Monday, May 28, 2007

Missing Child: REACHELLE SMITH


The story of little Reachelle Smith may be a confusing one, and it was a confusing story long before she disappeared from her home early one morning last May.
The story begins in 2002, when Reachelle's mother, a teenager who didn't feel ready to care for a baby, gave custody of Raechelle to her sister, Stephanie. Stephanie was the one who raised Raechelle for the next three years... until the night of May 16, 2006.
Stephanie apparently had a roommate, Leigh Cowan, a man who had known Reachelle all her life. In fact, Leigh usually claimed that Reachelle was his daughter, and had even convinced his own mother that Reachelle was his. (After Reachelle went missing, DNA tests proved that Leigh was not actually Reachelle's father.) Leigh had recently been charged with theft, and was on probation. He had missed a meeting with his probation officer, and knew that there was a warrant out for his arrest, and that he could face up to eighteen months in prison if he was caught. He had even taken pictures of Reachelle, so that he could bring the pictures with him when he went to prison.
When Stephanie woke up on May 17 and saw that Reachelle was not in the house, Leigh told her that his mother, who lived near by, had come and picked up the child to stay with her for a few days. Stephanie didn't find this surprising. After all, Leigh thought of himself as Reachelle's father, and Leigh's mother believed herself to be Reachelle's grandmother.
Days passed. Stephanie began to ask Leigh how long his mother was planning to keep Reachelle for. She began to suggest that it was time for the three-year-old to be brought home. Leigh had various excuses, including that his mother's car had broken down and so she was unable to bring Reachelle home, that his mother and Reachelle were going off on some activity that day, etc.
On one of the days, Leigh's mother actually came to Stephanie's house. When Stephanie asked her where Reachelle was, Leigh's mother looked at her strangely, and seemed confused by the question. Leigh asked to speak privately with his mother. Unbeknownst to Stephanie, Leigh told his mother that he was covering for Reachelle's birth mother, Samantha, who he said had taken Reachelle to South Dakota. (That turned out to not be true!)
On the 22nd, Stephanie woke up to find that her van was missing, and Leigh was gone as well. Stephanie went to where Leigh's mother lived, hoping to find Leigh, the missing van, and Reachelle, there. But instead, she found that Leigh's mother had actually moved away the week before. Stephanie then called the police, and reported Reachelle as missing. It was believed that Leigh had taken Reachelle, and perhaps was traveling with the child, in the stolen van, to where some of his relatives lived.
But then, in a bizarre twist of events, Leigh was found dead. Aparently he had driven the van to a near by wildlife refuge, and committed suicide. Reachelle was still no where to be found.
Since then, word about her disappearance has been passed around the Internet... and for a while, people believed that her story was an urban legend and that Reachelle Smith didn't really exist. (Although why someone would make up a missing child case and pass it around the Internet is beyond me... but apparently it does happen!)
Do a search on Reachelle's name on the Internet, and you will find all sorts of message boards where arm-chair detectives have posted their thoughts about Reachelle's family. Most seem to think that Leigh was responsible for Reachelle's disappearance, and that he committed suicide either out of guilt, or to cover something up. Others have criticized Reachelle's aunt for not calling the police sooner, and for letting a "strange man" spend time with Reachelle. Some have suggested that Stephanie or Samantha had something to do with the disappearance. When making these assumptions, people often point out Reachelle's unusual living situation as a reason.
But I've lived a pretty unusual life myself, and I can tell you from experience that people are different everywhere. It is not so unusual for a young mother to give custody of her baby to her sister or another relative. It is not so unusual for there to be more than one possibility about who a child's father is... and it is not so unusual for one person, who really wants to be father, to latch on to the idea that he really is. It is not even so unusual for a parent to not immediately call the police when one family member tells her that another family member has taken the child for a visit for a while.
What is unusual is for a three-year-old to vanish without a trace... and that is what we should all concentrate on... finding Reachelle. She's four now, and has been missing for over a year. Please look at her picture, and pray for her safe return. You can view her "missing child" poster here.

24 comments:

melody said...

I've been aware of this missing little girl for a while. The said part is we are likely to never know what really happened to her.

I received your email about the book and it looks great. I've planned to blog about it soon. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

I have just received an email about Reachelle's disappearance...and have received many "hoax" missing child emails and wanted to check this one out before sending it on. Obviously, and unfortunately, it does appear to be true. However, it is now February of 2008, and I cannot seem to find any "currently dated" information on the FBI, America's Most Wanted or Snopes websites...everything was "last updated" in 2006. Is there any "new" information on this case? Is Reachelle still missing? Thank you! C. Robins in Tennessee

Nicki Mann said...

