The truth is, we may never know what really happened to 31-year-old Diane Hollins and her 14-year-old daughter, Tammy. It was June 9, 1979, in Daytona Beach, Florida when the pair were seen by one of their neighbors walking down International Speedway Boulevard. It was early in the day, around 6:00 a.m., and where the mother-daughter duo was headed is unknown. Diane and Tammy left their personal belongings at home and there weren’t any large financial transactions made to suggest they were traveling. By all accounts, they were expected to return home at any time. That was the last time Diane Hollins and Tammy Hollins were ever seen alive.
People grew concerned for Diane and Tammy’s safety after the mother didn’t show up for work and Tammy never arrived for school. Diane had separated from her husband and Tammy’s father Alphonso Hollins, however, the family of three were still living under the same roof. That apparently didn’t stop Diane from dating, because her sister, Loretta Robinson, told news reporters that Diane Hollins was in a relationship with a “peculiar” man named Ben Ponder.
Two days after Diane and Tammy vanished, Alphonso reported them missing.
Here is where things get interesting. Seven years after the mother and daughter went missing in 1986, human remains were found in Screven County, Georgia. It’s described as a rural area not far from gentile Savannah. A coroner determined that the remains belonged to a woman between the ages of 20 and 40, but they were unable to identify the Jane Doe. The bones went untouched until 1992 when a forensic pathologist decided to take another look. They changed the age range and said that the remains belonged to a girl between 15 and 20 and she’d been dead one to eight years. Investigators believed that they belonged to 14-year-old Tammy Hollins.
Still, DNA wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so it would still be many years before we learned about those unearthed bones found in the outskirts of a Georgia country. There were many times since 1979 that the case of Diane Hollins and Tammy Hollins went cold, and it wouldn’t be until 2013 that they would learn the remains found in 1986 was indeed that missing teen. This was both heartbreaking and satisfying for the family, as they held out hope that their loved ones were still alive, but also resolved to have closure to the decades-long mystery.
However, Diane Hollins is still missing. Due to the updated status of Tammy’s case, she’s presumed to be dead.
Ben Ponder, Diane’s boyfriend at the time she vanished, died in 2009. He was the chief suspect in the case, and investigators were able to question him before he passed away. According to reports, he denied being involved in Diane or Tammy’s disappearance. Police believed that he was responsible because he had family ties to Screven County where Tammy’s remains were located.
When Diane went missing, she was described as being 5 feet 6 inches tall and 135 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. She would be 72-years-old at the time of this publication.
Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact the Daytona Beach Police Department at 386-671-521 or their local authorities.
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