Lost girl

preg­nant teenager Tiffany Tay­lor dis­ap­peared more than three months ago. why do so few peo­ple seem to care?

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - UPFRONT - STORY David Mur­ray

What hap­pened to preg­nant teenager Tiffany Tay­lor?

If you walked out your front door to­day and van­ished, how long would it be be­fore some­one raised the alarm: hours; a day; a night? When Tiffany Tay­lor dis­ap­peared from Lo­gan, south of Bris­bane, this year, it seemed to cause barely a rip­ple.

Life had never done Tiffany any favours. At just 16, she was five months preg­nant and liv­ing out of a mo­tel on the city’s outer fringes with her 41-year old boyfriend. And things were about to go from sad to tragic when po­lice al­lege Tiffany met a 60-year-old stranger on­line who ar­ranged to pay her for sex.

On Sun­day, July 12, at about 11.45am, she stepped into a car, never to be seen again. It was three days be­fore Tiffany was re­ported miss­ing and more than two weeks be­fore Queens­land po­lice is­sued a brief me­dia state­ment headed “Miss­ing Teen, Water­ford West”. An ac­com­pa­ny­ing pho­to­graph showed a pretty young girl with shoul­der-length brown hair and wide green eyes.

The state­ment at­tracted lit­tle at­ten­tion un­til, one month later, on Au­gust 14, po­lice an­nounced they had charged the stranger, Rod­ney Wayne Wil­liams, with Tiffany’s mur­der. Few even knew the teenager was miss­ing. The fact a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been tick­ing over came as a shock – par­tic­u­larly as her body had not been found.

At a me­dia con­fer­ence to ap­peal for in­for­ma­tion af­ter the charge was laid, the de­tails of Tiffany’s life be­gan to be­come pub­lic. Po­lice an­nounced they had been “able to es­tab­lish that Tiffany was of­fer­ing sex­ual ser­vices for money” on in­ter­net dat­ing sites.

Speak­ing to a bank of cam­eras and jour­nal­ists, her sis­ter Chloe Tay­lor, 19, was adamant that no mat­ter what choices Tiffany had made, they needed to find her. In the process, Chloe men­tioned Tiffany and her boyfriend had been to­gether for four years. That put Tiffany at 12 when the re­la­tion­ship be­gan, but the boyfriend in­sists it did not be­come sex­ual un­til she turned 16.

What had brought Tiffany to this, de­liv­er­ing her to that mo­tel fore­court that morn­ing? Be­fore any ques­tions could be an­swered, the case quickly slipped from pub­lic view – over­shad­owed by the dis­ap­pear­ance of an­other teenager. Tiffany Tay­lor had fallen through the cracks be­fore she met her fate. And in dis­ap­pear­ing she seemed to have be­come a vic­tim again – of tim­ing and in­dif­fer­ence.

CHLOE TAY LOR WAS RO­PEABLE. ON THE

“Where is Tiffany” Face­book page she – or some­one writ­ing as her – un­loaded about a lack of in­ter­est in her sis­ter’s dis­ap­pear­ance and the judge­ments about her fam­ily flow­ing thick and fast on­line. “Just makes me sick to [my] stom­ach how all th­ese other chil­dren/young teenage girls/peo­ple in gen­eral have re­cently gone miss­ing. And just be­cause my sis­ter, Tiffany Tay­lor, was in the po­si­tion she was in … ‘Peo­ple’ se­ri­ously don’t give a crap,” she wrote.

It was Au­gust 26 and Tiffany had not been found. But an­other miss­ing girl was dom­i­nat­ing the news in a way Tiffany had not. Two weeks ear­lier, on the very day Chloe and her mother, Leanne Dil­lon, fronted a press con­fer­ence to make an emo­tional pub­lic ap­peal to help find Tiffany’s body, Gat­ton schoolgirl Jayde Ken­dall al­legedly got into a red car and van­ished. Jayde, 16, was ros­tered on at McDon­ald’s that evening but when her fa­ther went to pick her up af­ter work he was told she hadn’t ar­rived for her shift. Just like Tiffany, Jayde was a pretty teenager with green eyes. Gat­ton, 90km west of Bris­bane, was awash with miss­ing per­son fly­ers bear­ing her photo and searches were un­der way. A farmer would find Jayde’s body on a patch of land off a dead-end road 19km from Gat­ton, and her school friend, Bren­den Ben­netts, 18, would be charged with her mur­der.

But Tiffany re­mained miss­ing. At the time of Qweek­end go­ing to press, her re­mains were yet to be found. It leaves her loved ones un­able to hold a funeral; to grieve; to say good­bye.

