Monday, June 20, 2016

12 - Misty Copsey (Part One: Runaway)


The year is 1992. The setting: a small town barely on the radar of the world. Puyallup, Washington, most well-known for the fair of the same name that pops up twice a year: once in the fall and again in the spring. It happens to be my hometown, but during this time period, I was just a toddler living states away, unaware of the town's odd name and it's even-odder spelling. Just like many towns in Washington state, it originated from a Native American tribe that lived in the area.

For many, Puyallup is a suburb that serves as an extension of the larger city to the west: Tacoma. And while Puyallup has grown in size significantly over the past few decades, back in 1992, it had a population a hair above 25,000.

Just north of Puyallup, in the southern reaches of King County, an unknown serial killer has been terrorizing young women for the better part of a decade. All along the Sea-Tac strip, approximately half an hour north, prostitutes and other low-class women have been found, raped and murdered at the hands of an unknown assailant. This unidentified person - or persons - has managed to rack up a body count well into the dozens, and has shown only the slightest sign of slowing down.

But one man in Puyallup is hoping to change all of that. He's a man with no police background, no media credentials - just a lone investigator, hoping to do some good in the word before he dies. Whenever that may be. He's a private investigator in every sense of the word: no one has hired him, and very few are aware of his ongoing crusade.

Cory Bober is his name, and he has spent the better part of the last few years piecing together his case. He has gathered as much evidence as possible, and if one could ask him the rather minute details of his case, he could recite it from the top of his head. One might even go as far as calling him an expert of the case, a title that he would undoubtedly enjoy hearing, but he has no information that the police don't.

Cory Bober


Bober has spent a large chunk of his free time - in between odd jobs, which included a good stint as a small-time weed dealer - dedicated to finding this unknown serial killer. He has tracked down a suspect, after hours upon hours of personal investigations, and has even started harassing the local police department to take his claims seriously. For the better part of a decade - since the killings began in 1984 - Bober has made it his personal mission to pin one man for the crimes.

Bober does his best to lay out the case as clearly as possible, which is hard. Bober tends to speak in circles, taking an hour to finally get to the point, in which case the person he's speaking to has long since checked out of the conversation.

No matter how often or how roughly Bober harries the local PD, they don't seem to take him seriously. To them, he's a kook - a guy with an undiagnosed mental condition becoming overly obsessed with police matters. He wouldn't be the first, and he wouldn't be the last.

But over the past few months, Bober has begun to identify a pattern emerging. Two teenage girls from his hometown, Puyallup, have been killed over the past couple of years. Kim Delange, a fifteen-year-old, was murdered in July of 1988, and Anna Chebetnoy, a fourteen-year old, was killed in August of 1990.

Kim Delange

Anna Chebetnoy

To Bober, who has admitted to having a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, this is a sign. An omen, in his mind. The killer, whoever it is, is about to strike again. Two years and one month separated the prior two murders, so it's as clear as day.

Bober, convinced of this truth, tries to contact the Puyallup police department to inform them of the upcoming tragedy. They have no record of these notifications, but Bober has written reminders in his many ledgers and journals. He thinks - no, he *knows* - that he did his best to warn them of what was coming:

Tragedy. Heartache. Death.

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Welcome to the Unresolved Podcast, a podcast dedicated to telling true stories which have no clear-cut ending.

As I stated, this episode takes place in my personal hometown -Puyallup, Washington. This story is one that I was just made aware of a few months ago, revealing a dark, seedy underbelly to the suburban town I grew up in and still think of as home.

While this story shares a familiar setting, the Puyallup of 1992 is a far cry from the world I grew up in, just years later. While the locations sound familiar, the cast of characters that are revealed to me are brand-new, and reveal a rich-yet-tragic story that was unfolding in the background of my youth. Almost every person involved in this story is flawed, almost to a fault, leading to a tug-of-war of responsibility and truth in the aftermath of a personal tragedy: the disappearance of a teenage girl.

This is the story of Misty Copsey, and the investigation to find out what happened to her.

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Misty Copsey


Misty Copsey was born in 1978, to two parents in the middle of a separation.

Diana Smith and Buck Copsey would divorce just months after Misty was born, so she would go on to spend most of her time with her mother, Diana, who would become her primary guardian.

Misty was an excellent student, and spent a lot of her free time involved in student athletics. She played softball, basketball, and volleyball, all while keeping up A's and B's at school.

