The body of a missing Texas mother has been found on the side of an isolated highway, more than 70 miles from where she was last seen alive.
Tiera Strand, 25, was reported missing by family members on April 17 after she failed to return home from a night out in downtown Austin. Her family said that before she disappeared, Ms Strand was violently attacked by a group of women in the Mooseknuckle Pub and that the altercation spread outside the bar.
The mother-of-one was upset that friends who arrived at the bar with her did not intervene and left without her phone, bag and keys, according to her family. Part of the fight was caught on surveillance video and bystanders.
Although his concerned mother filed a missing person report with local police, they were reportedly told the case did not meet the criteria and a “stay tuned” (BOLO) was issued instead. Her body was found on Friday, April 21, on the side of a road near Temple, nearly 70 miles from the Mooseknuckle Pub.
“We just want answers…they definitely suspect foul play,” Strand’s cousin, Jessica Williams, said. the independent on Tuesday. “They just don’t have definitive answers for us at this point. I’ve been back and forth calling between [Austin police] and Middle County, trying to push this forward.”
Ms Williams said an autopsy is pending, but a preliminary investigation suggested Ms Strand died as a result of blunt trauma to the head. Texas Rangers searched her vehicle and tried on her clothing for evidence.
Ms Strand leaves behind a six-year-old daughter, who is coping with the loss as best she can but has not fully processed her mother’s passing, Ms Williams said.
Before the tragedy, she was juggling motherhood, school, and a full-time job as a certified nursing assistant. Upon graduating this summer, Ms. Strand planned to join the Navy.
“She loved to have fun, she loved to have a good time and have colorful hair. She loved doing her makeup,” Williams said. “She was very adamant about taking care of her daughter and being there for her and providing for her. And she was so loved by so many people that they all miss her.”
The family has created a GoFundMe to raise money for funeral expenses and hire a private investigator. Family members have previously expressed frustration at the delay in the initial search for her and the lack of answers following her death.
“Our goal is to obtain justice for Tiera and the mishandling of her case,” the page description read. “We also want to hire a private detective who can give us the proper answers needed about what happened from the time she was brutally assaulted in a crowd of people until her body was discovered.”
More than $4,000 had been raised as of Tuesday night.
Ms Strand’s sister, Mariah Herron, described her in a Facebook post as a devoted mother, sister and daughter, always ready to offer a helping hand.
“She was a woman who was going to go off and do what she wanted and no one could stand in her way,” the post said. “She trusted you so much because she thought that the things that a person would do in this cruel world couldn’t happen to her.”
“We will get the justice that Tiera deserves because she is more than just another dead black woman.”