July 11, 2019 - 4:13 PM EDT
Four Years After Suspicious Death of N.J. Star Teenage Athlete, Tiffany Valiante's Family Intensifies Search For Answers
Four Years After Suspicious Death of N.J. Star Teenage Athlete, Tiffany Valiante's Family Intensifies Search For Answers

NJ Transit sued over "missing" DNA evidence; $20,000 reward offered

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J., July 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- For the family of 18-year-old star athlete Tiffany Valiante there can be no closure until they get answers to the lingering, disturbing questions about their daughter's suspicious death on July 12, 2015. Frustrated but undeterred in their quest for justice, today they sued to have DNA evidence – collected by investigators but never analyzed – released and tested. The family recently learned from authorities that it would have to pay for the tests, which could cost more than $10,000. And they are also offering a $20,000 reward, the first posted in the case.

Attorney Paul D'Amato, whose Egg Harbor Township-based law firm represents the Valiante family, filed the complaint (Valiante v. N.J. Transit Police Department, Superior Court of NJ, Atlantic County, No. ATL-L-OO1840-19) in which the Court is asked to order the transit agency to release for testing Tiffany's bloodied ankle bracelet, headband, sneakers, and numerous other personal items recovered at or near the railroad tracks where she was struck by a New Jersey Transit (NJT) commuter train shortly before midnight near the Tilton Ave. bridge, Galloway Township.

"The N.J. Medical Examiner abruptly concluded Tiffany's death was suicide despite the lack of motive, the benefit of a full autopsy, a rape-kit analysis, or DNA-evidence analysis, all for reasons still unknown four years after her mysterious death," he explained. "We are now appealing to the Court to compel NJT to come clean and release all the material evidence in this case for certified scientific testing by a laboratory approved by the state office of Attorney General," he added. "If the agency cannot produce the evidence, for whatever reason, we will immediately ask the Attorney General for an investigation."

The filed Complaint includes numerous attachments, including the reports of a highly regarded former Atlantic County Medical Examiner and a former senior investigator in that same office. Both independently concluded that Tiffany Valiante's death was not suicide.  

Besides filing the lawsuit yesterday, Tiffany's family today posted a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case of what they believe is an unsolved crime.

Along with the reward, tomorrow they'll begin distribution of  lawn signs and bumper stickers as part of the public awareness campaign.

"We need to know how and why our precious daughter, who had everything to live for as she was about to start her college years, was killed, including whether she was brutally murdered then thrown onto the train tracks to conceal the killing," Tiffany's parents, Dianne F. Valiante and Stephen F. Valiante, explained. "Forensic experts have stated under oath Tiffany's death was not suicide, and we remain committed to doing everything possible to answer the many troubling questions NJT investigators seemingly ignored in their rush to judgement so they could call Tiff's death 'closed.'" They added, "We are deeply troubled that after all this time NJT might not be able to account for the evidence that we were shocked to learn can only be tested at our own expense."

The Valiantes also noted that Tiffany, whose mangled body was found partially clothed and barefoot,  inexplicably was killed nearly five miles from the family home, yet  her shoes were located more than a mile from the scene. The shorts she was wearing that night were never recovered. "Somebody knows how Tiffany got from our house to the train tracks and we're hoping the reward will motivate one or more people who know something to finally say something," they said.

Former Atlantic County Surrogate James Carney is among many who believe there can be no justice for Tiffany until the circumstances surrounding her death are re-examined.

"DNA evidence has been a major factor, often years later after the killing, in solving one mysterious death after another," he commented. "NJT must be held accountable for its actions, and it is shameful that the family has to go to court- and remortgage their house -  to obtain evidence, and pay to have it analyzed, in their daughter's case. Why, for instance, did NJT not follow instructions of the State Police to have collected DNA from Tiffany's ankle bracelet tested?"

Prior to her death, Tiffany was making plans to attend her first year at Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, New York), where she was awarded an athletic scholarship. An all-conference volleyball player at Oakcrest High School and for the East Coast Crush Volleyball Club, she was heavily recruited by colleges and longed to play at the highest level – possibly someday in the Olympic games - while pursuing a career in criminal justice.

Family and friends will gather privately on Friday to, once again, remember Tiffany, pray for justice, and distribute "Justice for Tiffany" bumper stickers and lawn signs.


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SOURCE D'Amato Law Firm

Source: PR Newswire (July 11, 2019 - 4:13 PM EDT)