She was also pretty popular, largely part to her charismatic personality and goofy sense of humor - which endeared her to her many friends, the closest of which was Trina Bevard, whom she referred to as "Bean." The two were so close that they had given each other pet nicknames: Trina was Bean, and Misty was "Bunyan." How they came upon these nicknames, only they would know.

Misty and Trina


But Misty was the kind of kid that everyone adored. People at high school wanted to be close to her, not only because of her popularity, but because of her friendliness.

Misty grew up with her mother, Diana, in a Puyallup mobile park called Green Meadows. This is where Misty met most of her friends, whom she would keep in touch with even after she moved away.

Diana, wanting Misty to have a better home than a trailer, would move to a duplex in Spanaway in 1992. Spanaway is a stone's throw away from the suburb they lived in - right on South Hill - but it was still a new environment, and caused Misty to enter a new neighborhood where she knew no one.

Diana would often be gone nights, working as the caregiver for a woman in her late 90s, and Misty would be left home on her own.

She would stay in touch with many of her friends from Green Meadows, however, and would still constantly hang out with them, especially when left to her own devices.

One of the many friends she carried over from Green Meadows trailer park was an older boy named Rheuban Schmidt. He was 18, a scrawny high school dropout that had a one-sided interest in Misty.
Misty liked Rheuban because he had a car - a green 1974 Chevy Nova. But Rheuban had an attraction to Misty, a girl four years his junior. Almost anyone would call this type of attraction unhealthy - for an adult man to be so interested in a junior high girl - but that was underestimating how Misty's mother, Diana felt.

During one phone conversation between Misty and Rheuban, Diana recalled overhearing something very disconcerting. She heard Rheuban telling Misty how horny he got just looking at her, a piece of information she didn't want to hear and one that caused her to demand Misty to hang up.

Needless to say, Misty didn't feel the same way about Rheuban. While boys had been interested in her, she was just starting to develop crushes of her own: almost all of which were athletic "pretty boys," guys like Jason Priestley from "Beverly Hills 90210." She wasn't interested in Rheuban, who was, by all extents, trailer trash.

Rheuban Schmidt


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Things between Misty and Diana were what'd you expect from a teenage girl and her mother. They had their issues, but were otherwise on good terms.

Personally, Diana had a bit of an alcohol problem, but nothing that kept her from living her life or inhibiting Misty.

The two shared an incident, sometime over the summer, in which Diana couldn't track down her daughter, and filed a missing persons police report. She would later find Misty in her bedroom, having gotten home some time beforehand, but it was later summed up having been an error of confusion. This was the time before cell phones became prevalent, an era even I have a good recollection of.

Apparently, Diana was too embarrassed by the whole situation to inform the police that the missing persons report was unnecessary, so it remained on file. One has to question whether her battle with alcoholism played a part in this, but that's just me blindly speculating.

Besides this one incident, in the months before her disappearance, things between Misty and Diana were good. Diana had just bought Misty a brand new stereo and a mess of new clothes, which only did good things for their relationship, and made Misty very happy with her home environment. She was given those items, in addition to all of the personal freedom a teenage girl could want, and was more than satisfied to be living with her mother: a fact that would later be brought into question.

Things were going well for Misty, and she had just started another school year at her school, Spanaway Lake Junior High. Things were going well, and as summer was coming to an end, the local Puyallup Fair was starting up once again.

Misty and her best friend Trina started to make plans to go to the fair together, a day that would surely bring them nothing but fun. Unbeknownst to them, the day would end in tragedy.

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For almost a decade, Cory Bober had worked tirelessly to convince Pierce County and King County detectives that his suspect - a man named Randy Achziger - was the Green River Killer. His suspicions arose during a conversation he once had with Achziger - a former acquaintance of his - in which the other man revealed a vital clue of the Green River killings.

Randy Achziger

Achziger would claim that he heard this from a drunk Auburn police captain, but that didn't cut it for Bober. For this man to have such a vital clue of the case put him on the map, and Bober would spend the rest of his life trying to convince others of this supposed "truth."

During his personal crusade against Achziger, Bober would begin to utilize the media as a tool of the investigation. Some would classify it as a weapon, but Bober would try and pin the media against the investigators, making it seem like they were covering up the truth, or refusing to investigate leads.

