Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Did the Big Boy Bandit Murder Mandy Dougherty?

Someone who had access to the North Lauderdale home of five-year-old Mandy Dougherty murdered her. Because two pit bulls were kept inside the family home, it’s unreasonable to believe that an intruder could have abducted her. The two most obvious suspects are her father, David Dougherty, and his friend, Stephen Covell, better known as the Big Boy Bandit. Both have extensive criminal records.

On the morning of September 22, 1994, David Dougherty called the North Lauderdale Police Department to report that his daughter was missing. He’d gone into her bedroom to wake her, he said, and she wasn’t there. David claimed the front door to the home was wide-open. After a two-day search, Amanda “Mandy” Dougherty’s body was found beside a canal near Boca Raton, 26 miles away. She’d been strangled to death. Although she was naked when found, police never revealed whether she was sexually assaulted.

For years, investigators believed that David Dougherty murdered Mandy. With his previous record and the fact that he was the last to person known to have seen her alive, he was naturally a suspect. According to police, David failed two lie detector tests and a voice stress test. As Sherlock Holmes would say, there’s also the fact that the two watch-dogs in the house never barked on the night Mandy went missing.

David had served time for manslaughter and had been placed on probation for attacking his 72-year-old cancer-stricken grandmother. Then, several years after Mandy was murdered, he was arrested for choking his wife during a domestic assault in which he held police at bay with a starter pistol. Cops logically concluded that David Dougherty may have flown into a rage and killed his daughter, then covered it up by dumping her body in a remote area.

However, since there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, David was never charged.

In his defense, David and his wife, Laurie, continued to insist that police investigate a former friend, Stephen Covell. The 31-year-old Covell had once lived in the house with the family but they “threw him out” because of his constant drug use and because Mandy found a cache of his sex toys.

But police continued to view David as their prime suspect.

Then, on November 30, 2000, that changed.

At about 7:00 a.m., in Oakland Park, near Fort Lauderdale, two pre-teen girls were pushing a scooter to school when a red van pulled up beside them. Suddenly, a man reached through the window and grabbed the ten-year-old by the hair. He yanked her into the car and sped away.

Police were quickly alerted but not before the kidnapper took the child to a secluded area and raped her. Two hours later cops received a call stating that the little girl had been dropped off at a store not far from where she was abducted. Witnesses again recognized the red van.

Within minutes, police spotted the vehicle. After a brief chase, they corralled the suspect.

They were stunned to learn his identity. Stephen Covell admitted to attacking the schoolgirl. He’d been a suspect in a previous sexual assault, this time on a three-year-old girl. And it turned out that the 300 pound suspect was the infamous “Big Boy Bandit” who had robbed at least six banks in the area. When police arrested him, investigators noticed burn marks and discolored skin from a dye pack that had exploded after his latest heist.

Soon investigators learned that he was a friend of Mandy Dougherty’s father. In fact, he was the friend that David and Laurie had accused of abducting and murdering their daughter. He denied that crime. However, he was one of the few people outside the family who could have entered the house without alerting the dogs. And his assaults of young girls notched him up as the prime suspect.

Covell had previously been convicted of burglary as well as other crimes.

Police have never stated whether they collected foreign DNA from Mandy or her clothing. But they never charged Covell or David Dougherty with the crime. Covell was given three life sentences for kidnapping and sexual assault of a child under twelve.

Since her killer has yet to be brought to justice, Mandy Dougherty was recently featured as the three of hearts on the third issue of Florida’s Cold Case playing cards.


corvette said...

I worked with Lori We put out flyers looking 4 Amanda I was at funeral standing behind Lori & David . I think is the prime suspect She came to work many times Bruised and hurt he told her the entire funeral to SHUT UP And his son .I went to their house the next day after Amandas Body was recovered And there Is NO way anyone could have come to that house without a seviere GREaTIN from the pit bulls I WAS THERE NO one can tellme any different I just hope By now for her and her sons Sake She Has Left This Dirt Bag!!Ps David had Many relations with other Girls at the club which caused Lori to get upset seing as how she paid all The bills and David had relations in FRONT Of Lori He wanted Multiple Girls!!

Una Visión Diferente said...

I am looking for more info about this case, can somebody help me out? Corvette do you want to talk to me??? Somebody else???

Mandy's Aunt said...

Corvette, I don't know who you are, but I am Mandy's Aunt. I was at their home about 1 hour after they found her missing. Not many people liked David, but have you kept up with the news, Steve Covell who has also been a prime suspect (u would know who he is if you know the family) is currently serving 3 life sentences for abducting and molesting a lovely young girl, he is also an alleged suspect in the abduction of a 3 year old. By the way he they also found him to be the Big Boy Bandit...bank robber.
Una Vision Diferente what kind of information are you looking for, and may I ask why?

Una Visión Diferente said...

I am a journalist doing a masters degree, and im doing an investigation on Mandy's Case. I want to know who killed her and why. If Covell did it, what reason he had for it? If David did it, why did he hate her? Who else could be involved? I would like to know what you think...how come this whole investigation is been frozen for almost 15 years? Can we meet and talk about it? I just want ot know the truth.

