In September of 1992, teenager Misty Copsey was visiting the local fair in her hometown of Puyallup, WA. Misty told her best friend that she'd get a ride home with a older neighbor boy. Local police seemed disinterested in researching her case (considering her a "runaway"), but a local amateur investigator has kept the story alive for decades since... however, it seems like his obsession has damaged the case beyond repair.
Part One: Runaway
June 20th, 2016 Micheal Whelan
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 citizen 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.
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 vendetta 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.
To Bober, who has admitted to having a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, this is a sign. An omen. The killer, whoever it is, is about to strike again. Two years and one month separated the prior two murders, so in his mind, 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:
Heartache. Tragedy. Death.
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 became 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 B-average 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.
But Misty was the kind of kid that everyone adored. Kids at her junior 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.
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 aimlessly 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.
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.
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 infuriated and paranoid.
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 ignoring him? By now, he had been harassing their offices with threats of doom and gloom for close to an 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Misty 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.
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.
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 was referred to as a missing child by the local media, was actually 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.
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.
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.
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 Depty 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.
Cory Bober felt some vindication in November of 1992, when King County officials revealed 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 disappeared, Pierce County Sheriffs officially declared Misty 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 Misty 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 alcohol with pharmaceutical antidepressants. They failed, and she woke up in the hospital, but had to return to her empty home just days later.
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.
January 10th, 1993 - four months after 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, she 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.
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 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.
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.
What they found, was 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 February 7th.
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.
Part Two: Victim
July 20th, 2016 Micheal Whelan
Detective Jim Doyon was sent out to the Highway 410 scene, and put in charge of the investigation. This was King County territory, so he was now within his rights to do just that.
Doyon was surprised to meet Bober, who was not at all what he had been expecting. He was in his late 20s, was rather short and scrawny with a huge head of hair, and was positively giddy at the notion of uncovering a dead girl's pants. The grizzled detective was wary of this unaffiliated investigator, but nonetheless let it slide... Bober, for all of his faults, had finally gotten some results. That counted for something.
Something else Doyon noted was that the pants weren't located near the killer's usual dumping ground. The prior two victims' bodies had been found a ten-minute hike into the woods, and had been found less than a few hundred feet apart from one another. These clothing items of Misty's, however, were located right off of the road, in a forested ditch area.
This raised an eyebrow of Doyon's, who had been out there just a week beforehand, looking for any sign of Misty for over six hours. However, he recognized that he might have missed or overlooked them, as forensic analysis proved that the pants had been covered in dirt for some time; it wasn't likely that whoever dumped the pants there hadn't done so since Bober leaked the story to the News Tribune. They had most possibly been there for some time.
While the case was heating up for Doyon, and Bober marveled at his success, Diana returned again to an empty house, infuriated. Infuriated at the police, for refusing to look for her daughter, infuriated at herself for failing to protect her child, infuriated at Bober for unveiling this tragic truth... just infuriated and pissed off at the world.
While Sergeant Herm Carver heard the news of the found clothing and immediately began to suspect Cory Bober and Diana Smith of foul-play, Detective Jim Doyon continued his investigation into the area. He began setting up police dogs to sniff out the area, and even arranged for a helicopter with thermal imaging to fly over the area, pursuing anything.
But one tip came up to Sergeant Carver, a tip from Dede Miles, a friend of Misty's. She informed Carver that one of the people that constantly hung out at Misty's house was none other than Rheuban Schmidt, who always left before Diana would get home.
Despite this tip, Carver refused to believe that Bober and Diana had stumbled upon the clothing accidentally. Despite the finding of the clothing, they still operated under the assumption that Misty Copsey was alive and, most likely, a runaway.
Cory Bober was elevated high after Misty's pants were found, and began to believe that he was the sole person keeping the case alive.
In the following weeks, he began to work more closely with Pierce County detective Tim Kobel, leading him on a wild goose chase for another clue. First Bober thought that Misty would be found under a bridge, then by a stop sign. He began to point out seemingly-innocuous things, such as a pair of shoes hanging on an electric cable, as signs of the Green River Killer, and began to profess to Kobel all of his beliefs about Randy Achziger, who had long since been cleared as a suspect.