For a while, it paid off. Both of the neighboring counties eventually looked into Achziger, adding him to the list of Green River Killer suspect list. He became a person of interest, who they investigated thoroughly. But, unlike Bober, both counties took him off of that list, and began to look into other suspects.

This was not what Bober wanted. He wanted his suspect - Achziger - arrested. He began to hound both counties, as well as local jurisdictions, in an effort to get his suspect caught. He even threatened to "take care" of Achziger if the counties wouldn't arrest him - so assured of his guilt, he was threatening vigilante justice.

Eventually, the police just started to get sick of Bober. Simple as that. Puyallup Police Sergeant Herm Carver was one of the many that began to tune out Bober's demands and threats.

Bober began to escalate his investigation into Achziger, trying to utilize less-than-legal methods to trap him. He had ex-girlfriends record phone calls, he would sneak around Achziger's property in search of clues, things like that. Achziger was becoming aware of Bober's personal vendetta against him, and was becoming personally infuriated.

This was in 1992, and Bober had just begun to notice the pattern of Puyallup killings. He claims to have warned local detectives of the upcoming murder, but can you blame them for ignorning him? By now, he had been harassing their offices with threats of doom and gloom for close to a decade, so much so that they were personally familiar with him.

Needless to say, Bober's warning fell on deaf ears. He would supposedly warn detectives that a Puyallup girl was going to be murdered and found alongside Highway 410, where the prior two victims had been discovered.

This was September of 1992.

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Puyallup Fair


September 17th - Misty Copsey had finally convinced her mother, Diana, to let her go to the fair without adult supervision. She was going with her best friend, Trina, but would have to find a ride back home.

This was okay to Misty, who figured that she could catch the bus back home, or could call one of her friends for a ride. The plan that Misty sold to Diana was that she was going to take the bus back home, but Diana was complicit in a lie told to Trina's parents, who believed she was giving both girls a ride there and back home.

Unfortunately, Diana was going to be working her job as an elderly caretaker all night long, so she wouldn't be able to drive them home. But she was willing to tell a white lie if it allowed her to be the "cool parent" for a night or two. As long as the two teenagers caught their bus at the right time, they'd be okay.

Misty had borrowed a pair of Diana's jeans, a new pair that were very fashionable at the time. Baggy, stonewashed, faded, and much too big for Misty, who had to roll up the leg sleeves in order for them to fit.

Puyallup Fairgrounds stage


Huey Lewis and the News were playing at the fairgrounds that night, which ensured that there was going to be a steady stream of people visiting and socializing. Puyallup is a rather small town in nature, but the Fair is a huge draw for the surrounding area, nearly quadrupling the local foot and road traffic.

The weekend was in sight, and Misty was happy to spend a night with her best friend, and enjoying a further increase in freedom.

Both girls planned on taking the 8:40 bus back home, which would take Misty from downtown Puyallup to Spanaway. That meant that they had an entire afternoon and evening to have fun and enjoy themselves.

And enjoy themselves they did - so much so, that when 8:40 rolled around, the two missed the bus. It was the last trip the Puyallup-to-Spanaway bus would be making, so Misty needed to find another ride back home.

Trina lived in Sumner - a town in the opposite direction - so when things began to get stressful, she revealed that she could just walk home. The Puyallup Fairgrounds, which exist in the downtown valley of the town, lies just next to Sumner. But Spanaway lives atop South Hill, an insurmountable walk for Misty.

At 8:45, Misty made a call to her mother, revealing that she had missed her bus. Diana was upset, but understandably so. Unable to leave her job, lest something happen to the 97-year-old woman she was caring for, Diana told her to fetch a ride from a friend.

Misty immediately blurted out that she'd get a ride from Rheuban - her eighteen-year old admirer - but Diana told her no. She didn't like that boy, and made it painfully obvious.

In the recent months, Misty had gotten an electronic organizer, which Diana told her to look through in acquiring a ride.

Diana made Misty promise to call her back once she had gotten a ride, and let her know who it would be.

That call never came.

Diana never spoke to Misty again.

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Approx. location of fairgrounds marked in red


Diana, concerned that she didn't get a follow-up phone call, spent the rest of her work night in worry. Unfortunately, there was little she could do; Misty had called from a payphone, and until she heard from her, she could only assume that Misty had found a ride home. If the ride had come from Rheuban, then she would just have to deal with that later.

