HOLIDAY, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Pasco County mother accused of lying about her daughter being nearly kidnapped has been arrested a second time for allegedly trying to persuade her daughter to lie about what happened.
Pasco County detectives said they spent “a lot of man-hours and multiple resources” investigating the original claim Saturday night.
It started when 36-year-old Tammy Steffens reported that her 12-year-old daughter was nearly kidnapped, but their investigation revealed she was lying.
Deputies said they responded to Steffens’ home on Mela Court in Holiday, and she told them the attempted kidnapper tried to take her daughter into the woods behind their home.
Steffens showed them a black laptop cover hidden in nearby bushes where she claimed to see the man, according to Steffans’ arrest affidavit. Inside the cover was a blue notepad containing personal information about Steffans and her home.
Deputies said Steffans claimed she never saw the laptop cover or notepad before.
Steffans and her daughter identified the man as a former business partner, according to detectives.
Initially, the daughter claimed she never saw him before the alleged incident but then changed her story to say she saw a photo of him on her mother’s phone.
The daughter added that her mother and the man are no longer friends, according to Steffans' arrest affidavit.
The child became emotional and began to cry during the interview. She then asked investigators what might happen to her mother if she told the truth.
Deputies said the child then claimed the man approached her, grabbed her forearm, and tried to drag her into the woods. They made contact with the man later, but he provided surveillance video showing he was in Tampa at the time of the alleged crime.
By Monday, Steffans left a voicemail for the sheriff’s office claiming her daughter has not moved or eaten for two days.
“We have not been able to get her to talk,” she said in the voicemail, according to deputies, and requested a victim advocate for her daughter.
On Tuesday, deputies found messages on Steffans’ cell phone, blaming the former business partner of sabotaging an online contest she entered.
At that point, detectives say Steffans declined the previously-requested victim advocacy services.
On Wednesday, investigators obtained surveillance video from Walmart showing Steffans buying a laptop cover and blue notepad. The items were similar to the ones found in the bushes behind her home. They said she also bought a pack of colored pens containing the colors black, blue, red, and purple.
The notepad at the scene had handwritten notes with black, blue, and red ink.
Deputies arrested Steffans on Thursday for filing a false report, fabricating evidence, and child neglect. In an interview, deputies said she admitted to making up the allegations, coaching her daughter, and purchasing the items at Walmart.
Friday, deputies say Steffans called her daughter from jail and tried to persuade the little girl to take responsibility for the plan, according to deputies. When they confronted Steffans about the conversation, she said her intention was not to persuade her daughter to lie, but then told detectives the kidnapping plan had been her daughter's all along.
Steffen was re-arrested and charged with tampering with a witness/victim.