Kobel managed to deal with Bober's frenetic energy for a while, as the two investigated all of Bober's wild thoughts and ideas. Meanwhile, Diana was sinking quite low, and began to suspect Bober himself, of all people. After all, he had led the investigation right to articles of clothing, and seemed to be overly-interested in the case.
However, this could be explained for other reasons. Bober's sentencing for his drug charges was approaching later in February, and he plead guilty to charges, in the hopes that helping out investigators would give him a lenient sentence. With a little bit of luck, he'd even be able to escape jail-time. So now, after his success in the woods, he seemed poised to get off lightly by helping out investigators with an open case.
However, his expectations were blown apart at the sentencing. Despite pleading guilty and trying to position himself well, an array of local cops testified at his hearing, painting Bober in such a negative light that he was sentenced to fourteen months of jail-time. All of his work was now undone; any good he might have done for the case was going to be postponed for over a year, at which point the case wouldn't just be cold, it would be frozen.
While Cory Bober was in jail, he was visited by Detective Kobel. Kobel pleaded with him to give up any information he had on the case, especially the case file that he had spent years accruing against Randy Achziger, but Bober refused. He told Kobel - and Carver and the other police officers that came to gloat - to go fuck themselves. Quite literally. He threatened to burn every bridge he had spent years building, because he wanted personal credit for his effort and didn't want to just hand over all of his evidence to the police that he believed put him in prison.
With Bober behind bars, Detective Jim Doyon remained the only person actively pursuing new leads.
Doyon was the first one to interview Misty's friend, Trina Bevard, and it had been nearly six months since the two had gone to the Puyallup Fair together.
During this interview, Doyon showed Trina a picture of Misty's jeans, which had been found in the forested ditch. Trina began to cry, but was able to answer many of Detective Doyon's questions, cracking the surface that had remained untouched since Misty disappeared.
Trina revealed that the original plan for the girls had been to get a ride from Rheuban Schmidt, but on the night in question, he had balked and told them he didn't have enough money or gas to come get them. Despite the girls' insistence, and Misty telling Rheuban how to get inside her house to get some money, he would refuse to pick up the two girls.
However, Trina revealed that she didn't trust Rheuban, and was already planning on balking away on getting a ride from him.
The rest of her story reflected what Diana had told investigators; that the two had split up some time after 8:30, and that she had walked home to her house in Sumner shortly thereafter. Nothing suspicious had happened at the fair, no sketchy guys hitting on them or anything. Whatever happened to Misty was as much a mystery to her as anyone else.
After "America's Most Wanted" aired a segment on Misty Copsey, more tips began to roll in: all of them called into Puyallup detectives, and given to Sergeant Herm Carver, who still maintained control over the case.
Carver used those tips to try and lead Diana Smith away from Cory Bober, who was currently gaining a poor reputation as a snitch in prison. Despite this insistence, and battling her own suspicions of Bober, she refused to do so. She instead told Carver to redouble his efforts, and maybe look into Rheuban Schmidt, who had long since been her sole suspect.
Carver, reluctantly, did just that. And what he found was alarming.
Sergeant Carver took a visit to Adam's Ribs, a restaurant where Rheuban Schmidt occasionally worked at.
The owner, Frank Rodriguez, revealed that Rheuban had said some suspicious things about Misty Copsey following her disappearance, things such as knowing where she was buried. Apparently Rheuban had also told Frank and another coworker/friend that the cops investigating Misty's disappearance were "off by about six and a half miles," a suspicious statement no matter the context.
Sergeant Carver and his partner waited until Rheuban would be returning to work, at which point the scrawny teenager took off running.
Things were off to a good start.
A few hours later, after refusing to speak to police officers, Rheuban was finally brought in by Carver and Co. to come in for an interview.
When questioned by Carver on the past statements Rheuban had made, regarding Misty's burial site, Rheuban referred to them as something he had said to - quote/unquote - "get Frank off of my back."
Also, during the interview, Rheuban restated what he had previously told Diana: that he didn't have gas to pick up the two girls, and that they had called multiple times but he kept telling them he didn't have gas to get them.
