Who killed Tiffany Robin Stubbs?

Tiffany Robin Stubbs graveIntroduction

Tiffany Robin Stubbs (April 21, 1986 – May 27, 1988) had just turned two when she died. She was the daughter of Dwayne & Edna (Nash) Stubbs. She had a four-year-old brother.

This post is a work in progress. There are many gaps and I am still gathering information. However, a two-year-old died and it seems that nobody was ever arrested in her case. Aside from a few mentions, she has no web presence. Therefore, this is the Case of the Month for June 2018.

The Case

Tiffany’s nude body was found about 11 hours after she was reported missing. Around 430pm, two boys found her face down in approx. 18 inches of water near the Little Blue River, Kansas City, Missouri. Her remains were just a few miles away from her home on 300 Hill Street, Belton, Missouri.

Police could not rule out homicide and foul play appears the only logical answer. The cause of death was asphyxiation from drowning. Tiffany had bruises on her back however, authorities were not sure whether they have anything to do with her death.

  • If those bruises were not related to her death how did she hurt herself? What type of bruises? At what part of her back?

Police had no suspect and no motive. Read on because I found some interesting details.

Tiffany Robin StubbsThe Circumstances

Tiffany’s parents woke up around 530am and could not find her. Someone took Tiffany from the living room of the apartment where they all slept. The parents think that this must have happened between 1230 and 445 am on the morning of May 27, 1988.

The person who took Tiffany had entered the apartment by cutting the screen door and opened the lock on the front door. Nobody heard anything.

I have not found a lot online but got some interesting details from the lawsuit the parents filed against the landlord.

Duty of Care

DeWayne and Edna Stubbs sued David Panek, Lucena Panek, Victor Faletti, and Steve Owens for the wrongful death of their daughter, Tiffany Robin Stubbs. Their apartment was part of the Brookview duplex owned by Lucena Panek and her son, David Panek.

According to this lawsuit “Tiffany was taken by her abductor to a creek approximately three miles from her home, sexually assaulted, and murdered.”

  • If we know that Tiffany was sexually assaulted do we have DNA? What did the autopsy report specify happened to her?
  • Where were her clothes? What was she wearing when she went to sleep? Was anything ever found?
  • Did Tiffany sleep in a bed or on a couch?
  • How easy was it to see in the dark when so many people are sleeping in the living room? That person must have known the layout of that living room.

Victor Faletti was employed by Lucena and David Panek as the live-in property manager of Brookview duplex. Steve Owens was alleged to be an employee as well.

There was evidence that the screen door to the Stubbs’ home was cut. The screen door latch was unlocked. Mrs. Stubbs was the last person who was up the night Tiffany was abducted. She testified in her deposition that she closed the wooden front door when she went to bed. That was her habit. However, that front door was not a safe door.

There was a gap in the front door frame between the jamb and the door. It was almost wide enough for a person to stick their finger in. That gap made it possible to unlock the door with an object such as a credit card. Mr. Stubbs had often complained about the door and repeatedly asked for repairs. He was told to wait and that he could not repair the door himself.

The landlord told Mr. Stubbs that he was specifically not allowed to put a deadbolt lock or a chain lock on that front door or repair the door in any other way to make it more secure. Stubbs was told it was Faletti’s job to make those repairs.

So this raised the question who is in charge of the front door when it comes to safety: the tenant or the landlord. If it is the landlord you take away the tenants’ power to protect themselves which can lead to very dangerous situations. Of course, a landlord should be aware that certain repairs need to be done for the safety of the tenants.

How far does a landlord’s duty of care go? Do they need to know specifically what danger is imminent or do they have a general duty of care? If you are interested in this lawsuit check the Law Pipe (link below) for more on the duty of a landlord to keep tenants safe.

The details from this lawsuit you need to know are as follows:

  1. The Stubbs claimed the landlord was negligent because Victor Faletti (and thus the landlord) provided Steve Owens with keys to their apartment.
  2. Steve Owens, the alleged murderer of Tiffany Stubbs (as per the lawsuit, do we have DNA?), definitely had keys. One time Boyd Stubbs had forgotten his keys and Steve Owens opened the door for him. Boyd is Dewayne’s brother and he lived in his brother’s apartment too. I’d like to know if Boyd was eliminated as a suspect. Not accusing, just wondering.
  3. There was evidence Steve Owens did maintenance work around the complex, but the landlord denied that he was an employee. However, if the on-site property manager gives keys to someone who does maintenance work an employer-employee relationship is created.
  4. The trial record said that at the time of Tiffany’s abduction, Owens had a charge pending against him for petty larceny and a conviction for illegal trash dumping. There was also a charge for alleged child abuse but it was dropped.
  5. There isn’t any other information about Owens and I haven’t been able to find anything in the public domain.

One more curious detail: on appeal in this case Owens was no longer a party as the Stubbs dismissed their cause of action against him. I wonder what made them decide to do that. I wish I knew more.

I tried to find more by checking the Stubbs lawyer. Unfortunately, Michael D. Gibbons passed away in 2015. The building where he had his law offices is for sale/rent and the phones are disconnected. I am still looking into this and will update this post hopefully soon.

Rest in peace, Tiffany Robin Stubbs.

**

In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis. Often more information is online or in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget Tiffany Robin Stubbs. Just because her case seems cold does not mean that we can forget about her.

If you have any thoughts about this case I encourage you to post them on your social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) Every time that we mention Tiffany Robin Stubbs online we enhance her digital footprint. We must make sure that she keeps her web presence if we ever wish to find answers in her cases. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.

Thank you for remembering Tiffany Robin Stubbs with us.

**

Resources

Lawrence Journal May 27, 1988

Law Pipe

The Oklahoman