appeared as a boxing match participant. Her legs, hips, and torso were reportedly used as the cover for the movie.

In the 1983 film “Scarface”, she acted the role of a female distraction at the lookout car, during the bloody chainsaw shower scene. Tammy had also got a lead role to play herself in a movie called “Cover Girl Behind the Scenes” before her disappearance.

Pampering Tammy

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Tammy’s Mother Linda. Photo Credit: crimeblogger

Her mother, Linda Curtis, was a theatrical and modeling agent. She also owned a talent agency called “Galaxy Model Workshop” on Merrit Island and was known to turn young talent into beauty pageant and talent show winners. Tammy’s mom was her manager and guided her career. She was always busy running Tammy around to auditions and wherever Tammy had to go. She was said to have enjoyed every bit of it. She also enjoyed watching Tammy excel because she always wanted the best that she could go for, even to the highest level.

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All Work and No Play

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After completing the audition for “Scarface” she went to a weekend party unaccompanied and came back a different person. Wing Flannagan, a close friend of the family also testified to the fact that something changed about Tammy after that weekend party. He and Tammy were like siblings. According to him, Tammy’s behavior started to show hints of paranoia.

Wing was quoted saying: “Sometimes I’d ask her what was on her mind, or if anything was bothering her. Moreover, she’d usually change the subject, or she’d say oh, nothing you know and then try to laugh it off.” Soon she was always filled with anxiety and severe paranoia. She lived in constant fear. She was a super happy person before this incident and always smiling. This new behavior was just out of her character.

Something Seemed Wrong

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Tammy’s mother became worried about her and asked her what was wrong. Tammy said she had seen something terrible at the party and that someone was trying to kill her. Tammy wouldn’t provide details and soon retreated into isolation. There was no way Tammy’s mother and Wing could ascertain if Tammy’s fears were real or mere paranoid illusions. This behavior continued for a while. It became difficult to know if her suspicions were real or just delusions.

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Tammy’s Career Kicked Off

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After two weeks of virtual seclusion, Tammy got an offer for a small role in the big budget Al Pacino movie titled “Scarface”. Despite her state of mind at the time, she accepted the position. The film began shooting in Miami, March 1983. Tammy was to stay with a family friend, Walter Liebowitz, a California attorney, who resided around the area “Scarface” was being filmed. It was about 2 hrs drive away from Tammy’s home. Tammy played the character of a young beauty that distracted Manny during a grisly chainsaw bathroom scene. It was said that Tammy was the youngest actress on set and she was getting attention.

Breakdown on the Set

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Only four days into filming something happened. According to a family friend, Walter, he received a call from the casting director on the 4th day of filming that Tammy had a breakdown on the set. A set scene where someone was shot and artificial blood gutted out triggered Tammy’s breakdown. She was crying hysterically. It was so bad that she was taken to a trailer to cool off. She was asked what was wrong and she said someone was trying to kill her. At this point, she was in a state of fear and anxiety. Tammy left the set and went back home.

The Situation Deteriorating

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Tammy’s behavior seemed to get worse. Even with her family, Tammy’s paranoia became out of control. According to her close friend Wing, Tammy had her good and bad days. There were days when she was almost normal, and on some other days, she was very edgy. Tammy stayed in her room more than usual. She also became extremely careful when eating or drinking. She was thoroughly convinced that someone wanted to poison her. She wouldn’t eat off her plate, only from the plates of others. She would also not drink from already opened cans. It was that serious.

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Taken to the Hospital to be Examined

Taken to the Hospital to be Examined

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Walter discussed the situation with Tammy’s mother and advised her to take Tammy to see a doctor. On July 1st, 1983, Tammy finally snapped. She started to smash the windows in her home with a baseball bat and began attacking Wing. Her behavior was erratic. Tammy was eventually taken to the hospital to undergo a mental health evaluation. She was kept under the doctor’s watch for three days for observation and drug testing. However, after three days of staying in a medical center, Tammy was released. According to the doctors, there was no sign of drug or alcohol abuse or any indications of mental illness.

A Visit to the Sheriff

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After the doctor had ruled out the possibility of Tammy having health problems; her mom insisted that they should go to the police. There had to be a basis for Tammy’s behavior if she thought that someone was trying to have her killed. Tammy’s mom wanted to get to the bottom of this, and so they both paid a visit to Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Cocoa Beach, Florida. However, Tammy refused to tell the police that she felt her life was in danger.