However, one interesting note can be found from Sergeant Carver's notes during this time period.
Rheuban Schmidt would claim that he occasionally suffered from blackouts - periods of time where he loses all recollection, as if he were asleep. Apparently, he had claimed to have a blackout immediately following Misty's second phone call to him, which lasted until the very next morning.
That's right, even Rheuban Schmidt has no idea where he was or what he did the night of September 17th, 1992. He would wake up the next morning, with no idea where he had been or with whom, and would drive out to his grandmother's 100-acre farm in Buckley. He doesn't know why he drove out there, how, or why he did so. He was broke, after all, and had no gas, and there was nobody home at the farm when he drove out there.
But an interesting note is that Buckley is located very close to Enumclaw, and less than eight miles away from where Misty's jeans had been found alongside Highway 410.
Unfortunately, Sergeant Herm Carver didn't really buy into the fact that Rheuban Schmidt was the suspect he had been looking for. When him and his colleagues issued a polygraph test for Rheuban, it was done so as a technicality.
At least, I sure hope so. Because if they had taken the polygraph seriously, I might not be making this episode of this podcast.
During the polygraph, detectives took note that Rheuban Schmidt was trying to lure himself into a false sense of unconsciousness. He seemed to be trying to put himself to sleep, at least according to the notes from those observing him.
Rheuban's polygraph came back inconclusive, but could have been based mainly on his unusual behavior. More than one detective made note of Rheuban's odd behavior during the test, as he seemed to be falling asleep throughout it.
If you're unaware, polygraph tests aren't very effective at measuring truth, but a way to try and beat the test is to calm your nerves and lower your heartbeat and blood pressure. Falling asleep is a sure way of doing just that, and anyone trying to defeat the test in such a way warrants some suspicion, in my mind. Add to that Rheuban's suspicious behavior on the night in question, his supposed blackouts, his attraction to Misty, his absence of an alibi, running from the cops... almost everything, really.
Yet the detectives involved, under the direction of Sergeant Carver, let Rheuban go. He would remain a person of interest, but the detectives would do no further digging on him. They wouldn't talk to his friends, anyone that could vouch for his possible alibis, nothing.
A day or two after his polygraph, word would reach Diana Smith that Rheuban had passed his polygraph test with "flying colors." That meant that her personal suspicions had been ruled out, and that night, she would start harassing Cory Bober's long-time suspect, Randy Achziger.
That didn't mean her suspicions stopped there, however. A month or two later - Diana can't remember exactly when - Frank Rodriguez, the owner of Adam's Ribs, would give her a call. Rodriguez, if you remember, had been Rheuban's employer for a while and overheard Rheuban make very suspicious comments following Misty's disappearance.
Rodriguez told Diana that the things Rheuban had said weren't normal things for anyone to say, and that he had told police about these statements. For Diana, this was just enough for her to quit believing in the local police entirely.
The surprising reason that police dropped Rheuban Schmidt from their investigation is because they had a brand-new suspect to obsess over. Unfortunately, while police began to track down their new, shiny lead, Rheuban Schmidt would sell his 1974 Chevy Nova to a wrecking yard, for reasons that aren't quite clear.
For months now, the story had been that on September 17th, 1992, Trina and Misty said goodbye nearby the fairgrounds, and while Misty was waiting for her bus, Trina was walking home to nearby Sumner.
Turns out, however, that this was a fabrication on Trina's part.
Trina had actually gotten a ride from her older boyfriend, 23-year old Michael Rhyner, a young man eight years her elder.
This stone was turned over when one of Misty's friends was contacted by Sergeant Carver, who seemingly had no intention on following up on Rheuban Schmidt.
A background check on Michael Rhyner revealed a sketchy past: he was 23-years old, with a juvenile rape that hadn't been charged, from seven years beforehand, and he also had personal ties to both Kim Delange and Anna Chebetnoy - the two prior Puyallup victims.
While the Puyallup police still publicly referred to Misty Copsey as a runaway, they were now beginning to dig a little deeper - due not only to the media scrutiny beginning to build up around them, but also due to King County's increasing involvement, courtesy of Detective Doyon.
