Kansas City woman vanishes after early-morning traffic stop; phone, GPS deactivated
03/08/2017 1:37 pm PST
UPDATE June 1, 2017: Police release dashboard-camera video of Toni Anderson being pulled over shortly before she disappeared on January 15. Anderson was found dead in her car in the Missouri River on March 10.
UPDATE March 15, 2017: Kansas City police confirmed Wednesday that the body found inside a vehicle pulled from the Missouri River at Platte Landing Park Friday night was Toni Anderson, WDAF Fox 4 Kansas City reports.
When FOX 4 asked police if they suspect foul play in Anderson's disappearance, they simply said the investigation is still ongoing.
UPDATE March 12, 2017: The father of missing woman Toni Anderson said he believes the body found inside the car pulled from the Missouri River Friday is his daughter, WDAF reports.
“Nothing has been confirmed at this point. We hope to have the information from the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office tomorrow,” he said. “They've told us clothing is consistent with what she was last seen wearing.”
Brian also said authorities noted that Toni's possessions were still inside the car.
Police have officially confirmed that the Ford Focus found is Anderson's, and that a female body was found inside.
The Kansas City Police Department told FOX 4 they have not found evidence to suggest foul play was involved.
Toni's father said the mounting evidence leaves little hope that his 20-year-old daughter will ever return home.
“They said based on clothing, from what we understand, they have encouraged us to begin making arrangements at this point.”
“We appreciate all the things you have done and all the other folks out there. It's not the outcome we wanted. It sounds like there was no violence. It sounds like it was simply a car accident. That can give us some peace.”
UPDATE March 10, 2017: Missing Wichita woman Toni Anderson's car was found in the Missouri River Friday. Her car was pulled from the Platte Landing Park area.
Toni's father Brian Anderson told Crime Watch Daily that the plates on the car match Toni's missing black Ford Focus.
Stacey Graves with the Kansas City Police Department said while conducting a sonar check in the river, the SUV was first located underwater. Police pulled the SUV from the water, but it wasn't believed to be related to any Kansas City police investigations, WDAF reports.
Kansas City police said Friday they're unable to confirm the identity of the female who was found inside Anderson's car.
Toni Anderson vanished around 4:30 a.m. January 15.
Toni Anderson is driving along a Kansas City, Mo. highway in the early hours of the morning of Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 when her phone suddenly goes dead.
The GPS in her car is mysteriously disconnected, and she vanishes without a trace -- so strange and inexplicable that it seems like Toni's fallen off the face of the Earth.
It's now nearly two months since Toni Anderson went missing, and her mother's heart breaks a little more each day that passes with no sign of her 20-year-old daughter.
After graduating high school, Toni Anderson went off to college to study journalism. Toni left her life in Wichita, Kansas for a new chapter in Kansas City, Missouri, where she started a new job and was preparing to start her college classes.
But to help fund her studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Toni had been working as a cocktail waitress at a club called Chrome.
Toni's roommate Pete Sanchez was her live-in boyfriend she met back in Wichita and had been with for nearly two years.
Toni's friends Carly and Roxy were surprised the relationship became so serious. But they say Toni and Pete were deeply in love.
Carly says Pete did have some reservations about Toni working at a club.
"I know he didn't like her being out late, but it wasn't necessarily the lifestyle or the type of industry or anything," said Carly. "He was worried about her as a boyfriend, as someone who cares about her, not as someone who didn't respect her for what she did or anything like that."
Then one night Toni goes to work but doesn't come home.
And police would learn Toni was on her way to meet another man when she disappeared.
We do know Toni Anderson was last spotted on a Missouri road at a gas station. After that, things remain a true mystery.
Twenty-year-old Toni Anderson had been working the Saturday night late shift at Chrome, a club where she filled in part-time as a cocktail waitress. And after clocking out around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, police say, Toni was escorted to her car by the club owner and a security guard, who watched her drive away.
"I was asleep at the time she was getting off work. It's just like any other night. I thought she'd come home," said boyfriend Pete Sanchez.
But when Toni still hadn't returned to the apartment she shared with Sanchez by Monday morning, he called police to report her missing before breaking the news to Toni's parents.
When another day goes by with no word or sign of Toni, her frantic mom and dad drive to Kansas City to help look for her.
