TAMPA — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Sunday night that the body of 27-year-old Tampa mother Teneisha Griffith, who had been missing two weeks, has been found.
Pasco deputies received a 911 call around 1:30 p.m. Thursday about a body found in the Lacoochee area, on the outskirts of the wooded Richloam Wildlife Management Area near Lacoochee Claysink Road and State Road 575.
The Sheriff’s Office did not confirm the manner of death. Griffith’s body was found nearly 50 miles northeast of Tampa, where she was reported missing. On Sunday evening her family confirmed it was her.
Griffith is the youngest of four sisters and mother of a 12-year-old daughter, her family said. Relatives and friends became concerned when they lost contact with her on March 19 and she was reported missing to the Tampa Police Department.
On Sunday, her sister Rena Walters announced Griffith’s death in a Facebook post and thanked all who had helped in the search for the missing woman.
In an email to the Tampa Bay Times Monday afternoon, Walters described her sister as “charismatic, funny and truly one-of-a-kind.” The past week spent searching for her sister have been a “nightmare” for all who knew her, she said.
“We can’t begin to describe the pain we are feeling,” the statement said. “Anyone who knows Teneisha knows that she was FIERCELY LOYAL, and when she entered the room she filled it. On birthdays, holidays, and random weekdays or weekends our family rooms will never again be filled, an emptiness we know will be felt by friends in rooms from Florida to California.”
In a news release Sunday night, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said the family had given permission to release Griffith’s name and confirmed the body was hers. The discovery and name had been withheld because of Marsy’s Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution that was meant to protect crime victims but that deprives the public of information long available under Florida’s public records law.
Pasco deputies said Griffith was last seen in the South Tampa area, driving her white 2008 Nissan Altima with Florida tag QSBE04. The car has not been found.
Griffith attended Pasco-Hernando State College and was happy in her job at an Amazon fulfillment center, her family said. She was smart and responsible, Walters said, and was always in touch with her family.
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Walters and Darling said Griffith came home from her job around 3 p.m. on March 18. She texted her father that night, but friends and family hadn’t heard from her since, they said. Griffith’s family first learned something was wrong when they began receiving Facebook messages from friends saying Griffith hadn’t shown up to a gathering she was expected at March 19.
In Walter’s emailed statement, she issued a plea to the public to come forward with any information that could bring closure to Griffith’s family and the daughter she leaves behind.
“Teneisha deserved better than this,” the email said. “If she considered you friend or family you know how far she would go for you! So let’s not stand for this. It’s time for us to be Loyal like Teneisha.”
Friends of Griffiths have also created a Go Fund Me page, called “Missing Tampa Woman Found Deceased,” to help her family pay for funeral expenses and to help provide for her daughter. By Monday afternoon, the page had raised about $2,500 of its $10,000 goal.
Anyone with information was asked to call the Pasco Sheriff’s Office at 1-800-706-2488, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS, or visit PascoSheriff.com/tips.
Tampa Bay Times reporter Michaela Mulligan contributed to this report.