C. Robins... Yes, unfortunately Reachelle is a very real little girl and is listed with the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children. Doubly unfortunately, I too have not been able to find any updated info on this little girl. Because she is still listed on the official website, I assume she is still missing. (That can also be good news... if her body has not been found either, her kidnapper may not intend to hurt her and was just a family member who wanted to keep her.)Thank you so much for writing!
- Angel

Anonymous said...

So, it is now sadly Feb. 15th of 2008 and like the previous message, I can't seem to find anything that is updated as well. I recieved the "email" today at work and it sadden's me to death that this case has stopped its search until further information comes forward. After reading this blog, it makes me wonder..could this man's mom possibly have something to do with this since she intrestingly enough moved? I could be way off on this, but it makes me wonder since herself thought she could be the grandmother. My thoughts and prayers are with this little girl. I hope some answer's can be shined on this case, even if its an answer we aren't wanting to see. At least then it would be a offical close to the story instead of a story leaving us to wonder what has happened. -MOMof2

KB said...

I think its something like kxmb.com that has reachelle stories. That's the Minot news I believe. You could also google search her name and click news. I have a reachelle smith as-it-happens google alert so I get news sent straight to my inbox. Handy, but unfortunately the latest was on December or January and all of said was that police had not quite shelved the case yet but there dont seem to be any leads anymore.
but I do recommend the google alert. Reachelle is a quite uncommon name so you dont get any random stuff sent to you as with kids of more common names
by best wishes to the child, I pray for her each night. Her mum and aunt should use the Dont You Forget About Me YouTube channel. It was designed by the ICMEC and the Find Madeleine campaign. With all of Madeleine's publicity thousands if viewers come each day and it really does give the kids a fresh hope.

Anonymous said...

why hasn't anyone hunted down the leighs mom and questioned her.. searched her house! after all she loved her son im sure and seein his "heart broken" or w/e she just might have been willing to do ANYTHING for her. did anyone check the old house the mom lived at.. yea she might have moved.. but maybe since he knew she moved MAYBE he buried her body there b4 n e one else moved into it! or maybe she is still alive.. wheres his dad at? does he have the lil girl. obviously he killed himself for a reason right.. and if he loved her sooo much i don't think he woulda killed himself with her still alive.. sooo... wheres her body.. I HOPE AND PRAY shes still alive. strangly i find myself drawn to this picture.. there is something about that lil girl that breaks my heart and i don't know what it is.. but i feel a huge amount of sympathy for her.. i will pray again for her safe return.. or atleast to have some kinda answer to this... Best of luck to her family. (btw.. ever think maybe her biological dad.. whoever that may be.. might have something to do with this.. yea they might not know who it is.. but it also doesn't list how many possibilities there are.. just sayin... ya never know!)

ok so yea someone get me an update on this lil one.. i really do worry bout her..

mammabear said...

I was looking through resources to post about Reachelle and came across this blog. Since you are asking, here's about the latest I've seen so far:

False Lead in Missing Girl Case
5/16/2008

A promising lead into the whereabouts of Reachelle Smith has turned out to be nothing.Smith vanished without a trace in May of 2006. She would be five now and authorities have not given up the search.Minot Police detectives have been following the case for two years. Investigators say they gets leads at least once a week in this case because pictures and details circulate around the Internet.
This most recent tip comes from the Lexington, KY area. According to reports, Sheriffs there were investigating a girl who closely resembles Smith. Through DNA tests and pictures police were able to determine it was not her. Still, they will not give up the search.
Police say, this tip was called in by a cafeteria worker near Lexington.
KFYR TV News Stories

Chris Hobbs said...

I know this may sound unrelated, but, where is the biological dad? This is one of many examples of what can happen when the biological dad is removed from the child's life. Yes, some men walk away, BUT NOT ALL. Yet the judges make men nothing more than a visitor in their childrens lives and make men pay money to the mother that may or may not be used for the kids welfare - and the mother does not have to prove to anyone how she spends the money. The entire court system and those in it are flawed and our children suffer for it. The pretty child is one of thousands of victims of people and a system gone wrong.
I ask again, where is the biological dad, and the childs paternal (fathers) side of her family? Did they even know this child existed? If the dads side of this childs family was eliminated from this child's life then she was robbed of people that might could have helped her.

mammabear said...

Maybe your question is unrelated...maybe it's not. Though I don't think at this point, it would help find Reachelle.
I will be visiting your lil corner of the net next tho.

Anonymous said...

The paternal and biological side of the family are very much aware of Reachelle. We love her and believe her to be alive. We knew that by DNA testing she was ours very early in Reachelle's live within weeks, so the lies told Leigh and his family should not have been. I feel for Leigh's and because of the lies told to him, his family suffered.

