Details of Disappearance Reachelle was last seen by her aunt and legal guardian, Stephanie Smith, at 10:30 p.m. on May 16, 2006. Reachelle was asleep on the couch at the time. When Stephanie woke up the next morning, the child was gone. Her roommate, Leigh Cowen, stated his mother had picked up Reachelle and would be keeping her for a few days.
A photograph of Cowen is posted with this case summary. He was very close to Reachelle and claimed to be her father, although he wasn't related to her. Stephanie believed his story, but she became concerned as days passed with no word from either Reachelle or Cowen's mother.
On May 22, Cowen apparently stole Stephanie's teal 1995 Ford van with North Dakota license plates numbered HAY 548 and disappeared. Stephanie called his mother at this time and discovered that Cowen's mother did not have Reachelle and had no idea where the child was. Stephanie reported her niece as a missing child at this time, and Cowen became the prime suspect in her disappearance.
It was thought that he may have taken Reachelle to Kansas where his family lives, but this theory was disproved when the stolen van was located in the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge on May 23. Cowen's body was inside; he had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. An extensive search of the area turned up no sign of Reachelle.
Investigators are uncertain what happened to Reachelle, but they do not believe she is still alive. Cowen is still the only suspect in her disappearance. She is missing under suspicious circumstances and her case remains unsolved.
- Minot Police Department
Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 11, 2016; age-progression updated.