Then She Disappeared

Then She Disappeared

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Tammy was last seen in Cocoa Beach, Florida. At about 11 am on July 6, 1983, she left her mother’s home in Rockledge and was never seen again. Her mom stated that she left with a male friend, Keith Roberts. Some reports said that she had gone without shoes or money. A friend of Tammy’s told the authorities that Keith argued with Leppert while transporting her with his vehicle from her home. He later stopped the car and dropped her off alone at a parking lot near an Exxon gas station off State Road A1A. Keith was the last person believed to have seen her. Keith was initially a suspect at the beginning of the investigations, but he was later ruled out. Her mother has said that Leppert confided in her that she was scared of Keith. Some still assume that Keith Roberts had a hand in Tammy’s disappearance.

A Day Before Her Disappearance

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One of Tammy Lynn’s friends, Rick Adams claimed that they went out for the evening on July 5th, 1983, a day before Tammy’s disappearance. Rick had said that Tammy had confided in him and told him that someone was trying to kill her. They went to a church, Rockville Evangel Chapel, that evening to pray and Tammy was said to have cried a lot. He believed she wasn’t under the influence of drugs. He also said that he recalled that Tammy told him she would be going away for some time. He noted that Tammy didn’t go into the details, but he assumed that she was referring to her planned California trip, to feature in a movie. Rick also claimed that the cops never called him in for questioning.

Her Mother’s Recollections

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Linda said she had noticed that Tammy had left the house on that day without combing her hair which was very unusual for her. She told Tammy was known to spend considerable time on her looks before going anywhere. Tammy’s mother also said that she didn’t believe that Tammy had left Cocoa Beach on her own because Tammy had plans to go to California to appear in some movies for three months. Her mother also stated that Tammy’s last words to her on her way out were, “Bye Mommy. I’ll see you in a bit, okay?”.

Curtis had planned to get Tammy a therapist, but she disappeared before her mother could arrange for that. Tammy’s mom also told the police that her daughter was a good kid and she always calls to inform her if she intended staying out late.

The Police’s Response to the Case

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One thing Tammy’s family was upset about was that from the very beginning, the police did not give much attention to Tammy’s disappearance. The police wouldn’t help them out much because they thought she was just a runaway, and she would eventually show up. However, her family never believed for once that she ran away from home. From the police report, it was apparent that it took the police sometime before filing a report on the case. Tammy was last seen on July 6, 1983, yet a report wasn’t submitted until the 11th of July. It has been speculated that since she was already an adult at the time she was declared missing, the matter wasn’t as urgent compared to missing child would be.

“Have You Seen Tammy Lynn”

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According to a Florida Today tabloid, “Have You Seen Tammy-Lynn,” Keith Roberts was reported to have said that Tammy called him from the bank where he worked in Lakeland and asked him to pick her up. Tammy was said to have received the $300 she had borrowed Keith. He also said that they fought because he refused to drive her to see a friend in Fort Lauderdale, about 2 hours drive south.

At that point, she requested that Keith let her out of the vehicle and he obliged. Keith later stated that was the last time he saw her. Tammy was said to have made three frenzied calls to her aunt, Ginger Kolsch, from a pay phone the day she was last seen. It is presumed that she made the calls near the Exxon station Keith dropped her. Tammy’s missing person story was also featured on an episode of a television program “Unsolved Mysteries” which was aired on September 1992.

What Had Tammy Seen?

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Tammy and her uncle Jimmy. Source: Facebook

The question that remains is what occurred at the “Spring Break” movie party that Tammy attended that caused her to say she saw something terrible? What happened that changed her entirely? She may have witnessed a criminal activity or seen something that she shouldn’t have. Tammy was rumored to have been three months pregnant at the time of her disappearance. However, this was not confirmed. The only thing that was certain is that she was suffering from emotional problems at the time of her disappearance.

The Beauty Queen Serial Killer

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It was presumed that Tammy might have been a murder victim of an Australian born serial killer, Christopher Wilder. Christopher Wilder is known to have been responsible for the abduction and rape of at least 12 young women and murdered at least eight women in the early 80s. He was said to have had an eye for models and lured many with the promise that he had modeling contracts for them, which may fit well into Tammy’s case. He was later killed during a shootout with the police in 1984 in New Hampshire. During an interview, Tammy’s mother also claimed that she had seen Christopher Wilder come into her agency on several occasions. Tammy Leppert’s family also filed a $1 million lawsuit against Wilder’s estate before he was killed. The police were never able to find the connection between Wilder and Tammy’s disappearance, and the family eventually ended the process. Leppert’s agent later stated that she never believed that Wilder had any involvement in Tammy’s disappearance. It should also be noted that Wilder’s killing frenzy didn’t start until almost a year after Tammy disappeared.

