Police are investigating the disappearance of an Illinois mother who vanished last fall over Labor Day weekend.
According to police, Tiffini Murphy was last seen at a gas station in Lacon, Illinois around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. on September 1, 2018. The 38-year-old was reportedly dropped off by a witness, who police would not name to Dateline. It would be more than four months before authorities learned Tiffini was missing.
“We didn’t even receive a report that she missing until January 10,” Marshall County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Terry Hattan told Dateline. For that reason, he said authorities were unable to pull surveillance footage from the area. “Nobody reported her missing for an extensive period of time, so any videotape was recorded over. They don’t keep [the footage for] that long.”
Stephanie Sievert, Tiffini’s longtime friend, told Dateline that Tiffini’s family had tried to report her missing before January, but were “not taken seriously.” Dateline was unable to verify the validity of those attempts.
“We’ve put fliers up all over [town.] We have multiple fliers out there with her picture,” Stephanie told Dateline. “We’ve done not public searches, but some family and friends searches. We have not found a thing.”
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Chief Deputy Hattan told Dateline that authorities have not conducted ground searches because they would not know where to start looking.
“My feeling right now is the only way to do searches would be to pull up a map and throw a dart and look where it lands,” he said. “But we’ve talked to the last person that reported seeing her and other individuals who had seen her shortly before that last time. And we’re still talking to some people.”
Friends and family say Tiffini would never have walked away willingly. But Chief Deputy Hattan says he “honestly [does] not know right now” if foul play is involved.
“We have people of interest,” he said. “There are too many variables right now as to where she may have gone.”
Authorities say the gas station where Tiffini was reportedly last seen has since closed for business. Tiffini did not have a cell phone at the time she disappeared, and Chief Deputy Hattan told Dateline that Tiffini’s social media and bank accounts have been inactive since she was last seen.
“It’s unusual for her to not be a social media,” Tiffini’s friend Stephanie added. “She’s not a picture person, but she did post.”
Stephanie said that Tiffini’s years spent as nursing assistant suited her perfectly.
“She has such a big heart,” Tiffini’s friend Stephanie said. “She loves to take care of people -- takes care of everyone.”
“I would love to find her or just even hear from her. This breaks my heart to pieces. I love her so much! So please!!!!! If you know anything or see her contact me or my family!” the post reads. “We all love her so very much. [And] we want her to be safe!”
Tiffini Murphy is described as being 5’6” tall and weighing 160 lbs. with blonde hair and brown eyes. If you have any information on the circumstances surrounding Tiffini’s disappearance, please call the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department at (309) 246-2115.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.