A 25-year-old mother dispatched a message to her kin on the 13th of September, notifying them of her intent to embark on a journey with her companion, who was piloting a large vehicle. Tragically, her friend met with a catastrophic accident in North Carolina, resulting in his demise. However, the aftermath revealed only a solitary life lost in the wreckage.
Since that moment, a veil of uncertainty has shrouded the woman’s whereabouts, casting her family, including her young sons aged 5 and 6, into a realm of queries rather than solutions.
“Her absence is an ache I deeply feel,” Krista lamented. Her progeny yearned for her presence. We nurture hope and offer prayers that illumination and solace will grace our path.”
Taylor’s maternal aunt, hailing from her mother’s lineage, named Shelly Payton, also conversed with Oxygen.com, providing insight into the profound distress Taylor’s kin has endured during the months that have elapsed since her inexplicable disappearance.
“Our spirits were shattered,” Payton expressed. “We are torn between grieving her potential loss and persevering in our quest for her.”
Taylor, a resident of Oak Hall, Virginia, situated upon the Delmarva Peninsula, roughly 100 miles north of Norfolk, conveyed her plans to voyage alongside a gentleman named Danny McNeal, aged 51. Close acquaintances of Taylor attested to the familiarity between the two, noting that it wasn’t the first instance Taylor had embarked on a journey with McNeal.
The Accomack County Sheriff’s Office had previously confirmed Taylor’s lack of vehicular ownership.
Individuals invested in her well-being conjectured that McNeal, the truck driver, collected Taylor from her abode in Oak Hall, guiding her northward to Delaware to discharge a consignment of frozen poultry. Subsequently, in the afternoon, they retraced their path southward, returning to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
At approximately 8 p.m., Taylor’s family recounted how authorities in Northampton County intervened with McNeal’s tractor-trailer, citing its improper parking in Exmore, Virginia, approximately 30 miles south of Oak Hall.
During that juncture, Alyssa, Taylor’s acquaintance, was present within the vehicle. “The body camera footage of the officer captured her voice,” Payton revealed to Oxygen.com. “At that instant, Danny was absent from the truck, having ventured to a friend’s residence.”
Payton disclosed watching a recorded interaction between the officer and Alyssa for several minutes before McNeal’s return.
“Danny approached the vehicle, and after receiving a cautionary reprimand from the officer, was permitted to proceed,” Payton recounted. “The law enforcement officer illuminated their path with flashing lights to ensure their safe departure.”
Yet, around 2:00 a.m. on the 14th of September, shortly after McNeal and his canine companion were purportedly engaged by Exmore Police, a calamitous collision claimed their lives while en route southward along Interstate 85 in Hillsborough, North Carolina, well over 250 miles away from Exmore.
WRAL, an NBC affiliate situated in Raleigh, revealed that a post-mortem analysis identified “acute ethanol intoxication” as a contributing factor to the accident, which inflicted damage upon an overpass and led to a road closure that endured for days. As per autopsy findings disclosed to Oxygen.com, McNeal’s blood alcohol content registered at .32%. Research conducted at the University of Notre Dame has equated this level to instances of alcohol poisoning or loss of consciousness.
Experts opined that McNeal succumbed to his injuries prior to the fire’s engulfment.
“Krista contacted me via telephone on the 20th of September,” Payton recounted to Oxygen.com. “Her distress was palpable as she relayed her discovery through Facebook that Danny had perished in a mishap. Subsequently, she unveiled that Alyssa had accompanied him in the truck on the 13th of September, and since then, communication had ceased.”
Concerned well-wishers of Taylor speculated that McNeal’s absent mother might have been implicated in the calamity. Nonetheless, both a thorough crash scene investigation and McNeal’s post-mortem report attested to the singular presence of a body at the site.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh affirmed, “Only one set of human remains could be identified at the scene and during the autopsy.”
The same post-mortem findings highlighted surveillance footage depicting McNeal’s purchase of alcohol at a convenience store, accompanied by an unidentified companion, shortly before the accident.
The mystery surrounding McNeal’s companion remains unsolved, despite Oxygen.com’s endeavors to engage multiple law enforcement agencies regarding the matter.
Payton detailed how her sister, Krista, commenced a journey from Florida upon learning of the tragedy. The distressed mother reportedly halted at a wrecking yard in North Carolina, where McNeal’s vehicle had been transported.
It was at this location that Payton stumbled upon her daughter’s blanket.
“In a state of panic, she contacted me, her voice laden with urgency, revealing the blanket’s presence amidst the wreckage,” Payton shared.
Several days later, Taylor’s kin ventured to the crash site, where they recovered an earring nestled within a nearby storm drain, along with a discarded flip-flop shoe believed to belong to Taylor.
“We remained stationed there for an entire week, conversing with various individuals in our quest for elucidation,” Payton recounted. “The North Carolina Highway Patrol imparted to us their conviction, asserting a 99.9% certainty that she was not ensconced within the truck during the collision. Regrettably, our options were limited.”
Taylor’s mother, Krista, confided in Oxygen.com, expressing her acceptance of the notion that her daughter had indeed perished in the crash.
“With unwavering conviction, I am inclined to believe that my daughter’s fate was sealed within that collision,” Krista stated. “Since then, her voice has been lost to silence.”
Conversely, Payton harbored suspicions that errors might have been committed. She cited a prolonged three-hour conversation between McNeal and his girlfriend shortly before the accident.
“I must candidly admit that doubts now cloud my mind,” Payton conceded. “Almost every facet of this ordeal demands thorough scrutiny, in my humble opinion.”
Exasperation has taken hold of the family, as their efforts to elicit a response from law enforcement officials regarding the missing 25-year-old have gone unanswered.
Payton conveyed the heartache experienced during a family gathering preceding Christmas, a gathering tinged with the profound absence of one cherished member. “Her absence weighed heavily upon us. Our festive occasion was tinged with somberness,” Payton recalled. “Her eldest son queried with a heavy heart, ‘Why isn’t Grandma here?’ We wrestled to suppress our tears, especially my sister.”
Despite the potential dispersion of Alyssa Taylor’s whereabouts across state lines, her family bemoaned the perceived lack of assistance from the FBI. In Virginia, the investigating body would be necessitated to request federal intervention.
Christopher Knox, an official tasked with disseminating public information for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, informed the Raleigh News & Observer of the conclusion of their investigation into the accident, with findings relayed to the Sheriff’s Office.
“In the capacity of a law enforcement agency, it is imperative that all comprehend our designated role,” Knox emphasized. “Our association is tethered to the Highway Patrol. Collaboratively, we endeavor to exhaust every avenue in pursuit of this young woman. Nonetheless, our focus pertains solely to the incident itself. The circumstances that unfolded at the accident site remain within the scope of our agency. While we remain accessible for future collaboration, we are governed by a distinct purpose.”
Individuals in possession of pertinent information are encouraged to contact the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office at 1-757-787-1131 or 1-757-824-5666. The family has also established a “Help Us Find Alyssa Taylor” page on Facebook, welcoming participation from concerned citizens.