Diana would return home a few hours later, expecting to find Misty watching TV, or sleeping in her bedroom.

Unfortunately, she found a quiet, empty house. Misty wasn't home, at least not yet.

Diana began making phone calls, calling everyone that she knew to call: Trina, Rheuban, her own mother - Misty's grandma- other friends, and eventually even 911.

Trina's family didn't answer, not this early in the morning, and Misty's grandma had been a dead end. She hadn't heard from Misty at all that night. Rheuban did answer, and told Diana that Misty had called him, asking for a ride, but he didn't have the necessary gas needed to pick her up and get back home.

This was in the morning, and Diana began to panic. She called 911, but was informed that she had to wait 30 days to report Misty as a missing person. Until then, she was a supposed runaway.

Diana spent the better part of her day in a panic: looking for her teenage daughter, who had disappeared, and didn't show up at school the next morning. She drove to Trina's house, leaving a note on the front door for Trina to give her a necessary phone call.

Diana would eventually file a report with the Pierce County Sheriff's department at roughly 1:30 that afternoon, and would find out that the 911 dispatcher had been off-base with the "30 days" remark.

But now, after trying to track down her daughter for the better part of a day, she was left with a jurisdiction headache - Misty had disappeared in Puyallup, which meant that Pierce County couldn't intervene without the Puyallup PD's go-ahead. The same police department that had told her Misty was officially a runaway until a month had transpired.

Diana would cover a tremendous amount of ground that day, trying to retrace her daughter's footsteps while also contacting every family member or friend of Misty's that she knew of. Panic was beginning to turn into heartache, which would further compound with Trina finally returned her phone call after getting home from school and seeing the note on her door.

Trina told Diana what had happened the night beforehand: the two separated while Misty was on her way to her bus stop, and she began walking home to Sumner. Apparently, Trina hadn't heard from or seen Misty since.

On a hunch, Diana called Rheuban again. He was gone, but his teen-aged roommate, James Tinsley, answered. He told Diana that Rheuban HAD, in fact, gone with his uncle to pick up Misty the night before.

This was a dramatic turn of events, and gave Diana more than enough reason to begin suspecting Rheuban.

Diana called again later in the afternoon, and Rheuban was home.

"Where's my kid?" she demanded to know.

Rheuban would explain that his roommate, James, had it all wrong. He hadn't gone to pick up Misty, but had actually gone with his uncle to a party, and then woken up hours later.

One immediately has to question how his story changed so dramatically in just a few hours: from being too poor to afford gas, to now going to a party and being gone for a good chunk of the evening.

But it's understandable why someone would overlook this gap, amidst the panic of a missing child.

Diana would spend the next few days praying for her daughter's safe return. If the Puyallup police were correct, and she was a runaway, she'd hopefully be returning home or making contact soon. Diana didn't believe that story for a moment, but she had to hold out hope.

Just like the night of Misty's disappearance, that phone call would never come.

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Diana Smith's life had changed dramatically overnight. Just days beforehand, she had been the hard-working mother of a loving teenage daughter that she doted upon. Now, she was a woman desperately looking for any sign of the one person she shared her life with.

She would make a series of fliers, which she would begin to post up all over town, especially the downtown area where Misty had disappeared.

She would make contact with Misty's friends, pleading with them to contact her should Misty pop up her head at any time. She promised no repercussions on them should that happen - just to know that Misty was safe and sound was enough to forgive any small slights.

A few days later, she would track down the bus driver that had been servicing the route to Spanaway that night. He told Diana that he remembered seeing Diana on the night in question, but he had been finishing up for the night and wasn't headed up to Spanaway again. He recalled telling Misty to catch the next bus to Tacoma - ten or so miles out of the way - which had a bus to Spanaway that she could catch.

Some family members and friends would drop by her house or call, asking if the police were any closer to tracking down Misty. Rheuban Schmidt was one of those few, asking if the police had uncovered anything about the case. Diana remained suspicious of him, as the hours made way for days.

Misty had now been missing for the better part of a week, and Diana was finally able to file a missing persons report with the Puyallup Police Department, who held jurisdiction on the case. This was on September 23rd, six days after Misty went missing.

Diana recalls the mood of the police officers dealing with her that day. They were all assured that Misty was a runaway, and would either be returning home soon or making contact soon. They came pretty close to guaranteeing it.

