Truthers: Tiffany Dover Is Dead*
Episode 5: Tiffany Dover Is Alive
BRANDY ZADROZNY: We’re sitting in the car in Higdon, Alabama on a surprisingly warm February day. You can hear the frogs and the crickets from the woods nearby. Across from us, Tiffany Dover’s house. Nobody’s home. We’re writing a letter to leave on the porch.
Hi. So hi, Tiffany. My name is Brandy Zadrozny and I’m a reporter for NBC News in New York. We’re working on a podcast about the conspiracy theories surrounding your fainting.
It’s our third trip to Higdon in Chattanooga and things are getting really confusing.
Clearly you’re alive. And if you don’t want to speak with me, I can certainly understand that. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I left without hearing that from you.
And not to get ahead of ourselves, but our journey to find Tiffany, it’s looking less linear, more circular. From what I’ve been told from your family, you wanted to tell your side of the story. If I’m misinformed, let me know.
My hope for this project is that it would put an end to rumors that caused you some harm. My fear is that if we publish this podcast without hearing from you, it could make things worse.
And right then, my phone buzzes with a new email. It is an email about Tiffany, but it’s not from Tiffany. It’s my news alert set for her name. It still goes off constantly.
This is one from today on Reddit on the conspiracy board. ‘Where is Tiffany Dover? Facebook, Instagram, et cetera, all ghost towns after years of continuous posting. She’s where all the vaccinated will end up. For some it happens quick, like her. For others, it takes a little longer,’ and then there are all these comments like, ‘dead. She died on TV. We all saw it. Her family was given hush money.’
It was one of those moments where the universe folds in on itself, like you’re living in two realities at once. You look down and you see the internet boiling over with these insinuations about Tiffany Dover.
Another: ‘Almost like each vaccine has a timer set via chemical reaction or something.’
You look up and see her house, the cute ranch house with the wreath on the door. Totally still and empty, no sound, but the literal flippin’ crickets.
I keep hoping that we’ll get an update. They’ll say, oh, she posted or one of these sites will update in a way that we could stop.
We sat there for a while, half expecting some kind of sign. No luck. So we finished the letter and tucked it into the wreath and then we drove off the next address to see if something would happen and it did.
From NBC News, I’m Brandy Zadrozny and this is “Tiffany Dover is Dead*.”
A refresher on the timeline here. About two weeks earlier, in January, Tiffany’s sister-in-law, Ashley, had told us that Tiffany had given notice at her job and was waiting out an NDA of some kind, but that she wanted to speak with us. I had to head back to New York before a blizzard closed in on the Northeast, but I was fully expecting to turn right back around.
My producer, Frannie, stayed put in Tennessee. Friday came, supposedly the day when Tiffany would be free to speak with us, and nothing.
After a few more days, Frannie flew home too. By this point, we were running really short on time. So I texted Ashley that we were heading back for one more visit to get Tiffany’s side of the story before the podcast published and hopefully to hear from anyone else in the family who wanted to talk to us.
So, there we were, another early morning in Higdon, Alabama. Higdon is the kind of place where people look out for each other. We couldn’t help but feel hopeful. Sure, we hadn’t heard a word since talking to Ashley, but knocking on doors had gotten us somewhere before. Maybe it would again.
We decided to start at Tiffany’s in-laws, James and Debbie Dover. We know from Tiffany’s online presence that they’re all super close and they’ve been pulled into the conspiracy theory themselves. Truthers claimed they’d been paid off or were somehow complicit in whatever happened to Tiffany. We drove to the address we had for the Dovers’ roofing company, which turned out to be somebody’s house.
Just off a two lane county road. It was a sunny day, but really windy.
I’m just going to scroll a note so they’ll see it when they unlock it because it’s locked.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Oh, yeah, good idea.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: So we left, headed over to Tiffany’s, still no one home. After that, we decided we needed somewhere to sit that wasn’t our car.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Oh, here’s the pizza place.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Let’s just go here, Clouds Pizza and More.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Hey, are y’all open to sit inside?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay. I’m going to get cheese sticks and a Diet Coke. You want something?
FRANNIE KELLEY: Yes.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I was just starting in on my delicious snack when, contact.
I just got a text from a number that I don’t recognize but it says, “I got your letter. I will tell a great story about everything that happened, but only to the one who pays the most. So what are you paying?” I mean, obviously, we’re not going to pay this person, but like what is the great story?
