Danniella Vian had just saved enough money to buy her first car. The day she picked up her new vehicle was the last time she was seen; until a year later when her car was fished from a creek in Alabama. Was this a horrible accident or something more?
Danniella Vian was a single mother who was working hard to provide a better life for her daughter. At the age of 25, many in her close circle of friends describe her as a social and outgoing individual who was able to make friends wherever she went.
The day Danniella went missing
On July 17, 2018, Danniella had finally saved enough money to purchase a 2014 Chevy Cruz. She went out with some friends to celebrate including stopping at the Heroes Sport Bar and Grille to hang out with a co-worker / friend while he worked. She would be later joined by two others, Denson and Mallory to tune into the MLB All Star Game. Danniella knew Mallory through mutual friends, but it was her first time meeting Denson. According to her cell phone records, we know that Danniella was texting with friends and on Facebook from 7:14 until 10:05pm when Danniella was leaving the Heroes parking lot.
This would be the last known sighting of her and remains unclear what happened to Danniella. Her family thought she lost her cell phone—which would explain the sudden lack of communication. Three days later, after her friends made multiple attempts to contact her, a missing persons report was filed on July 20, 2018. It was particularly strange because prior to her disappearance, Danniella had arranged for two friends to take full custody of her daughter while Danniella took the time she needed to get her life in order. This process was in effect for several months before she went missing and was very cooperative the entire time. Therefore it was incredibly bizarre when she never made it to court on July 24, 2018—the day of the hearing and nearly a week since she was last seen.
When she was discovered
On July 25, 2018, law enforcement handed over Danniella’s missing person case to the homicide unit, despite having no evidence of a homicide believing that foul play did not play a role in her disappearance. The family continued to hold annual vigils to honor the anniversary of her disappearance as well as her birthday.
Then, a year later, in late April 2019 an off duty sergeant mapping areas for a diving training in Saraland, Alabama along the Bayou Sara Creek marked an 20-30 feet area for the dive team to investigate after his sonar equipment picked up something strange. A few days later on May 2, 2019, a dive team training took place and Danniella’s Chevy Cruz was recovered from the water. A law enforcement press conference was held to confirm that Danniella’s car as well as her remains were recovered from the water.
Preliminary autopsy and toxicology results were inconclusive; and an initial investigation pointed to the condition of the car being consistent with that of an accident. However, the investigation then reveals that certain manipulations to the inside of the vehicle indicated that Danniella had been alive when her car entered the water. But other discoveries seems much more perplexing for instance:
- The vehicle was found in park, which they believed Danniella did in a panic when she hit the water.
- Danniella was found in the driver's seat with no seatbelt on, and the keys were in the ignition, but the car was not turned on.
- The emergency brake was also engaged, the doors were locked, and the rear driver's side window was down about 2 inches.
Could someone have pushed her vehicle into the water?
Where the case stands today
Danniella’s case remains unsolved, but her family and friends are still fighting for justice. Despite her death being ruled “undetermined” her family has multiple questions about what happened to Danniella. A blow was dealt to the family’s investigation when her vehicle was auctioned off in the summer of 2020 by the insurance company for spare parts. Casefile covers this point and notes that photos of the interior of the car showed the back passenger seatbelt had been completely removed, which had not been previously mentioned by investigators.
If you have any information regarding Danniella Vian’s case please contact Mobile Police Department at (251) 208-1862 or (251) 208-7000.