Left and Center: Cayce circa, 1996
Right: Age Progressed to age 33
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: August 16, 1996
Missing From: Milan, Gibson County, Tennessee
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: July 14, 1982
Age: 14 years old
Height and Weight: 5’4″ and 120 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Cayce’s ears are both pierced and she has a strawberry birthmark on the underside of her lower left arm
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Cayce may have been wearing a t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts at the time of her 1996 abduction, a silver friendship necklace with a half of a heart pendant, it’s unlikely that she wore socks or shoes when she disappeared
NCMEC Number: 822496
Details of Disappearance
Cayce was last seen in Milan, Tennessee on August 16th 1996. On the night of her disappearance, she attended a back to school party at the Double Springs Cumberland Presbyterian Church. At approximately 12:30 am, a family friend, Pam King, drove Cayce home. Her residence was located on U.S Highway 45 at the time of her disappearance. Pam said Cayce walked up to front door and waved before walking in. No lights were on inside.
Cayce was never seen or heard from again after she got home. Her mother, Cindy McDaniel, and her longtime boyfriend returned home from a party at approximately 2:45 am. They noticed that the back door of the home was open. Cayce’s clothes that she wore to the church were found in her bedroom along with the rest of her personal belongings.
There was also a bowl of cookies and a glass of milk on the floor of her bedroom and the television was turned on. There was no indication of where Cayce had gone at the time. It appeared as though she dressed in her night clothing and left her residence. Cindy was initially unconcerned by her daughters absence, Cayce was known to spend the night at a friends house often so she naturally assumed this is what happened.
The next day, Cindy called all of Cayce’s friends and family only to find that no one had seen her since the party. Cindy filed a missing persons report with the police after this. When police visited the residence, they found no obvious signs of foul play, they initially suspected Cayce may have runaway from her home.
Cayce was not a very troublesome child. She was somewhat rebellious at the time of her disappearance and was known to have previously smoked cigarettes and also dated an 18 year old boy. Her family has stated she would never leave and not contact them again. After weeks of not receiving any contact from Cayce, her family and the police began to suspect the worst.
Investigators believe that Cayce was abducted by person(s) unknown while she was by herself at her home. There were reported sightings of Cayce with an unidentified man in the days after her presumed abduction. The first of the sightings occurred just the day after her apparent abduction. One August 17th, Cayce was seen at the Gibson County Fair with an older white male.
On August 24th, a witness reportedly saw Cayce at the Dyersburg Walmart and she was again accompanied by an unknown male subject. On August 28th, investigators compiled and released a sketch of the man who is considered a possible suspect in Cayce’s disappearance.
The man was described as being Caucasian and appeared to have a dark complexion. He appeared to be in his early 20s in 1996 and he had dark colored eyes and hair. He stood at 6’0″ and weighed approximately 170 pounds. The man had a distinctive scar underneath his right eye and he had an earring in his right ear. This man remains unidentified and it’s unknown if the girl seen with him was truly Cayce or not.
Investigators and her family have spent years searching for her. Local ponds were searched as well as wooded areas. Investigators even acted on the tip of a psychic, Dorothy Allison. She stated Cayce was located in a place with a pond, a zoo, fallen trees, and a picnic area. This led to a search of a 5-acre pond in 1998. No evidence was found in this search.
Investigators also utilized a cadaver dog from Mountain Wilderness Search Dogs of Oregon was used at yet another pond in the Milan area. The dog did alert to the scent of human remains at the pond and investigators yielded articles of clothing. The clothing did not belong to Cayce but to another missing person.
There were many possible suspects in the case over the years. Rumors went around as well about the case. Cindy was initially a suspect after an inconclusive polygraph test. There was a rumor that she owed money in drug debt and that her daughter was abducted by whoever she owed money to. Cindy denied the allegations and is no longer a suspect.
Cindy received an anonymous phone call which stated that an unidentified truck was spotted in the driveway of the residence at 12:30 am that night. Investigators looked into the tip but found no evidence or the truck. They also received a tip that someone had seen Cayce’s body floating in the river but no body was ever found.
Investigators also looked at Cayce’s boyfriend, Charlie. He was in prison at the time for unclear reasons but he had no involvement in her disappearance. In September of 1996, investigators named Charles B. Sullivan as a possible suspect in the case. He was being held on aggravated burglary charges and aggravated rape. The victim in that case was a woman from Davidson County.
Milan police traveled to Nashville to question Sullivan. He was also considered a suspect in at least nine other cases besides Cayce’s at the time. He allegedly matched the description of the unidentified man seen with Cayce at the Gibson County Fair and the Dyersburg Walmart. A cadaver dog was brought to his home to search but no evidence was found in the search.
For many years, investigators attempted to narrow down the list of suspects they had in Cayce’s case. Almost all of the suspects had alibis that checked out, all except one. That suspects name is Finis Ewin “Pete” Hill III. He was a friend of both Cindy and her boyfriend in 1996. He also knew Cayce and she even called him “Uncle Pete.”
Hill attended the party that Cindy and her boyfriend were at during the night of Cayce’s disappearance. He left as soon as they arrived, Cindy stated he did this because he was angry at her. He apparently made sexual advances towards her but she refused to have sexual intercourse with him.
Investigators believe he went to the residence hoping to find Cindy there but instead found Cayce home alone. Cindy says her daughter would’ve trusted Hill enough to let him inside the house. Hills wife initially provided him with an alibi for that night but later recanted it and confirmed it was false. He has been a suspect since the early investigation.
In July of 2018, Hills was named as the primary suspect in Cayce’s presumed abduction and death. In 2004, Hill was convicted of attempting to abduct a woman at gunpoint while she was washing her car. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was released in 2018. Shortly after his release, Hills began talking online to a girl whom he believed was underage.
This was actually an undercover cop. Hills and the cop talked for months and agreed under the pretense to have sexual intercourse. Hills traveled to Mississippi to do this and was promptly arrested. When he was taken into custody, investigators found sex toys, drugs, condoms, and alcohol inside his vehicle. He has also previously bragged of having sex with a 14 year old girl.
On October 18th 2019, while Hills was in federal prison, he was charged with Cayce’s rape and murder. He was indicted on two counts of first degree murder and two counts of aggravated rape. Investigators believe he used a weapon to force Cayce out of her house and into his vehicle. He allegedly took steps to conceal and hide her body. Hill is currently awaiting trial in Cayce’s case.
At the time of her disappearance, Cayce was described as a normal teenage girl who got straight A’s in middle school and was good at algebra. Her best friends stated she was excited about going into high school. She was also an honors student as well. She was also active in youth group activities like the dance she attended that night. She was described by those she knew as “lovable”. Her body has never been found.
Image: This is a composite sketch of the man supposedly seen with Cayce in the days following her abduction. This individual is considered a possible suspect in the case
Image: Finis “Pete” Ewin Hill III, circa 2018
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Milan Police Department 731-686-3800
Federal Bureau of Investigation 901-747-4300