The Stolen Child: Part II

Green River victim? Murdered runaway? The unsolved disappearance of Misty Copsey, missing from the Puyallup Fair since 1992, leaves a trail of mystery and obsession.

May 11, 2009 

A man tells you your missing daughter is dead. He says he knows who killed her.

He leads you to her jeans, her socks and her underwear, crumpled in a ditch on a rural highway. He tells you the jeans were planted – the killer's taunt.

The police come. They take your daughter's jeans. They ask questions and look at you funny. You wonder why. It dawns on you. They think you're in on it.

VICTIM: Misty Copsey

ITEMS TO BE EXAMINED BY ORDER OF PRIORITY:

Pair of "ETHICS" brand jeans, pair of "HAINES" brand panties; pair of socks, respectively.

— Excerpt of Washington State Patrol Crime Lab report, 2-19-93

View The Jeans in a larger map

The jeans meant everything. They meant nothing.

They were Misty's. They weren't Misty's.

They proved she'd been kidnapped and killed.

They proved someone wanted police to think so.

They were planted. They weren't planted.

Cory Bober had been right. Cory Bober had been too right.

Everything had changed.

For five months, Puyallup police said Misty was a runaway. Now she looked like a murder victim.

The find

King County police cruisers scudded to the scene on Highway 410, east of Enumclaw, following scanner traffic and a report from a Weyerhaeuser security guard time-stamped at 1:12 p.m.

… Copsey, Diana at location who has found clothing remains which she says is her daughter's…daughter is believed to be a Green River victim.

— Excerpt from King County sheriff's report, Feb. 7, 1993

The lead detective was Jim Doyon, 47, a veteran who had spent years hunting a phantom: the Green River Killer.

Jim Doyon, King County homicide detective, February 1993 (Source: News Tribune file)

The rural highway was one of the bad guy's regular stops. Seven dead women had been carried out of the nine-mile stretch between Enumclaw and Greenwater since 1984.

The gated turnoff near milepost 30 was a new hot spot. Doyon had been there before. The remains of two slain Puyallup girls, Kim Delange and Anna Chebetnoy, were found in the same area in 1988 and 1991, respectively, 100 feet apart. They were left in a killer's hiding place: a footpath obscured by thickets of brush, jutting off a graveled timber road.

Doyon had worked both cases and believed they were connected. The last known sightings of the victims placed them at the same Puyallup shopping center.

The possibility of two separate killers using the same location some 25 miles from the Hi-Ho shopping center is in our opinion nearly non-existent.

— Doyon's notes, Feb. 28, 1992

He also noted the scene differed from typical sites used by the Green River Killer.

Witnesses

Doyon interviewed witnesses in his car, out of the wind. Diana Copsey was first. She identified the jeans, socks and panties.

Positively those worn by her daughter Misty on the date of 9/17/92.

— Doyon's notes

Cory Bober at scene of jeans discovery (Source: Diana Smith)

A TV news crew was hanging around. It was nearly 3:30 p.m. on a Sunday and the light was going. Too late for a ground search, Doyon decided – come back tomorrow with dogs.

There was one loose end: this character who supposedly picked the site, who made some dumb-luck guess.

"Which one's Cory Bober?" Doyon asked.

Doyon had never seen Bober. He knew him from phone rants. Bober was always trying to hang the Green River jobs on a man he knew, a suspect long since eliminated by the task force.

The searchers pointed to a spindly figure in a denim jacket. Bober wore sunglasses, a baseball cap and a mullet.

Doyon inched his car over and rolled down the window.

"Well, hello, Cory," Doyon said.

"Hello, Mr. Doyon."

I spoke briefly to Mr. BOBER. He advises he selected this particular area to search based on his knowledge of past body recoveries from the area. He also claims to be ‘in a relationship' with Mrs. COPSEY.

— Doyon's notes

("When I said that I didn't mean a relationship," Bober said in a recent interview. "I meant a working relationship.")

Doyon asked Bober if he was a wannabe psychic. Bober spat trash.

"Are you fucking crazy? I'm no psychic!" Bober said. "You're the detective who's supposed to know this shit."

"I lost my wife over this Green River case," Doyon retorted.

"You can get a new wife," Bober shot back, then gestured toward Diana. "She lost her daughter. She ain't never coming back."

Doyon let it ride. Bober was a pain in the ass, right as a stopped clock, but here they were with this discovery. Maybe he had a clue about Misty and the killer after all.

"You're so smart – you know this guy so well," Doyon said. "Where is she?"

"I don't know – I'm not a fly in the air," Bober snapped. "Why don't you look where you found the last two?"

"We did."

Doyon had searched a week earlier. Six hours.

He hadn't found the jeans.

He'd followed a hunch – media coverage of Misty's case included speculation about a possible connection to the other lost Puyallup girls. Checking the 410 site made sense.

The Delange/Chebetnoy dumpsite was a hidden clearing back in the timber – a 10-minute hike from the ditch where Misty's jeans were found.

Location of Misty’s jeans and sites where remains of Chebetnoy and Delange were discovered. The terrain map comes from King County survey records. Locations of each site (added by The News Tribune) are based on descriptions in King County investigative reports.

As he fenced with Bober, Doyon conceded an oversight in his recent search.

Det. Doyon admits he didn't look at the edge of Hwy and could have missed the clothing. He said they could have been there all along.

— Cory Bober's journals, July 1993

Later forensic analysis suggested the jeans sat in the ditch for some time, unnoticed.

Pants have the ground-in dirt look, as tho they have been out in nature for a while.

— State Patrol crime lab report.

'Planted?'

Puyallup police Sgt. Herm Carver, alerted to the report from Highway 410, wasn't buying it.

Misty's jeans found in a ditch … Diana and Cory Bober at scene … King County on site … search planned for following day … and Bober had picked the spot?

Carver scrawled fast notes.

– Why weren't clothes strewn about?

– taken off of victim and placed there?

– planted?

– if still on victim – wouldn't be found like that!

— Carver's notes, Feb. 7, 1993

They were headed down the path Diana wanted all along. Were the jeans really Misty's? Who knew? They had to take Diana's word.

He interviewed her that evening.

Drunk!! 2330. Talking about funeral?? (no body! Just clothes. Insurance?)

— Carver's notes

Diana talked and cried all night – to her family, the cops, Cory.

She thought about the Puyallup police. That made it worse. She cracked another beer and thought some more.

It wasn't right. Five months Misty had been gone – almost six.

Runaway, the cops had said. Diana told them no, over and over, but they wouldn't listen.

Runaway, runaway.

And now Misty was really gone.

Diana began to shake.

"I knew she was gone," she remembers. "I knew it and I was pissed at them, I was so pissed – I was like, ‘Damn you.' "

They hadn't done anything, and the only reason they were doing anything now was Cory Bober, and they were all arguing about that.

"It was more like a big fight between Cory and Puyallup – almost like Misty didn't matter," Diana remembers.

The story hit TV and the papers. The News Tribune quoted Doyon, who mentioned his earlier six-hour search.

"I didn't find anything," Doyon said. "I didn't notice any unusual odors. But it's fair to say we're very interested in this."

Doyon also touched on the unsolved slayings of Chebetnoy and Delange.