The Rumor Mill at Work

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After Tammy’s mom filed a lawsuit against Christopher Wilder, many of the locals started to say she was only after the money. They claimed that her only source of income was Tammy at the time she went missing. It was also assumed that Tammy had suffered some sort of undiagnosed mental illness that usually showed signs in young people, and she got overwhelmed by her delusions. Many speculated that she might have been abducted and sold into sex trafficking. While some believed that she might have been overwhelmed by responsibilities at that age, and then decided to run away and change her identity.

The Vampire Rapist – John Brennan Crutchley

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Another person of interest considered to be a possible suspect in Tammy’s disappearance was John Brennan Crutchley. He was suspected to have killed as many as 30 women. In 1986, Crutchley was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap and rape of a woman in Orlando, Florida and drinking the victim’s blood. He later committed suicide in jail in 2002. Authorities were not able to connect Crutchley to Tammy.

Tammy’s Mother Had Her Theory

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Tammy’s paranoia has led her mother to believe that her disappearance was connected to something very sinister. Tammy’s mother had the theory that her daughter may know about a local drug trafficking and money laundering ring, and eventually became a target of the gang because she knew about their operation. She had reported that Leppert exhibited signs of paranoia because someone was out to kill her. She also claimed that Tammy allegedly filed a report to police about what she knew. Investigators, however, argued that there were no records of the report, and her theory was never confirmed. Walter Leibowitz during an interview also said he recalled that Tammy referred to money laundering and thought there might be something to her claims.

Progress on Finding Tammy

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Age progression picture. Source: Facebook

Harold Lewism, Cocoa Beach Detective, stated that he had received two phone calls from a woman who claimed that Tammy was alive and well. When the woman called the first time, she said that Tammy was well and would contact them at the right time. It was also reported that the woman called again and said Tami was doing what she loved; attending nursing school. The detective, however, said that he didn’t suspect foul play in Tammy’s disappearance, and has a feeling that Tammy decided to run away. Another police officer from Cocoa Beach, Lt. David Bartman, also said that he believed Tammy wasn’t taken someplace against her will.

A Mother’s Dying Wish

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Tammy’s mother, Linda Curtis, died at the age of 54 on Oct 4, 1995, in Orange Florida. She died of a blood infection after a blood transfusion. She was terminally ill at the time and had only a few months left. She was also diagnosed with degenerative heart disease and had suffered. She died without ever knowing what happened to Tammy. Her dying wish was to find out what happened to Tammy but the hope never came true. Before Linda Curtis’ death, she had started writing a screenplay that accused local elites of their involvement in Tammy’s disappearance. She believed Tammy’s disappearance had to do with Tammy’s knowledge about money laundering, violence and drug operations going on around the area.

Suzanne, is Still on the Lookout

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Even after her mother’s death, the search for Tammy Lynn Leppert continued. Tammy’s sister, Suzanne, operates a Facebook page and message board to share information about the incident and also welcomes any lead anyone might have about the event. Suzanne believes her mother’s theory about Tammy’s disappearance and is still in search of her sister. One of her posts on the Facebook page reads: “My name is Suzanne if you think you know what happened to my sister Tammy please turn it into the Cocoa Beach Police Department. The CBPD and FDLE have always worked with me and I have with them as the family contact. They do not think I have done any harm. They have always worked with me..I’m sure they will look into any leads.”

Missing Persons Agencies Profiling Tammy’s Case

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Suzanne has worked with several missing persons’ agencies to help her find her sister. Several age progressions have been developed by forensic artists and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to depict what Tammy may have looked like after several years, assuming she was still alive. Profiles detailing her case have since been created by the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the Doe Network, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, with the hope of generating leads from potential tips. Tammy’s DNA profile was also processed; however, her fingerprints and dental records have not been accessed by the local police. It is believed that her dental records were obtained at a time, but were lost due to poor record keeping. All Tammy’s age progressions were put out by Tammy’s sister on several missing person’s sites, and unidentified Jane Does. Suzanne’s message board made years ago also include information the details surrounding her sister, Tammy’s case.

Tammy had the prospect of having a successful career. Almost thirty-five years after Tammy Lynn Leppert had been declared missing, the mystery of her disappearance is still yet to be solved.