Two Maryland women with connections to three murder suspects are now missing, leaving two sets of families worried sick.
Danielle Tyler, 18, and Heather Grogg, 33, have both been missing since Apr. 6, according to FBI Pittsburgh press releases provided to Oxygen.com. Authorities indicate they could be traveling together.
Maryland State Police spokesperson Greg Shipley told the Carroll County Times that they are “considered to be critically missing and in danger” but added “we cannot be more specific about why we believe this, due to the impact the release of investigative information at this time could have on ongoing investigations.”
The missing women have connections to three men recently arrested in the murder of Jonathan Riddle, who was found stabbed, beaten and then set on fire in West Virginia on Mar. 18, the Carroll County Times reports. The three Maryland men — David R. Sanford Jr., 26, John W. Black III, 22, and Monroe Merrell, 22 — were charged with kidnapping and murder in his death.
Riddle, 33, had gone to visit his friend Grogg at Sanford’s home the night before his murder, according to court records obtained by local outlet Spirit of Jefferson. Grogg had been living at Sanford’s home for about two months, working as a live-in babysitter, Grogg’s younger sister Brandie Hebb told Oxygen.com.
Hebb said Sanford is known to her family, and that he is the godfather to her daughter. She said he even lived with the family at one point.
Hebb said she last spoke to Grogg on Apr. 3. They had even spoken about Riddle’s murder before Grogg vanished. Hebb said Grogg seemed shocked by his death.
She is now concerned that her sister knows more than she led on.
“I worry that maybe if she witnessed this or if she knows too much that’s why she’s in critical danger,” she said. “It’s not like her to drop off the face of the earth.”
Hebb said that she and her sibling — a big fan of Tupac Shakur, Garth Brooks and Bon Jovi — are close and have always kept in touch.
“I can’t even watch movies anymore because she was so into movies and we would always share movie references,” she said. “People would look at us funny when we’d quote a movie, and they’d look at us and laugh. We had our own jokes to share between us.”
She said her sister is young at heart, and a big fan of swing sets.
“If she’s okay, and even if someone has her in a group, she’s gonna want to swing,” Hebb said. “She couldn’t pass up a swing to save her life.”
Hebb called Grogg a “bright and shining goofball.”
Grogg is a mother of four children: aged 18, 16-year-old twins and 14.
Sherry Tyler, Danielle Tyler’s grandmother and legal guardian, is also reeling from her loved one’s disappearance.
Danielle went through a break-up in March and recently began dating Merrell, Sherry told Oxygen.com. She said that Danielle began hanging out with him and a new group of friends following her break-up — becoming more secretive and spending nights away from the home she shares with Sherry and her siblings. In early April she came over to gather some clothes, and she declined to share details about what she'd been up to recently, Sherry said.
On Apr. 6, Sherry said she received a text from Danielle’s phone which stated that she was tired of drama. The text said she was shutting her phone off. Sherry said that was out of character for Danielle.
Soon after that, Sherry said Maryland State Police homicide detectives approached her looking for Danielle, adding they encouraged her to file a missing persons report. Maryland State Police deferred questions to FBI Pittsburgh, who declined to talk about the case with Oxygen.com. They did say over email that they can “assure the community that there is no wider threat to public safety at this time."
Danielle is a high school senior who was supposed to graduate this year, before the coronavirus pushed back commencement ceremonies. Sherry said she has been taking a video production and photography class and aspires to a photography career. Danielle, who has curly hair, always wears a backpack containing a flat iron to combat any undesired frizz and curls.
Sherry said she can barely function since Danielle’s disappearance.
“I love her more than life itself,” Sherry told Oxygen.com. “All she has to do is reach out and I will be there.”
While choking up, she said directly to her grandchild: “If you can get this message, pick up the phone, call me. I will be there. I have your back no matter what. I will be there.”
She calls Danielle her "baby."
She said if Danielle knew about Merrell’s criminal record, maybe she wouldn’t have gotten involved with him. He has been convicted for a 2016 kidnapping. While he was sentenced to 20 years in 2017, he was released on mandatory supervision in January, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesperson Mark Vernarelli told Carroll County News.
It’s not clear if Merrell, Black or Sanford have attorneys who can speak on their behalf.
Grogg has blue eyes and either red or blond hair. She weighs approximately 175 pounds. She has a lip piercing below her right lower lip. Danielle stands at 5'3 and has blonde hair and green eyes. She weighs 110 pounds. She has snake bite piercings on both sides of her lower lip and a small nose ring in both sides of her nose. Anyone with information is urged to call FBI's Pittsburgh Field Office at (412) 432-4000.
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