Her sis­ter could be for­given for feel­ing Tiffany had sim­ply be­come “the other miss­ing girl’’. “There [are] spe­cial days held for mur­dered/miss­ing per­sons, can­dle­light vig­ils, pub­lic searches even … fly­ers, ban­ners,” Chloe vented. “And for my sis­ter … to ev­ery­one she is a ‘dirty lit­tle slut’, or what­ever. I [know] what ev­ery­one is think­ing. I’ve been go­ing through this for just about two months. I’ve seen girls/chil­dren be miss­ing for just hours and be­cause they weren’t ‘sell­ing sex­ual ser­vices’ they’ve had ev­ery per­son either help look or ac­tu­ally give the fam­ily in­volved a lit­tle bit of re­spect.”

While Tiffany’s dis­ap­pear­ance has brought un­com­fort­able judge­ment upon her fam­ily, it also points to a wider fail­ing of so­ci­etal safety nets. Who was look­ing out for Tiffany, mak­ing sure she was liv­ing some­where safe and go­ing to school? And who was this man she had been with since she was 12?

Nathan Stocks gets an­gry as soon as the sub­ject of Tiffany’s boyfriend, Greg Hill, comes up. Stocks, 21, is Chloe’s part­ner and an­swers the phone num­ber listed on the “Where is Tiffany” Face­book page. Stocks says Hill met Tiffany’s fam­ily when they were liv­ing in a two-storey house in the Lo­gan sub­urb of Boronia Heights – sis­ters Tiffany and Chloe up­stairs and mum Leanne down­stairs. Hill had be­come friends with Leanne first. Be­fore long he was spend­ing less time down­stairs and more time

up­stairs with Leanne’s daugh­ters. Tiffany was just 12. Says Stocks: “He’d be buy­ing her stuff, tak­ing her to the movies, tak­ing her to the shops, buy­ing any­thing she wanted.” Tiffany stopped go­ing to school and started spend­ing most of her time with Hill. Huge ar­gu­ments broke out be­tween Tiffany and her mother. Stocks says: “We started get­ting an­gry with Greg and telling him he couldn’t come over any more, and then all of a sud­den Tiffany ran off with him.” At first she and Hill stayed at the home of a ter­mi­nally ill friend called Don – a heavy drug user, ac­cord­ing to Stocks. Don died within a few months and Tiffany and Hill were soon on the move. They would drift from place to place.

I find Greg Hill at the Lo­gan home of one of his friends. He and Tiffany stayed here on and off for a year. Hill wants to make some­thing clear from the out­set. “I’m def­i­nitely look­ing for an older chick now. It wasn’t my plan, I don’t go look­ing for … ” he tells me, trail­ing off. What he im­plies is he doesn’t go look­ing for younger girls. “It’s just the way it hap­pened,” he con­tin­ues. “I can see the way it’s sort of por­trayed me, which is un­for­tu­nate. I could have made some smarter de­ci­sions in life, with every­thing, I sup­pose. It’s a shame, be­cause we had a good re­la­tion­ship. We got on well.”

ONE OF THE MOST SHOCK­ING DE­TAILS OF

this case is the seem­ing fail­ure of author­i­ties to act when Tiffany, at 12 or 13 (de­tails of her ex­act age when she left home are un­clear), moved in with Hill. Tiffany’s im­me­di­ate fam­ily did not want to be in­ter­viewed for this story but said they had tried to get her away from the older man. They say child pro­tec­tion work­ers told them Tiffany was “fine”. Ac­cord­ing to a fam­ily mem­ber, Hill was Tiffany’s ap­proved “carer”. At least some of her wel­fare pay­ments went to Hill to look af­ter her.

Hill con­firms Queens­land gov­ern­ment child pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gated her liv­ing ar­range­ments. How a 13-year-old could be liv­ing with a man in his late thir­ties is a wor­ry­ing ques­tion. For his part, Hill is adamant that al­though Tiffany lived with him for years they only be­gan a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship last Christ­mas, two months af­ter she turned 16, the le­gal age of con­sent for sex in Queens­land. He also claims he had no idea Tiffany was hav­ing sex with men for money. He thought his young girl­friend was work­ing as a ho­tel cleaner or re­cep­tion­ist. Tiffany had also claimed she had an in­her­i­tance, he says.

“DOCS [the Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties, Child Safety and Dis­abil­ity Ser­vices] used to come here be­cause they were wor­ried,” Hill says. “I never got in­volved in the con­ver­sa­tions. It was al­ways just [to see] if she’s safe or wants to be here or stuff like that, I sup­pose. She’s the one who wanted to be here with me. It has noth­ing to do with me in­flu­enc­ing her or any­thing like that.