At least, that would explain why they started off Misty's investigation the way they did.

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Sergeant Herm Carver, the Puyallup Police officer that had previously had run-ins with Cory Bober, was in-charge of overseeing the investigation.

He would task some detectives to investigate the area around the fairgrounds, in hopes that someone had seen Misty. No one had, so they moved on to investigating Diana.

Diana Smith


What they found was a woman with a couple of DUI's on her record, and a prior conviction for welfare fraud. Diana was the first to admit that she wasn't an angel, and had had a battle with alcoholism for most of her adult life, but had openly admitted to collecting food stamps while working. She was a single mother in her 20s, at the time, and had admitted her crimes to the welfare office in exchange for a deferred sentence.

But in digging up Diana's skeletons, they also found the prior missing persons report from months prior, which Diana had been too embarrassed to close. Carver was seeing Diana as having less-than-a-stellar reputation, and someone with a history of dishonesty.

On September 29th, Carver met with Diana at Misty's junior high school, and would speak to a couple of eighth graders. These kids had been circulating rumors for a few days, in which they had spoken to or seen Misty since her disappearance. One claimed to have gotten a phone call from Misty - who was safe and sound in Olympia - and another claimed to have seen Misty at the Color Me Badd concert on September 21st - four days after her disappearance.

However, it should be mentioned that neither of the kids were friends of Misty's. They were just some teenagers that knew Misty as a school acquaintance.

Carver immediately judged the case as bollocks. As he left the school with Diana, he told her that he was removing Misty from the missing persons database, and later added her as a runaway to the police report.

To Diana, this was a punch in the gut. She knew that Misty wasn't a runaway - she was a good girl, who was happy with her home life.

It should be noted that, when questioned years later, one of the girls claims that she made up her statement to simply feel more popular. So take of that what you will.

The next day, Sergeant Herm Carver spoke to a Seattle radio station, informing them that Misty Copsey, who had referred to as a missing child by the local media, was a runaway. He also claimed that her mother, Diana, knew exactly where she was and that she was safe and sound.

With this interview, it all came undone. The investigation froze, the fliers were taken down, and everyone stopped looking for her.

Well, almost everyone.

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Cory Bober had a stroke of luck. In the latter days of September of 1992, his mother informed him that she had found out about a missing girl from Puyallup - a decision that she, to this day, regrets.
When he was handed the missing persons flier with Misty's picture on it, Bober had a moment of clarity. THIS was the thing he had been waiting for.

He immediately contacted Diana, and began to fill her in on his life's work. The Green River Killer, his suspect, the police being unwilling to listen or do their jobs... all of it.

To Diana, this was what she had been waiting to hear. Someone who was interested in trying to find out what had happened to Misty, and not just in an official capacity.

But in spilling out his theories, Bober had to reveal the dark side of the coin he had just given to Diana. He told her that, in all likelihood, Misty had been abducted and murdered by this suspect of his. She was another victim, and the odds of seeing her alive again weren't just low - they were at zero.

To Diana, this was more than a punch in the gut... it was the death of her hope, the crushing of her future dreams and goals. She had maintained hope with the police's runaway theory that Misty would return to her, but Bober was telling her everything she wanted to hear and everything she didn't. He was speaking to a receptive audience, for the first time in years.

The two became allies in a battle to find out what had happened to a teenage girl, and would begin speaking for hours almost every day. Well, Bober did most of the talking, but this was a good way for Diana to begin combating her grief.

As Diana began to slip into a bottle, Bober was gearing up for war. Now that he had an ally in his war against Randy Achziger, he had been refueled and was getting prepared.

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On October 5th, Bober made contact with Sergeant Herm Carver of the Puyallup PD, who distinctly recalled the man's personal vendetta.

Carver insisted to Bober that Misty Copsey was a runaway, and informed him that her case had been handed over to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

Deputy Brian Coburn was in charge of the investigation, but Coburn had basically been given a folder of details from Sergeant Carver, who almost believed with 100% conviction that Misty was a runaway.

In their first conversation together, Coburn revealed to Bober that if he were to find Misty's whereabouts, the last people he'd tell would be Bober or Diana, Misty's own mother. He believed Diana to be a troubled drunk with a history of breaking the law, and Bober was simply a psychotic thorn in the side of law enforcement.

