Details of Disappearance
Michelle was last seen at her residence in the vicinity of the 3900 block of Ozark View Road in Ivy Bend, Missouri on October 25, 2003. Her husband of three years, Michael Shane Yarnell, stated he came home after work and Michelle was gone. He said he assumed she had gone to Holts Summit, Missouri to visit her mother, Marianne Asher-Chapman, and would return in a few days, but she never did and has never been heard from again. Asher-Chapman reported her missing seven days later, after Michael came to her house to see his wife and discovered she had never arrived at Holts Summit.
Two weeks after Michelle vanished, Asher-Chapman received a postcard that was supposedly from her. It was postmarked on November 8, 2003, from a small town in Arkansas. The postcard stated that Michelle was en route to Texas to visit the family of someone named "Gary." Michelle's loved ones do not know anyone by that name and do not believe she does either, and Asher-Chapman didn't think Michelle actually sent the postcard. She stated that the handwriting appeared markedly different from her daughter's. Asher-Chapman had last had contact with her when they spoke on the telephone eight days before Michelle went missing. She stated their conversation was normal and Michelle did not mention that she was seeing another man.
In November 2007, Michael was named a person of interest in Michelle's disappearance. By then he had moved and authorities had lost touch with him. Photographs of Michael are posted below this case summary. In May 2008, Michael was officially listed as missing, as his family and friends claimed they hadn't heard from him since November 5, 2005. Michael was located in Biloxi, Mississippi in November. He was arrested and charged with felony counts of forgery and tampering with physical evidence in connection with his wife's disappearance. He admitted having written the postcard to Michelle's mother in order to disrupt the police investigation, and handwriting experts confirmed his story.
The following month, Michael was additionally charged with Michelle's murder. Authorities stated he confessed the crime to them; he said during an argument, he pushed Michelle off a their home's deck and she died instantly. Michael said he dumped her body offshore from an uninhabited island in the Lake of the Ozarks, four miles from the Yarnell residence. Investigators searched the water, but didn't find any evidence. Asher-Chapman stated she didn't believe Michael's version of Michelle's death; she stated the Yarnells' deck was four feet off the ground and not ten feet as he claimed. In June 2009, Michael pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, and released in July 2013.
Michelle left all her personal belongings behind when she vanished, as well as two dogs whom she cherished. Her marriage was troubled, but Michelle was close to her mother and her relatives do not believe she would leave without contacting them, as she has no history of such behavior. At the time Michelle disappeared, Asher-Chapman was being treated for cancer, and she does not believe her daughter would have abandoned her when she was ill. Foul play is suspected in Michelle's disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Above Images: Michael Yarnell