This felt like it could be huge. I whipped out my laptop. Let me just reverse search this phone number. The phone was registered to someone named Lexi Hagaard. We couldn’t find an address, but Frannie found an Instagram that seemed to belong to her. A 19-year-old with a cute dog named Stella who’d graduated from the local high school in 2020.
I texted her back asked, “Who is this?” No response.
We got back in the car with no real idea what we were dealing with or where to go.
FRANNIE KELLEY: I mean, we got to just go back to the house, right?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: But you know what, cup half full. We now know there’s a story. We know that somebody knows that story and is willing to share it if they feel that it will help them in some way, which is not unfair.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Yep, I’m with you.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: But man, that wording sounded dastardly.
It’s NBC News policy not to pay for interviews, but that can be uncomfortable. Because in situations like this, sources know that their stories are valuable. Why shouldn’t they get something for telling them?
This happens all the time, right? People–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: –sort of want to sell their stories, which again, totally makes absolute sense. We don’t do that because it might change the nature of their stories or they have an incentive to say something that may or may not be true or just all sorts of reasons. So let’s – we’ll see if – is there another car here? No.
FRANNIE KELLEY: I don’t see another one.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay. Oh, there’s a dog. Is that a friendly dog?
FRANNIE KELLEY: I think that is a dog that has been in Lexi Hagaard’s Instagram.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: No.
FRANNIE KELLEY: I mean, we should go knock on the door.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Sure enough.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Hi, baby.
LEXI HAGAARD: Hi.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Hi, how are you?
LEXI HAGAARD: Good. How are y’all?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I’m good. I’m – my name is Brandy Zadrozny. I’m – I don’t know if you saw the letter.
LEXI HAGAARD: Yes. Okay. Yes, I called my aunt and told her, she don’t live here no more.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Oh.
LEXI HAGAARD: Yes.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay.
LEXI HAGAARD: And she was like, just text them and I was like, okay, and then I’m seeing the text back and I was like, I don’t know what to say because she’s not replied.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay. So this was the Dovers’ old house and now their niece was living there. She texted us because Debbie, Tiffany’s mother-in-law had told her to.
Do you want to give me her number and I’ll just give her a call?
LEXI HAGAARD: Okay.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I’m not – I’m really not trying to piss off anybody, I swear.
LEXI HAGAARD: I didn’t know if the note was real, because everybody was kind of crazy.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I know.
LEXI HAGAARD: And I was like, ooh, so I was like, I don’t know if this is a joke.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay. And are you Lexi?
LEXI HAGAARD: Yes.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay. Thank you so much. And can I just ask, is Tiffany okay?
LEXI HAGAARD: Yes, very much okay.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Alive and well?
LEXI HAGAARD: Yes, alive and well. She couldn’t say anything because of the hospital and all that, but she’s okay.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Awesome, thank you. Appreciate you. Have a good one.
LEXI HAGAARD: You’re welcome.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: First, let’s talk about the text.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Okay.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Lexi just told us that her aunt? Cousin?
FRANNIE KELLEY: Yes, aunt.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Her aunt–
FRANNIE KELLEY: Debbie.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: –Debbie was the one who said just text her back. And we’re not clear on whether Debbie instructed her what to text, which is the only thing that makes sense to me. It seems strange that someone would just make that up. Here’s what’s noteworthy about Lexi. Second person to tell us in her family that she’s fine, alive and well, and that she couldn’t say anything because of the hospital.
FRANNIE KELLEY: That’s right.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Which, as I’m remembering it, is in direct opposition to what the hospital told us, because the hospital said she didn’t want to come forward.
We reached out to CHI Memorial and its parent company one more time to ask about this. They said they didn’t have anything to add to what they had already told us, which was they weren’t aware of any NDA or any effort to stop Tiffany from speaking out.
We knew we needed to talk to Debbie Dover, Tiffany’s mother-in-law. The phone number that Lexi gave us was the same one we’d been trying for months. We tried her again, still no answer. Google Maps directions to her address just led us to the dead end of a dirt road.
That’s where we were sitting, when a woman in a gold SUV drove up and asked if we needed help.
Hey, how you doing? I’m looking for Debbie Dover.
She said she knew where the Dovers lived and she said we could follow her there.