Mandy's Aunt said...

Every year around the anniversary of Mandy's death the family will get a call from the investigators who have worked on this case. From what we have been told, it seems that Covell is the prime suspect especially since he abducted the little pompano girl. That is what he is serving 3 life sentences for. Myself and some of Mandy's family members went to the trial for this little girl (as observers)and we were there when the judge sentenced him. The judge said words to the effect that the only way Covell would get out of jail was in a pine box. Covell showed no remorse and knew some of us from Mandy's family were there, he didn't even look at us once.
As for knowing the truth we have been told soooo many stories by the investigators & police we don't know what to believe anymore. They have told us they believe it was Covell. Why? he's obviously a child molester. It would have been very easy for Mandy to identify him so it was easier for him to end her life than risk the chance of Mandy ratting him out! He was also thrown out of the house for repeated drug abuse and theft. We have mourned Mandy for nearly 15 years, you never have closure.....there is no such thing as closure. We are a large family and very close not one of us will ever be the same after this tragedy!

Nina said...

Thank you for replying me. I'm so sorry about this whole situation, and I understand your sadness. But I thought that little Mandy was not raped, so if she wasn't why he killed her? Or am I missunderstanding? Was she? Once again, thanks for helping me out. God bless ya.

Mandy's Aunt said...

Originally we were told she had not been sexually attacked. As time went on police eventually told us that she had been. I asked why we were not told this from the start the investigators said it would have compromised their investigation.
I am currently in the process of contacting the Vidocq Society to see if they can assist in solving Mandy's murder. Maybe now that DNA testing has proven to be an excellent source in resolving some of these cold cases maybe, just maybe we can get an indictment.

I.S said...

If Mandy was sexually attacked, then there must be a small trail of DNA. Why didn’t the Palm Beach Police or Broward’s have used today’s technology to try to solve this case, as technology advances there’s a chance that they could pin this crime to Covell or anyone who did it.
I know that at some point of the investigation (like in oct. ’94), the police said that there was lack of physical evidence, which was a possible cause why they couldn’t solve the case back then, but now that the family knows that she was molested, then why not try to do something about it.

Mandy’s aunt…I’m a little bit curious, are you Mandy’s relative by his dad side or mom. Are you the aunt that used to be the spokesperson of the family when Mandy was abducted?

Can you tell me, one of the many stories that investigators have told the family, since there’s a hermetecism by the police side?

Mandy's Aunt said...

Yes I am the family spokes person on her moms side. It is still extremely hard to get the investigators to discuss certain things. They either figure that if they tell us too much it could compromise the case, or in my opinion and this is only my opinion they figure Covell is in jail for life, and since he's already behind bars why should the state spend the money to continue for an indictment. I have put together as much information as I could gather, to send to the Vidocq Society. They are a specialized team who investigate cold cases. I hope they will take on Mandy's case.
By the way, are u the same person who is studying journalism? If so why are you signing in with different names? That seems unusual to me I don't know if I'm talking to one person or three different people.

Nina said...

Sorry for confusion, it's just that im using differents computers, because im home or university, or work...and each one signs different.
I would try to contact Vidocq society too.
Do you think we can meet to talk?

donna said...

I too am greatly interested in this case for the fact that david was found quilty of manslaughter for the death of my cousin Glen Alan in 1984, I also thought david was guilty of this.

sammycee sweetpea said...

just to get the story right. I was there the day Mandy went missing. I also was the person who lead the search party. I worked with the FBI at Winn Dixie. If anyone one was behind Dave n Laurie at the funeral you had to be standing next to me. As the dogs go the puppy came from my dog. Any more questions post them n maybe we can talk. Was there n would love to get the closure the Mandy deserves. Dawn let me know that you r out there n we can talk.

Anonymous said...

Please, lets finish this for Mandy once and for all. Lets all pull together and help serve justice after so long! 17 years since my best friend was taking from this world... 17 years and i still cant sleep at night knowing this is still a 'cold case' and nothing is being done about it. Dawn, this is family asking you to contact us... please do so because we want to help get this done!

Jeffro said...

Jeff C Says
I have known David for over 20 yrs.
If only someone would listen to what I know Mandy may be able to rest! Does anyone know that my ex-wife got the flyers out there with the help of others and that my Brother-in-law was the head FBI agent in charge @ the Winn-Dixie. That Steev Covell showed up the second day in a spotlessly clean van still dripping wet. Or that I was one of the few that could get by the dogs, as I let Daves dog breed with mine.Damn short term mem loss makes me forget their names right now or it could be the fact I heard that David died yesterday? Why have neither one of Mandy's parente visited her grave? Guilt? C'mon Laurie you know what jsaons freinds were doing,hell she was just like you all her dance moves, very inapropriate. Did you forget about all the wild parties ya'threw. I know more than anyone. Dave told me things he wouldn't tell anyone. Time to tell the truth!

Jenna said...