"I would have to be blind not to see a connection," he said.

The search

The next day – Monday, Feb. 8 – the weather was crummy. Two weeks earlier, the Inauguration Day Storm had bashed the Puget Sound area. The region was still a mess, and winds were kicking up again.

Investigators spent six hours at the Highway 410 site. Dogs wolfed through the brush: three German shepherds and a bloodhound named Maggie. Nothing.

Doyon arranged the next step: a helicopter search with an infrared scanner. It would take a few days to manage.

Rumors started: planted evidence, tacky conspiracies. Doyon mentioned them to Diana. Journalists slipped hints into second-day stories. In one scenario, Bober and Diana were lovers scheming for insurance money.

There was no insurance. Diana didn't have a policy on Misty. The thought of a romantic plot with Bober just made her laugh.

He'd guessed the spot, though. That bothered her.

"When we found those jeans, I was like, ‘He is lucky he is still breathing,' " Diana says. "I mean, how did you know?"

Tips came in. Herm Carver got one from Dede Miles, 15, a friend of Misty's.

Dede said she'd been to parties at Misty's house. A boy came, but he always left before Diana got home from her night job caring for an elderly invalid.

The boy's name was Rheuban Schmidt. He drove a green Nova.

'Unbelievable'

KIRO-TV broadcast, 2-11-93

On Feb. 11, KIRO-TV ran a segment on Misty's case. Reporter Drew Griffin called the jeans an "unbelievable lead."

King County cops believed Diana, the broadcast said.

Puyallup police weren't so sure.

KIRO: But in private, there is some doubt as to how the search team was led to this exact spot, and whether the jeans were indeed worn by Misty Copsey when she disappeared, or whether they were planted at the site.

The screen cut to Carver at his desk.

Carver: I think you have to look at both sides of the issue here, and, of course, the clothes are in the possession of the King County police at this time, and they'll be undergoing lab analysis, and one thing that will be confirmed from that analysis is whether or not, yes those clothes come from that specific area…

KIRO: …and have been there for –

Carver: – and have been there, yes.

On camera, Diana agreed the jeans could have been planted. Either way, they were Misty's.

Diana: …so whoever had access to the pants to plant them up there would have to have had access to Misty.

KIRO: You didn't plant them there?

Diana: No, I didn't plant them there. And I was really upset when that was insinuated.

Diana was frustrated with Puyallup police, who had an answer.

KIRO: Puyallup police say they have run down every lead in the case and are still working under the assumption that Misty Copsey is alive.

At the time of the broadcast, Puyallup police hadn't interviewed a single witness who saw or spoke to Misty the night of the disappearance, according to their case files.

The next day – Friday, Feb. 12 – King County's helicopter scanned the 410 area for infrared hits. Nothing.

Exposed

Cory Bober figured the jeans were planted. He told Diana all about it.

It was obvious. Of course they were planted. Bober had baited the Green River Killer into a stupid move.

The timing! It was the news story Bober had squeezed out of the Pierce County Herald, announcing the search at 410, published two days before the jeans were found.

Falling into Bober’s trap, the killer had seen the story, taken the jeans from the real hiding place and tossed them in the ditch to taunt the searchers. Bumbling cops searched for Misty's body, found nothing, just as the killer planned – duh!

Misty's body was somewhere else, Bober said. Probably in Puyallup.

Diana, her mind whirling, was starting to lose it.

One week had passed since Bober's triumph. He was in command. Police were hopeless without his direction.

Diana became his frantic messenger, the automatic relay for every new idea. In one day, using her as a mouthpiece, Bober badgered cops into three searches.

First came Puyallup. Misty was buried under a bridge. Police checked four of them around the city. Nothing.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department was next. Misty was buried by a stop sign east of Puyallup. Deputies searched. Nothing.

Tim Kobel, a county detective, called Diana and heard a tangled story. He hadn't worked Misty's case.

Pierce County Sheriff’s detective Tim Kobel (Source: News Tribune file)

On his own, he went to the stop sign and looked around again. Three hours. Nothing.

Kobel called Bober and set a meeting for the next day.

Rotting flesh

Mr Bober talked very rapidly, and most of his thought patterns I would describe as fragmented and rambling.

— Excerpt from Kobel's notes, Feb. 15, 1993

Bober lectured. He said he used the media to create "precipitating stress," goading the Green River Killer into mistakes.

There was proof: Misty's jeans, found a week earlier. Bober led the search, predicted the discovery. Perhaps Kobel saw the story on the news.

Bober had a new tip from a friend: rotting-flesh smell at the Highway 162 bridge over the Puyallup River. Could be Misty.

Kobel took Bober for a ride.

Suburban garbage littered the riverside. Bober spotted a tennis shoe with pink laces. That was important, he said – another Green River victim.

Kobel caught a bad whiff in the air. If nothing else, Bober was right about the smell.

During the search, it was evident that there was a rotting flesh type odor that was permeating the area. I conducted a brief search on the west side of the bridge and could not locate the source of the odor though it was very evident.

— Kobel's notes

Bober chattered, telling Kobel what would happen "when you find Misty's body." The Green River Killer would be exposed. Bober already knew who it was.

He told me he is determined, in spite of police efforts to prevent him from proving this matter, that he will prove that Randy Achziger is the Green River killer and murdered Misty Copsey.

Kobel couldn't find the smell. He told Bober he'd look again later.

Bober had another idea: a drive to the site on 410 where Misty's jeans were found. On the way, he pointed out cartoon bunny heads stapled to telephone poles. The drawings marked body dumpsites, Bober said: Green River victims.

At this time, not being particularly familiar with the dumpsites, I am unable to determine whether these sites are confirmed or fictitious. Nevertheless, the bunny heads were there.

— Kobel's notes

Suspicion

Diana was starting to think Cory did it. Police warned her against him. Her family and friends had never liked the guy. The discovery of the jeans deepened their distrust – way too creepy.

"You don't still suspect me, do you?" Bober asked her.

"Yeah, I do," she said. "Can you blame me?"

He’d always denied it. He was home with a friend when Misty disappeared, and he'd called the cops that night because a neighbor assaulted him, and there was a police report, and Diana could verify that,or she could believe the incompetent cops who thought she was a drunk and Misty was just a runaway –

Diana listened. This was what Cory always said.

Yet he'd found the jeans.

How could he know that?

"How else?" she thought. "How else do you know?"

She reported her fears to Herm Carver.

2-17-93 1130.

Diana comes to station. Now feels Cory Bober may be involved in Misty's disappearance. I asked Diana to submit a written statement to that effect and why she feels he may be involved – she agreed to do so.

— Carver's notes

Bober, unaware, hounded Tim Kobel. The smell at the bridge – hadn't Kobel searched yet? The media wanted to know.

Kobel said he planned to search; stop calling the press. Bober agreed.

Two days later, deputies with picks and shovels searched the riverside. Four hours.

The search led to the discovery of one dead raccoon, one dead duck and one dead smelly salmon which I believe is the source of the rotting flesh smell that had been detected a number of days earlier.

— Kobel's notes, Feb. 19, 1993

Kobel spotted a reporter and a photographer on the bridge. They came from The Pierce County Herald. The reporter said Bober tipped them to the search.

