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Body Of A Teen Girl Missing For Months Is Found Buried In Neighbor’s Yard

The body of a 17-year-old Indiana girl missing since June was found buried Tuesday in the yard of her neighbor, who authorities said later confessed to killing her.

Patrick A. Scott, 59, was charged with murder in the death of Valerie Tindall, a high schooler who lived with her family just behind his home in Arlington, a rural community southeast of Indianapolis. She also had a summer job mowing lawns for Scott, a family friend who owned a landscaping business. On June 7, she told her family she was going to work, according to a police report obtained by HuffPost, but they never saw her again.

Tindall’s remains were identified by a coroner on Thursday.

Valerie Tindall had worked for the neighbor, who had a landscaping business.
Valerie Tindall had worked for the neighbor, who had a landscaping business.

Valerie Tindall had worked for the neighbor, who had a landscaping business.

Tindall, who had just finished her junior year in high school, loved animals and planned to be a veterinarian, her parents told reporters following a news conference Wednesday announcing Scott’s arrest.

She was “so sweet and smart, and funny,” her parents, Shena Sandefur and Jack Tindall, said, and she loved to create TikTok videos with her two sisters.

Scott was arrested at his home. When he was being interviewed, investigators reported, Scott said he strangled Tindall with his belt at his home because she tried to seduce him and then, when he turned her down, threatened to blackmail him.

“I wasn’t going to have it,” investigators said they were told by Scott, according to the police report. When they asked whether it bothered him that he had killed her, investigators said he replied, “Well I wasn’t too crazy about it.”

Scott had been identified as “a person of interest” within weeks of Tindall’s disappearance, Rush County Sheriff Allan Rice said at the news conference Wednesday. Investigators said he told them and Tindall’s family that he did not see her the day she disappeared but later changed his story several times, according to court documents obtained by HuffPost.

On June 29, days after police found Tindall’s Honda Accord at an apartment complex where Scott did landscaping work, he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of lying to police and hindering the investigation. According to the police report, investigators said Scott changed his statements after they told him his accounts were contradicted by traffic camera footage, GPS data and a text message to him from Tindall at 11:23 a.m. on the day she disappeared saying, “I’ll be there soon.” According to investigators, Scott said then he had moved Tindall’s car at her request to a spot where it wouldn’t be noticed.

A statewide missing person alert was issued for Valerie Tindall days after she disappeared.
A statewide missing person alert was issued for Valerie Tindall days after she disappeared.

A statewide missing person alert was issued for Valerie Tindall days after she disappeared.

On Oct. 11, investigators said cadaver dogs confirmed the presence of human remains at a pond near Scott’s property, but her body wasn’t found. An aerial survey, however, showed “multiple areas of obvious ground disturbance,” and investigators returned to dig those areas on Nov. 28. They found her remains in a long wooden box wrapped in a tarp.

The day after Tindall went missing, Scott purchased lumber at Home Depot matching the box her body was found in, investigators said in the police report, citing purchase records. During his interview, investigators said, Scott told them he had constructed the box and buried Tindall’s body in it after storing it overnight in his office. His family didn’t know he killed her and weren’t involved in concealing the crime, investigators said Scott insisted.

Scott and Tindall “had a bond,” Sandefur, her mother, said. “They were friends. She worked for him, but she also hung out with his family.”

Both families often socialized together, Sandefur said. In the days after Tindall’s disappearance, Scott and his wife visited their home several times to support and encourage them, suggesting that she had run away but would eventually return.

But Tindall’s family said they never believed that. The fact that she hadn’t reached out to her family or friends or posted on social media told her mother that “something was definitely wrong.”

“I didn’t believe that for one minute really in my heart” that she had run away, Sandefur said, “but I wanted to.”

In a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for funeral expenses, Sandefur’s sister said, “All that’s left to do is put our baby girl to rest, get answers & justice.”

In addition to murder, Scott is charged with felony obstruction of justice and false informing. 

According to court records, Scott is currently being held without bond. The county public defender appointed to represent him did not immediately return a request for comment. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 19.

“My daughter didn’t deserve this,” Sandefur said, wiping away tears. “We just want answers right now. We just want answers as to why.”

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