Pete and other friends are out searching for her too. But there was no sign of Toni, and the only thing police know for sure is that she didn't just up and run away.
"Based on her communications with her boyfriend, with her parents and with her associates here in Kansas City, it's just uncharacteristic for her to disappear like she did," said Kansas City Police Sgt. Benjamin Caldwell.
Toni was due to start college just two days after she vanished, and there was no indication she planned on going anywhere.
"She didn't take any money with her. She didn't pack any bags. She didn't do anything that would be indicative of somebody who is leaving of their own volition," said Sgt. Caldwell.
On the night she went missing, police say, Toni had told co-workers at Chrome that she was going to meet friends at another club in downtown Kansas City, called the Shady Lady.
But that just didn't make sense to police.
"They close at 3 in the morning, so the business was closed when she said she was going to go there," said Sgt. Caldwell.
And just after leaving work, Toni was in fact traveling in the opposite direction of the Shady Lady when she was pulled over by a police officer for making an illegal lane change.
"He said she said something to the effect that she needed to get gas," said Caldwell.
The officer let Toni off with a warning. Police say when she tried to use her debit card at the pump, it was declined. So she walked inside, paid cash and filled up her tank, according to police.
"She got into her car and somehow the GPS tracking device became disconnected," said Caldwell.
Police don't know if it simply malfunctioned, if Toni possibly disabled it herself, or if somebody else may have done it when she went to the cashier to pay for the gas.
"But I do know that when she started her car the GPS is no longer transmitting on her car," said Sgt. Caldwell.
"There is no visual evidence to show where she went," said Sgt. Caldwell.
Then, just like her GPS, Toni's cellphone would also mysteriously go dead while she's at the wheel, leaving no way for police to trace her movements.
Police made another disturbing discovery: Toni's last known words sent in a text message to her friend Roxy just before her phone died.
"And it said, 'OMG, just got pulled over again,'" said Roxy.
That led many in Kansas City to speculate that police might be looking for one of their own in Toni's disappearance.
"A lot of people started thinking police imposter or rogue police officer at that point in time because in and of itself it sounds like she's being pulled over twice," said Sgt. Caldwell.
Police investigated if Toni may have been stopped again by the same cop who pulled her over earlier.
"Of course we interviewed that officer and went and looked at surveillance footage in the area to try to get an idea of where she would have went," said Sgt. Caldwell.
Investigators concluded Toni was not stopped a second time by the same cop, saying they have other surveillance video showing him traveling in the opposite direction as Toni after they got on the highway. They say he is not a suspect or person of interest and has been cleared of any involvement in her disappearance.
Police also say Toni was not stopped by any other Kansas City officer on the night she disappeared, and they held a press conference to quell any public suspicions of a rogue cop.
Sgt. Caldwell says phone records and this surveillance tape would ultimately show that Toni was still at the gas station when she sent the text. He says he doesn't believe Toni Anderson was pulled over a second time. He says Toni's text saying she was being pulled over again referred to the fact she'd been stopped by cops on several occasions prior to that night.
"Contextually speaking, Toni had a history of getting traffic tickets and getting pulled over by police officers," said Sgt. Caldwell.
But as they searched for Toni, police found something else in her text and phone records that caught their attention: Communications indicating that when Toni disappeared she was actually on her way to meet another man, a co-worker at Chrome.
Sgt. Caldwell tells Crime Watch Daily that they were able to identify that friend, who was cooperative and forthcoming, but the friend did not yield any new clues. And Toni did not make her meeting at that location.
"Based upon what the investigation has revealed, yes, I can say with the utmost certainty that she did not go to that location," said Caldwell.
Police aren't saying if Toni's boyfriend Pete Sanchez was aware she had a male friend at Chrome.
So now nearly two months after Toni Anderson disappeared, investigators are no closer to finding out what's become of her.
"I can't explain why we haven't found her yet, and more specifically, why I can't find the car," said Caldwell.
Police confirmed to Crime Watch Daily that they have gone through all Toni's phone and financial records and that they are waiting for her iCloud information. They're thinking there was someone on the iCloud she was messaging that they don't know about.
"I think the Cloud is the key to deciphering her last known whereabouts and moments," said Sgt. Caldwell.
Toni Anderson is described as 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing about 140 lbs., with blonde hair and green eyes.