Pushing Kobel served two purposes. Bober had to stay on the case, but he had to stay out of jail. Sentencing on his pot bust from the previous fall was set for Feb. 25. He'd pleaded guilty, expecting a wrist slap – first offense, pot. Helping the cops would look good. Credibility. They would rescue him. They needed him. He had vital information. Kobel could come to court and argue for leniency.

Kobel wasn't going for it. Fingering some guy as the Green River Killer wouldn't fly with a judge.

If Bober had something solid – records, documents – great. Maybe that would change things.

Trina

Trina Bevard, 1993 (Source: Diana Smith)

While Bober sent cops down rabbit holes, Jim Doyon, the King County detective, interviewed one of the last people to see Misty alive.

Trina Bevard, 15, went to the Puyallup Fair with Misty that night. She was Misty's best friend, her sleepover sister.

The girls wrote letters to each other with kooky nicknames: Misty was "Bunyan." Trina was "Bean."

It was Feb. 24. Misty's disappearance was almost six months old. Doyon was the first cop to take a formal statement from Trina, according to records of the investigation.

He brought pictures of the jeans.

When Trina saw them, she began to cry.

Doyon started a tape recorder.

Trina looked at the pictures again.

Trina: It seems to me like something that Misty was wearing that night. It looks very close to what Misty was wearing. The socks, they match what she was wearing. The jeans are big, so – her jeans were baggy that night, that she was wearing. They're – they were light blue like they are in the photo. It just seems, you know, it was the clothes that she was wearing.

The socks were navy blue. Trina remembered Misty switching to blue socks on the way to the fair to match her sweatshirt.

Doyon asked more about that. What kind of sweatshirt? Pullover, Trina said.

Jewelry? Yes – a gold ring.

Misty's purse? Doyon asked about the size, shape, what might have been inside.

Q: Any cigarettes or birth control pills?

A: No. She was straight. She was a virgin. She didn't smoke, she didn't drink, she didn't do drugs. She was clean, so she had no reason to do anything. She wasn't sexually active.

Q: As far as you know, she was a virgin?

A: Oh, yes, very much so.

Doyon shifted to the night Misty disappeared. Trina said their friend Rheuban Schmidt was supposed to give the girls a ride home.

Q: So Rheuban Schmidt was, as far as you know, late in the afternoon on the 17th of September, was your ride home. Is that correct?

A: Yes.

Trina described the day at the fair. The girls went on rides. Nothing unusual happened. No guys hit on them. Around 8 p.m., it was time to go. They started making phone calls.

Q: Who are these phone calls to?

A: We called Rheuban because he was to pick us up.

Q: OK, Rheuban Schmidt?

A: Yeah.

Q: How many phone calls did you have to make to him?

A: Around five.

Q: And why so many phone calls?

A: We couldn't get a hold of him. He was gone, and then he was there, and then he was gone and then we finally got a hold of him and he said he couldn't make it and we had told him things, to get the money to come down and pick us up and we'd give him more money to take us home. He still said no.

This was new information to Doyon. Trina was filling gaps. Five calls to Rheuban, and Misty told him how to get into her house and find money.

Q: Misty told him how to get into her house?

A: Yeah.

Q: And how did she – what were the instructions?

A: There was a key under the mat that unlocks the doorknob. You go in, and I don't know how she told him where the money is, and she said, "Just get to a gas station, fill up, come down and pick us up, I'll give you more money to take me back home, and Trina," and he said no.

Q: He said no.

A: Yeah, ‘cause he didn't have enough gas to get to her house.

Rheuban lived six miles from Misty's house at the time. He was rooming with his friend James Tinsley, in a duplex near Spanaway Lake.

Q: Do you trust Rheuban?

A: No.

Q: Have you seen him since?

A: No.

Q: Have you spoken with him since Sept. 17?

A: Yes.

Q: What is he, what kind of conversations have you had with him?

A: Basically if I heard anything about the case. I mostly said no – I don't really relay anything to him. I trusted him to the point of September 17.

Q: Why did you lose that trust? What caused you to lose it?

A: My best friend's gone now. He could have went to the house, got some money and (unintelligible).

Q: But you're not actually saying, Trina, that he might have caused her disappearance?

A: No.

Q: You're saying that if he had followed through, this probably wouldn't have happened. Is that correct?

A: Yeah.

Trina didn't know of any problems between Rheuban and Misty.

Q: Do you know if she ever tried to – he ever tried to come on to her sexually?

A: I knew that he liked her, but nothing more than that. She didn't like him.

Q: Why was that? Is there some reason that she didn't like him?

A: She just – she didn't like him and it wasn't – he wasn't her type. He was just like odd, I guess.

Q: Was he aggressive toward her?

A: No. He – I guess, her choice of men are like popular, good looking, go to school, and he didn't have any of those qualities.

Doyon asked about Rheuban's car. It was green, Trina said – a boat.

He moved on. The girls called Rheuban, he didn't come, then what?

Trina called her friend Mike Rhyner for a ride. Mike was 23. They got disconnected somehow.

So they were stuck. Trina and Misty walked downtown to the bus stop. They found a phone booth by a convenience store, and Misty called Diana.

A: Misty told her mom that Rheuban would pick her up and if Rheuban couldn't make it she would take the bus. Her mom was upset about it, but she said OK, as long as you get home. And I knew Diana was upset about it, ‘cause Misty, her reaction was upsetting, too.

Q: Do you know what time that phone call was?

A: Probably around 8:30.

When she called her mother, Misty stood a stone's throw from Puyallup police headquarters. The cop shop was next to the store and the phone booth on West Pioneer Avenue.

The girls sat on a bench and schemed. Trina's curfew was 10 p.m. She had about an hour to get home. She could walk; her place in Sumner wasn't far. But Misty couldn't walk 10 miles to Spanaway.

They settled it. Trina would walk. Misty would take the bus. Trina gave her extra money.

A: …At that time I made my decision of walking home and she said she would take the bus. The last words that I said to her were ‘Be careful,' and she turned around and told me the same and we walked off in different directions.

Trina walked east. She looked back and thought Misty would be OK. That had been about 8:45 p.m.

Q: What do you think happened to Misty?

A: I think she was abducted from the Puyallup Fair, somewhere around there.

Misty wouldn't have gotten into a stranger's car, Trina said.

Doyon touched on runaway rumors. Were there problems between Misty and her mother?

Trina didn't think so.

A: Her mom just bought her a stereo and she was so excited and she went shopping and she got new clothes. She was telling me all about it. She was really excited about it.

Q: So are you saying things are pretty happy at home?

A: Oh yeah.

Det. Jim Doyon, Feb. 27, 1993 (Source: News Tribune file)

Doyon shut off the tape.

Trina's story squared with Diana's original report, but there were new details. The chronology of Misty's movements was sharpening.

Three days after the interview – Feb. 27 – Doyon was back at Highway 410 again, coaching a group of volunteer searchers who were taking another shot at finding Misty.

The searchers spent eight hours at the site. They found bits of random trash. Doyon logged it all, but saw nothing he could use.

Lockup

Cory Bober was stuck in jail.