Since the day that Amanda went missing, I was shocked because that was near where I lived. I was in high school at the time I was in 10th grade, I believe. I remember meeting David and Laurie because I did a float for missing kids and I put Amanda's name on it. For years, I kept up with her case. Today Mandy would've been 24 years old!! Happy heavenly birthday!! Has there been any recent news on Mandy's case? Did anyone crack under pressure?

Sarah Cummings said...



That link is for anyone who wants or needs to know anything about the Big Boy Bandit, or Stephen Covell. This tells where he is located, and every charge against him ever. I want this case repoened, so if you have any information, please email me at sarahcummings143341@gmail.com

friend said...

David killed that dog the same way he killed mandy. Being that close and a family friend of loris this has gained me for years and just wished davids selfish ass admitted it. So tragic!

Sarah Cummings said...

I'm interested in what you have to say. Please email me at stephiec4c@gmail.com

Jonathan Portela said...

I remember that day,I was Amanda neighbor we hung out the day before with her brother me my sister an my brother,my parents helped with the search and so did ron our neighbor,ee lived 3house down,the dogs were mean an we always suspected her father or his friend,we moved in 95 to get away frm ft Lauderdale,I had good memories there ,I still have the newspaper when she went missing and was found

Natalie Tomlinson said...

can anyone give me some information about how the community as a whole was affected by this case? i am doing a project about this case and have not seem much info about it.

bigsparky8@gmail.com said...

Natalie,I have known david since 7th grade &glen about the same amount of time. He was a very good friend to me. I was there that fateful night. I would be willing to give you any information you would like to have about your project on this case. I also have his brother's contact information. This incident has affected my life permanatley.I can only hope that my help with your project can prevent future tragedies like this can help other people. Sincerely,Gregory Tribbey 9543254845 bigsparky8@gmail.com

Neighbor1 said...

I'm checking in as a neighbor when Amanda went "missing" in 1994.

I saw an article about Adam Walsh this morning on the 36th anniversary of his abduction and this story came to mind. I always wondered what happened or what the outcome was as it was still unsolved last time I checked years ago. After searching Google, this blog was one of the few things that I could find.

My family and I were neighbors to these people. My daughter was about the same age as Amanda and they used to play together. I know some of you are related to them, but in my personal opinion, both of them were total whack jobs. The dude let one his dogs get out one day and the damn thing charged me and my kid in the driveway of my home as I was leaving for work. Then he blames me for antagonizing the dog. The way he talked to me that day told me that the guy was a nutcase and I never let my kid go near them again.

After Amanda went missing, I immediately suspected the father. I would constantly hear screaming and yelling from their house at all hours of the day and night when they weren't throwing all night, loud ass parties. Different cars coming and going all the time. Not what I would call an ideal home for young children. The guy always looked pissed off at the world and was not friendly at all. I never bought the "she wandered off in the middle of the night" story. I think that the moment they started searching for her, the parents already knew she was dead.

How do I know this? Because not ONCE did investigators even approach me with questions. Not one single time and I lived directly across the street! No one asked me if I saw anything or heard anything. I could have seen everything that night and no one would have known. Why? Well either total ineptitude on the investigators part or because, and more realistically, they already knew the answer and just needed to find a way to prove it.

Needless to say, my stint in North Lauderdale was short lived. With that clown running loose and the cops doing nothing, we were outta of there at the end of our lease. It didn't surprise me one single bit reading about him in the news again a few years later being violent.

Thesestars said...

AMAP would like to add Amanda's Case to our study measuring point of disappearance to point of recovery. Our work over the past thirty years is in an effort to find a system to identify distance and direction in cases of missing children so that search teams can laser focus their search efforts. I cannot find the Dougherty's home address in any news article on her murder, which is needed to include her case. I've read numerous comments here about folks being neighbors to the Dougherty family at the time of this crime against Amanda. Can someone please elaborate on this address? such as, the 200 block of Main Street for example.

Also, the exact location of her remains recovery is also a very vague topic across the numerous news articles. The exact point of remains recovery would also help us to use Amanda's case and its particulars to support the search efforts in cases of children who remain missing today. If anyone can help provide this information it would be greatly appreciated.

Renee Francis

Jenna Strauss said...

I can help! Her body was found in a shallow canal of Glades Rd and Lyons Road in Boca Raton.
Lived on SW 63rd Ave in North Lauderdale

Jenna Strauss said...

Lived on SW 63rd Ave North Lauderdale and found in Boca Raton Glades Rd and Lyons Rd in a shallow canal

Amber Bird said...

Wondering if anyone still views this. Amanda was a friend of mine and a big reason why I decided to get into investigations. Wondering if anyone would be willing to talk? Abird8765@gmail.com

Unknown said...

I want to thank your family for coming to my case. I am so sorry your family has not found answers for this horrible tragedy. I am glad Covell got the sentence he did for what he did to me. I have always wondered why he let me live after what he did to Amanda. I have no doubt in my mind he was capable of being her murderer. I wish she could get the justice she deserves.

Gayle Telego said...

I read this blog periodically s it's the only one that mentions Amanda. I read it to find out if this cold case has ever been solved or if everyone has givne up? I was a resident of North Lauderdale at the time Amanda went missing and it hit close to hme, because I had a daughter the same age as Amanda.