Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Forbidden Love: Steven Colver and Tylar Witt

Betrayal and Lies


Joanne Witt
Joanne Witt

Just a few days later, the truce between Joanne Witt and Steven Colver was broken when Tylar seemingly went missing and did not answer her mother's phone calls. Joanne called the police and reported Colver's exploits with her daughter. But Tylar wasn't with Colver that night. She had simply been visiting a friend's house out of cell phone range, but the Sheriff's deputies investigated nonetheless.

When the authorities confronted Tylar about her mother's allegations, the young girl lied directly to the detectives. She told them that Colver was simply a "big brother" figure to her, and that she was naked in the HVAC closet off Colver's room because she was asking his opinion about outfits she'd been trying on. Police called Colver at his job behind the counter at Rubio's and heard substantially the same story. Colver backed up Tylar's assertion that she was simply trying on a dress for him and didn't want to walk back to her room to change. Colver admitted that he and Tylar were fond of each other, but insisted those feelings had never turned physical. With no direct evidence and two flat denials from the parties involved, the statutory rape investigation was at a stand-still.

Tylar Witt
Tylar Witt

Even with Colver out of the house, the mother-daughter bond between the Witts was fraying. Tylar was heartbroken and continued to call Colver all the time as she increasingly acted out against Joanne. By the first week of June, Joanne had found and read through her daughter's diary. Tylar Witt was a terribly descriptive writer when discussing her intimacies with Colver, noting sexual positions and lack of birth control use, and also expressed the couple's emotions: "We have decided to call each other fiancé, so when we get married we can say we've been engaged for 5 years." Tylar also wrote about her tumultuous conflict with her mother: "My mother is driving me insane. I can't stand her company for more than five minutes. I hate her." And she detailed elaborate fantasies about Joanne dying in a car accident.

Joanne faced a dilemma. She was armed with evidence of her daughter's sexual liaisons, but didn't want to share the diary with police because it included personal information about her daughter's inner life that had nothing to do with Colver. Finally, Joanne decided she would have police talk to Tylar again, but, if she still refused to tell the truth, she would then hand over the girl's journal. On June 10, 2009, El Dorado Sheriff's Deputy Ken Barber visited the Witt home to take Tylar's statement. When Tylar stuck to her innocent explanation once more, Joanne gave Barber the diary.

When Tylar found out Joanne had given police her diary, she was distraught. She called Steven several times at work until he drove to her home. They allegedly discussed taking a page from the script of star-crossed young lovers Romeo and Juliet, running away to San Francisco and commit suicide together.

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