Updated: Jan 3
In March of 2005, Bianca Noel Piper was a thirteen-year-old girl trying to figure out her place in the world. Bianca was born December 26th, 1991, to David Piper and Shannon Tanner. Bianca had two older sisters, Amber and Tiffany. Amber was seventeen and Tiffany fourteen in 2005. Bianca’s parents were divorced, and she had just moved a few months ago with her mother to Foley, Missouri. Foley is a small town in Lincoln County, north of St. Louis. The town was so small, in fact, that the population was below 200 residents at the time.
Bianca had been in counseling since she was four years old and battled ADHD and Bi-polar disorder (Weich, 2005). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty paying attention, poor impulse control, and impulses to fidget or move constantly (CDC, 2021). While relatively common in the United States, it can be very frustrating for parents. Additionally, children with bipolar disorder also display poor impulse control along with severe mood swings and hyperactivity (Mayo Clinic, 2021). Children with bipolar may also experience severe depression, suicidal ideations, and sometimes other symptoms of mental illness including hallucinations (Mayo Clinic, 2021).
Bianca took several medications to control her ADHD and bipolar disorder, but still had frequent outbursts. According to her mother, the mental health counselors suggested that taking a walk alone would be beneficial for Bianca when she is upset. “They said ‘let them walk it off, let them go to a friend’s house and blow it off and then come home and start fresh’” Shannon Tanner explained in an interview in 2005 (Weich, 2005).
On Wednesday March 9th, 2005, Shannon decided to try the technique when Bianca got upset about having to do homework. Shannon drove her about a mile down the road from their home and instructed Bianca to walk home. When Bianca arrived home, she was calm and said that she felt the walk helped. Shannon thought perhaps this was going to be a beneficial tool for her daughter to learn to control her behavior.
The next day, Thursday March 10th, 2005, Bianca once again got upset when Shannon asked her to do the dishes. After the success the day before, Shannon asked Bianca if she wanted to take another walk. This time, Shannon dropped her off a litter further down the road. She gave her daughter a flashlight because it was almost six in the evening and would be getting dark outside soon. She said Bianca didn’t seem upset and was not argumentative during the drive down the country road.
Shannon dropped her daughter off and then turned the car around to return home. As she drove past her daughter, she reminded her not to get in the car with anybody. “I wish now that I had told her that I love her” Tanner said in an interview (Weich, 2005). Bianca was wearing blue jeans, a lime green blouse, a gray Adidas hooded sweatshirt, and white sneakers (The Charley Project). Shannon has not seen her daughter since that evening.
Bianca was 5’6” and weighed approximately 185 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She is a Caucasian female with short brown curly hair and brown eyes. She has scars on her arms, legs, and a scar on her abdomen. Bianca’s doctors said she may have lost weight after she disappeared because she was not taking her prescribed medications. Her family said she functioned more on the level of a second grader than a seventh grader at the time she disappeared. Her mother said she was naïve but was a typical teenager who loved the color purple and Brittany Spears (Weich, 2005).
When Bianca failed to return home by 6:40 pm, her mother drove the route looking for her. There was no sign of Bianca. An extensive search for Bianca was performed over the next several days on foot, by four-wheelers, and by helicopters. However, the search came up empty and it seemed as if Bianca was no longer in the area. Police and Bianca’s family initially thought she had gotten lost, but eventually believed she was the victim of some sort of foul play.
After months of no progress in the case, police received another call from the home of Shannon Tanner in June of 2005. Shannon and her boyfriend had multiple domestic issues, but this time it was Shannon who police observed sitting on top of her seventeen-year-old daughter, holding her face into the ground. The girl had a large bump on her forehead and told authorities that her mother had hit her. Shannon said that the teenager had thrown a glass plate at her. As she was being arrested for assault, Shannon attempted to grab a piece of the broken glass and shoved a cop. Another officer used his taser to subdue her, and she was eventually taken into custody (Weich, 2005). As disturbing as this incident was, police do not believe it is in any way related to Bianca’s disappearance.
The months turned into years, and Bianca remained a missing person. Hundreds of leads led to nowhere and no sightings of Bianca were reported. It was as if she had vanished into thin air. Her picture remained on missing person signs at local stores and on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website. Bianca’s family was left wondering if she was alive, if she was safe, and if they would ever see her again.