Yes, would you? Oh, my god, bless you.
The kindness of Higdon, it’s really paying off.
FRANNIE KELLEY: Dover.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: The woman led us down a long driveway that splits in two, to the left a large shed with a tractor parked out front and next to it a white Jeep Wrangler that looks like the one in Tiffany’s Instagrams. Nearby was a house under construction.
There’s a house being built. I wonder if that’s the one they’re building.
We’d later confirm the address is the one from Tiffany and Dustin’s mortgage documents. Down the driveway’s other branch was a single family house. There were chickens roaming out front and a woman. She looked like she had been working outside.
FRANNIE KELLEY: That looks like Debbie to me on the phone.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Thank you so much.
DEBBIE DOVER: Hi.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I’m Brandy. I don’t know if you’re getting my calls or emails, I don’t mean to bother you, I just kind of figure out if we can put some of these rumors to rest because as you know it’s like still crazy.
DEBBIE DOVER: Yeah. Um, well, they didn’t want to say anything until they had talked to somebody and they haven’t yet, so.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay.
DEBBIE DOVER: What should we do?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I guess like, well, like talk to a lawyer or talk–
DEBBIE DOVER: Mm-hm, yes.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Yes, my–
I didn’t want to ask about the text just yet, especially because it finally felt like we were getting somewhere.
So I’m just–
DEBBIE DOVER: Have you talked to Tiffany yet?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I haven’t, no. So I don’t know – I just don’t know if she wants me to just get out of town and go away and leave her alone, I can do that.
DEBBIE DOVER: No, she wants to talk to somebody. Let me call her and see what she says.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay.
DEBBIE DOVER: They didn’t want to do anything until–
TIFFANY DOVER: Hello?
DEBBIE DOVER: Hi, Tiff.
TIFFANY DOVER: Hey.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Did you catch that? Tiffany Dover’s voice, just two words, hello and hey. But Tiffany’s voice, live. And then the wind picked up and drowned the rest of it out.
DEBBIE DOVER: The news people are down here. Um, what do you want me to tell them?
No. I know, but – okay.
She just said that she’s not home and that she would get back with y’all whenever she gets back.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay.
After that, Debbie asked us to stop recording, so we did. And Frannie took her microphone back to the car. James Dover, Debbie’s husband came out to talk to me. James looks about 65, maybe 70. He wears square silver glasses, a gray beard and a camouflage hat. He looked tired. When I got back to the car, I told Frannie what he said.
So he just said, “Have you talked to Tiffany yet?” And I said, “No.” And he said, “They want to talk to you. I’ve been told that they’re going to talk to you. There’s a lot of things that have happened and a lot of things that we want to get out in the open and that we think needs to be exposed.”
He said my – there – I had to get off Facebook because everybody called me a liar and cussing at me all the time and he said it’s awful. It’s been really awful.
And so he said, they just want to talk to a lawyer first and that’s what they’re doing. And I said, basically, I understand that, I get it. Here’s – I was like, but here’s what I need from you. I was like, I’m a journalist and I’m reporting the story and I need to be able to tell my bosses, hey, wait, we’re waiting until this day because – or we’re waiting a month or we’re waiting, you know, next week. I just need to give them a timeline.
Otherwise, we’ll have to put out the reporting that we have.
He said, “Do they have your number?” And I said, “Yes.” And he said – I was like, “I do not want to do y’all any more harm.” And he just said, “We’ve had our share.” And I said, “I know.” But he said, “I will get to you by the end of the day, you have my word.” And he said, “When I give my word, I don’t break it.” And so I said, “Okay.”
Imagine for a moment that you’re Tiffany Dover. How would you handle being the main character in that kind of conspiracy theory? Would you talk to the national media? Or would you try to squash the rumors yourself? Would you post a video to your social media account, or go live and answer questions in real time? Would you fight back in the comments? Would you report the videos and posts for harassment? File copyright claims against people posting your photos to get them taken down?
Or maybe you’d say the hell with all of this and delete the Facebook page and the Instagram account where truthers continue to post about you.
Whatever you think you would do, I don’t think you can really know until it happens to you, and it could. Conspiracy theories these days are more often centered around ordinary people, not Queen Elizabeth or Hillary Clinton or George Soros, but nurses and election workers and pizza shop owners. People like Tiffany Dover, people probably like you.
