Diane Louise Augat

Diane Louise Augat was born on the 21st of February 1958 to her parents James and Mildred Young. Diane spent most of her childhood in New York, however, she would eventually relocate to Tampa, Florida along with her family.

During the last 1970s, Diane married Fredric Augat. The pair lived an idyllic life, with Diane being a home wife and taking care of their three children (2 daughters and 1 son) as well as keeping their home looking neat and tidy.

Sadly, after a period of unusual behaviour in the late 1980s, Diane was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder, which is what we know now to be bipolar disorder. Diane did take medication for her mental illness, however, over time she stopped taking the medication, which in turn made her illness worse.

Diane Louise Augat. Credit: Crime Junkie Podcast

In 1988, Diane was accused by the state of committing child abuse, as she is supposed to have claimed an excessive amount of unneeded treatment for one of her children. This is known as Munchausen-by-proxy today. Diane was later acquitted of these charges, but the state continued to press charges against her.

Fredric divorced Diane in 1991, and he took full custody of the children. The divorce just added to Diane’s already unstable mental health, and for the next few years, her mental health would fall apart.

Diane was in and out of local mental health facilities as well as jails. She was reported to talk to herself frequently, and during this period she would start drinking quite heavily and start using drugs. These only added to her mental health issues further, and she was involuntarily committed to mental health facilities at least 32 times.

The last time she was committed was in 1998, but she was released to her family members in the spring of that year. Diane’s mother, Mildred, has said: “She deeply needed institutionalized care.”

April the 10th, 1998. Diane had been staying with her sister in Hudson after being released from the mental health facility two weeks earlier. Diane’s sister left to go to a doctor’s appointment that morning, and when she returned, Diane was not there.

Diane had left her sister’s house at around 11:00am that morning, and had made her way to the Hay Loft Tavern, where she stayed until she was kicked out. Mildred said that Diane was kicked out by the bartender because she was: “Walking in circles.”

Diane’s family reported her missing on the 11th of April 1998. Whilst Diane had been known to go missing for a couple of days in the past, this was usually because she had either stopped taking her medication or had run out of her medication.

However, Diane was never seen alive again.

Diane Louise Augat. Credit: Facebook / Pasco County Sheriff’s Department

On the 15th of April, Mildred received a strange voicemail. A woman’s voice was saying “Help, help, help – let me out” The woman sounded tense and panicked by what was going on around her. There was then a few seconds of scuffling noises before a different woman was heard saying: “Hey! Gimme that!” before the voicemail ended.

Mildred instantly recognised the woman’s voice who sounded panicked – it was Diane.

When Mildred tried to call back, the name “Starlight” would appear as the caller ID, which suggests that the call came from a business with the same name. However, any attempts that Mildred made to call the number were unanswered. No one picked up the phone on the other end of the line.

There was a strip club with the name Starlight Lounge in the Tampa area at the time Diane went missing, however, it is unknown if it is connected in any way to Diane’s case.

On Thursday 16th of April, a man found a finger, that was painted with red nail polish, along U.S. Route 19, close to New York Avenue. After realising it was real, and not a prop as his girlfriend suggested, he contacted the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Using fingerprints, police were able to match the finger to Diane.

Authorities quickly started to search the area where her finger was found, with the hope of finding Diane either dead or alive. But no other trace of Diane was ever found in that area.

On the day that Diane’s case started to make the news, a convenience store manager found a pile of neatly folded clothes inside of an outdoor freezer. The convenience store was located in Odessa, Florida (25 miles north of Tampa) and is a store that Diane was known to visit frequently.

The manager recognised the clothes as Diane’s and immediately contacted her sister. Diane’s sister verified that this was indeed Diane’s clothing, and called the police. The police theorised that her clothes must have been put in the freezer some of the people she had been hanging out with within the days leading up to her disappearance.

The police also believe that the same group of individuals with who she was hanging out had started to loot her home. It is thought that Diane allowed this group to hang out and throw parties at her house whilst she wasn’t there, but in her absence, the group had started to move things out of her home without her knowing.

As the freezer had not been checked by staff in three weeks, it is very hard to estimate when the clothes were placed in the freezer. Diane had been missing for eight days at the time of the discovery of her clothes.

A few tips came in with potential sightings of Diane. One waitress said that she saw Diane on the afternoon of the 11th of April, walking along New York Avenue. This is close to where Diane’s finger was later found.

Diane’s case went cold until the 25th of November 2000, one day after an article about Diane’s case was published in the Tampa Bay Times.

On the 25th of November 2000, Terry Wilson (Diane’s sister in law) visited a convenience store along Highway 19 which is just north of Hudson in a neighbourhood called Viva Villas, where Diane was known to visit frequently. On top of the lottery ticket counter, Terry found a clear plastic bag that had “Diane” written on in a black marker.

Inside of the bag police found black eyeliner, Taboo perfume, bright pink lipstick, as well as a generic brand toothpaste which just so happened to be the same type of toothpaste that was issued at the mental health facility Diane was staying in just weeks before she went missing. The bag itself also appeared to be similar to those kept by patients at the mental health facility.

However, the answers as to who put the bag there, and why they put it there, are still unknown. The police checked the security footage of the store to see if they could find out who placed the bag there, but it doesn’t seem like anything came from this.

The only suspect in Diane’s case was a man named Gary Robert Evans. Gary co-managed the Coral Sands Motel, which was one of the locations Diane was last seen in, and also was quite close to another location she was last seen at. It was also in close proximity to the store where the plastic bag with Diane’s things was left.

However, investigators have never arrested or even (to my knowledge) questioned Gary in regards to Diane’s case. Gary reportedly passed away in 2012, so any knowledge or information he had regarding Diane’s case he took with him to the grave.

Diane was 40 years old at the time of her disappearance, and she has never been found dead or alive. There is a $3,000 reward for any information that leads to Diane’s whereabouts.

Diane’s mother, Mildred, has said: “She is in trouble. Big trouble. They’re properly torturing her. Did someone cut her up piece by piece? That’s what I think about. I hope she’s still alive…that they haven’t killed her yet.”

Diane Louise Augat. Credit: Facebook / Pasco County Sheriff’s Office

Tags:

Unsolved, Missing, Missing Person, Mystery, True Crime

Published by

Kelly

I write my own blog about missing people and unsolved cases across the world, hoping one day to bring them justice.

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