At his sentencing hearing, a row of cops ran him down. Thorn in their side for years, they told the judge. Never provided anything of substance.

Sentence: 14 months.

Bober seethed. He could see the strings – all this for a lousy pot bust? Through surrogates – his mother and Diana – Bober sent a tip to Tim Kobel, the Pierce County detective: Misty's body might be buried under a bridge by a Puyallup restaurant.

Kobel ignored the tip and paid Bober a jailhouse visit.

…his demeanor fluctuated greatly from being passive to verbally abusive and extremely excitable. … He made a strange statement during the interview, "You won't find Misty Copsey without me."

— Kobel's notes

Kobel was no fool. Bober was insufferable, but difficult to ignore.

Again, I appealed to Cory Bober that if he, in fact, had indisputable information or evidence that Randy Achziger had killed Misty Copsey or was the Green River killer, he would share the information and the evidence with me, it would give him credibility and would greatly assist the investigation into these matters.

"Fuck you," Bober snarled.

Kobel wanted records – every scrap of evidence Bober had collected for the past eight years.

That, Bober said, would never happen.

Bober then went off on a wild tangent … if he went to prison he would destroy all of his notes, all of the evidence and related information that could prove Randy Achziger is the Green River killer and the killer of Misty Copsey.

… Presently, I don't know all the ins and outs of Misty Copsey. I do know that she has been missing for an extended period of time and the likelihood that she is deceased grows greater each day, but at this time her body has not been found. …

… Up to this point, Cory Bober's information is primarily accusations, unprovable theories and no facts that could technically be followed up using a logical investigation.

— Kobel's notes

Bober spent the next four months shuttling through prisons in Shelton, Monroe and Forks. He wrote and telephoned Diana regularly – she paid more than $160 for his collect calls. He guarded his role in the case, collecting information, advising, cajoling, berating. He told Diana police would never find Misty’s body without him. That was guaranteed.

— Letter from Bober to Diana, 3-17-93

At each stop on his prison tour, despite repeated warnings, he talked to anyone who would listen about his theories.

Inmates started calling him "Snitch," and "Green River Killer."

Doubts

Misty's case went national. "America's Most Wanted," the crime-watch show, aired a segment that generated 28 tips, sent to Herm Carver in Puyallup.

He called Diana to share the good news – maybe they could find Misty after all.

"Gee," Diana said. "I kind of have hope now that she is still alive."

Carver asked for Diana's promised statement on Cory Bober.

Diana waffled.

She could carve Cory out of her life for good. She'd suspected him at times. She'd filed a restraining order against him, and withdrawn it in a fit of guilt.

The cops would make it easy. They had warned her against Bober before. All she had to do was say the word.

She didn't.

"He took me to my daughter's jeans," Diana says, looking back. "He took me to my daughter's jeans."

The cops had doubted Diana, accused her of planting the jeans. Cory had never scoffed. From the beginning he believed. Even in jail, he'd bulled ahead.

"He's the only one who had done anything in her case to come up with anything," Diana says. "He's the only one who got any kind of results."

Dodging Carver's request, Diana changed the subject. She asked about Rheuban Schmidt.

It was an old topic. Looking back 17 years later, Diana recalled that she was always bugging Carver about it.

Misty, in her last phone call, had talked about getting a ride from Rheuban. The day after the disappearance, Diana had heard from Rheuban's roommate, James Tinsley, that Rheuban and his uncle had picked Misty up at the fair, but Rheuban denied it, told Diana he had no gas, but then said he went to a party, and jeez – shouldn't somebody check?

Detectives from King County and Puyallup were sharing information and splitting duties, according to their records. Carver and Doyon had Rheuban's name.

No one had talked to the kid. Carver agreed to check.

Bober knew about Rheuban. Diana was stuck on that idea – it was such a waste of time. She was screwing up the search for the real killer.

Washington Corrections Center Shelton, Wa. 3-03-93

Dear Diana,

...When we found Misty's clothes, part of me died and I watched a part of you die too (much more than a "part") and I was at a total loss for words. I never wanted to be the one to show you your most horrible fears were true and that your daughter is truly dead at the hands of a sick murderer. I will never rest until the killer (Randy Achziger) is brought to justice and dead, if it takes my life to do it.

— Excerpt from Bober letter

Rheuban

A day after Diana's plea, Carver took a run at Rheuban Schmidt.

The Puyallup detective spoke to Frank Rodriguez, owner of Adam's Ribs, a barbecue joint on Pacific Avenue where Rheuban sometimes worked.

Feels Rheuban knows something. Talked a lot about Misty.

— Carver's notes, March 3, 1993

Rodriguez promised to pump the kid. He called Carver the next day.

3-4-93 @ 1500: Frank states Rheuban said the following during a lengthy conversation about Misty Copsey:

- Yeah, I know about it.

- I know exactly where she is buried.

- They found the clothes but she is buried 6 miles from there.

- They're off by 6 or 6 1/2 miles.

— Excerpt from Carver's notes

Carver and his partner, detective Tom Matison, drove to Adam's Ribs in a police car.

Rodriguez told them Rheuban was coming – supposed to roll through soon with some deliveries. The cops parked across the street and settled in.

An hour later, a scrawny teenager in a Chicago Bulls jacket sauntered past the car with a couple of girls.

The W/M eyes the vehicle and takes off running.

We re-contact Frank – he states Rheuban ran past the front window. Det. Matison and I decide to wait inside the restaurant.

Rheuban calls at approximately 1800 – calling from 7-11 store – Frank's son advises he will go pick him up – Frankie comes back – empty-handed –states Rheuban will not talk to the cops.

— Carver's notes

Rheuban Schmidt, 1993 (Source: Pierce County Sheriff)

Matison and Carver corralled Rheuban later that evening.

He admitted Misty called him twice the night of the disappearance. First time, he told her he had no gas and couldn't give her a ride.

She called back, told him how to get into her house and get gas money. He said no. Misty got really mad.

Did Rheuban say he knew where Misty was buried?

Rheuban didn't deny what Frank stated he said. Rheuban said "I said those things just to get Frank off my back."

— Carver's notes

Rheuban couldn't remember anything after Misty's last phone call.

– Because he suffers from black outs – he believes he blacked out and doesn't recall anything until the daylight hours of 9-18-92.

– Rheuban states on 9-18-92 he drove to his grandmother's home in Buckley – she has a 100-acre farm. He doesn't know why. No one was home.

— Carver's notes

The farm, investigators later learned, was about 8 miles from the site where Misty's jeans were found. Rheuban was saying he had driven there on Sept. 18, 1992 – the day after Misty disappeared.

– When asked if he could have blacked out – picked up Misty…harmed her – he replied that he didn't know.

– When asked if he drove to his grandmother's with Misty in the trunk of his green Chevy Nova – he replied, "I couldn't touch a dead body."

– Rheuban didn't know what he was capable of in a black out – he doesn't remember – he has had black outs since age five.

— Carver's notes

Rheuban said he wouldn't knowingly hurt or kill anybody.

"Can a polygraph or a hypnotist help me find out if I did anything that night?" he asked the detectives.

No problem, they said.