“She said she wanted to be with me for the rest of my life and take care of me when I got old. Push me wheelchair, down the stairs, she reck­ons.” He laughs at the joke. “There were the­o­ries be­fore that, be­cause of the way it looked with an older per­son. But I’ve got fam­ily who ac­cepted us. I’ve got friends who ac­cepted us. You can’t help who you fall in love with.”

So what can be done when a child leaves home against a fam­ily’s wishes? No gov­ern­ment agen­cies would dis­cuss Tiffany’s case. But the Child Safety Ser­vices depart­ment said in a writ­ten state­ment there were lim­its on what it could com­pel chil­dren to do. “Chil­dren can only be de­tained in Queens­land at men­tal health fa­cil­i­ties un­der in­vol­un­tary treat­ment or­ders or at ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion cen­tres,” a spokes­woman said. “The depart­ment has no means of com­pelling chil­dren to live at a spe­cific ad­dress.” She added that if a par­ent sus­pects il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, “they should im­me­di­ately con­tact po­lice”.

Where a child was home­less, the depart­ment worked with youth shel­ters and ac­com­mo­da­tion ser­vices and as­sisted them to re­turn home when it was the best op­tion. When un­der­age chil­dren dropped out of school, the depart­ment, in con­junc­tion with the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment, sought to find out why; the lat­ter depart­ment would then seek to re-en­gage them in school.

The Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice said its pow­ers were lim­ited too. Par­ents or guardians had a leg­isla­tive duty to pro­tect chil­dren and should con­tact po­lice if they were con­cerned they were at risk, a spokes­woman said. “Po­lice will then en­deav­our to lo­cate the child and con­firm they are safe and well,” she said. “Po­lice will ad­vise the par­ents or guardian that the child has been lo­cated, and where, how­ever [po­lice] can­not com­pel the child to re­turn home. Po­lice can­not com­pel a child to live at a spe­cific lo­ca­tion.”

Tru­ancy was “a be­havioural is­sue, not a crim­i­nal of­fence”, and po­lice could not com­pel chil­dren to go to school but in some cir­cum­stances could pros­e­cute their par­ents. (In Queens­land, chil­dren must at­tend school un­til they are 16 or com­plete Year 10.)

The fi­nal re­ports of com­mis­sioner Tim Car­mody’s child pro­tec­tion in­quiry, pre­sented on July 1, 2013, re­vealed the depth of fam­ily dys­func­tion in Queens­land, and the need for more fam­ily sup­port and early in­ter­ven­tion be­fore events reached cri­sis point. “Af­ter 12 months of care­ful de­lib­er­a­tion, the com­mis­sion has con­cluded that the cur­rent child pro­tec­tion sys­tem … is not en­sur­ing the safety, well­be­ing and best in­ter­ests of chil­dren as well as it should or could,” Car­mody found. He rec­om­mended a “se­cure care” model be in­tro­duced, al­low­ing the state to re­strain – as a last re­sort, and with an or­der from the Supreme Court – chil­dren at sig­nif­i­cant risk of se­ri­ous harm to them­selves or oth­ers.

DOCS was “cur­rently seek­ing in­put from the child pro­tec­tion sec­tor on how se­cure care could be im­ple­mented”, a spokes­woman told Qweek­end. “The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment ac­knowl­edges that strate­gies to bet­ter meet the needs of young peo­ple in out-of-home care who present a sig­nif­i­cant risk of se­ri­ous harm to them­selves or oth­ers need to be

“I’ve seen girls/ chil­dren be miss­ing for just hours and be­cause they weren’t ‘ sell­ing sex­ual ser­vices’ they’ve had ev­ery per­son either help look or ac­tu­ally give the fam­ily in­volved a l it­tle bit of re­spect.”

QUOTE AT­TRIB­UTED TO CHLOE TAY­LOR ON FACE­BOOK SITE

con­sid­ered,” she said. The depart­ment’s Fam­ily and Child Con­nect pro­gram tried to con­nect fam­i­lies strug­gling to cope with the ser­vices they needed. By next year it would have helped 35,000 fam­i­lies an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the spokes­woman.

Greg Hill left Spring­wood State High

School in grade 10 and did weld­ing, but he’s out of work now. Wear­ing track­suit pants, a faded T-shirt and a grey beanie pulled down low over his fore­head, he is miss­ing two front teeth and the gap con­torts his voice into a lisp. Since Tiffany went miss­ing he’s been strug­gling to sleep or eat, he says. He’s seen pho­to­graphs of Tiffany’s ac­cused killer and asks, “Why would you get in a car with some­one that looks like that?”

