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The Mystery of Tiffany Valiante – Suicide or Homicide?

Tiffany Valiante, 18, lived with her parents Dianne and Stephen in the rural area of Atlantic City, New Jersey when everything happened. She had two older sisters on her mother’s side, Jessica and Cristal. Everyone considered Tiffany a fun, lively, and very happy girl. In 2015, Tiffany was planning to go to college, and she had even received a scholarship to play on the volleyball team.

The Disappearance of Tiffany Valiante: A Tragic Night in Atlantic City, New Jersey

On July 12, 2015, Tiffany and her parents had gone to her uncle’s house, which was across the street, to attend her cousin’s graduation party. She was wearing shorts, a blouse, sneakers, and a headband. Around 9:15 pm, Tiffany decided to go home alone. Shortly after, Dianne received a call from her daughter’s friend letting her know she was arriving at their house and if she could meet her there. Dianne said it was okay and told her husband, Stephen, to go with her.

The Last Moments: The Controversy Surrounding Tiffany’s Alleged Argument and Disappearance

They walked up the street and arrived with Tiffany’s friend who was driving. The girl was extremely nervous, saying that Tiffany had used her credit card without authorization. Tiffany denied it all the time. When the girl decided to leave, Dianne and Tiffany went to talk about what happened, and she admitted that she had used her friend’s card. The furious mother said she would have to tell her father and went after him. When the two returned, Tiffany was already gone.

Tiffany had left the house at around 9:28 pm on foot, wearing the same clothes she had gone to the party with and her cell phone in her hand. Her parents reported her missing a minute after she disappeared from home. They, along with the dog, walked down the street after Tiffany, calling and texting, but there was no sign of her. Stephan found his daughter’s cell phone about 1.24 miles from home lying on the ground. It was from that moment that they knew something had happened to her.

They called Mickey, Tiffany’s uncle and Stephan’s brother, to help look for her. In the middle of the search, Stephan remembered the deer hunting cameras he had in the woods, the images captured Tiffany leaving the house calmly, and a minute later, her parents in the same place looking for her. They headed in the direction she was going, but found nothing.

It was when his uncle, Mickey, decided to take a path that passed through the train tracks. Once there, he identified a certain movement and the New Jersey police. He asked one of the traffic guards who was there if he had seen a girl who was 6 feet 2 inches tall, an athlete. The police officer warned that someone had thrown themselves onto the train tracks and asked if he could recognize him. He said yes, and soon identified that the person was his niece.

One of the police officers told Mickey he would have to tell his parents and offered him a ride. This was around 2:30 in the morning. Once there, Mickey told Dianne and Stephan that their daughter had been hit by a train.

The Autopsy Controversy: Inconsistencies in the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles Investigation

The New Jersey Department of Transit declared Tiffany’s death a suicide, and that the event had taken place around 11 pm, which caused great outrage for the family. For them, Tiffany was a girl full of life who was happy with her college plans, and there was no reason for her to commit suicide.

The initial hypothesis was that Tiffany had walked from her house to the train station and thrown herself onto the tracks, but the family couldn’t comprehend why she, a very happy person, would walk 4.35 miles to take her own life.

The family decided to hire a criminal lawyer named Paul D’Amato to help with the investigation. When he received the police files, he noticed several inconsistencies about the suicide, one of them being the train drivers’ testimony.

On the night it happened, there were two drivers on the train. One senior level and the other an intern. The two had signed a report saying they had seen Tiffany jump in front of the train, however, when they were questioned under oath, the senior conductor said he had his back turned, talking to the intern, and did not see the girl. The trainee driver said he only saw it when it was already passing by.

Paul D’Amato asked Jim Brennenstuhl, a private detective, for help in trying to understand the evidence. As they analyzed the case more and more, the two were sure that Tiffany’s case was not suicide.

According to them, for her to be found in that region, she would have to have walked alone in the dark for a long time, something that was not like her, as she was afraid of the dark. Tiffany was found on the tracks in just her underwear, with no sign of her clothes, shoes, or accessories. No signs of alcoholism or drugs were found in her toxicological tests either.

When they analyzed the camera images, they noticed that close to Tiffany were the headlights of a car, but it was not possible to identify the model. According to Paul, she could have gotten into the car voluntarily, and there must have been at least one known person inside the vehicle. And upon entering, her phone was thrown out of the car.

Both Paul and Jim identified several flaws in the New Jersey DMV investigation, such as not performing a complete autopsy, not performing any DNA testing, not performing any sexual violence testing, not having any organs examined, and it is not known why. The police also did not isolate the location correctly, which compromised the crime scene.

However, Tiffany’s cell phone was investigated, but nothing out of the ordinary was found. She had ended a relationship on the Friday of the week the accident happened, but the breakup was reciprocal, and she was also dating another girl from Philadelphia.

Evidence of Crime: The Discovery of the Shoes and Banner 3km from the Supposed Suicide Site

On August 3rd, Dianne decided to retrace her steps along the road that connects her house to the tracks to see if she could find any clues. Until near the road in the middle of the woods, Dianne found her daughter’s shoes along with the banner she had worn. She immediately called the police, they took the evidence, but didn’t respond. Something that caught Paul and Jim’s attention even more, as the shoes had been found approximately 3 km from where her body was found. It didn’t make any sense that she had taken off her belongings and gone barefoot to the tracks, especially because the track was full of rocks and glass, and in the photos taken of Tiffany’s body, her foot was without any injuries or even splinters.

Turn of Evidence: Anonymous Testimony and the Family’s Persistence in the Search for Answers

Some time later, the police received a call from the owner of a convenience store who said he heard his three employees talking about Tiffany’s case. One of the boys said he was at the girl’s uncle’s party and that he saw her entire argument. Soon after, she got into a car with two women and a man, and these people were known to them. That they had ripped off her clothes, pointed a gun and humiliated her. The three boys were called in for questioning, but they denied saying anything like that.

In 2018, Tiffany Valiante’s case was reviewed by the Medical-Legal Institute, and the conclusion of suicide was upheld.

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