Inconclusive

Rheuban took a polygraph test March 8 at the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. The cops watched. It was weird; the kid zoned out.

Rheuban proves to be an unusual polygraph subject…nearly fell asleep on numerous occasions…very little galvanic skin response.

— Carver's notes

Matison thought Rheuban was trying to beat the machine.

The results were inconclusive, but leaned toward being truthful. However, Schmidt was "putting himself to sleep" during the actual test which may have altered the results. Schmidt was awake and alert prior to and just after the examination. It was apparent that he was trying to manipulate the results.

— Matison's notes

Inconclusive was just that. Maybe Rheuban was telling the truth. Maybe he wasn't. Inconclusive.

Rheuban was released. He was advised that we would probably need to talk with him again in the future.

— Matison's notes

A machine measured Rheuban's honesty. On the ground, no one checked his story.

Puyallup police didn’t speak to any witnesses who had been with Rheuban that night, according to their records. They didn't check Rheuban's car – the green Nova. They didn't visit his grandmother's farm in Buckley.

Whether such follow-up inquiries were planned is unclear; they fell off the radar when Carver spotted a hot lead.

A secret slips

The day after Rheuban's polygraph, Carver circled back to Misty's friends. One was Dede Miles, 15.

It turned out that Trina Bevard had visited Dede a few days earlier, and let a secret slip. She hadn't walked home from the fairgrounds like she told police – her boyfriend picked her up. Nobody was supposed to know.

Michael Rhyner, 1997 (Source: Pierce County Sheriff)

Trina has always contended – even on TV – that she walked all the way home! …

Trina Bevard lied to everyone.

— Carver's notes

The boyfriend was 23. Carver took down a name: Michael J. Rhyner.

Matison ran a background check on the new guy.

Traffic stops by Puyallup PD…nothing special…but Rhyner had friends tied to Chebetnoy and Delange, the slain Puyallup girls.

There was something older: Rhyner's Pierce County rap sheet included a juvenile complaint from seven years back. It accused him of an abduction rape with a knife and cigarette lighter.

Rhyner was 16 at the time. The victim was 11. The report said he'd offered her a ride in his car. Charges were never filed. It was a messy case. Matison kept gathering.

A bad feeling

On March 12, 1993, a psychic named Terry Schwartz parked along a stretch of Highway 410. After the discovery of Misty's jeans, he'd offered to help Diana.

Something about the spot along the highway gave Schwartz a bad feeling. He followed it.

Impulse dragged him through trees and underbrush to an open place, a small mound of earth, a circle of stones

and a wooden cross painted with a name: MISTY.

Schwartz walked out of the brush, back to the highway. He saw a State Patrol trooper. They walked back to the open place and looked at the cross. The trooper called the sheriff.

Investigators came. They dug up the pile of earth and found a dead cat.

Spanaway, Wa.

3-13-93

Dear Cory,

Hi Sunshine! Well, how's it going for ya? I finally got your letter. I have to tell you it really touched me. I do miss getting your phone calls. Life's actually pretty boring when you're not around to stir things up…

…Well, there's really not a whole lot going on in Misty's case. Although I did hear from Rheuban today. He said the Puyallup police had picked him up and gave him a polygraph test. He said he passed it with flying colors. What do ya think?

— Excerpts of letter from Diana

As far as Diana knew, Rheuban passed the test: ruled out, in spite of her lingering suspicions. Nothing left but Cory's screwball theory, and the cops didn't care about that – but the cops didn't find the jeans. Cory did. Maybe he was really onto something.

Puyallup police records include a 911 call reported in the early hours of March 14, 1993 – the same night Diana wrote her letter to Bober.

The report came from a relative of Randy Achziger, Bober's long-time suspect. The caller said Diana rang three times that night, blasted, hurling accusations about the murder of Misty.

Trina again

Carver and Matison wanted the real story from Trina. They confronted her on March 18.

Trina admitted to lying initially about not getting a ride. At the time she feared getting into trouble with her guardian about it and felt it was best not to mention anything.

— Matison's notes

Trina told the rest of her story. She called Rhyner, got cut off and left an angry message. She told Misty they could both ride with Rhyner, but Misty refused.

Trina would not be specific why Misty did not trust Rhyner, but the indication was that Rhyner might have ‘come on' to Misty at one time and she did not like it. Trina states that she and Rhyner are friends, but not involved.

— Matison's notes

Still hoping Rhyner might come, Trina had started walking. Rhyner found her. He was driving a blue car. He took her home. They were together for five or 10 minutes. Trina told him Misty was taking the bus.

Did Rhyner go back and look for Misty, after dropping Trina off?

Trina didn't know. She'd asked Rhyner about it. He said no.

The detectives wanted a taped statement. Both felt Trina hadn't told them everything.

They checked Rhyner's automotive records, and found the blue car – a 1981 Ford Escort. That was worth a closer look.

Privately, police were focused on Rhyner. Publicly, they were still calling Misty a runaway.

The News Tribune second-guessed Puyallup in a March 21 front-page story, headlined, "Runaway or victim?"

The general drift: King County detectives, experienced in serial-murder investigations, were taking Misty's disappearance more seriously than Puyallup. The story quoted Jim Doyon, who discussed possible links between Misty's disappearance and the Green River slayings.

Carver said Puyallup would continue to investigate the case as a runaway. He dismissed the idea that Misty was the victim of a serial killer.

"There isn't anything . . . that would make someone think that we've got a serial murderer out there preying on young girls," he said.

Uneasy

Diana can't remember the precise date, but that spring, she got a call from Frank Rodriguez, owner of Adam's Ribs.

She didn't know him. The call came out of the blue. She recalls Rodriguez saying he had some information and the cops weren't doing anything with it. This kid named Rheuban worked at the restaurant, and he'd bragged about "doing something" to Misty – him and his uncle.

In 2007, The News Tribune found Rodriguez in Florida. He recalled telling Diana what he'd heard from Rheuban.

"Just the fact that he was involved in killing her," Rodriguez said. "Him and this other fella, tall and lanky fella. He mentioned a family member. I think it was him and his uncle.

"That's more or less how he laid it out. I said, ‘Well, I don't believe you.' He was a little weird, anyway. This guy's a clown. He liked to brag and say things that was untrue."

The story fed Diana's suspicions.

She'd been uneasy about Rheuban ever since Misty's disappearance. He'd always denied knowing anything. He said he'd passed a polygraph test – boasted about it.

Still, it nagged at her. She remembers asking Carver – were they sure about Rheuban?

Carver pounded his fist, so hard that Diana flinched.

"Rheuban Schmidt did not do this!" he said. "We have our man."

Pushing

Carver and Matison met with Jim Doyon on March 24.

We share our knowledge of Mike Rhyner and how he is involved with Misty and Trina – and the fact Trina lied to Doyon. We state that there is an excellent possibility that Rhyner may be linked to Chebetnoy and DeLange. Exchange of information is extremely beneficial.

— Carver's notes

Sgt. Carver believes that Rhyner dropped Bevard off, returned to the area of the fairgrounds, located Misty Copsey, convinced her to get into his vehicle and drove off with her.

