A 40-year-old Florida woman has been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence, interference with child custody, and multiple felony drug offenses in the case of a missing 13-year-old boy.
In the early morning hours of December 23, 2022, the Gainesville Police Department responded to a report of a missing 13-year-old child, Ean Stephens.
The initial investigation revealed that the last confirmed sighting of the child was on December 22, 2022, at approximately 7:00 PM. The circumstances in which the child went missing, combined with the impending extremely cold weather, were very concerning, and detectives responded to the scene to continue the investigation.
An FDLE Missing Child Alert was issued, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Aviation unit responded and conducted an overhead search of the area, multiple reverse 911 calls and texts were made to the community, information was shared with the media, and uniformed officers distributed hundreds of flyers with the missing child’s information to the local community.
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The FBI was consulted and provided invaluable assistance throughout the investigation,” said Gainesville Police Department.
The Gainesville Police Department continued to actively investigate and attempt to locate the missing child throughout the holidays. During a secondary canvass of the surrounding area, video surveillance was reviewed, and the missing child was observed late in the night of the 22nd outside of a closed business, appearing to be in distress.
The video contradicted previous statements that were made by a witness, Tiffany Mejia, 40, and at that point, police say that Mejia became a person of interest in the missing child’s disappearance.
On December 25, 2022, GPD SWAT assisted detectives in serving a search warrant at Mejia’s residence. During the search warrant, Mejia was contacted and admitted to taking the missing child and driving him outside of the area to an unknown residence.
“Developing information led us to believe the missing child was at one of two possible locations in Clay County. We requested the Clay County Sheriff’s Office assistance and they responded, confirmed the location of the child, and that he was safe and unharmed. GPD detectives met with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and recovered the missing child,” said GPD.
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Tiffany Mejia, 40, was charged with tampering with evidence, interference with child custody, and multiple felony drug offenses.
“During our investigation, charges were determined to be warranted for child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor for Tommy Stephens, and Jamie Stephens,” said GPD.
The Gainesville Police Department thanks the community, the FBI, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the many other individuals and organizations that worked together through the holidays to bring this child home safe.