Back at the beginning of this project, I talked to Anna Merlan, a senior staff writer at VICE.
ANNA MERLAN: Hi, Brandy.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Long time no talk, nice to see you.
ANNA MERLAN: I know, right?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I really appreciate you taking some time to talk to me about this thing, which I’m sure you talk about nonstop, but–
She’s the author of Republic of Lies, a book about American conspiracy theory communities, and she’s covered a lot of stories like Tiffany’s.
Stories about regular people who got dragged into the truthers world. Anna sees the same patterns and the same mistakes over and over.
ANNA MERLAN: So often people are like, well, if you just ignore this stuff, it goes away. If you just don’t talk about these people, you know, they don’t have an impact. And it’s like, well, no, that’s actually not how it works and I feel like we have really good evidence from the last two years that that’s not how it works.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: She’d been following the Tiffany Dover story closely.
ANNA MERLAN: Her fainting was an enormous boon for those people, because it was an immediate, seemingly negative impact to a COVID vaccine, which is, of course, like what they are – what they are trying to promote.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Anna said Tiffany’s case was part of a larger trend.
ANNA MERLAN: What is happening to Tiffany Dover, to me seems like the sort of natural extension of this process where conspiracy theories fasten on smaller and smaller people and events. People with absolutely like no conceivable public profile, get drawn into this stuff, and they are not ready for it.
And they are often not offered the kind of appropriate institutional support that they might need or deserve, because their institutions also are not familiar with doxing, harassment, the kind of like really invasive social media sleuthing that comes up a lot of the time. And, of course, I have noticed that her Instagram remains up, she hasn’t added anything to it for a while and it has become, of course, like a nightmare, conspiratorial claims about her dying, you know, statements about her children and how they’ve been left motherless, so yeah, it’s been really upsetting. Is she doing okay, can I ask?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: So I don’t actually know how Tiffany is doing. I have yet to talk to her.
ANNA MERLAN: That’s (inaudible)–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I’ve like sent her stuff, so just to be like totally frank, I’m having like a – like we’re working on this project, because of – it’s important for all the reasons I think it is important.
But like, there is a serious possibility that we get to the end of this and you know–
I told Anna about the challenges I was having trying to get in touch with Tiffany. She told me she’d seen it before.
ANNA MERLAN: You know, I wrote about Seth Rich, the DNC staffer whose murder became the source of first sort of left-wing and then right-wing conspiracy theories about he was supposed to be like a whistleblower, right, who was going to tell the FBI about Hillary Clinton’s dark doings, and that’s why he was murdered, which of course, there’s no evidence for that, far more persuasive evidence that he died during a failed robbery.
But so, yes, I spoke to his brother relatively soon after Seth died within the first year. And then Aaron, his brother and the rest of the family stopped talking to media by and large, because it revived the harassment every time. It just made their lives harder. And what they had hoped to do, which was sort of use the media to appeal to the folks who were conspiracy theorizing about their family and say please stop doing this, it’s harmful for us, it’s harmful for our grief, it didn’t help.
Ordinary people who are made the center of conspiratorial claims often go through the same type of process where at first they say like this is a misunderstanding and I can explain it. And then they start to realize that anything they do sort of feeds into the pattern of harassment and what feels like invasive communications from these folks.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I was familiar with this problem, even before I started working on the Tiffany Dover story. One example, Lenny Pozner, he’s the dad of Noah Pozner, who died in the Sandy Hook massacre. False flag conspiracy theorists were denying that Noah was murdered or that he ever existed. At first, Lenny tried to engage with them, but that didn’t last long. In 2019, on NPR, Michelle Martin asked him about what happened after that.
MICHELLE MARTIN: You’ve had to move, what, seven or eight times?
I mean, why have you had to move seven or eight times?
LENNY POZNER: Well, I’ve certainly had to insulate myself from a lot of hate and a lot of targeting. And since I can’t change what they’re thinking and doing, I – all I could do is protect myself and my family. Now, they have distributed comprehensive background checks on me and tracked where I live and where I have lived and everything about me.
So, moving is the simplest way to have a little bit more space for myself to not feel like that my information and my address is being published online and that I have a little bit more privacy and safety.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: That feeling like appealing to the truthers could be a rational course, I feel that all the time.
