This recap of Unsolved Mysteries season 3, episode 1, “Mystery at Mile Marker 45,” contains spoilers.
The first episode of the third season of Unsolved mysteries looks at the case of Tiffany Valiante and asks a vital question: why would a seemingly happy teenager with a promising sporting future ahead of her throw herself under a train?
Unsolved Mysteries season 3, episode 1 recap
In 2015, Tiffany was hit by New Jersey Transit train 4693, and days later the incident was officially ruled a suicide. Local authorities were neither trained nor equipped to carry out a proper investigation. The scene of the incident, near the titular Mile Marker 45, was never considered a crime scene. To this day, Valiante’s parents are adamant that the suicide decision was made to avoid negligence charges from New Jersey Transit.
So, are Tiffany’s parents right? This episode unfolds as if they did, and appeals to a variety of people, both loved ones and concerned professionals, who agree that the circumstances surrounding Tiffany’s death were suspicious at best and suggestive of homicide at worst. . These 50 minutes don’t really argue for a potential suspect or motive, but rather lay out critical information that suggests, at the very least, that Tiffany didn’t kill herself.
“Mystery at Mile Marker 45” skims over or outright omits some details that have been reported elsewhere, particularly regarding the tumultuous home and social circumstances that immediately preceded Tiffany’s death – clashes with her mother, Dianne, family counseling, rebellious behavior , drug use, theft and rumors of self-harm. Her homosexuality is hinted at slightly in the context of her having just mutually ended a previous relationship and got a new partner.
While many of these details somewhat support the idea that Tiffany might have taken her own life, the details presented in the episode create a compelling case that the circumstances of her death were mishandled to say the least. She had a volleyball scholarship, had publicly stated that she was content with her life, and did not seem, at least not around her parents, to be struggling or in a state of depression.
On the night of her death, Tiffany was accused of using a friend’s debit card without her permission, which she later confessed. She wandered away from the family home and the last seen image of her was a snapshot taken by her father’s deer camera. His phone was later found abandoned near the house, which was deeply unusual. Hours earlier, four miles from her home, she was hit by a train with such force that it tore her limbs from her body.
New Jersey Transit said in driver and engineer testimony that Tiffany jumped in front of the train, but traveling at that speed, her arms and legs scattering in all directions, could have created the effect. She also died in her underwear. His headband and shoes were later discovered by Dianne, in a neat pile as if intentionally removed. There was no indication that Tiffany had walked barefoot for miles over rough terrain. So what happened?
We just don’t know – these are unsolved mysteries, after all. Rumors around town began to suggest a murder, but no one interviewed seemed to have any information. Tiffany’s death remains a suicide, but her family hopes her story featured in this series will do some good. We can only hope.
You can stream Unsolved Mysteries season 3, episode 1, “Mystery at Mile Marker 45” exclusively on Netflix.
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