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Tammy Lynn Leppert

The Unsolved Disappearance of a Rising Star

By E.J. V'KantyPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

In 2024, few people are familiar with the name Tammy Lynn Leppert, but there was a time when she was becoming a household name. The public’s growing familiarity with her didn’t come easy. From the age of 4, Tammy worked hard on developing a successful modeling career. In those early years, she entered 300 beauty pageants and earned the crown in 280 of them. In October of 1978, Tammy Lynn Leppert earned more widespread notoriety when she graced the cover of Cover Girl magazine. In that same year, Tammy’s growing fanbase got a closer look at her when she was featured in the short film, Cover Girl: Behind the Scenes.

Tammy Lynn was eager to move to Hollywood to use her success in modeling to develop her acting career. In 1980, she had an uncredited appearance in Little Darlings. The film starred Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol in a comedy drama about two girls eager to lose their virginity at summer camp.

Leppert had a second uncredited appearance in 1983’s Spring Break, which was another teen comedy. In this film, two college boys head to Fort Lauderdale for spring break and the typical hijinks ensue. Tammy played an unnamed girl in the boxing contest scene.

Tammy Lynn Leppert was also seen in Scarface in 1983. The film was written by Oliver Stone with Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht. Brian de Palma directed Scarface. In this previously uncredited role, Leppert plays the girl who distracts the lookout car as a drug trade turns into a bloody chainsaw massacre.

Strange Behavioral Changes Mark the Weeks Before Tammy Lynn Leppert’s Disappearance

As it happened, 1983 was also the year that Leppert disappeared. Even before she went missing, Tammy’s family and friends noted odd changes in her character. It started the day after she attended a wrap party for Spring Break. A close friend of the model-turned-actress, Wing Flannagan, told police that she seemed to act strangely after returning to the party. At the time, Flannagan dismissed Tammy’s odd behavior as the result of too little sleep and too much stress.

“There were good days and there were bad days. There were days when she was almost normal. And there were other days when she was real edgy.” - Wing Flannagan

Later, Ms. Leppert went to work on Scarface. After just four days on the set, the actress abruptly returned to her Rockledge, Florida home and told her mother that she feared someone was trying to kill her. The actress was certain that someone was trying to poison her. Tammy’s mother said that she became cautious about the food she ate and refused to drink beverages served in open containers.

Seeing that Tammy was becoming more deluded over these obsessive thoughts, her mother had her placed on 72-hour hold under a doctor’s supervision. Since there didn’t seem to be any sign of mental illness or indications of substance abuse, Tammy Lynn was released.

July 6, 1983 - The Day Tammy Lynn Leppert Disappeared

Upon her release from the hospital, Leppert was picked up by a male friend. Although the friend remains unnamed to the public, police investigator Jim Skragg reported that the individual had been questioned. The friend, who is still the last person known to have seen Tammy Lynn Leppert, told Skragg that he and Tammy had gotten into an argument. Unable to diffuse the situation, he stopped the car in the parking lot of a Cocoa Beach drugstore. Tammy exited the vehicle and that was the last anyone can recall seeing her.

Although the friend isn’t a person of interest in the disappearance, Tammy’s mother told police that she knew Tammy was afraid of the friend.

At the time of her disappearance, Tammy Lynn Leppert was wearing a denim top with embroidered flowers and a matching miniskirt. She may have been barefoot or she may have been wearing sandals. Tammy stood at a height of 5’5” and weighed approximately 110 pounds. She had hazel-colored eyes and curly blonde hair. Interviews with people close to Tammy Lynn suggest she might have been three months pregnant at the time she disappeared.

A Possible Witness Comes Forward

Shortly after Leppert disappeared, the Cocoa Beach police received a call from a woman claiming to know Tammy Lynn. In fact, the woman called the police twice but refused to give any information as to her identity or Tammy’s relationship with her.

During the first call, the woman told police that Leppert was “alive and well” and assured them that Tammy would make contact shortly.

The second call was made in an effort to stop the investigation. Again, the woman told police that Tammy Lynn was safe and alive. She insisted that the model/actress had chosen to abandon her life and was attending school to become a nurse.

Detective Skragg has stated that he spoke to Tammy’s friends. The friends agreed that home life was troubling for Tammy and that she wanted to find a way to leave home. She was 18 years old when she disappeared.

Was Tammy Lynn Leppert the Victim of a Serial Killer?

Cocoa Beach police had a hard time getting the investigation started since there wasn’t physical evidence to examine. It had seemed as though Tammy Lynn Leppert had vanished without a trace. Eventually, they focused their investigation around the idea that she had been the victim of a Florida serial killer. At the time, there were two killers who drew the attention of Detective Skragg and his colleagues.

One suspect was John Crutchley (a.k.a. The Vampire Rapist). Prior to his arrest and conviction, Crutchley had been suspected of kidnapping, raping, and killing more than 30 women. Tammy’s mother was concerned that the model/actress had generated Crutchley’s attention due to her knowledge of the drug trade in the area. John Crutchley committed suicide while in prison. He died in 2002.

A second suspect was Christopher Bernard Wilder, a roaming serial killer who had killed at least 12 women between California and Florida. Police preferred Wilder as a suspect because he lured women by telling them that he was a photographer for a magazine. This ploy might have attracted Tammy Lynn Leppert since she was already interested in pursuing fame.

Initially, the Leppert family launched a wrongful death lawsuit against Wilder. They later dropped the case due to a lack of evidence linking Tammy Lynn to Wilder. Additionally, Tammy’s mother has stated that she never believed Wilder was involved in her daughter’s disappearance. Christopher Bernard Wilder was killed in 1984 by police when he resisted arrest.

The police have ruled out 13 “Jane Doe” deaths since 1984. The most recent death involved the June 6, 2014 discovery of a woman’s body in Newport Beach, Virginia. A 25 to 45-year-old woman with Hispanic features was discovered mummified and wrapped in a bed sheet.

What Happened to Tammy Lynn Leppert?

Was Tammy Lynn the victim of a serial killer? Could she have been kidnapped as the victim of a sex trafficking ring in Florida? If reports from her friends and the unnamed witness were accurate, she might have chosen to leave her life behind. Might she be working as a nurse in a Florida hospital? Missing for more than 40 years at this point, we might never discover what happened to this rising star.

Pop CultureMystery

About the Creator

E.J. V'Kanty

Copywriter, blogger, and fiction writer. My interests include horror movies, rock/metal music, outdoor activities, and traveling. I'm an animal lover and a Gen X survivor.

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