When detectives spoke to 15-year old Trina Bevard again, she revealed that she hadn't revealed the information about her older boyfriend because she didn't want to get in trouble, an understandable concern. She claims that on the night of Misty's disappearance, she had tried to get in contact with Rhyner, but Misty hesitated on getting a ride with him. She didn't trust him, for one reason or another.
Detectives wondered whether or not Michael Rhyner had dropped off Trina and then gone back for Misty, since there was an incident where Rhyner may have hit on Misty in the past. Trina voiced her doubts about that, but ultimately had to reveal that she didn't know. Rhyner had dropped her off at home and then left, so she couldn't vouch for him beyond that.
In April, police would discover that Rhyner was selling his car, a blue 1981 Ford Escort, that wasn't in great condition. Little did he know that he was selling the car to an undercover police officer, who took the car in and began testing the forensics found inside the car to samples of Misty.
While the DNA test waited to be completed, amid a huge forensic backlog, Cory Bober toiled in his state prison cell.
He was now sharing a cell with a convicted murderer, Joseph Duncan, a man that had tortured and killed an entire family. Bober - who had been nicknamed the "Green River Killer" for his obsession with the case by everyone in the prison - was in jail for a minor drug offense and sharing a cell with a psychopathic killer.
Bober was starting to crack under this pressure. He continued writing letters to everyone in his life: his parents, Diana, Detective Kobel, etc. Almost all of them were aggressive in tone, with Kobel later noting that Bober was most likely mentally ill and attached to this story to an unhealthy degree.
But among all of this, Bober felt some kind of further vindication. His long-believed suspect, Randy Achziger, was arrested, charged, and later convicted of molesting two seven-year-olds.
While this should have felt like sweet justice for Bober, having his victim behind bars, it wasn't enough. Bober wanted to pin down Achziger as the Green River Killer, and he wanted the credit for doing so. Anything less was deemed as failure.
While still waiting for the test results from Michael Rhyner's car to come back, Sergeant Carver and his associates scheduled an interview with their suspect, to get a feel for him.
In July, they called him in, and cut to the chase. They began to question him about Misty, his relationship with Trina, his alibi for the night of Misty's disappearance. After being slightly prompted, Rhyner opened up about his juvenile rape incident, which he had been cleared of shortly after it happened. Because it was a juvenile incident, there was no way for the detectives to know the details, but it was true - he HAD been cleared of it.
They noted that he had been "deceptive" in some areas, but after failing to notice Rheuban Schmidt's deceptive tactics during a polygraph, one has to note their qualifications for the word. While not definitive, Rhyner would also later pass a polygraph test.
Detectives were still hoping for a hail-mary to come from the tests run on Rhyner's car, but for now, he was eliminated as a suspect. This sent them back to the only other guy on their last: Rheuban Schmidt.
Nearly an entire year had passed by the time Puyallup Police began circling Rheuban Schmidt as a serious suspect. At this point, in September of 1993, the runaway charade had been stripped away by the public eye, and while they still publicly stuck to that story, they needed to do or find SOMETHING for the case.
Detectives began this next bout of investigating by talking to James Tinsley, a sixteen-year-old who had been Rheuban Schmidt's roommate at the time of the disappearance.
Apparently, Rheuban's family had been kicked out of their apartment, so him and his brothers moved in with Tinley and his family for the time being. Tinsley had been there the night of Misty's disappearance and, unlike Rheuban during his "blackout," recalled exactly what happened.
According to Tinsley, on September 17th, 1992, Rheuban had a thirteen-year-old girlfriend that was visiting the house. When Misty had called, asking for a ride, the thirteen-year-old girlfriend had gotten upset at Rheuban, and started acting jealous. A short while later, she would leave.
However, this is where Tinsley's story gets interesting. He claims that just five or ten minutes after Rheuban's girlfriend left, Rheuban himself left, and didn't return until later in the evening: sometime around midnight.
This was revelatory to everyone involved. Rheuban had claimed to not remember anything, but this was a personal eyewitness who couldn't vouch for his whereabouts in the hours Misty went missing.
