Her Dad’s Body Was Missing for 27 Years. An Intrepid Police Investigator Solved the Mystery: ‘Never Give Up’
lizzy evans

lizzy evans

Courtesy Lizzy Evans Lizzy Evans and her father, Thomas Redd Evans, in Might 1982

Shortly ahead of Father’s Day 2021, Lizzy Evans was monitoring her dad’s ashes by means of FedEx and eagerly awaiting their arrival from a Brooklyn funeral residence to her North Carolina house.

About a 12 months before she’d discovered the surprising news from an intrepid investigator with the New York Condition Police that the lacking physique of her father — who died by suicide at 51 at the Tappan Zee Bridge in the early early morning of Feb. 1, 1994 — was last but not least positioned, in a burial plot of New York City’s community cemetery, Hart Island.

Right after all these decades, his remains have been on his way to her. She attempted ready for her husband to arrive dwelling, but emotion impatient the moment the box arrived, she opened it and place the ashes in an urn she’d purchased from Amazon, nestling it along with her late mother’s urn on a shelf, with their wedding ceremony photograph between them.

“Now there is certainly some area to mourn,” claims Evans, 52, whose dad would have turned 80 on Friday. “You will find any person to mourn. And my father and my mom and I were being ultimately beneath the exact same roof all over again for the 1st time due to the fact I was 3 yrs previous.”

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lizzy evans

lizzy evans

Courtesy Lizzy Evans Urns made up of the ashes of Lizzy Evans’ mother (remaining) and dad

This abnormal reunion was a single Lizzy in no way envisioned.

Her father, Thomas Redd Evans (whose father is prolific lyricist and musician Redd Evans), and mom ended up living in the Bronx but divided when she was 3 and divorced two a long time later. Thomas remarried and remained in New York, though at the age of 12, Lizzy moved to Miami with her mother.

Since that time, Lizzy observed him just two times — when she was 12 and 17. Their last assembly, 35 several years in the past, was followed by a falling out they hardly ever noticed each and every other once more. They also did not discuss for another six several years, until Lizzy achieved out to her dad by cell phone in the slide of 1993.

“He was ecstatic to be in touch with me,” she suggests. “I discovered out that he had been wanting for me in truth, and could not locate me.”

At the time, Thomas was dwelling in Yonkers, New York, and Lizzy was continue to in Miami. Through mobile phone phone calls, “we had been creating on a new chapter of our marriage,” Lizzy claims. “We set what was in the past amongst us to relaxation. I just wanted to shift forward. And so did he.”

“6 months right after we started speaking, around 10 p.m. on Feb. 1, 1994, I received a cellular phone contact from my stepmother stating that my father killed himself,” Lizzy remembers.

“Following that transpired, every little thing just fell apart,” she adds. “I flew to New York two times later on for his memorial services for the reason that there was no entire body.”

Witnesses saw Thomas’ ultimate moments on the Tappan Zee Bridge about 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 1. He’d still left a license in his nearby 1979 gray Chevy Malibu and a suicide note on his kitchen area desk, in accordance to police documents of the case that Lizzy shared with People today.

Law enforcement and Coastline Guard searches didn’t recover his overall body, and for a long time Lizzy had no plan where by he was.

“Birthdays would pass and Father’s Times would go and my birthday would go,” she says. “And just each 12 months he was under no circumstances out of thoughts.”

lizzy evans

lizzy evans

Courtesy Lizzy Evans Lizzy Evans and her father in 1971

“My sensation was he was carried out to sea, or he was snagged on the bottom of the Hudson River, and they just failed to search deep adequate,” Lizzy carries on. “And the 3rd choice was that spark. What if he faked it?”

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Meanwhile, two months after his death, Thomas’ system experienced washed up on a New York Metropolis shoreline south of the bridge and recovered by the NYPD on March 31, 1994. But investigators were not able to determine just who was this center-aged man over 6-feet tall and about 300 lbs.

And for additional than a quarter century no relationship was built concerning the body — buried in Hart Island — and the lacking person. Then, in April 2020, New York State Police senior investigator Kevin Hoeverman bought this “chilly situation” and dove into resolving it.

“I turned immersed in the particulars,” he says in an electronic mail.

Hoeverman took the scenario home, spreading data files throughout his eating space table and working lots of a late evening “on the lookout for clues that could assistance remedy the circumstance.”

Within weeks, and by making use of the National Lacking and Unidentified Individuals Technique (NamUs) — an on the internet national clearinghouse for missing, unknown, and unclaimed human being cases across the U.S. (and unavailable in 1994) — Hoeverman’s sleuthing produced the extensive-awaited link.

Hoeverman uncovered that an unknown male human body “of very similar characteristics” as Evans was recovered on March 31, 1994 by the NYPD.

“I had good optimism that the situation could be introduced to a thriving resolution after thinking about tidal designs related with the Higher New York Bay location of the Hudson River estuary,” he states by using electronic mail.

The NamUs database determined dwelling family of Evans, and indicated dental information were being offered for comparison.

Hoeverman very first referred to as Thomas’ sister with the information, and she named Lizzy. “She stated, ‘They uncovered your father’s overall body,'” recollects Lizzy. “Useless to say, I felt, WTF?”

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Hoeverman named Lizzy and asked for a DNA sample, which finally was not essential: On June 24, 2020, the health care examiner verified as a result of dental information that Hoeverman had in truth found her father.

“It was the epitome of bittersweet,” states Lizzy. “It snuffed out that previous piece of hope like a match. And it was like starting up all more than with mourning him. It was the just one matter I by no means could have imagined happening, which is acquiring closure. Of study course, I’m under no circumstances likely to have the closure of why.”

“Once I discovered out that he was on Hart Island, there was this mission, which was to get him disinterred and cremated and brought dwelling to me,” adds Lizzy. “I reported to myself, ‘This is the 1 thing that I can do for him.'”

Whilst she stays offended at other investigators around the many years who did not do a much more extensive lookup, she praises Hoeverman.

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“If it was not for him,” she suggests, “none of this would’ve happened.”

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the exhumation, but final spring, Lizzy obtained a contact from the healthcare examiner’s business office “saying we have your dad’s system,” she claims. “We obtained him out.”

Just after his cremation and arrival at her home, Lizzy quickly took a photograph and shared it with Hoeverman — a resolution that continues to be meaningful to them equally.

“I know that closure of this case meant a ton to Lizzy.  It meant a ton of me also,” he suggests. “I have that photo saved on my desktop as a reminder that difficult perform pays off. It’s wonderful determination to under no circumstances give up on a case.”

If you or another person you know is thinking about suicide, be sure to make contact with the Countrywide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk (8255), text “Energy” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.