Nashville, TN

18 years ago, 13-year-old Tabitha Tuders vanished on her way to school. She was last seen getting into a red car.

Fatim Hemraj

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Tabitha Danielle TudersKiley's true crime

Tabitha Danielle Tuders lived on the 1300 block of Lillian Street in East Nashville, Tennessee with her parents, Debra and Bo. The 13-year-old had two adult siblings who lived on their own. Tabitha was a straight-A student at Bailey Middle School and a member of the Eastland Baptist Church choir.

According to The Charley Project, on April 29, 2003, at 6 am, Debra left for her job at Tom Joy Elementary. Bo, a trucker, left at 7 after waking Tabitha up for school. She left a short time later and began the 10-minute walk to the bus stop. When Tabitha failed to return home, her parents called the school and learned that she had been absent. At 6 pm, they called the police and reported the seventh-grader missing.

Authorities allege they found a hand-written note in Tabitha’s room the next day. It read, “T.D.T. -N- M.T.L.” T.D.T are Tabitha’s initials but it’s unclear who M.T.L is or whether the note is connected to her disappearance at all.

According to authorities, a witness claimed he saw Tabitha near the bus stop at 7:45 — 15 minutes before her bus was scheduled to arrive. He said she got into a red car driven by a Black man in his 30s or 40s wearing a baseball cap. Once Tabitha entered the vehicle, he drove in the direction of her school. Police dogs later followed Tabitha’s scent down the same route and into an alleyway where the trail went cold. According to Tabitha’s parents, the man must have been someone she knew because she never would have gotten into a car with a stranger.

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Albert Franklin goes by the nickname "Frank Nitty"News Channel 5

In 2020, authorities named Albert Franklin a person of interest. A pig shed and an RV located on a 7-acre wooded property 52 miles away from Tabitha’s childhood home were searched but no evidence was found; the property was owned by Albert in 2003. He is currently serving a 37-year sentence for federal firearm and drug charges.

According to authorities, a trucker claimed that he saw a man with two teen girls in Linton, Indiana on October 30, 2003. He said the girls appeared nervous and afraid. He called the police after he saw missing flyers with photos of Tabitha and realized that she resembled one of the girls. A Linton hotel clerk also called the police, claiming she had seen a man with two girls, one of whom resembled Tabitha.

At the time of her disappearance, Tabitha was 5'1" and 100 lbs with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a light blue shirt, jeans and white Reebok brand sneakers. If alive, Tabitha would be 31 today.

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An age-progressed photo of what Tabitha might look like today if aliveNational Center for Missing and Exploited Children
“The hardest part is not knowing. We know that it’s a 50/50 chance that our daughter might not be with us anymore, but I can’t go there. I can’t let myself go there. Because, in my heart, I know my daughter’s still out there somewhere. And we’re going to find her.” — Debra Tuders

A $51,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the individual responsible for Tabitha’s disappearance. If you have any information you can call the Nashville Police Department at 615–862–8600 or you can leave an anonymous tip here.

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