— Doyon's notes

While cops compared notes, Rheuban Schmidt's green Nova was sold to a wrecking yard, according to records from the state Department of Licensing. It was the car he'd been driving when Misty disappeared. Puyallup police hadn't tracked it down.

On March 29, Matison and Carver interviewed Trina on tape and went over the whole story one more time.

Was it possible Rhyner went back to look for Misty?

Trina didn't know. Mike said he didn't.

Matison pushed. Misty was desperate for a ride, right? Even if she didn't like Mike, would she maybe ride with him this once?

Maybe, Trina said. She felt bad.

Trina: I just usually put the blame on myself. And it's hard to, not to, it's not my fault, you know. And I've told him how much I miss her and stuff, and um, just like, talk about that night, and what we could've done more to get her back.

The detectives said they might need to talk to Trina again.

"Remember, we are here to help you," Matison said.

"Yeah," Trina said.

Screed

March ended with an odd footnote. Randy Achziger, Cory Bober's perennial suspect, was charged with child rape following an incident reported to Puyallup police.

The victims were two 7-year-old girls. A guilty plea and conviction on a lesser charge – first-degree child molestation – would follow a year later.

Matison handled the complaint. He saw no connection to Misty. Mike Rhyner was still the target.

Rhyner, a mechanic and car nut, happily unloaded his beater Ford Escort for 200 bucks on April 6. The buyer was some old guy.

The old guy, a retired cop working undercover, noted that Rhyner anxiously cleared garbage from the car before the sale. Puyallup police called the state crime lab and arranged a forensic comb-down of the car.

Bober stewed in prison. Phone calls to Diana fueled his rage. Police and the media were still saying the jeans were planted.

He fired a letter to Tim Kobel, the Pierce County detective.

Mr. Kobel – you're pathetic!

… You, Mister 'KOJACK wanna be,' can kiss my ass and get a real job – get a life.

(NOTE: A polygraph would prove I'm honest – I DARE YOU TO DO IT – you know I'd pass!!)

Yes, I've got a job, too – *I'm doing your job.*

— Bober's letter, April 8, 1993

Kobel smiled at the screed.

I received a letter from Corey Bober. After reading the letter, I am convinced Corey Bober is mentally unstable. I believe he is an individual who has been unemployed for a number of years and living at home with his mother. It appears he has nothing constructive to do other than smoke dope and become obsessed with the Green River killer. It is still unclear at this time why Corey Bober is obsessed with Randy Achziger as being the Green River killer and having killed Misty Copsy.

— Excerpt from Kobel’s notes

Not convinced

Jim Doyon visited Diana on Easter Sunday. He collected traces of Misty.

4-11-93:

These three packets contain items from the Copsey household. The bulky one contains hair bands, and there are some hair strands visible. The other two packets contain items that Misty may have touched.

Be advised that psychics and do-gooders are coming out of the woodwork suggesting that Mrs. Copsey needs to do everything from listening to Bober to calling Bill Clinton, no shit. I told her that everyone involved was doing everything possible, and to just give us time and trust that we know what we're doing. As she drank her second beer of the morning, she said she would.

— Doyon's notes

A few days later, state crime lab technicians combed Mike Rhyner's car. The evidence would be compared with Misty's jeans. Forensic scientist Kerstin Gleim scribbled notes. One entry reflected Puyallup's continuing suspicions.

Copsey disappeared 9/17/92.

Clothing found 2/7/93.

Puyallup not convinced thinks that Mother may have planted clothing.

— Excerpt from crime lab report

Follow-up tests would take time, far more than Puyallup detectives hoped. They would wait all summer for answers.

Meanwhile, they talked to Rhyner's friends, who said he was a four-wheeling freak, addicted to stump jumping. Some of his favorite trails were the Weyerhaeuser logging roads near Enumclaw and Highway 410.

The snitch

4-24-93 Forks, WA

Olympic Corrections Center Incident Report:

On 4-24-93 Inmate Bober came forward to the staff on First Shift to report a swastika drawn on the wall near his bunk. Initial reports stated the swastika was drawn in blood, but subsequent checking showed it to be salsa.

Again on 4-24-93 C/O (corrections officer) Rand reported overhearing inmates taunting Inmate Bober, calling him the Green River killer. As C/O Rand approached, Inmate Bober stated, "I'm the Green River killer and a mass murderer." … FOLLOW UP ACTION: … Based on the above information Inmate Bober was placed on involuntary Protective Custody status in segregation pending a hearing…

— Excerpt from state Department of Corrections report

Segregation meant a new cellmate. Bober called him "Jet" Duncan. His real name was Joseph Edward Duncan III.

Duncan was wrapping up a 13-year sentence for a sex offense. His past was a nightmare. His future was a horror.

In 2005, he would torture and kill a family in Idaho. Only one victim, an 8-year-old girl, would survive.

Excerpt from Diana's journal (Source: Diana Smith)

In August 2008, Duncan was sentenced to death for those crimes after pleading guilty. He also confessed to killing three children in Seattle and California in 1996 and 1997.

For five days in 1993, Bober, the serial-murder researcher, and Duncan, the budding serial killer, sat together in a prison cell and talked about death.

Cory called 4-26-93

Said he thinks police are trying to set him up for Misty's murder. Asked me if I would stick up for him. Asked if I believe in his innocence.

— Diana's journal

Tom Matison, the Puyallup detective, was sketching a theory: Rhyner and Misty, Misty and Rhyner…

Opinion:

It's very possible that based upon intelligence received to date that if Rhyner is responsible for Misty's abduction (which can include the other two homicide victims), a plausible scenario can be suggested: ...

— Matison's notes

Matison called the crime lab regularly. He wanted to lean on Rhyner, but he needed test results from the car first.

They weren't ready. The lab had a backlog.

In a letter to Diana, Bober railed at his captors and their psych tests. They were treating him like a madman.

The only reason I'm told that I'm here is because my "AC" (BOSS) in the kitchen at OCC had heard me comment to an inmate who had accused me of being the "GR Killer" – I'd said, "Yeah RIGHT! I'm the Green River Killer." And she thought I was claiming (seriously) to be the "GR Killer."

— Bober letter, May 14, 1993

Frustration

The summer of 1993 frustrated everyone involved in Misty's case.

Diana wanted answers. Police had none. Police wanted forensics from Rhyner's car, but the tests weren't finished.

Prison officials wanted Bober to shut up. Bober wanted Diana to shut up. She was talking to true-crime writers – thieves, trying to steal his information.

While weeks dragged on, potential evidence melted away.

Rheuban Schmidt's green Nova was crushed at a wrecking yard on June 24, 1993, according to state records. Puyallup police didn't notice.

In July, Bober transferred to work release in Tacoma. News from a friend electrified him: Randy Achziger, Bober's eternal suspect, had been charged with child rape.

Bober boiled. Proof! Right again! Sex crime! Police couldn't ignore that.

Rhyner

Matison and Carver were done waiting for forensics on Rhyner's car. It was time to talk to the guy. They arranged a taped interview for July 15.

Rhyner's story matched Trina's. He said he picked her up in his Escort.

Rhyner: I asked her where Misty was, and she goes, oh well I gave her five bucks to take the bus home.

Matison: OK.

Rhyner: And I took Trina home, and went back home.

