BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — This month marks 23 years since Tova Barnett disappeared here in Baton Rouge. Now, one woman is using her platform to advocate and bring awareness to families who’ve suffered the same experience.
“She was just such a sweet girl, and she was my friend, and she definitely has made the type of impact for me to be doing this story and to be looking for her,” said Michelle Daniel, Tova Barnett’s friend.
19-year-old Tova Barnett went missing on Dec. 2, 2000. Her disappearance was reported to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 16.
Despite the long absence, Daniel refuses to let Barnett’s name die.
“I remember reading her yearbook message to me the other day, and she said at the bottom, don’t forget about your girl and I don’t know why that just sticks with me, and it just makes me feel like it is about this moment,” said Daniel.
According to LSU’s repository for unidentified and missing people. There are over 500 open missing person cases in Louisiana alone. The state is ranked No. 16 and only a few cases have been solved.
Barnett’s missing has brought pain to many, but also a purpose for Daniel.
“I decided to start a podcast called Found Missing, and one of the cases that I wanted to solve first was Tova. Her case is still classified as a missing person. So now I’m trying to push for it to be moved over to homicide,” said Daniel.
Daniel has been working closely with deputies to get Barnett’s case reopened and investigated.
“A lie can never keep up with the truth and so, you know, although we have not found a body, unfortunately, the goal now is just to find a motive and to find out what could have possibly happened to her,” said Daniel.
Daniel says she’ll continue to keep Barnett’s name alive and she’s hoping to give others with the same experience the strength to keep searching.