In 2007, the family found a reason to be hopeful when Michael Devlin was arrested in Kirkwood, Missouri after abducting a young boy a few days earlier. Inside Devlin’s apartment, authorities were shocked to find another boy who had been abducted five years earlier, in 2002. Devlin had molested both boys and when the older of the boys reached puberty, he decided to kidnap another pre-pubescent boy. A special task force was formed to investigate if Devlin was involved in any other missing person cases in the area, including that of Bianca Piper. Unfortunately, there was no connection to Devlin and authorities were once again left without any leads to follow.
In 2010, the family mourned the five-year anniversary of her disappearance. By then her father had passed away of a heart attack which family members believed was brought on in part by her disappearance. “I’m sure that the stress of worrying about his daughter probably had a lot to do with it, because every time I talked to him, he just dwelled on it” Bianca’s grandmother Carol Young said in an interview (Weich, 2010). Bianca’s mother eventually moved from the house in Foley, Missouri, having to pack up all of Bianca’s things. Despite keeping her name and picture in the media, Lincoln County authorities had no new leads in her case.
In 2014, the family of Bianca Piper once again made headlines. This time it was because twenty-four-year-old Tiffany Piper, Bianca’s older sister, was arrested. Her arrest came after she confessed to trafficking two underaged girls for sex in 2012. Tiffany herself had been a victim of sex trafficking, but eventually became a perpetrator of the same crime. “That’s what makes it difficult in this case… at some point she was no longer a victim in this case because she perpetrated the same crimes that were perpetrated upon her” St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said (Hayes, 2014). Tiffany admitted to placing ads online and managing a sex business in which men paid her to have sex with the underaged girls at a St. Peter’s hotel. Tiffany Piper was sentenced to eight years in prison for her crimes. She has since been paroled and is a registered sex offender.
Despite the conviction of Tiffany Piper, there is no apparent connection to the disappearance of Bianca. The family’s legal issues have cast doubts and fueled rumors about what happened to Bianca, but officials say they do not believe the family is involved in her disappearance. Tiffany gave an interview to KDSK news in 2018, once again hoping to reach someone who knows where her sister may be. The family has never given up hope of bringing Bianca home.
In 2019, Lincoln County opened a cold case unit. Bianca’s mother said she had renewed hope that her daughter may be found. “Lincoln County has hired a new detective to work full time on Bianca’s case” Shannon Tanner said in an interview with Fox2Now news (Fox2Now, 2019). The National Center for Missing and Exploited children also produced an image of what they believe Bianca may look like today. She would currently be thirty years old. If you have any information on Bianca’s whereabouts, please contact the Lincoln County Sherriff Office at 636-528-8546.
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Mayo Clinic (2021) Bipolar disorder in children: is it possible?; Retrieved at: Bipolar disorder in children: Is it possible? - Mayo Clinic
CDC (2021) What is ADHD?; Retrieved at: What is ADHD? | CDC
Weich, S. (2005) Missing girl’s mother says she regrets “bad choice”; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: 15 Mar 2005, Page B001 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Newspapers.com
Weich, S. (2005) Mother of missing girl is charged with assault; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: 29 Jun 2005, Page B001 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Newspapers.com
Wikipedia (2021) Michael J. Devlin; Retrieved at: Michael J. Devlin - Wikipedia
Weich, S. (2010) Family of missing Lincoln County teen Bianca Piper still holds out hope; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: Family of missing Lincoln County teen Bianca Piper still holds out hope | St. Charles | stltoday.com
Hayes, C. (2014) Sister of missing girl admits selling two high school girls for sex; Fox2Now; Retrieved at: Sister of missing girl admits selling two high school girls for sex | FOX 2 (fox2now.com)
Menitoff, R. (2018) ‘You think about it everyday’ 13 years since Bianca Piper disappeared; KSDK; Retrieved at: 'You think about it every day' | 13 years since Bianca Piper disappeared | ksdk.com
Fox2Now (2019) After 14 years, mother has renewed hope missing daughter could be found; Retrieved at: After 14 years, mother has renewed hope missing daughter could be found | FOX 2 (fox2now.com)
The Charley Project (2021) Bianca Noel Piper; Retrieved at: Bianca Noel Piper – The Charley Project
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (2021) Bianca Piper; Retrieved at: Have you seen this child? Bianca Piper (missingkids.org)