Tinsley would also claim that it wouldn't go against Rheuban Schmidt's nature to murder Misty. He would claim that Rheuban had a very short temper, was attracted to Misty, and he would believe it if Rheuban had committed the murder, after knowing Rheuban for quite some time.
The detectives brought Rheuban in again for another line of questioning, and wanted to get him to take another polygraph. He originally refused to take the polygraph, but eventually caved and also answered some of their questions.
He would change his statement slightly - saying that he had driven out to his grandmother's farm in Buckley during his blackout, not the next morning - but otherwise stuck to his original statements.
Despite all of the suspicion surrounding him, he passed his polygraph, and his car was no longer available for testing. He was released one final time by the Puyallup police, and never again investigated as a suspect in the disappearance of Misty Copsey. To this day, he has never been questioned again.
It seems like, in this story, every step forward is two steps back. At least, that seems to be the theme running throughout.
After Rheuban Schmidt dropped off the suspect's list, Sergeant Herm Carver began to focus on Diana herself as a suspect. Despite her being an elderly caretaker in the hours Misty went missing, and being the person that reported her missing and fought for her to be found, Carver began to focus on her again.
He brought in Diana for questioning, asked her to take polygraphs, and even began interviewing her former parole officer and ex-boyfriends.
While Diana seemed to pass the polygraph test, Carver began circulating word of her supposed dishonesty to other detectives, such as King County's Jim Doyon. For a while now, he had been convinced that Diana and her ally, Cory Bober, had been responsible for planting the evidence of the pants found alongside Highway 410, and he had voiced that concern to other officers for some time.
But now, as he began to take a further look at Diana's past, he also began to try and crack Cory Bober, recently sprung from prison and on work release. Bober was scheduled to take a polygraph test in March of 1994, but never showed up, stating that he didn't trust it to do anything but frame him for guilt.
For all intents and purposes, the case to find out what had happened to Misty Copsey was in its death throes.
In the following years, nothing happened.
Puyallup Police again clung to the runaway story. In 1996, a story began circulating in the media that Misty would likely be making contact with her parents again. Puyallup Police had joined forces with Misty's estranged father, Buck Copsey, and began hyping up an expected phone call from Misty as her eighteenth birthday approached.
No contact took place, but the runaway label stuck.
In 1997, Cory Bober was charged with four counts of dealing marijuana, but decided to fight the charges and battle, tooth-and-nail, against what he perceived as a conspiracy by the Puyallup police, to "shut him up." Believe it or not, after more than two years, he actually won, and managed to score a coup in the process: the forensic results from Misty's pants, analyzed back in 1993.
He had included the pants as part of his defense, claiming that he had assisted the police as a citizen investigator, and it had actually paid off.
Bober discovered that on or nearby the pants were discovered samples of hairs and fibers, along with three red paint chips, which he immediately began battling to connect to his suspect, Randy Achziger's, red Porsche.
For others, though, the red paint chips were indicative of something else.
May 14th, 2001 - in Lakewood, approximately ten miles away from Puyallup.
A 24-year old woman is walking home from church, in the rain, at roughly ten o'clock at night.
As she walks, a white pickup truck rolls by. The mustachioed man inside asks if she needs a ride, and she tells him no. Despite this, however, the truck pulls over to the side of the road, and the man gets out of the truck.
It's Robert Leslie Hickey. He had been released from prison just five years into his seven-year sentence, and has been a free man for a matter of years now.
He begins to approach the young woman, asking if he could have a cigarette. She says no, and crosses to the other side of the street, pulling the cell phone from her pocket and beginning to dial 911.
Hickey rushes at her, pushing her over the fifteen-foot embankment on the side of the road. He climbs down, beginning to rip the woman's shirt and grab at her breast, and as she screams, he threatens to kill her. But he is instantly alarmed by the sight of three feared numbers on her bright cell phone screen: 911.
He grabs the cell phone and rushes off, but the woman is quickly able to rush home and call the police. Hickey is found shortly thereafter, and is convicted for attempted second-degree rape. Being his second serious offense, he is sent to prison for life with no possibility of parole.