I can’t help but be tempted by their constant refrain of like just show us–
ANNA MERLAN: Right.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: –this thing and then we’ll all go away and you can have your lovely Instagram back and your family can go on a vacation without like any posted picture being part of this grand conspiracy.
ANNA MERLAN: But, of course, they won’t, will they? Because if she does a video, it’ll be that’s not Tiffany, look at her face, her face is different. She seems unwell. She’s talking like she had a stroke, like anything she does, will feed into it. I am certain that we will see that if she decides to make a video and that is really unfortunate, but it is true.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Much as I had hoped, otherwise. I knew that reasoning was probably right. It seems like Tiffany and her family knew it too. And here, dear listener, is where I have to let you down. Despite giving his word, James Dover never got back to me. We had a deadline looming and we flew home, again, ready to fly right back, but we didn’t hear anything.
I shared the trailer with the Dover family members I had contact information for. I heard back from Debbie Dover. She asked again about payment for an interview. I told her that we couldn’t pay and she stopped responding. And then, in early April, after the first two episodes published, I heard from Tiffany’s sister-in-law, Ashley. She’s the one who came out at Tiffany’s house during school pickup and said that Tiffany would talk to us after her NDA expired.
I’d spent a year chasing down an interview with Tiffany, choosing to believe the small encouraging signs that kept popping up. Ashley finally had an answer for me, and the answer was no. Neither Tiffany nor anyone else in her family was going to speak to me.
“It doesn’t matter what we say. They’re going to believe what they want to believe,” she texted me. “We have posted that Tiffany is alive and we get told we are lying. We get told that we Photoshop her in pictures.” She said, “The only thing that podcast has done so far is to get this whole thing started again. Just as it starts to die down and people leave us alone, you guys post the podcast. Now we get messages again asking if she’s alive. We have said it over and over again: Yes. No one will believe us. And honestly, I don’t think the podcast is going to help clear things up.”
Ashley said the truthers would just say we hadn’t spoken to the real Tiffany and that anything they did, including an interview with me, would just make the harassment worse. She wrote in all caps, “WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE.”
You weren’t listening to this podcast because you’re interested in my feelings, but allow me to say I was gutted. It wasn’t the failure, I’m used to that.
Most of reporting is failing, calling people who never call you back, knocking on doors that never open, turning over stones with nothing underneath them. But we’ve been operating under the impression that it wasn’t a question of if we would speak to Tiffany, but when.
And of course, I’d worried a lot about the likelihood that she or the family would end up worse off from the fresh attention. I’d hoped that’d be offset by the good that would come from taking down a conspiracy theory. The flip side, which was obvious from the start was that if we publicly set out to get Tiffany and failed, we just be proving the truthers case. That didn’t seem like reason enough not to try. But they’ve definitely been listening and they haven’t been shy about saying what they think.
JOE LEONARD: Hey, guys. Great news, I just found out about this amazing new podcast that’s coming out. It’s called Tiffany Dover is Dead* and–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: That’s a YouTube video from highly sarcastic game designer Joe Leonard, the guy behind some of the most popular Tiffany content.
JOE LEONARD: I want to see what NBC and Brandy Zadrozny have to say about this story, because it’s a fascinating mystery and I want answers.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I reached out to Leonard again for an interview. He declined for what he called national security reasons.
JASON GOODMAN: So I don’t know, maybe Brandy is just a slave of NBC News and does whatever they tell her, because–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Jason Goodman, the ex-cinematographer who visited CHI Memorial on a reporting mission and who talked to me for Episode 1: safe to say he’s not a fan of the finished product. He called me up and yelled at me for a bit, said he shouldn’t have been lumped together with all the other Tiffany truthers, especially the Flat Earthers.
Then he released a special episode of his show about me and this podcast.
JASON GOODMAN: When you get paid to lie to people, you’re not a journalist, you might be a propagandist or a salesperson or a friggin liar and you’re a fool if you believe your own nonsense.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I had a far more pleasant follow-up conversation with the actual Flat Earther we’d spoken to, Dave Murphy, A.K.A. Allegedly Dave.
DAVE MURPHY: Hi there. Hold on one second. I’m on an electric unicycle, so I’m literally cruising down the road that’s–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: On a unicycle?
DAVE MURPHY: Electric unicycle.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: So I emailed him my evidence and he called me back when he got home from his ride.