Bober continued to dig and dig, all the while threatening to get the media involved if law enforcement wouldn't begin to take him seriously. It was a threat he had loved to utilize, and it had worked well for him in the past.

Unknown to Bober, though, the Puyallup police had finally had enough of it. They would arrange a drug bust on Bober, who was a small-time weed dealer at the time, and he would later be facing up to four years in prison.

However, despite this hiccup threatening to send him away from the investigation from an indefinite period of time, Bober persisted.

Behind the scenes, though, a tug-of-war was being established. Bober was on one side, and the police on the other. Diana was caught in the middle, a grieving mother with a plethora of character flaws that was becoming a pawn to both sides.

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With Bober's arrest slowing down his progress in October, the police department played their hand, trying to convince Diana to drop Cory from her side. Both Sergeant Herm Carver and Deputy Brian Coburn insisted upon it. To them, Bober was bad news and would only hurt her pursuit of her daughter.

One can only guess as to their intentions, if they really believed that or they simply wanted to neuter Bober's investigation. Without Diana on his side, Bober had nothing... he went back to being the crazy dope-smoker with an odd fascination in serial killers.

They eventually convinced her to file a restraining order against Cory Bober, after reactivated Misty Copsey's name on the missing persons report. However, this was a formality - an act done for every person missing for more than 30 days. Nonetheless, the restraining order was filed against Bober, and successfully scared him off - Diana had confided in Carver and Coburn, revealing the illegal lengths of which Bober had gone in trying to pin his suspect, Randy Achziger, for his supposed crimes.

However, Diana would drop the restraining order two weeks later, in early November. She realized that, despite his occasional insanity and suspicious nature, she needed Bober. In the weeks after Misty's disappearance, he had listened to her and conversed for hours over the phone, acting as the only shoulder she could cry on. He had also gotten her in touch with support groups and other helpful organizations. He was also the only person looking into the investigation that believed she was something other than a runaway... that, in itself, meant a lot to Diana.

She decided that, if she was going to have to choose a side, she'd choose Cory Bober. At least he was looking for an answer, even if it wasn't what she wanted to believe. She still had her doubts about Rheuban Schmidt, but Bober didn't agree with that. He had his suspect, Randy Achziger, and was so assured of his guilt that he wouldn't hear anything else.

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Cory Bober felt vindication in November of 1992, when King Couny officials revealed that that they were officially reopening up the Green River Killer case, and were now tying the two murdered Puyallup girls - Kim Delange and Anna Chebetnoy - to the case.

Obviously, Misty Copsey couldn't be added, since she had been missing for just two months and no body had been found, but this was proof to Bober, at least, that he was barking up the right tree.

He continued his investigation until he managed to corner an investigator at the Medical Examiner's office, and was able to coax out of him the location that the two Puyallup victims had been found: a little off of Highway 410, near mile marker 30. He would organize weekend search parties through most of November, taking groups of roughly twenty people out into the woods where the prior two girls had been found, to try and find any trace of Misty.

On December 2nd, nearly three months after she had gone missing, Pierce County Sheriffs offically declared as "missing under suspicious circumstances," which was a significant upgrade. The runaway tag was beginning to be torn away from Misty's case file like a reluctant band-aid, adding further fuel to the investigative fire.

A week later, Bober handed off a written theory of the case to Puyallup investigators, and informed them that a news story would be running the next day. The story, published in the News Tribune, detailed Diana Smith and the search parties into finding her, just off of Highway 410. It also tried to connect Misty's disappearance to the previous two Puyallup murders. Bober believed that it might instigate the killer into lashing out, or better yet, leave behind a vital clue.

But nothing happened that day. Or the next. Misty had been missing for nearly three months, and after a run-in with Rheuban Schmidt at the grocery store, in which he ran away from her upon confrontation, Diana didn't know what to think.

Bober's theory had failed. No further killings or disappearances had occurred in the weeks since the article, and whoever the killer was likely hadn't even noticed it.

Later in December, as the holidays approached, Diana tried to kill herself by mixing alcochol with pharmeceutical antidepressants. They failed, and she woke up in the hospital, but had to return to her empty home just days later.

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In January of 1993, "Northwest Afternoon" aired on the local ABC affiliate, KOMO, in which Diana appeared with Misty's teenage friend, Trina Brevard. Also with them was King County Detective Jim Doyon, who had investigated the Green River Killer, along with the two murdered Puyallup girls.

