Left and Center: Tammie circa, 1986
Right: Age Progressed to age 45
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: April 29, 1986
Missing From: Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, New York
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: July 3, 1972
Age: 13 years old
Height and Weight: 5’5″ and 108 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Hazel eyes, Tammie has a homemade tattoo on her upper left arm which spells her initials “T.A.M”, her ears are both pierced and her hair was a light shade of brown
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A denim jacket, a yellow striped shirt, black corduroy pants, a pair of beige colored boots, Tammie was last seen carrying a a shoulder bag
NCMEC Number: 603748
Details of Disappearance
Tammie was last seen in Saratoga Springs, New York on April 29th 1986. She reportedly missed the morning school bus to Saratoga Springs Junior High School located on West Circular Street. She had no other way to get to school as her parents had already left for work. According to her younger sister, Jennifer, Tammie said she was going to hitchhike to school. She left her residence located on Deerlap Place in the Geyser Crest Neighborhood to do so. She never returned home and was never seen or heard from again afterwards.
Tammie’s mother, Nancy Hieber, assumed the girl was staying with friends as she was known to do this quite often. However, Tammie didn’t leave a note stating this and Nancy discovered that no one knew where her daughter was and no one had heard from her since the morning she left home. Nancy reported Tammie as missing to the police two days after she went missing. Accounts differ as to whether she actually made it to school that day or not. One of Tammie’s friends told the police in 1986 that she saw her at school that morning but others said she didn’t show up at all.
Investigators initially suspected that the girl was a runaway. Tammie had a history of running away from home and apparently at the time of her disappearance, she told her friends that she was going to run off to Florida with a friend. Despite this, Nancy does not believe her daughter actually left for Florida. Tammie didn’t take any extra clothing with her when she left her residence and she was wearing the “rattiest” pair of corduroys she owned and boots that gave her blisters.
According to kids at her school, Tammie actually skipped school on the day she went missing and said she was walking to a friends house and was leaving with this friend for Florida. She was apparently seen leaving the junior high school to walk to the friends house which was located by Saratoga Lake at the time. She was last seen on Route 9P heading for the friends house. It’s unclear what exactly happened afterwards but investigators no longer believe she ran away from home. Authorities declined to identify the friend she was supposedly going to meet.
In the years that would follow Tammie’s disappearance, authorities tracked leads and sightings of her in states such as Florida, California, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. None of these ever lead to Tammie and it’s now believed these sightings and leads were probably untrue. Investigators suspect something happened to Tammie on the morning she disappeared and that she’s probably deceased.
In January of 1994, authorities announced that they were looking into the possibility that Tammie’s case could be connected to suspected child serial killer Lewis S. Lent (Jr.). Lent has been convicted of killing two children and the attempted abduction of another. He first came to the attention of authorities after he tried to abduct 12 year old Rebecca Savarese on January 7th 1994 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
The attack occurred during the morning hours when Lent tried to force her into a borrowed pickup truck at gunpoint. However, Rebecca pretended to be suddenly out of breath and having a seizure which temporarily fooled Lent. She ran from Lent who tried to grab her again but failed to do so. He did grab her backpack but she managed to get out of it and continue running away. Lent fled the scene after a man came to help Rebecca.
Lent was arrested soon afterwards. Authorities found the truck that he used in the botched kidnapping and found the loaded gun he used along with Rebecca’s school backpack. The trucks owner, who was blind, told authorities that he often loaned the vehicle to Lent. He was charged with kidnapping, larceny, assault with a dangerous weapon, as well as assault and battery. However, this would not be the only crime that Lent was known to have committed.
During a three day interrogation that followed his arrest for Rebecca’s attempted abduction, Lent confessed to the abductions and murders of two other children. Afterwards, Lent would become a possible suspect in various other missing persons cases and child homicides that occurred in the eastern United States region. Lent was convicted of Rebecca’s abduction in 1995
One of Lents victims was James “Jimmy” Bernardo, who was 12 years old when he went missing on October 22nd 1990 from a Pittsfield, Massachusetts movie theater. Lent was known to work at this theater in 1990 but he wasn’t considered a suspect in the case until his confession came in 1994. Per the confession, Lent came across Jimmy outside of the theater and abducted him with the use of a hunting knife and death threats.
Lent admitted that he took Jimmy to his apartment and taped the boy to a bed. Lent cut the boys clothing off and sexually assaulted him. Jimmy was taken to New York and kept captive until the next morning when Lent murdered him by hanging. His intention was to kill the boy the entire time. Several weeks after Jimmy’s abduction, hunters found his nude body in Newfield, New York. His body was found very far from where he was taken but close to the childhood home of Lent.
Lent was charged with kidnapping and murder in relation to Jimmy’s case. He pled guilty to all charges in 1996 and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was also sentenced to between 9 and 10 years on the charge that he abducted Jimmy and this sentence was to run concurrently with his life sentence.