You see, if you stop at 38 seconds.
DAVE MURPHY: Six, 38, okay. I’ve got 38 seconds or no it’s 39 now, sorry.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I promise to show him all the proof that I had collected for Tiffany being alive. We went through everything.
DAVE MURPHY: I think you’re wrong. That is a tall lady there.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I think this is a bunch of small ladies.
DAVE MURPHY: No, no, let’s stay here for a second, yes.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: No, these are a bunch of small ladies.
DAVE MURPHY: That didn’t do it at all.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Okay. That one didn’t do it. Okay, let’s keep going. We got – I got links for days, Mr. Dave.
I showed him the paperwork for Tiffany and Dustin’s loan to build a new house. The house we had seen going up next door to James and Debbie Dover.
DAVE MURPHY: All right. Well, let me – okay, that’s some evidence. I will have to – I’ll have to research and–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: He said he would need to verify the document independently.
DAVE MURPHY: Well, is it a mortgage document or is it a Photoshop put together? It just seems very strange and very convenient.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: He wasn’t buying any of it, even after I told him everything I’d done in the past year.
DAVE MURPHY: So the point is that, yeah, you went to her house, you spoke to everyone around her, but you didn’t speak to her.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: No. People don’t want to talk to me all the time and they tell me they don’t want to talk to me through intermediaries all the time.
DAVE MURPHY: You didn’t see her. She didn’t come to you and say to your face, sorry, I don’t want to talk to you.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: I guess–
DAVE MURPHY: Right? That would have been it. You could have said, well, she didn’t want to do an interview but I saw her.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Dave.
DAVE MURPHY: But you went to her house. You went to her house. Doesn’t that raise questions in your mind?
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Sure, I had questions. But I also had answers. Dave just didn’t want to hear them.
DAVE MURPHY: Okay.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: That was all my proof and I failed, I guess.
I’m not trying to let myself off the hook here. But by now, I think it’s pretty clear. Even if I had gotten Tiffany to agree to an interview, even if we’d done it on camera, the truthers wouldn’t have been satisfied. They would say the kind of thing that Dave was saying now that it was just a body double.
DAVE MURPHY: I personally think now that they’ve got a better Tiffany impersonator.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: In fact, there’s a whole strain of Tiffany trutherism that expect something like this to happen. These are the PsyOp truthers, that’s PsyOp, as in the military abbreviation for psychological operation.
TIFFANY DOVER PSYOP: So I don’t know if it’s a glitch in the CIA software when they were making this account, but it definitely appears to be a deep fake.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: This is from a woman who goes by the username Tiffany Dover PsyOp. This crowd believes that there either never was a Tiffany Dover or that she’s been alive the whole time and that she was basically meant as bait to lure anti-vaxxers into believing and hyping her story.
BLAIRE THE LOVE GURU: Hey, guys, it’s Blaire The Love Guru–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: This video is from a PsyOp content creator who calls herself Blaire The Love Guru.
She films herself outside a lot. Here, she’s on the side of a busy road.
BLAIRE THE LOVE GURU: You have to understand on how the cabal works. They want you to see that stuff, get upset about that stuff and also know–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Then the PsyOpers believe Tiffany or the actor playing Tiffany will reappear and do interviews, dealing a humiliating deathblow to the movement.
BLAIRE THE LOVE GURU: So there’s a couple different levels and layers of things going on here, so for those of us who are awake, it’s something that is, I mean, I think it’s quite obvious that it was fake, that the whole thing was staged.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Dave Murphy is not a PsyOper. He believes Tiffany was real and now she’s gone because of a COVID vaccine. But our conversation felt pretty light, partly because Dave seemed to be less invested in Tiffany these days. He was starting to move on to new projects.
DAVE MURPHY: It’s called Return of the Nephilim and that’s a bit of a conspiracy theory, because it involves what’s really going on in Ukraine. But you might not like it–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Oh gosh, is this safe for work?
DAVE MURPHY: It is safe for work, but you being a blue eyed, blond-haired woman, right, it’s – yeah, it might be a little upsetting.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: Dave thinks the Ukrainian refugee crisis, like the vaccination campaign, is part of a global plot by people who look like me to take over the planet. This general idea is known in conspiracy theory circles as the great reset. Ukraine is kind of the trendy new thing for truthers. There are a lot of strands here, but the basic belief is that Ukraine and its Western allies are the real aggressors and that everything that looks like a horrible Russian attack is actually a false flag operation meant to cover the Ukrainians’ tracks.
