July 17, 2017 21:15 GMT by dailymail.co.uk

Teen killed by train may have been kidnapped, not suicidal

Teen killed by train may have been kidnapped, not suicidal

The family of Tiffany Valiante, 18, of New Jersey, who was hit and killed by a NJ Transit train in 2015, has filed a new civil lawsuit in an attempt to reopen the investigation into her death.

The family of a teen who was hit and killed by a NJ Transit train in 2015 has filed a new civil lawsuit in an attempt to reopen the investigation into her death. 

Tiffany Valiante, 18, of Hamilton Township, New Jersey, died after having been hit by a NJ Transit train traveling 80mph on July 12, 2015. After an investigation, her death was ruled a suicide — stating that she purposely stepped in front of the oncoming train. 

Valiante's parents,  Stephen and Dianne Valiante, however, believe that she wasn't suicidal and say that she was hit by the train while she was trying to escape from kidnappers, reports Press of Atlantic City

Tiffany Valiante, 18, was hit and killed by a NJ Transit train in July 2015. After an investigation, the medical examiner's office stated that she committed suicide. Her parents have now filed a civil lawsuit alleging that she died while trying to escape from kidnappers

The civil suit was filed on July 10 in the Atlantic County Superior Court, just days before the two-year statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit expired.  

Although no defendants were named — except as multiple 'Does' — the complaint stated that Valiante was 'the victim of a conspiracy to inflict bodily harm' and noted that she was 'violently abducted' and 'subsequently murdered by the defendants while attempting to flee her imprisonment.' 

Besides kidnap and murder, the lawsuit alleges destruction of evidence. 

Valiantes parents state in their complaint that the New Jersey's State Medical Examiner's Office's exam was 'significantly flawed' when it reached the suicide conclusion six days after her death. 

According to the suit, the authorities failed to check into Valiante's mental state, do any DNA testing on either her clothes or her body or perform a rape kit exam. 

Her family also questioned about the fact that, based on bloodhound results, investigators said that Valiante took a four-mile circular route prior to stepping in front of the oncoming train. 

The Valiante's attorney, Paul D'Amato told the Press of Atlantic City that the reason for the civil suit was to 'take what is a cold case and open it up.' 

Valiente, a high school athlete, was due to attend Mercy College and play volleyball there. On the night she died, she was at her cousin's house attending a graduation party

Valiente, a high school athlete, was due to attend Mercy College and play volleyball there. On the night she died, she was at her cousin's house attending a graduation party

The lawsuit questions why authorities didn't ask about her mental state, do any DNA testing on her clothing or body or perform a rape kit prior to determining that she died of suicide

The lawsuit questions why authorities didn't ask about her mental state, do any DNA testing on her clothing or body or perform a rape kit prior to determining that she died of suicide

He added that the family is troubled by the fact that 'the legacy of their daughter at this point in time is suicide.'

The 6 foot 2 inch tall Valiante planned to attend Mercy College to play volleyball. At the time of her death, no drugs or alcohol were found in her body.

D'Amato said that the Valiantes decided to pursue a civil suit because they require a lower standard of proof, as opposed to criminal cases, which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The Valiantes' lawsuit is set to include affidavits from the Atlantic County Medical Examiner's Office, as well as a forensic pathologist who will speak to the 2015 suicide determination. The suit will also enable D'Amato to subpoena people for additional information about her death, some of who had not been previously interviewed by authorities. 

This is the second time that the Valiantes have filed a lawsuit regarding their daughter's death. 

In 2016, they filed a lawsuit claiming that the ME's office had miscategorized Valiante's death as a suicide. As defendants, they listed the New Jersey Office of Attorney General and Medical Examiner's Office, according to NJ.com

They did not seek any monetary damages in the 2016 lawsuit. All they asked was that the manner of her death be changed due to what D'Amato, at the time, called a 'classic rush to judgement,' according to CBS Philly

In the newly-filed suit civil suit, the Valiantes claim that on the night of her death, Valiante was at her cousin's house, across the street from their home, attending a graduation party. The suit also states that Valiante's mother found her sneakers and headband while walking the route she took from her cousin's house to where she died. 

When she was struck by the train, Valiante was barefoot. Her cell phone was found discarded off a road near her home.     

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