Throughout the airing, the station opened up the phone lines to potential tips and clues, and one was received: a woman claimed that she had witnessed Misty walking down Meridian, the main Puyallup drag that cruises past the fairgrounds, and passing by a 7-11 that lies just across the street. This alleged sighting had taken place closer to ten o'clock than nine, which would push back the possible timeline of Misty's disappearance an entire half-an-hour.

This woman would never be questioned or interviewed by Puyallup or Pierce County detectives, and whoever she was remains lost in time. Footage of this taping can no longer be found, having been lost by Bober, Diana, and the KOMO network itself.

The next day, Jim Doyon would go to the Highway 410 dumping ground, near mile marker 30, and begin snooping around. He found nothing, but it was a good sign that an established detective was interested in the case - even though he had no jurisdiction and worked for the neighboring county, any sign was a good sign for both Diana Smith and Cory Bober.

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January 10th, 1993 - four months after the Misty Copsey's disappearance.

Five blocks away from where Misty had disappeared, at approximately two o'clock in the morning, a fifteen-year old is walking along Meridian in downtown Puyallup. A Red Camaro pulls up, and a man inside the car begins calling out to the teenager.

He begins making lewd jokes, asking for sexual favors, but the teenager tries her hardest to ignore him.

The man, named Robert Leslie Hickey, gets out and forces the girl into his car. He drives her to a secluded area nearby, and rapes her.

Fearing police repercussion, Hickey takes the girl and drops her off of a ravine, hoping that the fall will kill her.

Fortunately, it didn't. She survived, and Hickey was later convicted of first-degree rape. However, his sentence would only be for seven years, and he would be eligible for early parole. Detectives would take note of his crimes, and the proximity to Misty Copsey's disappearance, but would never list him as a suspect or question him in conjecture to the crime. He would be released just five years later, and go on to strike again.


Robert Leslie Hickey

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Cory Bober began to wonder what he was doing wrong. He had believed, in his heart of hearts, that a sign of Misty was going to be found any day now, he just had to keep digging and searching the area where the other two Puyallup girls had been found years beforehand.

Bober leading the search parties


Bober had managed to track down his supposed suspect's whereabouts on the night in question. On September 17th, the night Misty disappeared, Randy Achziger had been just a stone's throw away from the fairgrounds, at the Puyallup Good Samaritan Hospital as his sister was giving birth.

Bober questioned the medical examiner's office again, asking if they had the location correct. It turns out, that Bober's hunch was correct - he WAS doing something wrong. Him and his team had been investigating the wrong side of the freeway entirely. While they had been investigating the north side, they had been unaware that the bodies of the two prior victims were found on the south side of the highway.

To Bober, this was a sign. He began hyping up the upcoming search to the media - which was to be held on Saturday, February 7th. He gave the information to a reporter, believing that even thought it had failed last time, it would work this time. It had to. He had spent the past decade searching for proof of Randy Achziger's misdeeds - this time, surely, it would work.

Diana Smith with the search party


The article was released, and then days later, Bober and Diana Smith led a group of family, friends, and family friends into the woods on the south side of Highway 410's mile marker 30, just a few miles outside of Enumclaw. They began combing the forested area, looking for any sign of Misty.
Surprisingly, they found something.

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 What they found, is the end of the runaway rumors.

The pair of jeans that Misty had been wearing the night of her disappearance - the faded, baggy pair she had borrowed from her mother - were found in those dark woods on Februrary 7th.

The found clothing

While Diana died inside, Bober had trouble containing his excitement. He had finally - after years of turmoil and battling the police for any sign of respect - been proven right. Even though the drug dealing charge still hung over his head, he finally had something to show for all of his years of effort, and it was something that he could throw right into the face of the police that had belittled him.

Found with the jeans were a pair of socks and underwear that may or may not have been the articles she was wearing on the night in question, but her mother confirmed that they were indeed hers.

While Diana had been courting tragedy for some time, this was the sinking feeling of truth; the truth that she had held out hope wasn't real. She now knew it in her heart of hearts; Bober's claims were most likely true. Her daughter, Misty, was gone.

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This is the end of part one, and the story will be continued in a follow-up episode very, very soon.

