Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell is expected to announce a breakthrough Thursday in the case of Tiffany Sessions, the University of Florida student who was 20 when she disappeared near campus in 1989.
The agency, along with her parents, Patrick Sessions of Coconut Grove and Hilary Sessions of Tampa, will describe efforts by its cold case squad on the investigation, name a suspect in the abduction and reveal other evidence.
The goal, the agency said Wednesday, is to try and generate new leads from the public.
While driving to Gainesville from South Florida on Wednesday morning, Patrick Sessions said authorities will describe possible links between his daughter and a dead man who had previously been convicted of murder, kidnapping and sexual battery.
Paul Rowles was 64 when he died in Feb. 2013 while in state custody. According to Patrick Sessions, Rowles was in Gainesville working as a pizza delivery man and for a construction company in the city at the same time Tiffany Sessions and another woman whose body was recently discovered lived there.
“They are still searching for Tiffany,” said Sessions, a developer who helped create the city of Weston while president of Arvida Corp. “They did a big search a week or two ago and as we speak, there is machinery digging now.”
He is hoping that if his daughter’s remains are recovered, DNA will point toward a killer, or that Thursday’s announcement will jog someone’s memory about Tiffany’s disappearance.
“It’s the biggest news we’ve had in 25 years,” Sessions said, adding that he feels his daughter around him when he is in Gainesville. “It’s kind of a mixed thing. I feel some relief that we’re finally getting somewhere. You’d love to absolutely know, and that’s why we’re asking for help. “
He said about his crusade to keep his daughter’s story in the news for the past quarter century, “I don’t think you have a choice but to keep going. I always felt like I wanted to be able to say that if Tiff walked in the door, I could tell her, 'I did everything to try and find you.'
"I’m an A type personality and it’s not in me to give up on anything," he said. "I owed it to Tiffany to pound this until we put this to rest. I hope we recover her body and bring her home.”
In a separate call, Hilary Sessions, who is divorced from Patrick, said, “Over the past 25 years, one of the biggest issues I’ve had to deal with is living between her walking through the door tomorrow, and her not coming home. The hardest part is not knowing.”
The parents both praised the efforts of Sheriff Darnell and investigator Kevin Allen.
“The case is a cold case, and I am so glad we have a new sheriff in Alachua County,” Hilary Sessions said. ”She’s made a commitment to close cold cases and I’m so pleased with what she is doing, and investigator Kevin Allen, too, for keeping an open mind and following all the evidence as far as it went.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun