Thursday, September 21, 2000

Remains those of waitress

Last seen alive 15 months ago

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        BURLINGTON — Tina Rae Fallis-Stevens was a 45-year-old Covington waitress and bartender who could tell a joke and cook a good spinach soup.

        On Tuesday, she officially became Boone County's first homicide victim of the year.

        At a news conference Wednesday, Boone County authorities said they are still looking for Ms. Stevens' killer — more than a year after she disappeared and more than five months since her body was found near Hebron.

        “We're not sure where the homicide occurred at this point,” said Boone County Police Lt. Jack Banks, who commands Boone County Criminal Investigations (BCCI), a joint operation of the police department and Boone County Sheriff's office.

        “The body was recovered in Boone County; obviously that gives us venue. There's a chance (the killing) may have occurred in Covington, it may have occurred in Boone County.”

        Wednesday's press conference at the Boone County Courthouse was also the first time members of Ms. Stevens' family talked about their lives in the more than 15 months since Ms. Stevens disappeared.

        “The means in which her life was taken was both brutal and horrific,” said Tanya Maddin, a cousin. “We live each day with memories and visions of Tina and her life and how she lived and how beautiful her life was.

        “Unfortunately, we now also live with the memory and visions of her death.”

[photo] Family members speak about Tina Rae Stevens Wednesday. From left: her niece, Bobbie Jo Abbott; Penny Abbott, Tina's sister; and Val Goetz, another sister.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Ms. Stevens' daughter, Michelle Lyons, said her mom never got to see her 6-month-old granddaughter and will not see her 4-year-old grandson again.

        “She was very funny,” said Ms. Lyons, 25, of Edgewood. “Anytime you feel bad, you wouldn't feel bad for long.”

        Authorities and the family released information about the crime for the first time Wednesday. Lt. Banks said police have known for two months the remains were those of Ms. Stevens but did not disclose the information because it was part of the investigation.

        Ms. Maddin said the divorced Ms. Stevens worked at several taverns in Kenton and Boone counties. She said Ms. Stevens and Sam Stevens of Boone County had been divorced five years at the time of the disappearance.

        Ms. Lyons said she last saw her mother around June 1, 1999, when Ms. Stevens boarded a TANK bus on 3L Highway headed for home. Three days later, she spoke to her by telephone but never heard from her after that.

        Ms. Maddin said she may have seen her cousin after Ms. Lyons did but doesn't remember any details after that. She said searches were conducted and posters were circulated over the next 10 months, but nothing turned up.

        Boone County Sheriff Mike Helmig said a cleaning crew of Boone County Jail inmates found human bones on April 10 along a steep slope of Ky. 20 between Ky. 8 and Ky. 212 — known locally as Mile Hill. BCCI Detective Todd Kenner said Ms. Stevens was not officially reported missing until April 26. State forensic anthropologist Dr. Emily Craig identified the remains as those of Ms. Stevens.

        From the beginning, Ms. Maddin said the family suspected foul play.

        “I don't know how long she was missing before she was reported missing,” Ms. Maddin said.

        Lt. Banks said BCCI looked at 182 missing persons reports but did not find anything on Ms. Stevens until a separate investigation started. Ms. Maddin said the family called Boone County authorities when they heard about the body.

        Detective Kenner said the bones were identified as Ms. Stevens' because of a broken leg bone and through bone spurs near the spine and a bruised rib. He said the injuries were unrelated to the slaying.

        Detective Kenner said several recent leads are being investigated. Ms. Stevens' family just wants the final information — the date of her death — for the headstone at a Cleves, Ohio, cemetery.

        “Imagine if this was happening in your family,” Ms. Lyons said. “She did not deserve to be thrown out like a piece of trash.”

       If you have information regarding the case, call either Boone County Criminal Investigations at (859) 334-2120 or CrimeStoppers at (513) 352-3040.

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