In a case of depressing symmetry, one of the major Tiffany truthers you heard from an episode one, Gonzalo Lira.
GONZALO LIRA: Where is Tiffany Dover, huh? All the system pigs have to do is bring her up on stage. I mean, they brought her up–
BRANDY ZADROZNY: –is actually based in Ukraine and is now one of the biggest voices pushing this false story. In April, he posted a 90-minute YouTube video titled Vanished: Is There a NATO General In Mariupol?
GONZALO LIRA: Mariupol was the stronghold of the Azov battalion, these neo-Nazi crazies who were trained by NATO.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: It includes several lengthy asides about Tiffany’s case.
GONZALO LIRA: I’m deeply, deeply concerned about Tiffany Dover, because the fact that nobody talks about her, it adds a little bit to the insanity of the West. Just a tiny little bit.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: There’s a lot I don’t know. I’m still not sure why Tiffany and her family changed their minds about talking with me. I don’t know whether there was ever an NDA or what it may have covered. I don’t know why Tiffany has made the decision she has, why her social media accounts are still up and still public.
And I don’t know what it feels like to be her, to be at the center of this conspiracy theory, to be doxed, to be harassed and then to have a national reporter show up on your doorstep with a microphone.
I wish I had the answers to all of those questions. But I do know this, Tiffany Dover is not dead. I’ve seen her in her friends’ and family’s social media posts. I’ve talked to her family and her employer and her neighbors. I’ve heard her voice on the other end of a phone. I’ve inspected legal documents that she signed. And I’ve seen enough to know that she doesn’t feel like she needs to prove anything to anyone.
A lot of people in her position have felt that way, even famous people. When I was researching the Paul McCartney death hoax, I came across this odd statement from the Beatles publicist Derek Taylor. The DJ in Detroit, Russ Gibb, had tracked him down by phone desperate for answers.
Taylor had had enough.
DEREK TAYLOR: The only proof we have that he’s alive at this point is that he is. You don’t have to do any more than that to prove you’re alive except be alive. You don’t have to produce yourself. You don’t have to appear on television or speak or even make a statement, you just have to be alive to make the point, if only to yourself.
BRANDY ZADROZNY: You just have to be alive to make the point. When I first heard that old tape, I thought it was just a bad PR rep making excuses. Now, of course, I see it a little differently because Tiffany is alive. There’s one more way I know. Tiffany didn’t go completely dark. There’s a social media platform that she still uses, Pinterest, the virtual bulletin board. She doesn’t have many followers. She doesn’t post pictures of herself or her family, which is probably why it hasn’t been overrun by online mobs.
But every few days or weeks, she’ll find something new online, pin it to her public board and send a tiny message into the world.
It’s nothing about the pandemic or the vaccine or what happened to her. She’s pinning furniture and lighting fixtures, planning for a new home. She’s pinning updos and nail styles, inspiration for a spring fling look for her daughter, recipes for healthy snacks, gift ideas, holiday crafts, small stuff like that, little decisions and preferences and splurges, notes to self, the simple quiet trail you leave just by being alive.
From NBC News, this is Truthers. And this is the final episodes of Tiffany Dover Is Dead*. The series was written, reported and hosted by me, Brandy Zadrozny. It’s produced by Frannie Kelley. Our Associate Producer is Eva Ruth Moravec. We had production help on this episode from Bob Mallory. Sound Design by Rick Kwan. Original Music by Alicia Bognanno of Bully. Bryson Barnes is our technical director. Reid Cherlin is our Executive Producer. Madeleine Haeringer is our head of editorial. Many, many others helped make this podcast possible, including Alex Zaccardi, Robin Gradison, Jean Roseman, Dom Donahue, Amie Bond, Frank Radano, Alexa Corea, Soraya Gage, Nick Offenberg, Alejandro Escobar, Tom Parinello, Ben Plimpton, Andrew Nichols, Marianne Raphael, Brandon Goodwin, Mary Somers, Callie Starnes, Kevin Wait, Nicole Childers and Noah Oppenheim. Special thanks to Greg Zadrozny, Kevin Glasheen, Daniel Maurer and to Annie Schachar for making the baby wait till we were finished.