Tami Lynn Leppert
A young beauty queen mysteriously vanishes.
Weight: 103 lbs.
Remarks: Last seen 7/6/83
Tami feared for her life
Tami Lynn Leppert was an uncommonly beautiful child. She entered her first beauty contest when she was just four years old. By the age of 16, she had already competed in more than 300 beauty contests and had taken home 280 crowns. Her mother, Linda Curtis, a theatrical and modeling agent, guided Tami's career:
"I was constantly busy running her around to where she had to go and what she had to do. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching her excel because she always went for the best that she could go for, the highest level."
Wing Flannagan was a close family friend. He and Tami were like brother and sister:
"She would bend over and kiss me on the cheek and I couldn't quite ever get it completely off. It was rather embarrassing to walk around with this mark. I think actually I learned to wear it proudly after a while because it was almost a status symbol."
In July of 1982, Tami landed a part in the teen exploitation film, "Spring Break". When the movie completed filming, Tami went un-chaperoned to a weekend party. She came back a different person. According to Wing, Tami's behavior began to take on paranoid overtones:
"Sometimes I'd ask her, what was on her mind, if anything was bothering her. And she'd usually change the subject or she'd say oh, nothing you know and then try to laugh it off."
Tami smashed a window in her home
According to her mother, Linda, she even thought someone was trying to kill her:
"Then she said Mom, what would you say if I told you somebody was trying to kill me. I just took a deep breath, and I said, do you think somebody's trying to kill you, Tami? She said, yes."
A steady retreat into isolation soon followed for Tami. Linda and Wing had no way of ascertaining which of Tami's fears were real and which were paranoid delusions. After two weeks of virtual seclusion, Tami Lynn was offered a small part in the big budget Al Pacino film, "Scarface," which began shooting in Miami in March of 1983. She stayed with a family friend, Walter Liebowitz. According to Walter, all went well until the fourth day of filming:
"I received a call from the casting director to tell me that Tami had a breakdown on the set. They said that it was a scene where someone was supposed to be shot and had artificial blood spurt out. And they said when Tami was watching the scene, she started crying hysterically and it got so bad that they had to take her to a trailer. She was in a tremendous state of fear, anxiety... What it was that caused this great fear in her I don't know. When I spoke with Tami's mother, I told her that she should take Tami to a doctor and also take her to the police to find out of the problem was psychological or if there was some basis in fact that someone was actually trying to kill her and get to the bottom of it."
She was last seen in Cocoa Beach, FL
Tami Lynn quit the film and went back home. At her mother's insistence, Tami did talk to the local sheriff, but apparently never mentioned that she felt her life was in danger. Even with her family, Tami's paranoia ran rampant. According to Wing, Tami was now convinced that someone was trying to poison her:
"There were good days and there were bad days. There were days when she was almost normal. And there were other days when she was real edgy."
Then on July 1 st , Tami finally snapped. She began smashing all the windows in her house and started attacking Wing. It was at that moment that Linda knew something was seriously wrong with her daughter:
"I handled that incident, but I didn't know if I was going to be able to handle the next one."
Tami's mother checked her into a mental health center for a complete physical and psychiatric evaluation. Doctors found no evidence of drug or alcohol use. After 72 hours of observation, Tami was released. The following day, Tami and a friend drove to the local beach, when according to Detective Jim Skragg of the Cocoa Beach, Florida Police Department, they started to argue:
"This friend picked her up at her home and they drove to the beach. And we talked to him. And he basically stated that they'd become involved in a verbal argument. She had requested that he let her out near the glass bank in Cocoa Beach and he complied."
Tami's friend said he dropped her off about five miles from her house. She was barefoot and carried no purse. According to Detective Skragg, it was the last time Tami Lynn would be seen alive:
"She disappeared without a trace. We talked to some of her close friends. They felt strongly that Tami was having problems at home and... she wanted to leave home."
Tami Lynn Leppert is five feet four inches tall, and at the time of her disappearance, weighed 103 pounds. She has blonde hair and hazel eyes.