In the years since his two offenses, many have questioned whether it was Robert Leslie Hickey that was responsible for the disappearances of Misty Copsey, or even the two earlier Puyallup victims. He did commit one of his crimes just blocks away from where Misty disappeared at around the same time, and proved himself as a serial offender.
Many have also questioned whether or not the red paint chips found on Misty's pants off of Highway 410 could have been connected to his Red Camaro, which he owned during this time period.
Later in 2001, as the Misty Copsey case file continued to collect dust, another cold case took a huge leap forward.
On November 30th, Gary Ridgeway was arrested as the Green River Killer, bringing to close a mystery that had left detectives throughout Western Washington stumped for decades.
To Cory Bober, though, this was a slap in the face. He didn't believe that Gary Ridgeway was the killer he had been looking for all of those years... it was Randy Achziger that was the true culprit, in his eyes. Ridgeway was just a patsy, something they dumped the murders on to look good.
At least, that's what Cory Bober has continued to believe, to this day. Even though Ridgeway has confessed to dozens upon dozens of murders, losing track of his numerous victims to the point of being unsure of their burial grounds, Bober didn't believe a word of it.
Detective Jim Doyon, who had long since been hunting for the Green River Killer, was one of the officers there to arrest Ridgeway, closing a large chapter of his well-respected life.
However, despite all of the hard work in capturing Ridgeway, Doyon and other detectives weren't able to connect Ridgeway to the Puyallup victims. They had always hedged their bets that whoever was responsible for the first two victims was also responsible for Misty Copsey's disappearance, but it's fair to point out that Ridgeway had a decent reason for not admitting to any abductions or murders in Pierce County. To do so would invite more charges upon him, and he had managed to escape the death penalty in King County by taking a plea deal and helping police track down where he had buried or disposed of his victims' bodies.
It's also worth noting that on September 17th, 1992, Gary Ridgeway was recorded as working an entire day at his day job, which worked as a mark in his favor.
To this day, the only real possibility of tying Ridgeway to the Pierce County crimes would likely be from a death-bed confession, as to admit to any wrongdoings across county lines would put his life in jeopardy.
Despite Ridgeway's arrest, and the actual evidence linking Ridgeway to many of the crimes, Cory Bober has refused to accept that he is the Green River Killer. He has continued to orchestrate a convoluted series of events to conclude that Randy Achziger is the Green River Killer, and dedicated his entire life to proving so.
In 2000, Diana Smith had Misty Copsey legally declared dead. She held a funeral for Misty, and Bober's good side stepped in, talking a Parkland church into hosting the ceremony for free. He also managed to convince local flower shops to donate flowers for decorations, and convinced the media to help turn it into a large event - if not for Diana, then for Misty's memory.
Bober refused to let his hunt for Achziger go. He tried to pin the three red paint chips as being conneted to Achziger's red Porsche, and petitioned for the police force to test the samples. It was a headache - and an expensive one - but the police finally conducted the tests, coming back inconclusive.
However, it was Bober that noticed a fly in the ointment. The samples of the paint chips found with Misty's jeans had gone missing in the transfer between the police and the forensic-testing company, Microtrace. They haven't been found to this day, and no one is quite sure who had them last: the police or Microtrace, who suffered a laboratory fire in 2008.
Once again, Cory Bober scored a small victory. But again, it was too little and too late.
In the mid-2000s, Diana Smith hired a private investigator to look into the case, using her limited resources to do so. The PI came up with nothing, but gave Diana a startling piece of advice: to ditch Cory Bober entirely. When trying to find information about the case, Bober not-so-politely told the investigator to do his own research, and not ask him for help.
The private investigator would tell Diana that Bober was more of a liability to the case than an asset, and was perhaps holding back any potential researchers that might discover answers.
Many have questioned whether Cory Bober himself was ever investigated as a suspect. The answer is actually no. He had a pretty solid alibi for the night of Misty's disappearance, as he had been assaulted by a neighbor sometime that evening, during an argument, and a police report was filed at 1:30 in the morning.
Another factor to consider is that Bober has also never owned a car, nor possessed a driver's license throughout his life. The odds of him abducting someone are rather slim, even if he's a bit off of his rocker.
