Tammy Lynn Lepppert from NamUs
Tammy Lynn Leppert was not your average 18-year-old. She was strikingly beautiful with blonde hair, hazel eyes, and a smile that lit up any room she entered. By this age, she already participated in 300 beauty pageants and won 280 of them. Tammy wanted more. She dreamed of being an actress and won parts in the movies Spring Break, Little Darlings, and Scarface. But on July 6, 1983, Tammy vanished seemingly into thin air. She leaves behind a host of friends and family who need answers. What happened to Tammy Lynn Leppert?
A STAR IS BORN
Tammy Lynn Leppert in the Orlando Sentinel, 07 SEP 1978
Tammy was born February 5, 1965, in Rockledge, Florida. Her mother, Linda Curtis, was a theatrical agent and her child was exquisite. She put Tammy in her first pageant at age four. Before long, Tammy was picking up parts in local commercials and eventually for Covergirl Magazine. Tammy?s pageant work led her to act. Linda told the Orlando Sentinal in 1978 that Tammy loved the stage. Tammy picked acting for the talent portion of her pageants because not many girls did and because directors went there to scout for acting talent.
In 1983, Tammy got her lucky break in the film industry. As a newcomer, she had small but memorable roles. Tammy played the girl who distracted the men in the lookout car during a drug deal gone bad In Scarface. Tammy had plans to go to Hollywood, where she likely would have made a successful career.
After filming wrapped on Springbreak, Tammy attended a mysterious weekend party. She was alone, and with an unfamiliar crowd. She didn?t speak of the party much after she came home, though it was evident something terrible happened. Tammy left an optimistic and bubbly young woman and returned sullen and extremely paranoid.
Tammy erupted in fits of paranoia and terror. She refused to eat food prepared for her, or from open containers because she thought someone might poison her. Tammy wouldn?t leave the house unaccompanied. Her mother approached her and asked her what was going on. ?Mom, what would you say if I told you somebody was trying to kill me?? Tammy Replied. Linda asked her if someone was trying to kill her, and Tammy said, ?Yes.?Of course, this set Linda into a tailspin of worry. She tried to question her fearful daughter. But Tammy would only say that she couldn?t tell because they would kill her. She wouldn?t elaborate more than to say that she had seen something unspeakable at the party she went attended. She wouldn?t tell her mom what she saw, or who ?they? were.
Time didn?t heal Tammy?s fear. She only grew more paranoid and reclusive. Linda didn?t know if her daughter had something to be afraid of, or if she was having a break with reality.
Tammy remained in a state of panicked seclusion for approximately two weeks before landing a small part in Scarface. Tammy was filming in Miami, and staying with a family friend, Walter Liebowitz.
A casting director called Walter on the fourth day of filming and told him that Tammy needed help. She had a breakdown on set. Tammy watched the filming of a scene that included a shooting and fake blood and began screaming hysterically. Film staff removed Tammy to a trailer, hoping she could collect herself but she couldn?t. Tammy continued to cry and say ?they? were going to kill her. Through her cries, she ranted to Walter about money laundering, and how she had nowhere to hide.
Walter called Linda immediately. He suggested that Linda bring Tammy to a doctor and the police in case there was any truth to her paranoid ramblings. Linda convinced tammy to talk to the local sheriff. Tammy made a report, but she neglected to tell police that someone threatened her life. Tammy quit the film that day and came home to be with her family.
Tammy?s friend Wing Flannagan lived in the home. He explained that after the Scarface incident, Tammy had good and bad days. The good days were almost unremarkable. But on the bad days, Tammy was tense and fearful. Tammy reached her breaking point on June 1, 1983. She went outside and looked around, but when she came back, she found herself locked out.
Tammy was triggered. She frantically screamed as she broke out windows of the house to gain entry. She appeared to be in a blind rage and struck out at Wing and her mother. Linda restrained Tammy in her arms and repeated, ?I love you, Tammy,? until Tammy settled into her embrace.
Linda checked her daughter into Brevard County Mental Health Center the next day. The doctor put Tammy on a 72 hold for a psychological evaluation. They released her since she wasn?t in danger of harming herself or anyone else. Tests for drugs or alcohol proved that she was sober. According to Tammy?s sister, Tammy may have learned she was pregnant during her stay.
That Wednesday, July 6, 1983, Tammy sat in the living room of her mother?s home. Linda heard a car honk outside, and Tammy told her she would be back in a bit. Linda suddenly felt anxious. Tammy left the house without combing her hair, which was entirely out of character. Linda went outside to watch her daughter get into a car and drive away.
The driver of that car was her friend Keith Roberts. Keith drove two hours from his home in Lakeland, Florida because Tammy told him she needed help. Keith and Tammy decided to go to Cocoa Beach that day but never made it. Keith and Tammy argued on the way, and she demanded to be let out. Keith dropped Tammy five miles from home in the parking lot of Glass Bank, on State Highway A1A. She left her shoes and purse in the vehicle. Tammy was never seen again.
Tammy was reported missing on July 11, 1983.
The first suspect is obvious. Keith Roberts was the last one to see Tammy alive. She was afraid of them, and they did have a heated argument. After her disappearance, Keith was asked to take a polygraph exam. Keith refused. He declined to be interviewed by the police twice. It is suspicious that Tammy left his vehicle but left her belongings inside. However, there is no evidence that any criminal activity occurred. Police believed Tammy went of her own free will, and there is no crime in that.
Christopher Wilder FBI Poster, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Christopher Wilder was an Australian serial killer active in the United States during the early 1980s across the country, including Florida. He is responsible for the death of at least eight victims, possibly more. Christopher operated by luring women into his vehicle with promises of modeling jobs. The modeling aspect of his crimes is the only thing linking him to Tammy Lynn Leppert. Linda filed a million-dollar lawsuit against the Wilder Estate but later dropped it due to lack of evidence. Christopher Wilder was killed during a shootout with police in 1984.
John Brennan Crutchley
John Brennan Crutchley, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
John Brennan Crutchley was a violent rapist active in Florida during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was sentenced to life for brutally raping a woman, draining half of her blood and then drinking it. He was never convicted in any deaths. John Crutchley committed suicide in prison in 2002. If he had anything to do with the disappearance of Tammy, he took that secret to his grave.
She Knew Too Much
Tammy might have witnessed something at that party and had good reason to be paranoid. She told this story to several people. But what? The night before she went missing, she visited with her friend Rick Adams. She said to him that she saw something she shouldn?t have. Any guesses as to what she saw would be pure speculation, but it had to be something unimaginable to change her so quickly and drastically. But if she knew too much, she may have been killed or relocated for her protection.
Maybe She?s Alive
In 1985, Detective Harold Lewis in Cocoa Beach, Florida received two telephone calls. On the other end, was a woman who claimed Tammy was alive and well and would contact her family in due time. The second call, a woman claimed that Tammy was living out her dream of being a nurse. If Tammy ever dreamed of anything other than acting, she sure didn?t tell anyone. Still, without a dead body, there is always a sliver of hope that Tammy may be alive.
Tammy?s family and friends diligently continue to search for her. Her sister maintains a Facebook page dedicated to that purpose.
Linda Curtis passed away in 1995 without ever learning what happened to Tammy.
Unfound Podcast Channel
Webslueths Tammy Lynn Leppert
The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths are Solving America?s Coldest Cases, by Deborah Halber
NamUs: Tammy Lynn Leppert