Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Disappearance and Death of Danielle Griffith

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The morning of May 17th, 2019 began as a fairly typical day in the town Tumwater, Washington. It was a partly cloudy day, and the temperatures ranged from the high fifties to the lower 60s. It seemed like as good of a day as any for the property owners on Sapp Rd. SW to do clearing on their land. An excavator was used, and at some point, the machinery unearthed something unexpected: a human skeleton. Police were called, and investigators began working to identify the remains.

Forensic examination of both the remains and the area where they were found revealed a few things early on; namely that the remains belonged to a female ranging from the ages of 13-19, and whoever buried her did so with the intention of hiding her body. DNA from the body was sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification to undergo testing. It took months, but in February of 2020, the remains were identified as Danielle J. Griffith of Olympia, Washington. 

Danielle was one of several missing young girls in the surrounding area. She was reportedly last seen alive by her family members in August of 2014, when she was just 17 years old. Danielle was classified as a runaway, and her disappearance did not receive a lot of attention from the public. The discovery of her remains has left both her loved ones and the community with more questions than answers. Namely, the main questions that remain are: What happened to Danielle? How did she die? Who buried her on the property in Tumwater?

Danielle's disappearance.

Source: Justice for Danielle Griffith Facebook page.

As previously stated, Danielle went missing in August 2014. Reports state that she left her home with "nothing but a cell phone" and never returned. Danielle was subsequently reported missing as a runaway. 

Both Danielle's cell phone and Facebook page became inactive after she vanished. Her case continued to be classified as a runaway case, despite the fact that her family had not heard from her or seen any sign of her. Then, in early 2016, it was reported that Danielle had "possibly been seen at a medical facility". Though it appears this was never confirmed, the police closed her case after this reported sighting. 

Later that year, Danielle's family members filed another missing person's report. Then, the case seemingly went cold. Years passed without any updates in the case. The news never reported about her disappearance.

Finding and identifying Danielle.

After it was determined that the remains found buried on the property in Tumwater belonged to a female aged 13-19, detectives were tasked with identifying the person. They opted not to report about the discovery of the body in the news at first. Tumwater Police Public Information Officer Laura Wohl explained that they did not appeal to the public when they found the remains because they wanted to "to confirm an identity and inform the family."

Still, the case was posted on the website for the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) and the listing could be viewed publicly. A forum for the unidentified remains was created on Websleuths, and the users began to discuss the potential identity. In the months that followed, users posted about the various missing girls in the area that could possibly be the deceased person. Danielle's name was not mentioned until February 2020 - just a day or two before it was confirmed that the remains did, in fact, belong to her.

As mentioned before, the remains were finally identified after DNA was tested at University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. According to Officer Wohl, it took a long time due to a "specific type of DNA testing" that needed to be done. After it was confirmed that the remains belonged to Danielle, investigators finally spoke about it publicly.

Seeking help from the locals.

In February 2020, it was reported that the Tumwater Police were seeking help from the public to solve Danielle's case. Investigators were reportedly unable to determine how Danielle died or whether or not foul play was involved. They labeled Danielle's death as "suspicious" - especially because it was clear that she had been purposely buried. 

Police stated that they also were not sure when Danielle died. The 2020 report said that investigators were "attempting to piece together a timeline that led to the girl’s death and contact people who may have known Griffith between 2014 and 2018."

It appears that investigators believe that Danielle might have been alive for a few years after her initial disappearance in 2014. If that is the case, there are many unanswered questions about what Danielle might have been doing or where she stayed during those years. 

Where the case stands today.

Danielle's case still remains unsolved. Her sister runs a Facebook page dedicated to the case called Justice for Danielle Griffith. Meanwhile, investigators are still seeking information that could help determine what happened to Danielle. 

If you have any information that could help the investigation, please submit a tip. 

The Chronicle 
King 5 News
Kiro 7 News

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