As I said in the intro, this is a hometown mystery, so I feel like I'm personally involved in the story. While Misty disappeared when I was just a toddler, and years before I even step foot in Puyallup, I feel attached to the story, in a way. It's hard for me to believe that this story was unfolding in the background of my youth.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the News Tribune and Sean Robinson in particular, who wrote the multiple-part "Stolen Child" articles, which gave a lot of detail about the story. This episode wouldn't be possible without Robinson's hard work (and the assistance of the Tribune, which is sourced heavily for this story), which hopefully pays off some day. I can only hope this podcast furthers his effort.

As I say at the end of every episode, I need to personally thank Tyson Nordgren for being the awesome whiz that he is. He handles the production end of the podcast, including almost all of the music you've heard. I know I've definitely made some improvements to my end of the podcast, but he's responsible for almost everything you've been hearing.

Speaking of music, a track was contributed to the podcast from the artist Millimeters Of Mercury. You can find a link at the podcast website, and I'll also try and throw something up on the Facebook and Twitters.

As I said, the story of Misty Copsey's disappearance will continue in part two, to be released very, very soon. Stay tuned for that, and stay safe, everyone.

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Links

Youtube - "253 Crimestoppers: Misty Copsey"

The News Tribune - "The Stolen Child: Part I"

The News Tribune - "The Stolen Child: Part II"

The Charley Project - "Misty Donna Copsey"

7 comments:

  1. So, when is part 2 coming out?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I contacted the Puyallup P.D. yesterday as I think I have found Misty Copsey. She may be a Jane Doe deceased found in 2001 in Simpson County Kentucky. Their Doe is the right age, height, same poor teeth, and lists one of her HEALED UPPER ARM FRACTURES! And looks just like her including her lazy eyebrow/left eye.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I contacted the Puyallup P.D. yesterday as I think I have found Misty Copsey. She may be a Jane Doe deceased found in 2001 in Simpson County Kentucky. Their Doe is the right age, height, same poor teeth, and lists one of her HEALED UPPER ARM FRACTURES! And looks just like her including her lazy eyebrow/left eye.

    ReplyDelete
  4. And today it was Gray's Harbor PD turn to hear from me. I told them that I think the Doe Network case 233UMWA is Rupert Schmidt. We can guess the significance of the location, timing, and mindset of Rupert Schmidt on his last day in 2001 so shortly after Misty's passing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And today it was Gray's Harbor PD turn to hear from me. I told them that I think the Doe Network case 233UMWA is Rupert Schmidt. We can guess the significance of the location, timing, and mindset of Rupert Schmidt on his last day in 2001 so shortly after Misty's passing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. YOU ARE SO MISTAKEN IN YOUR REPORT. SO MANY FACTS VERY WRONG. PROVEN WRONG. EASY TO DEMONSTRATE WHAT YOU RE WRONG ABOUT TOO. YOU SURE DID A POOR JOB AND YOU LIKE TO RANK ON PEOPLE YOU NEVER TALKED TO. I SUGGEST YOU TAKE ANOTHER APPROACH OR DELETE THIS BEFORE YOU FIND YOURSELF BEING SUED. IT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU CONTINUE YOUR ATTACK UPON ME AND I AM GREATLY OFFENDED BY YOUR LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM. BANTER ALL YOU LIKE BUT STOP DEGRADING PEOPLE YOU NEVER EVEN TALKED TO OR PAY THE PRICE. MY LAWYER IS MORE UPSET BY THIS THAN I AM AND WE ARE ALREADY CONSIDERING A SERIOUS LIBEL ACTION AGAINST YOU. MY LAWYER REPRESENTS ME PRO BONO BECAUSE HE KNOWS ME, MY CASE AND THAT THE COPS ARE BOLD FACED LIARS. SOON YOU WILL SEE THIS IS A FACT AND FEEL VERY STUPID. YOU REALLY ARE COMPLETELY WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS AND ABOUT SO MANY 'FACTS' YOU JUST REGURGITATE. YOU REALLY ARE VERY PATHETIC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Cory! Thanks for checking out the podcast. Always happy to have a new fan! =D

      If you have any issues with our facts, I highly recommend that you take it up with the News Tribune. Most of the facts throughout this are sourced directly back to them, in their stunning long-form article "The Stolen Child."

      Also, for what its worth, I admire your dedication to the case and thought I did a pretty good job of portraying your story. Sorry that I disappointed... but all of the "facts" about you come from that News Tribune article.

      Delete