Cold Case Investigation

Solving a Decades-Old Mystery

Tonya Hughes was just shy of her 21st birthday on a spring day in 1990 when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Oklahoma City. She died five days later, but the investigation into her suspicious death led to a mystery—and a murder—that took decades to fully unravel.

That’s because Tonya Hughes was not who anyone thought she was—and neither was her husband, Clarence Hughes, who now sits on death row in a Florida prison.

“The FBI has been chipping away at this one,” said Special Agent Scott Lobb, who began working the cold case investigation in 2013 out of the Bureau’s Oklahoma City Division. “There were a lot of peculiar twists to this case.”

Tonya left behind a child, Michael Hughes. Her husband claimed he was Michael’s biological father, but shortly after Tonya died, Clarence gave Michael to Oklahoma state welfare officials and promptly disappeared. “He knew the truth would come out,” Lobb said, “and so he fled.”

The truth—discovered during the hit-and-run investigation—was that Clarence Hughes was actually Franklin Delano Floyd, a federal fugitive from Georgia wanted since 1973.

Floyd was arrested in Georgia two months later and sent back to prison to serve the rest of his sentence. A blood test revealed that he was not Michael’s biological father. That fact apparently didn’t matter to Floyd, because when he got out of prison in 1993, he was determined to get custody of Michael. And he did—by kidnapping the 6-year-old from elementary school on September 12, 1994.

When authorities caught up with him in Kentucky two months later, Michael was nowhere to be found, and Floyd would not say what happened to the boy. Floyd was later found guilty of a federal kidnapping charge and sent to prison.

During the kidnapping investigation, photos were found taped to the gas tank of Floyd’s pickup truck that showed a young woman who appeared to be bound and beaten. Years later, the woman—Cheryl Ann Comesso—was identified and matched to remains that had previously been discovered near a freeway on-ramp near Tampa, Florida. Floyd was charged with her 1989 murder, convicted, and sentenced to death in 2002.

The investigation into Michael’s kidnapping also determined that Tonya Hughes, too, had been kidnapped by Floyd—sometime between 1973 and August 1975—and when he surfaced in Oklahoma City, he began introducing his future wife as his daughter.

In 2013, the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children conducted a cold case review of the Hughes kidnapping and reopened the investigation. A year later, Lobb and Special Agent Nate Furr spent several days interviewing Floyd in prison regarding Tonya and Michael Hughes.

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