HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WAVY/WNCN) — The family of a missing mother from Virginia said they know what happened to her, but investigators said the evidence doesn’t substantiate the family’s suspicions.
Alyssa Taylor’s family believes she may have died in a fiery North Carolina crash on Interstate 85 that killed a man and a dog on Sept. 14.
Family members of the 25-year-old reported her missing on Sept. 20 to the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia, one week after her mother last received a message from her.
Taylor’s family believes she died in a fiery truck accident in Hillsborough, North Carolina. However, investigators from multiple North Carolina agencies said there are no signs she was in the truck at the time of the accident.
“I just want answers and I just want closure so I can bury my baby,” Alyssa’s mom, Krista Taylor, told CBS 17.
Krista Taylor said she has not seen her daughter since Sept. 13. It’s the longest she has ever gone without talking to her.
“She texts me every day like if I’m not around her, and I kept calling her. Her phone’s been off ever since the 13th and I just haven’t heard from her, and that’s not like my baby. She knows I worry about her, and I think she would’ve contacted me by now,” Taylor’s mom said.
Family members who are in North Carolina investigating on their own just want some kind of closure. Shelly Payton, Taylor’s aunt, is one of them.
“We just want to know for sure we knew what happened to her,” Payton said.
Payton said she had a special relationship with her niece, Alyssa.
“Alyssa was the very first baby that I ever actually held in my arms,” she said. “We were actually raised more like sisters so when she was born, I was fairly young.”
For almost two weeks, neither Payton nor Taylor’s mom, Krista, have heard from her. The last text Taylor’s mom received from her said she was riding with “Danny in [a] tractor-trailer for two days.”
Family members believe Danny is Danny McNeil, who they said Taylor was friends with.
Her mom says on Sept. 13, Taylor took a trip with truck driver McNeil from Virginia to North Carolina.
On Sept. 14, investigators found his tractor-trailer after it crashed into the N.C. 86 bridge on I-85 in Hillsborough in North Carolina.
The truck overturned and caught fire. Investigators said McNeil was pronounced dead on the scene and his remains were recovered by investigators. McNeil’s dog was also found dead.
Alyssa Taylor — the mother of two children — was nowhere to be found.
Payton said she feels broken knowing that her and her family’s suspicions about what happened remain unconfirmed.
“It’s hard enough to lose a family member in an accident, but now, you have people telling you that she actually wasn’t in that accident,” Payton said.
“It’s devastating. Her and her mom talk every day. Her and her mom were extremely close. They talk every day so the fact that we haven’t heard from her in this long… it’s just heartbreaking,” said Sabrina Taylor, Alyssa’s aunt.
Investigators said no evidence has turned up that indicates whether Taylor was with McNeil at the time of the crash.
Her family questions that. They pointed to a shoe and a blanket found in the wreckage that they say belongs to her.
The family says that they pinged Alyssa Taylor’s cell phone which was last seen in an area near Henderson, North Carolina.
They are asking anyone who may have information about the crash or may have seen it to contact the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
“We all want to go back home and mourn and I can’t even mourn my child and I’m sitting here trying to find stuff out. I just want to mourn and go home and mourn my child. That’s all,” Krista Taylor said.
In a statement to CBS 17 in Raleigh, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said their report concluded McNeil was the sole driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
“The investigation indicates the driver was the sole occupant of this single vehicle collision. If you are looking for information related to a missing person story which is currently circulating online, we would direct you to the authorities in Virginia who are handling this case. We have spoken with the missing persons family and have spent much time in trying to answer questions they have related to our collision investigation. This is understandably a difficult time for the family and we will continue to assist them as needed.”First Sergeant Christopher D. Knox, N. C. State Highway Patrol
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office also says there was no evidence that Taylor was still with him at the time of the crash.
“We are aware of it and I feel awful for the family. The Highway Patrol investigated the crash. Further efforts to see if anything was overlooked at the scene have turned up no evidence that she was still with him at the time of the wreck. The Accomack County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia is in charge of the missing person case.”Alicia Stemper, Orange County Sheriff’s Office
A shocking discovery by Taylor’s mom made the family believe otherwise.
“She saw Alyssa’s blanket, like, mangled up in all of the wreckage,” Payton said. “So she called me screaming and crying and telling me that, you know, it’s her blanket. It’s her blanket.”
The family also found what they say is an Old Navy flip-flop matching Taylor’s size in the wreckage.
The Accomack County Sheriff’s Office says Taylor’s cell phone pinged along the same GPS locations as McNeil’s truck. Taylor’s phone has had no further activity since the date and time of the crash.
“An officer with the Exmore Police Department did have an interaction with an occupant of the vehicle that was involved in the crash. The occupant identified the now deceased male as the driver. The body camera footage does not capture an image of the occupant, but three separate members of the family have identified the occupant talking with the officer’s voice as Alyssa’s. Sergeant Kugler requested cellular information on a number that was provide by the family as belonging to Alyssa. Through that information we are able to see a ping in the Accomack County area consistent with the date, time, and location where Alyssa was picked up from. We compared that information with GPS locations from the deceased male’s truck and show the truck pinging in the same area as Alyssa’s phone. We later found another ping from Alyssa’s cellular device about on hour from the crash location. The deceased males truck pinged in that same location as well. Alyssa’s phone has no further activity since the date and time of the crash. We have checked multiple CCTV recordings on the route that the deceased male’s truck traveled. Through those recordings we are only able to see the deceased male exiting and entering the truck.”Sgt. Joshua Marsh, Accomack County Sheriff’s Office
With more questions continuing to surface, family members said they just want some answers.
“Do something. Help us prove she was in that truck so we can begin to mourn. So that we know, we know what happened to her. That’s all we want,” Payton said. “We just want to know for sure what happened to her. We can’t stop and we’re not going to stop. That’s one thing, my family and I, we’re not going to stop. We’re not going to stop until we get the answers we’re looking for.”
Taylor has two young children who are also waiting for news of her whereabouts.
If anyone knows information that could help authorities find Taylor, call the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office at 757-787-1131.