4:00 PM EDT, April 29, 2010
The entire nation knows her as "the runaway mom." Tiffany Tehan is the 31-year-old who, with the help of her secret boyfriend, faked her own abduction and ran away with him, leaving behind her one-year-old daughter and loving husband.
Tehan's bizarre disappearance and seemingly cold disregard for her baby had everyone wondering: What could have sparked such a desperate act?
"The whole country was looking for you. Your family thought you were dead," says INSIDE EDITION's Paul Boyd.
"I'm totally embarrassed and humiliated and you know the only reason I'm here now with you is to try to maybe set some things straight and ask people to forgive me and give me another chance," says Tehan.
Last August, Tehan, an insurance agent from Dayton, Ohio, walked into a convenience store for her morning coffee. 42-year-old real estate broker Tre Hutcherson was there that day. It was a chance meeting that was the beginning of a steamy affair.
"The relationship made me happy and made me feel good and being around him made me happy," explains Tehan. She says her husband knew nothing about the new man in her life.
Before long the secret couple was plotting a new life together. Tehan says the plan was to get in the car, head down to Florida, and start a new life.
"You just took off...Why didn't you ask for a divorce?" asks Boyd.
"I wish it was that simple," says Tehan. "For probably appearances, and also my spiritual beliefs, a divorce wasn't as simple for me as it sounds. And it really, in my mind wasn't even an option," says Tehan. "I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed in my real life, my regular life, and this seemed like a way to start over start new, be who I want to be. I think everyone has a little bit of that dream in them."
They spent four months hatching an elaborate escape. Then, on April 17th, they put the plan into action.
Hutcherson was captured on a surveillance video as he traded in his conspicuous red Volkswagen Beetle for a deliberately nondescript silver Chrysler.
In an effort to throw the police off their trail, they abandoned Tehan's truck in a secluded park, with the front tire slashed.
"You tried to make it look like you were abducted?" asks Boyd.
"I honestly don't want to say that that's what we were trying to do. We tried to disappear and let people come to their own conclusions," says Tehan.
"Why so deliberate? Why stage your disappearance?"
"I didn't want to do anything illegal, but I truly thought, 'No one's going to miss me that much, let's get in the car and go,' " she says.
The runaways drove south on I-75, heading straight for Florida.
Back at home, Tehan's husband David was getting concerned. He called her father, who immediately contacted the police. But by then the runaways were in MacClenny, Florida, 832 miles away. Tehan and Hutcherson checked into an Econo Lodge and turned on their computer.
Tehan says she was freaked out when she saw that her picture was the top story on the local news website.
"But you see on the internet that your family and your friends are concerned about you, you still put up the blinders, moving forward with this plan?" asks Boyd.
"Yeah, you know I think at that point it was like...'We're so far in, how do we get out of it?' and we just kept going."
At that point, the entire nation began to suspect the truth. Grainy surveillance video of Tehan in the convenience store with Hutcherson surfaced, and aroused suspicion. The missing mom became the runaway mom.
"Let's talk about your daughter for a second," says Boyd. "The day you disappeared, for her suddenly Mommy wasn't there anymore. How could you be so selfish?"
"I was selfish. But what was going through my head was, she's 13 months old, she's got a wonderful father, wonderful grandparents, wonderful aunts and uncles who love her, and they'll take care of her. But I won't deny it was totally selfish," Tehan admits.
"You didn't say to yourself, 'Wait, this is crazy.' You kept driving."
"I kept driving," she says.
The pair continued driving south before finally settling in at a motel in Miami Beach.
They snapped pictures along the way with a cell phone camera. In the photos they look like eager newlyweds on their honeymoon, without a care in the world.
"We went to the beach, walked around, just hung out...we were kind of making a vacation out of it," Tehan says of her short time on the lam.
"You were having fun," observes Boyd.
"Well I can't say we were totally fun because we knew what we were doing was wrong," says the runaway mom.
"This guy must be pretty special to lure you away from your 1-year-old daughter," says Boyd.
"He's very special," Tehan says.
There were no charges filed against the couple. In exchange for the couple paying $5,000 restitution for the police search, cops agreed not to charge them with a misdemeanor of inciting a public panic.