Flashback Friday: Tiffany Jennifer Papesh

Tiffany Papesh disappeared from Maple Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, on June 13, 1980. It was three weeks before her ninth birthday. She went to a convenience store, bought some hamburger buns and started to walk back home. It was only half a block, but on the way, something happened to her. No one has seen her since.

Technically, Tiffany’s case is solved. A guy named Brandon Lee Flagner confessed (over and over and over again) to her rape and murder and was convicted of the crime. Flagner has converted to Orthodox Judaism, which prohibits shaving, but the Ohio prison system wouldn’t allow inmates to have beards. He sued for the right to keep his beard and won the case.

But anyway, Tiffany’s case is only “technically” solved, because quite a few people, including law enforcement officers, think Brandon Flagner didn’t kill Tiffany. He was convicted mainly on the basis of his confessions (30 of them!) and his criminal record as a child molester. But his statements often contradicted each other, and I don’t think there was any physical evidence linking him to Tiffany. More to the point, he has a pretty good alibi.

I really don’t know why they convicted him. Perhaps he had a bad lawyer. But I have a good idea as to why there hasn’t been any movement to get him out: the guy’s a pedophile, a serial sex offender. Who wants to be responsible for releasing THAT onto the public?

But if he didn’t kidnap (and presumably murder) Tiffany Papesh, that means someone else did. And it’d be pretty hard to find that someone else, or find Tiffany, while there’s another man serving time for that crime.

This website suggests the “real killer” was the still-uncaught Oakland County Child Killer, a serial murderer responsible for the deaths of several kids in Oakland County, Michigan in the 1970s.

We may never know.