“48 Hours: NCIS”: Body of Evidence

Produced by Jonathan Leach

In 1989, Annie Tahan disappeared without a trace. She left behind a newborn daughter and her boyfriend, Chief Petty Officer Michael Paalan, who told police that she had walked out on him. Four years after she disappeared, and with little to go on, authorities in Charleston, S.C. asked NCIS for help.

“The mere fact that Michael Paalan was an active duty sailor at the time, we had an obligation to seek out the truth,” said retired NCIS Special Agent Pete Hughes.

Did Paalan have something to do with Tahan’s disappearance? It would take years of challenging investigative work, multi-agency cooperation, surveillance and a sting operation to get answers. Moreover, they were investigating one of their own, making the case even tougher.

“We have a motto that we live by,” retired NCIS Special Agent Jim Grebas  explained. “It’s ‘To the living we owe respect, and to the dead we owe the truth.'”

Annie Tahan, a single mother of three, disappeared without a trace in the fall of 1989.

Kathi French

Jim Grebas | NCIS Senior Special Agent, Retired: When you work on an investigation you give it everything you’ve got. That’s why we went into law enforcement, to help people who couldn’t help themselves.

Pete Hughes | NCIS Senior Special Agent, Retired: We’re driven to solve these cases. In working these cases, particularly a missing persons case — it’s devastating to the family. They have no answers. 

Sarah Bowman | Newspaper reporter: In the fall of 1989, Annie Tahan, a single mother of three in her 20s went missing. People don’t just disappear. But that really happened in this case.  

Agent Jim Grebas: She just disappeared and vanished…without a trace.

Sarah Bowman: Michael Paalan was Annie Tahan’s boyfriend. He was a decorated sailor in the U.S. Navy and became the center of interest in this case.

Agent Pete Hughes: He had a complicated role within the Navy. He was an…

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