His ver­sion of events is that he took Tiffany away from an un­safe sit­u­a­tion at her fam­ily home, gave her food and shel­ter, and even got her back to school at one point. Tiffany’s fa­ther died when she was young, Hill says. “Ap­par­ently he com­mit­ted sui­cide in front of a train, when she was five.” She smoked mar­i­juana for the first time at just seven, Hill claims. “Me and Tiffany only smoke weed. She was smok­ing weed be­fore I met her,” he adds.

Tiffany was sup­posed to be on the wait­ing list for pub­lic hous­ing, but it was hard when she had a dog, a shar pei called Terry. Hill had a 14-year-old wolfhound cross. “We were hav­ing trou­ble find­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, a place to live with two dogs,” says Hill. “Some nights we slept in the car. Some­times we couldn’t get a mo­tel. Some­times couldn’t af­ford it, slept in the car at the park with two dogs and all our stuff cramped in.”

Tiffany had re­cently said she was preg­nant and that Hill was the fa­ther. Pho­tos of the pos­i­tive preg­nancy test had been sent to friends. “She was happy as … [she] wanted me to stay at home and be a stay-at-home dad,” Hill says. “But I wanted to go to work. I was start­ing to think I’ve got to get up and do some­thing now; then all this hap­pened.”

On the morn­ing Tiffany went miss­ing, her last words to Greg Hill were, “I’ll be back soon, babe.” She closed the door to the cou­ple’s mo­tel room, one of 24 in the tidy com­plex, and walked out into the sun­shine. A cham­pagne-coloured 1995 Hyundai Ex­cel pulled up in front of the mo­tel and Tiffany got in­side. When night fell, she hadn’t re­turned. “I was back at the mo­tel, mind­ing the two dogs and wait­ing for her to come back,” Hill says. “She said she’d paid un­til Wed­nes­day [three days later].”

A win­ter cold snap had de­scended and Hill had a comfy bed in the warm mo­tel room. He did not call po­lice to re­port Tiffany miss­ing. The next morn­ing, Hill had more press­ing things to deal with than his ab­sent girl­friend. It turned out the room rent hadn’t been paid and Hill was kicked out. As far as he could tell, Tiffany had left the mo­tel with only her white Sam­sung smart­phone, but he couldn’t reach her on it. He spent that night in his car.

Fi­nally he de­cided to check if Chloe knew where her sis­ter was. Chloe, a mother of one who lives at nearby Browns Plains, hadn’t seen or heard from Tiffany. On Wed­nes­day, July 15, Chloe re­ported her sis­ter miss­ing to Browns Plains po­lice.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion quickly led to the door of Rod­ney Wil­liams. Po­lice will al­lege Wil­liams was in con­tact with Tiffany on an in­ter­net dat­ing web­site and by phone had agreed to pay her $500 for sex. Po­lice claim Wil­liams picked Tiffany up from the mo­tel and drove 15km to Lo­gis­tics Place at Lara­p­inta, bor­der­ing Lo­gan, about 20km south of Bris­bane CBD, where they stayed from about mid­day to 12.45pm. From there, the Hyundai trav­elled on to the Bris­bane Val­ley High­way be­tween War­rego High­way and Fern­vale from 1pm to 1.45pm.

Po­lice claim they tracked the car’s move­ments through traf­fic cam­eras and mobile phone sig­nals. A clincher for po­lice was the al­leged dis­cov­ery of Tiffany’s blood at sev­eral points in Wil­liams’ car. Wil­liams was ar­rested at Bris­bane’s Roma Street Tran­sit Cen­tre, about to catch a train north.

TIFANY TAY­LOR HAD LIVED MOST OF HER

life un­der the radar. And there are many rea­sons her death, too, was un­der the radar of many – a po­lice strat­egy that kept the in­ves­ti­ga­tion a se­cret, and a so­ci­ety where too many go miss­ing and vic­tims are of­ten judged to be com­plicit in their own down­fall. But that doesn’t lessen the pain.

“I shouldn’t have to ex­plain to ran­doms how my fam­ily raised Tiffany, what my sis­ter was up to or has done,” wrote Chloe. “I have no clo­sure, bloody noth­ing. I’m at the point where I don’t care what has hap­pened to her ... I just want to hug her body.”

Oc­to­ber 19 was Tiffany’s 17th birth­day.

THE AC­CUSED … ROD­NEY WAYNE WIL­LIAMS HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH TIFFANY TAY­LOR’S MUR­DER; ( TOP) TIFFANY’S SIS­TER, CHLOE, AND MOTHER, LEANNE.

THIN BLUE LINE … PO­LICE SEARCH FOR TIFFANY TAY­LOR IN THE BRIS­BANE VAL­LEY RE­GION.

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