Matison: OK. And you went back home that night?

Rhyner: Yeah, I went back home and called my friend. I was supposed to take a friend of mine to Auburn hospital to see her mom to visit her.

Rhyner was 23. Trina was 15. What was the relationship?

Just good friends, Rhyner said. Trina had a tough home life. Rhyner was her crying shoulder.

And Misty?

Rhyner said he met her maybe four times. He went to her house once, saw Misty other times at Trina's.

The detectives circled back to the night of the disappearance, watching for stumbles. Rhyner repeated himself.

They asked about Rheuban Schmidt. Did Rhyner know him?

Rhyner said he'd never met the guy. He'd heard the name from Trina. Misty had called Rheuban and asked for a ride – all he knew.

Matison: Do you think Misty's alive?

Rhyner: It's hard to say.

Matison: Hard to say.

Rhyner: After all this time, you know, it's hard to say. You can only hope.

Matison asked what should happen to someone who kidnapped Misty.

Rhyner said rapists and molesters deserved no mercy. He favored capital punishment.

Matison: OK, so tell me why you wouldn't do something like this. Because of your strong convictions, or ah…

Rhyner: Why I wouldn't go out and do something like that?

Matison: Yeah, why you wouldn't go out and hurt somebody like that, yeah.

Rhyner: Cause there's no reason to?

Matison steered into dark territory. Maybe Misty was dead, buried somewhere. Maybe somebody picked her up, didn't mean to hurt her, made a pass at her. Maybe she resisted, and everything went tragic, stupid.

Rhyner got it. Without prompting, he mentioned the juvenile complaint from years before – the incident that alleged he raped an 11-year-old girl at knifepoint when he was 16.

Wasn't true, he said. He'd gotten a legal letter saying he was cleared. He figured that old case was why the cops were looking at him now.

Rhyner: First thing I thought, you know, well, that's in my file, now you guys are going to think I did it since it's in my file. About Misty, that's the one thing that worried me.

Rhyner seemed "deceptive in many areas," Matison wrote after the interview.

Eliminated

Two days later, Matison's phone rang.

"This is Cory Bober, Mr. Matison. I'm back."

Bober was still in work-release, but he could use the phones. He pounced.

He'd warned police, hadn't he? They called Bober a nut, arranged a pot bust to shut him up, and now his suspect, Randy Achziger, was charged with raping children –

Matison cut in. He didn't want to hassle with the media.

Right, Bober sneered. Good luck.

"I'm gonna put him in the papers and you're not gonna hide it!"

Matison ignored the Bober noise. Analysis of Rhyner's car was critical, but the state crime lab was too busy. In mid-August, he asked the FBI to take over.

He arranged a polygraph test for Rhyner, who passed.

…As Michael Rhyner passed the polygraph he is eliminated at this point of being involved.

— Matison's notes, Aug. 19, 1993

That hurt. Matison still hoped for a forensic save from the FBI, but Rhyner looked like a no-go.

There was one more lead: Rheuban.

Investigation will continue in regards to Rheuban Schmidt regarding information received that he might have actually gone to Puyallup to pick up Misty.

— Matison's notes, Aug. 19, 1993

Witness

The information was a scrap of hearsay from Diana. It came from Rheuban's ex-roommate – a teenager named James Tinsley. Matison arranged an interview for Sept. 1.

Almost a year had passed since Misty's disappearance. Six months had passed since Rheuban's inconclusive polygraph test earlier in the year.

For the first time, an investigator was checking his story.

Rheuban Schmidt's initial interview with Sgt. Carver and I created more questions than answers. He was very vague about what he did that September 17th and finally said that he had a ‘black out' and ‘woke up' at his grandmother's property near Enumclaw.

…Schmidt had told Frank Rodriguez that Misty's body was six miles from where the jeans were found. He now claims that he said this just to get Rodriguez "off his back," and was not a true statement.

He was driving a Green Chev Nova at the time but he no longer has the vehicle. It was repossessed.

Schmidt also mentioned that his Grandmother's property is located in King County by Buckley and is over a hundred acres. The property has cows on it. Few people enter onto the property.

— Matison's notes

James Tinsley was about to turn 16. He told the detective Rheuban was his roommate for a few months – Rheuban and his brothers slept at Tinsley's place after the family got kicked out of another apartment.

Rheuban had "a really, really short temper," Tinsley said.

The night of the disappearance, Misty called Rheuban, Tinsley said. She wanted a ride home from the fair.

Rheuban, 18, had a girlfriend with him – a 13-year-old, Tinsley said. She was jealous of Misty's call.

Rheuban suggested picking up Misty – sounded like he wanted to, but the girl didn't like that. Then she left.

Then Rheuban left.

Matison: You say about five or 10 minutes after that he left?

Tinsley: Yeah.

Matison: Did he say where he was going?

Tinsley: No, he just, left, just, weird cause he usually either tells me or he takes me and he just left. Got in his car and left.

Matison: OK. And you remember when he came back?

Tinsley: No, I can't give you an exact time. It was sometime, it was sometime kinda late, late kinda late on that night.

Matison: Before midnight or after midnight or?

Tinsley: Um, anywhere around midnight to, anywhere between 11 and 1.

Tinsley was sleeping, but he said he woke up when Rheuban came home.

Matison: Did he ever tell you where he went that night or what he did, or did you ever ask him, or?

Tinsley: No. I just basically kept my own business. He didn't tell me. I didn't ask him.

Matison: Um-hmm. OK.

Tinsley: Especially after we found out she was missing. (Unintelligible) It was embarrassing.

Matison: When, when did you find out that she was missing? When did you first hear about it?

Tinsley: Um, I think it was Rheuban that told me. If I remember right, I think it was Rheuban that told me.

The story had changed.

When Rheuban talked with the Puyallup detectives six months earlier, he had claimed he blacked out after Misty called, and remembered nothing else.

Tinsley's story furnished a new, cryptic detail. During the vital hours when Misty disappeared, Rheuban was gone.

Rheuban didn't seem concerned about Misty's disappearance, Tinsley said.

Tinsley thought she was dead.

Matison: OK, you personally think she's, she's, she's dead then?

Tinsley: I think she is, because there's a lot of people that do. Not just, not (unintelligible) There's a lot of people that do. It's been too long.

Matison: What do you think might have happened to her?

Tinsley: Um, I couldn't, I couldn't say because I have no idea.

Matison: Well, can you speculate?

Tinsley: With Rheuban, this is just that I, this, this is what I say with Rheuban because I, I figure that um that he, he tried to, he tried to um, get with her or something and she said, she said no and he got all pissed and did something, I don't know, that's just a second guess.

Matison asked if Rheuban would try to take advantage of Misty. Tinsley thought so.

Matison: You think Rheuban would be capable of ah, kidnapping and killing somebody?

Tinsley: I think he could.

Matison: Is that because you know him that well?

Tinsley: Yeah, and I know him real well.

Matison noted that Tinsley appeared to be truthful.

He spent the next week negotiating with Rheuban, who wasn't eager to talk to police again or take another polygraph test.

"His family is trying to talk him out of it!!!" Matison wrote in a scribbled note.

