MAYS LANDING, N.J. — A retired medical investigator is siding with a New Jersey couple fighting to overturn the classification of their daughter’s death as a suicide.
Louise Houseman says there are enough unanswered questions in the death of Tiffany Valiante to warrant revising her manner of death to “undetermined.”
She notes that Valiante’s mother found her shoes about a mile from where she was hit by a train in 2015. But the 18-year-old had no scratches on her feet, despite the rough terrain nearby.
“If she walked barefoot in those conditions, the autopsy of her feet would have showed lacerations, abrasions or indications of soil, grass, stone or gravel,” Houseman wrote. “No such evidence was detected.”
The family also says that investigators never interviewed Valiante’s relatives or obtained her medical records to see if she seemed suicidal.
Houseman, who worked for the Atlantic County Medical Examiner’s Office, reviewed the case for the family and wrote a report included as part of a civil lawsuit they filed this week.
The suit, filed by attorney Paul R. D’Amato, alleges she was kidnapped and killed, but does not name any suspects. D’Amato says the suit will allow him to subpoena witnesses in an effort to get answers.
“It is our hope that this litigation will not only result in the proper classification, but also brings to justice those responsible for her death,” D’Amato told NewsWorks.
Valiante was last seen July 12, 2015, walking across the street from her Mays Landing home to a cousin’s graduation party. She was found dead about four miles away after being hit by a New Jersey Transit train.
The Office of the Attorney General, which oversees the state’s medical examiners, declined comment.