Lent also confessed to being responsible for the 1993 disappearance of 12 year old Sara Anne Wood. She was last seen riding her bike up a hill on Hacadam Road along with supplies she had just picked up on August 18th 1993. She was heading for her family’s residence but she never made it there. Sara’s bike as well as the materials she was carrying were later found scattered off Hacadam Road. She was never seen or heard from again.
According to Lent, he was driving his van on back roads with the intent to find a child to molest and kill. He came across Sara riding her bike home. Lent used a hunting knife to force Sara into the van and then used tape to bind her hands together. He drove her fathers upstate into the Adirondack Mountains where he raped her and then proceeded to beat her to death with a heavy tree branch. Lent buried her body afterwards with tools he brought along for that purpose.
Although Lent drew up a map of the area where Sara’s remains were allegedly buried, police were unable to find the location despite dozens of searches afterwards. He later stated he would not reveal the true location of Sara’s body because there was another missing child buried nearby and he didn’t want the body being found. Lent was charged with killing Sara in 1996. He pleaded guilty to her murder in 1997 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Lent was also named a possible suspect in the 1990 disappearance of Monique Santiago from Albany, New York. She was last seen on March 29th 1990 at approximately 8:00 am as she left for school. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since that time. Lent isn’t considered a likely suspect in Santiago’s case any longer since she didn’t fit his known victim description.
In 2013, Lent confessed that he abducted and murdered James “Jamie” Donald Lusher Jr. in Westfield, Massachusetts on November 6th 1992. He was last seen riding his bike to his grandmothers house. Lent admitted that he abducted the boy and murdered him. He also stated that he left Lusher’s body in Greenwater Pond in Becket, Massachusetts. Searches failed to uncover his remains and since Lent provided details about the murder, he will not be prosecuted.
Investigators who were looking into Tammie’s disappearance stated that it was unlikely she was a victim of Lent. Due to his extensive trips to visit family members in New York, he was investigated in several cases. He was also looked at for the case of Karen Wilson who went missing from Albany, New York on March 27th 1985 after leaving The Tanning Hut at approximately 7:20 pm. Lent was also investigated for the disappearance of Kimberly Ann Moreau from Jay, Maine on May 11th 1986.
Investigators don’t believe Lent was involved in all of the cases he was named in and only conjecture links him to them. He remains incarcerated for the murders of Jimmy Bernardo and Sara Wood as well as the attempted kidnapping of Rebecca. He is no longer considered a suspect in Tammie’s disappearance but authorities suspect she was the victim of a foul play at the hands of someone she knew.
In 2011, investigators announced that they suspected Tammie was murdered and identified the person that they believe killed her on the same day she went missing. The person, Arthur Mason Slaybaugh III, was a former corrections officer at the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Winton, New York at the time of Tammie’s disappearance. He was 26 years old at the time and served as a mentor to one of her friends.
Tammie knew Slaybaugh and was said to admire him and view him as a mentor. He lived in an apartment near Browns Beach on Saratoga Lake. Investigators believe Tammie was heading for his apartment on the morning she disappeared. She was last seen in the area of Route 9P and appeared to be hitchhiking to someone’s home. Information places Tammie at Slaybaugh’s residence in that general vicinity. She also visited the lake house several times prior to her disappearance.
Investigators believe Slaybaugh killed Tammie in his house and concealed her remains elsewhere. He passed away from a heart attack in January of 2001 at the age of 41. It was revealed that Slaybaugh had been considered a person of interest in the case ever since Tammie was originally reported missing in 1986.
In recent years, investigators have interviewed over 100 people in relation to Tammie’s disappearance and her connection to Arthur. Each person filled in the blanks and corroborated others’ stories. Based off this information, investigators have been able to confirm that Tammie was indeed heading for Slaybaugh’s apartment on that day. The witnesses who came forward said they feared to release what they knew when he was still alive.
Investigators stated they planned to search an area that included over 1000 acres of land near Saratoga Lake. Searches yielded no trace of Tammie’s remains. In November of 2017, investigators announced that they had received new information that pointed towards a property owned by Slaybaugh’s niece at the time. The property in question is located on State Route 30 in the town of Northampton in Fulton County, New York.
Investigators focused on a 20 yard wide section of land in the darkness behind the house. They stated that the property was on their radar for a few years and that the new information they received allowed them to get a warrant from the judge so they could search. The home was said to be the childhood home of Slaybaugh. They used shovels, an excavator, and radar to sift through a pile of old building materials and the dirt underneath.
They also focused on a former garbage pit located on the property. The searches yielded nothing whatsoever. Despite the fruitless searches, investigators continue to believe Slaybaugh was the one who killed her. His family has continuously denied that he had anything to do with Tammie’s death and claim he is innocent of all he’s been accused of. Investigators believe that the only way to solve Tammie’s case and give her family closure is to recover her remains.
Tammie’s parents moved to Cossayuna, New York in 2006. Nancy continues to search for answers in her daughters disappearance and hopes her remains will be found. Her five siblings still live in the same neighborhood she disappeared from. Her disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected. Her father passed away in 2017. In his obituary, he lists Tammie as deceased . Her remains haven’t been recovered.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Saratoga Springs Police Department 518-584-1800