He ran a check on Rheuban's car – the green Nova.

It was too late. The car had been crushed three months earlier.

For six months after Misty's disappearance on Sept. 17, 1992, Puyallup police hadn't talked to Rheuban.

When they interviewed him in March 1993, the chance to examine his car was still there.

They hadn't done it.

Rheuban again

Matison and Carver met with Rheuban on Sept. 8.

Confronted with Tinsley's story, he admitted leaving the apartment that night. He said he couldn't remember what he did.

The detectives drove Rheuban to his grandmother's 100-acre farm in Buckley – a secluded spot, nestled in a tree-lined valley near a clattering stream.

This is approx. 6+ miles from the river north of Buckley (King/Pierce border). Rheuban thought the clothes were found at that location by the bridge, in actuality the alleged clothes were several miles further down Hwy 410 past Mud Mountain Dam.

This was interesting as he had told his employer Rodriguez that Misty's body was actually buried from 6 to 6½ miles from the clothes; which would put it area of his Grandmother's farm.

He had originally told us that he woke up at the farm the next morning. Grandmother was not home at the time.

— Matison's notes, Sept. 8, 1993

Back in March, Rheuban had said he drove to his grandmother's house the day after the disappearance, and couldn't remember why. Now he was saying he drove there the night before, but his memory was no better.

He'd told Misty he had no gas. Trina heard it. Tinsley heard it. Diana and the cops heard it. No gas. Not enough for the 16 miles to the fair.

That same night, by his own admission, Rheuban had driven to Buckley and back – almost 60 miles.

There was no search at the Buckley property. The detectives drove Rheuban to the King County Sheriff's Office for another polygraph test.

He passed.

That was enough for Matison.

It appears that Rheuban Schmidt was not involved in the disappearance of Misty Copsey. He however has no alibi as to his movements during the evening of her disappearance, as well as no memory; he claimed that he had a blackout. He acknowledges that he left the residence of James Tinsley, but does not remember what he did.

Investigation to continue.

— Matison's notes

The investigation didn't continue.

Puyallup police didn't question Rheuban again. According to their records, they didn't interview anyone who might have backed or undercut his story.

Anniversary

The 1993 Puyallup Fair began: the anniversary of Misty's disappearance. Fliers were posted. News stories ran. Carver got a couple of tips saying Misty had talked of running away.

In King County, detective Jim Corey researched a Tacoma sex offender's possible link to Misty's case. It came to nothing.

In Puyallup, results from forensic tests on Mike Rhyner's car arrived. FBI crime analysts reported no match with Misty's jeans.

An Oct. 26 story in The Pierce County Herald said police had eliminated two "promising suspects" in Copsey's disappearance. The story hinted at Carver's skepticism:

Other than the length of time Copsey has been missing, Carver said there remains little to support the theory that she was the victim of foul play.

KING-TV's "Evening Magazine" ran a Nov. 4 segment on Misty's case. Carver referred to the discovery of the jeans.

"It was not helpful," he said.

KING-TV broadcast, 11-4-93
Carver: You know, if I was in Diana's shoes, I probably would feel that we were not doing enough, either. But you know, I can get up in the morning and look myself in the mirror. I know what we've done. I've got a clean conscience.

The day after the show aired, Diana called Carver.

She thanked?! me for being nice?! on the ‘Evening Magazine' show which aired.

— Carver's notes

Five days later, Carver launched a full review of Diana's criminal history. He interviewed her parole officer and one of her ex-boyfriends. He requested police reports.

He asked Buck Copsey, Diana's ex-husband, to take a polygraph test. Buck passed.

As 1994 dawned, Carver asked Diana to take the same test.

I explained to her that missing person investigations, at some point in time, must eliminate the parents of any wrongdoing. Diana agreed to the examination.

— Carver's notes

Skepticism

Diana was tested at the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. The questions were direct.

Did she kill her daughter?

No.

Did she know where Misty was?

No.

Had she ever purposely hurt anyone?

That was harder. Diana thought about childhood fights with her sister.

No.

She passed, though one answer was shaky.

Diana is exonerated of any involvement in the disappearance of her daughter, Misty Copsey.

— Carver's notes

On paper, Carver was straightforward. In conversations with King County cops, he was skeptical.

He told Jim Doyon that Diana scored in the "weak zone" of truthfulness.

He told Jim Corey, Doyon's colleague, that Diana's polygraph was inconclusive.

He (Carver) believes that possibly Misty's mother was inconclusive on the results of the polygraph because she had something to do with placing the clothing up on Hwy. 410, which was identified as the clothing Misty was wearing at the time of her disappearance.

— Corey's notes

Carver had doubted Diana for more than a year.

He had shared suspicions with fellow cops, and questioned her honesty. He accused her of planting the jeans, though Diana repeatedly denied it.

Carver and Bober met Jan. 26. Carver suggested a polygraph test. Bober exploded.

"Are you fucking crazy? You think I killed her?"

Bober revved up. His suspect, the man police had ignored, the man charged with a sex crime–

Carver cut him short.

"We're not interested in Randy Achziger," Carver said. "You are our suspect."

Bober bitched, but he agreed to a polygraph appointment a few weeks later.

Misty's case was dying.

Tips stopped coming. Jim Corey shut down King County's file and sent a copy to Puyallup.

2-22-94:

This case will be closed with an administrative clearance. At this time, Misty Copsey's whereabouts (are) still unknown.

— Corey's notes

Bober never took his polygraph test. It was set for March 11. He called and canceled.

"I DON'T TRUST IT!" he wrote in his notes.

There were no follow-ups.

Misty's case turned cold.

For nine years, there would be no progress. No interviews. No leads. No forensics.

Misty's disappearance was never solved.

Afterword

In August 1994, Jim Doyon invited Bober to the King County Sheriff's Office for some straight talk.

They walked through a huge room: the nerve center of the Green River investigation. Maps studded with push-pins, mug shots, timelines – research compiled over more than a decade.

Doyon pulled a file drawer out of the wall. It slid out, impossibly long, a sideways pillar.

"Green River suspects," Doyon said.

He flung open another drawer. And another.

"Green River suspects."

He turned to Bober.

"You seem to believe you have something we don't?"

Bober was unmoved. All that evidence was pointless.

"Sorry to waste your time, but I know who the guy is," he said.

Epilogue

In the months and years to come, Diana became a forlorn figure, tall and sad, handing out fliers at the Puyallup Fairgrounds every September. She wore a T-shirt with a picture of Misty's face.

Diana Smith, 1995 (Source: News Tribune file)

She tried to quit drinking in the mid-1990s. She went to meetings, talked to counselors. They told her to write down her thoughts.

She bought pens and green spiral notebooks. She recorded tiny dreams.

I was cleaning an apartment. It was evening. I got done cleaning the bathroom and turned the corner to go to the living room. It was pretty dark. But I saw someone sitting on the couch.

As soon as I saw her I knew it was Misty. She opened her arms and said, ‘Mommy.'

I grabbed her and just held her forever.

— Diana's journal, 1996

Misty, 1991 (Source: Diana Smith)

SEAN ROBINSON; The News Tribune / Sean.Robinson@thenewstribune.com, 253-597-8486

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