The hair samples found with Misty's jeans were tested just a few years ago, in 2013, but came back with no matches. They didn't match Misty or Diana, and didn't match up with anybody else in the FBI's forensic database. So whoever they were, they are either an innocuous person who's hairs ended up on evidence, or a meticulous criminal that has escaped justice entirely.
More recently, the Puyallup police still investigating the disappearance have asked for help. Without openly stating that the early investigators bungled the case, they implored that anyone with pictures of the Puyallup Fair, taken on September 17th, 1992, share those pictures with the Puyallup police department. They think that any pictures could help them uncover the truth behind Misty's disappearance.
This relaunched investigation uncovered a tip from 1993, which revealed a claim that Misty had gotten in a car with an older man who was driving a yellow Chrysler Cordoba. The man was in his mid-30s at the time, and had a prior history of sexual assault on young women, with personal and professional ties to the Puyallup area.
Police never investigated this tip, presumably sticking to their runaway story and refusing to investigate anything else.
In 2000, Rheuban Schmidt was arrested for theft, and did a small stint in prison. Then, later on in 2006, his wife got a domestic violence protection order against him, alleging that he had threatened to kill her and burn down their house.
On December 17th, 2015 - over twenty years after Misty's disappearance, a mysterious posting appeared on Bazaar Daily News, a UK-hosted website. The author of this article claimed to be a relative of Rheuban Schmidt, and stated that it was a family secret about Rheuban's involvement in the case. This posting claimed that Rheuban and his uncles were responsible for Misty's disappearance, and that they were in the yellow Chrysler Cordoba seen by that un-followed anonymous 1993 tip.
Unfortunately, not much more information can be found from this poster, and any effort to dig into their "confession" comes up with nothing.
Cory Bober and Diana Smith no longer speak to one another, at least not frequently. In the months and years following Misty's disappearance, they might have considered themselves allies or even friends joined together in search of the truth, but now they're merely former-associates, who once shared a common interest.
If you look up Cory D. Bober on social media, you'll find a profile that types in all caps, knows no real sentence or paragraph structure, and tries to point out images of Misty in clearly-photoshopped photos. He claims to see the real truth, the kind of truths that only he is aware of. He has continued to claim that Randy Achziger killed Misty, and buried her body on an old property of his. However, he also claims that Randy Achziger is the reincarted version of Aleister Crowley and is the Antichrist incarnate, so it's understandable to see why his claims aren't taken seriously by police.
Bober has tried repeatedly to get permission to dig up the new property owner's driveway, but of course, he has failed.
Diana Smith has adapted to life without Misty, but she hasn't given up hope on finding resolution for her daughter. She has appeared on local shows, such as Crimestoppers, in the hopes that information will come forward and bring about resolution to Misty's story. She isn't sure whether it was someone with a personal tie to Misty, or the work of a wandering serial killer, but she knows that the truth is still out there, waiting to be discovered. Without naming names, she has clung to the belief that Rheuban Schmidt was her daughter's killer, or at least knows what happened to her.
Misty Copsey's whereabouts are still unknown, and just all of the stories I cover on this podcast, her fate remains unresolved.
Sources and further reading
- The News Tribune - "The Stolen Child: Part I"
- The News Tribune - "The Stolen Child: Part II"
- The News Tribune - "The Stolen Child: Part III"
- The News Tribune - "A roster of possible suspects in the Misty Copsey case"
- The News Tribune - "Long gone, still sought: The search for Misty Copsey"
- The News Tribune - "Loose ends/FAQ"
- The Charley Project: Misty Donna Copsey
- The Olympian - "Piecing together the portrait of a serial killer"
- KOMO - "Police seek photos from 1992 Puyallup Fair to crack cold case"
- KOMO - "DNA could solve Misty Copsey's 1992 disappearance, death"
- True Crime Diva - "Misty Copsey: Missing Since 1992 From Washington"
- Bazaar Daily - "My family is responsible for the disappearance of Misty Copsey"
- The Seattle Times - "Did Misty Copsey Run Away Or Run Into Foul Play? - Police Think Spanaway Teen, Missing Since '92, May Be Dead"
- AOL - "Police reopen cold case after 21 years"