Details of Disappearance
Gracie and her mother, Grace Marie Canto Reapp
, disappeared from their residence on Hanley Lane in rural Jericho, Vermont on June 6, 1978. They lived on a ten-acre plot.
Grace allegedly left a note stating that she and Gracie were leaving their home voluntarily and had no plans to return. Neither of them has been heard from again. Grace's husband, Michael Eugene Reapp, reported his wife and daughter missing to the Vermont State Police on June 11, 1978, five days later.
Michael then filed for divorce from Grace on June 16, 1978, ten days after she vanished. He cited desertion and intolerable severity as his reasons for the dissolution of marriage. He and Grace were also the parents of two sons who were 11 and 7 years old in 1978. Grace's relatives stated it would be uncharacteristic of her to abandon her sons.
Authorities questioned Michael regarding his wife and daughter's disappearances shortly after he filed the police reports in 1978. He and Grace married in 1965, when he was 20 and she was 19 years old.
Michael admitted that he had several extramarital affairs while wed to Grace, and was having one at the time of her disappearance. There were reports that Grace was physically abused by Michael. He maintained that Grace took their daughter of her own free will and simply vanished.
In a letter he wrote to Grace's family members in December 1978, Michael stated he believed Grace had left because she was having an affair and she left her sons behind because they knew about the affair.
Michael was granted a divorce from Grace in July 1979, just over one year after she was last seen. He married their children's former babysitter in November 1979. In 1983, he lost his job as an air traffic controller and moved his family to Florida. Michael and his second wife divorced in 1985.
He continued to tell authorities that he believed Grace and Gracie were living with Grace's relatives and stated he hoped Gracie would contact him in the future. Grace's family, however, continued to investigate their disappearances and heard from neither Grace nor Gracie since 1978.
The missing persons case was reopened in the summer of 1987. Extensive searches of the Reapps' former Vermont property have been conducted since 1978. Investigators have not located any sign of Grace or Gracie's whereabouts. Their cases were reclassified as homicides in 1996.
Michael remarried for a third time by the mid-1990s. In May 1996, one of Grace's sons died in Germany of natural causes. Vermont authorities interviewed Michael in Florida in September. He continued to claim he believed his former wife and daughter were alive and well.
Michael left his home in Jupiter, Florida on October 26, 1996. He drove his gray 1994 Isuzu pickup truck with with the Florida plate number JJZ55G to New Orleans, Louisiana, and bank record show he made a withdrawal at a New Orleans ATM.
Michael and Grace's surviving son reported his father as a missing person to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department in November 1996. Michael's truck was located at an airport in New Orleans in December 1996, but there was no trace of him. He took only his toothbrush and cigarettes. A photo of Michael from 1996 is posted with this case summary.
In June 2006, authorities charged Michael with first-degree murder in connection with Grace's disappearance and second-degree murder in connection with Gracie's. They theorize that Grace was killed because she found out about Michael's affair, and Gracie was killed because she witnessed her mother's murder.
Michael remained at large, however, and renewed attempts to locate him came to nothing for the next four years.
In June 2010, investigators announced they had identified Michael as a John Doe from Yuma, Arizona. On January 10, 1997, Michael abducted a man at gunpoint and stole his car. His victim escaped and Michael was forced to pull over on the highway after a high-speed police chase.
Michael shot himself in the head before law enforcement officers could arrest him. His identity was unknown until a fingerprint match was made thirteen and a half years later.
Authorities have conducted over twenty-five digs on the Reapps' former Vermont property since 1996. They still believe Grace and Gracie's remains are buried somewhere on the property, and they still hope to recover them. Foul play is suspected in their cases due to the circumstances involved.