Tiffany Whitton fled from a Walmart in Georgia and disappeared

Tiffany Whitton fled from a Walmart in Georgia and disappeared

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(NewsNation) — The family of a missing Georgia woman is hoping for answers as a person who may hold the key to uncovering what happened is expected to be released from prison this fall.

What happened to Tiffany Whitton?

Tiffany Whitton went missing in 2013 in Marietta, Georgia. Nearly eleven years later, she has still not been found.

The last known sighting of Whitton comes from a Walmart security video, where she was caught under the influence of drugs, stealing about $20 worth of items with her boyfriend, Ashley Caudle, at 2 a.m. on September 13, 2013.

Her mother, Lisa Daniels, found the video strange.

“I know she had some cheap items in her purse, I think, which was weird because they had money on them,” Daniels said. “They actually paid for some of the items. They waited until they got to the checkout before they grabbed her.”

Former Cobb County, Georgia, prosecutor Jesse Evans said the couple evaded loss prevention.

“She walked past the point of sale and approached the door. The loss prevention officers came out,” he said. “They took her purse and she took out her flip-flops and ran off into the night.”

Looking for Tiffany Whitton

Caudle said that after Whitton ran away, he tried to search for her.

“Some people say Caudle called people to come to Walmart and they said he asked them to do some kind of quick search for her,” Evans said.

Caudle also went to a nearby IHOP, where Whitton had worked, to ask people if they had seen her.

Daniels said the family also turned to Whitton’s social media to see what might have happened, even though Whitton didn’t have a phone with her.

“Somebody told me why don’t I call him and he said I can’t because I have his phone. I know at one point Marietta police told me she accepted a few friend requests after that date and again, how could she do that?” Daniels said. “She didn’t have a phone, a computer, or a place to live, so I don’t know how she would have responded to friend requests after that day. So I feel like whoever had her phone did this.”

Was Whitton’s boyfriend involved?

Those accepted friend requests are part of a story investigators have learned about the night Whitton disappeared that leaves them with many unanswered questions.

This includes questions about Whitton’s boyfriend.

“There’s no doubt that Ashley Caudle is the person most concerned. He was agitated and angry about the whole situation at Walmart. That was clearly evident in the Walmart video,” Evans said. “The working theory is that whatever answers are available, Ashley Caudle has them and he hasn’t communicated to us on certain things.”

Daniels said Caudle was not always cooperative with investigators.

“He has said multiple times that he would take a lie detector test, but when given the opportunity, he has refused,” she said. “The communication I’ve had with him is to say, listen, I just want to know where she is. I just want that peace, to know that she’s at peace and you can bring that to me. But so far, he hasn’t done that.”

Caudle has been in prison for ten years for selling methamphetamine. He is expected to be released in September.

Looking for answers

Whitton’s family said the past 11 years have been a daily struggle to get answers. At first, they said, it seemed difficult to get investigators’ attention because Whitton was an adult addicted to heroin and methamphetamine.

Whitton’s sister, Summer Strain, said they struggled to convince people to see past Whitton’s struggles with addiction.

“Everybody looked at her as an addict. Addiction is a disease that you fight every day. And she had a big heart. She would give you the shirt off her back,” Strain said. “She was a great person and people tend not to see that. And so that was the hardest part for me. I feel like she wasn’t taken seriously.”

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The family said the hardest parts of her departure are the milestones she missed, like her daughter Addie’s high school graduation this year.

“It’s hard to know she wasn’t there. To think she wasn’t there to see this,” Addie said. “She would have been proud and it’s too bad she couldn’t be there.”

Because Addie was only six years old when her mother disappeared, she lost the memories of our loved ones that we cherish in our minds.

“I wish I had memories. Because I don’t really have any,” she said.

Investigators suggested Whitton was likely dead, which poses a problem for Daniels.

“My intelligent mind tells me she’s not alive anymore. My heart wants to believe she still is. It’s a huge conflict. It’s a huge conflict for me and I just need to know because I feel like I’ve been in limbo for the last 11 years,” Daniels said. “In the long run, all that matters to me is whether she’s here on earth and she’s happy and healthy or she’s in heaven. I just need to know one of those two things.”

Whitton is 5’3″, blonde and weighed about 100 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She has numerous tattoos, including Chinese symbols on the inside of her left wrist and a butterfly on her hip. Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to contact the Marietta Police Department at 770-794-2366.