Missing Mom Danniella Vian Was Found Dead In A Submerged Car—How Did She Get There?

Inside the ongoing investigation to find out what happened in the disappearance and the tragic discovery of the 24-year-old single mom.

June 26, 2019
Danniella Vian [Investigation Discovery]

Photo by: Danniella Vian [Investigation Discovery]

Danniella Vian [Investigation Discovery]

By: Mike McPadden

MOBILE, AL — On July 17, 2018, family members say Danniella Vian, 24, purchased a 2014 blue Chevy Cruz with money she’d saved from her job at P.F. Chang’s. It was reportedly a major milestone for the hard-working single mom of a three-year-old named Cora from Mobile, Alabama.

Julie Thomas, Cora’s fraternal grandmother, told NBC News that Vian said she was going out that evening to celebrate the new vehicle.

Her first stop, Thomas said, was a bar where her pal Randy Capps worked as a bartender. Once there, Vian allegedly met a couple — a woman whose name is not known and a man reportedly named Denson White.

Thomas said that Vian and the couple moved on to a second bar to wait until Capps finished his shift. When Capps texted that he was done, the group reportedly decided to meet up with him at a third location.

While traveling to the third bar in separate cars and stopping for gas, Vian allegedly told White that she had left her cellphone behind at the previous establishment and she was going back to get it.

White reportedly said he watched Vian as she followed him back to the second bar, but she never got there. He allegedly went inside, found her phone, and moved on to the third bar to give it to her — but she didn’t show up there, either. Those final moments on the road were reportedly the last time anyone saw Danniella Vian alive.

For the next eight months, police investigated the disappearance while Vian's loved ones searched everywhere and mounted a massive campaign online to find her. No new clues emerged.

Then, on May 2, 2019, authorities announced a heartbreaking discovery: During a training session, police divers found Vian’s Chevy Cruz at the bottom of Bayou Sara in Saraland, Alabama. Worse still, a female body was reportedly inside the vehicle.

A week later, family and friends gathered at a vigil in Vian’s honor. Even though examiners hadn’t yet confirmed that the remains were hers, Julie Thomas expressed gratitude for all those who helped in the search and said, “We still have things we need to do for Danniella, but our job is done as far as looking for her."

Joy and Bill Vian, Danniella’s parents, said in an official statement:

“Bill and I have been notified that the homicide unit at this point is leaning towards an accident. We are heart broken and devastated about these findings. Danniellas father and I still have hope in the homicide division due to the fact that they have not closed the case and its still ongoing. There is yet to be a positive ID of our daughter Danniella Vian. Please continue to keep our daughter Danniella in your prayers.”

On June 10, the Mobile Police Department (MPD) announced that DNA testing had positively identified the body as being that of Daniella Vian.

Danniella Vian [Investigation Discovery]

Photo by: Danniella Vian [Investigation Discovery]

Danniella Vian [Investigation Discovery]

MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste stated, “Preliminary investigation has revealed that the condition as to how Vian’s car was found in Bayou Sara is consistent with that of an accident. The investigation into her death will remain ongoing.”

The chief added that the police were announcing the information in the interest of community safety, saying, “We wanted to at least let the public know that we are not looking for someone that is going around abducting woman.”

Vian's parents have said that they are glad that the investigation remains open. Toxicology reports on Vian’s remains may take up to six months to be finalized. In the meantime, police continue to piece together what might have happened that night leading up to the banks of Bayou Sara.

To learn more about the Danniella Vian case, watch Still A Mystery on ID GO now!

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