Police renewing search for Tuders seven years after disappearance

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 2:17pm

Seven years to the week since Tabitha Tuders disappeared, police officers are again pounding the pavement, canvassing the area where she was last seen and hoping for even the slightest lead to follow.

Eight teams from a group of 25 canvassers walked the streets surrounding the Tuders’ home on Lillian Street in East Nashville, knocking on as many as 200 doors to solicit any overlooked or unreported bit of information from the immediate area where Tuders vanished.

Tuders went missing on April 29, 2003. She was 13 years old. 

Each canvassing team consists of a Metro police officer, an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a member from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

With the renewed effort on the case that Capt. Marlene Pardue said has remained active all along, the FBI is offering up to $25,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Tuders disappearance. Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward as well.

When Metro police and the FBI approached the children’s center for help, it recommended re-canvassing the neighborhood with new sets of eyes and ears.

Re-canvassing the neighborhood may seem like a long shot seven years after the fact, but Harold Jones from the center said even as times change, so can the attitudes and cooperation of anyone who may remember the day Tuders left home for the bus stop for the last time.

“Frankly, we don’t have a lot of leads,” said Pardue, who leads the Metro Police Department’s Youth Services Division. “That’s why we’re out here today.”

FBI Special Agent Keith Moses said the recent examples of the Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard cases, where both were found years after they went missing, bring a similar hope in the Tuders case.

“Our hope is after the passage of time someone who has information, who was previously unwilling to talk to law enforcement will do so now with money as a motivator,” Moses said. 

The renewed efforts hold great potential for uncovering even the smallest clue, Pardue said.

“I think everybody has said from the beginning of this is there’s a piece of information — no matter how small — there is going to be that piece of information that is going to be enough to lead us in the direction that we need to go,” Pardue said. “So canvassing is an extremely good tool for that.”

Pardue admitted the passage of time and the fact that many nearby properties are rentals certainly complicates current efforts.

But “the point is, you never give up,” Jones said.

Moses encouraged anyone with information regarding Tuders’ disappearance to call Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.