Carrie said...

I wanted to post this because I always wonder if she has been found. I know that there are a lot of things that have been said in the past about Leigh and I feel that it's important to tell a side of the story that not many get to hear becuase of the lies Reachelle's had told many people. After her birth Leigh was told nonstop that he was the father and wasn't ever told different until shortly before she went missing. Leigh also had a tattoo of her on his arm cause he was so proud to be a dad. Right after Leigh has got out on probation, we let him stay at our place till he got on his feet. At that time Leigh was talking about trying to make something of himself and be there for her and work to have cusdty of her and had asked my husband and I to be godparents. Shortly before she she disappered, Leigh called to speak to my husband because and when I was speaking to him, he didn't mention anything that had been going on and we had even spoke about Reachelle. I still feel Leigh had no part in this. I went threw the dirt with the cops and FBI coming into my and threating me while I was hold my newborn daughter at the time. So many lies have been said and Leigh made mistake but the one thing he didn't make was to be apart of that girls life and I know in my heart Leigh had nothing to do with her being missing and the only reason he killed himself was because DNA result showed he had always been lied to and that killed him inside so much more than anyone could imagen.

Anonymous said...

Ok Carrie, understandably you must be upset being Leigh's friend.. but you cannot turn a blind eye that he hushed his mother by saying her "real" mother had taken her.. and honestly, if i had been lied too for that amount of time especially something that would rip out my heart...it would be a day in hell that i would try and help the person that lied to me ... so i cant fathom why he would use that excuse .... he knew or did something...maybe as an act of revenge and then felt remorse and took his own life... maybe he figured that if he couldnt have her in his life.. he would kidnap her...hide her for awhile...stage a kidnap ... then sneak out of the country and be with her...
( hell!..he had nothing to lose!)..seriously, it appears he loved her alot and would have done anything to be with her...maybe he left her with someone who knew how much he loved her.. for safe keeping... but then lost his nerve and took his life from being so devestated with the news... i hope its the later scenario..i hope she is alive and well and living with someone that will keep her closer to them ..near their hearts...and with a watchful eye ... prayers for her and all that loved her..

Anonymous said...

hi im a kid but i got an email about this little girl and you know what i want to find her i know that this child is not realated to me but she is a sweet inoncent child out there who is waiting to come home so who cares if shes been missing sense 2006 she might still be alive and you know what else i pray for her ALMOST Every night not every yesterday i didint but anyway i just love this little child and want to find her the end bye

Enoch2 said...

These are many beautiful and loving comments. I pray that God takes this little child to the place that is best for her. I pray that she is alive and be kept that way in safety. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Miki said...

Devastating :( Fingers crossed this little girl gets found. I dont know how anyone who knew her in person or is related to her can cope!!

Miki

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Anonymous said...

why didnt this make main steam news like the madelain mccann case???

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of this until I received an invitation via facebook to join the group. Strange story, is it possible for some a**hole to take her and not leave any evidence at all? I pray that the little girl is still with us somewhere out there, alive and well. People who prey upon young children or children of any age make me sick to my stomach. Innocent human beings who haven't done anything to anybody, so trusting, I hate them all.
Hopefully soon someone will find her.

Anonymous said...

ok, so some believe that the mother, or stepmother had something to do with her disappearance but what about the leighs mother? She sure left in a hurry a week after she is gone missing and she did believe her son when she said that its his daughter even though it was not true. I noticed someone else thinking the same way. I hope they find this little girl safe.

Anonymous said...

This little girl has been missing forever and a day. The "father" committed suicide, and the mother is apparently off the charts for some odd reason. As well as the real father. I don't think that anymore people are going to help this case. They might've jumped the border or something. But it still doesn't mean anything. There are a lot of possibilities to this case, I'm sure we only want to think about the good ones, but you have to know that there are only so many good ones, and this is looking like a bad one. I don't think she's alive after all this time. And if she was, I don't think anyone would be able to recognize her off that old photo no matter how good of an image ager the police have. I don't think it's a lost cause, but it'll be a miracle truly if this little girl is found safe and out of harms way.

Yours Truly said...

I myself am from Minot ND. No news agency, paper, parent, or anything/one else has said anything in recent memory. There are still "Missing" signs up at some of the local gas stations, and us locals still discuss it from time to time. Its been thought that she is in Lake Darling somewhere, (Near the refuge Whats His Face the "aunt" was sleeping with killed himself) Its no hoax about this poor girl. Perhaps if the "aunts" parenting techniques were a little better, she would have realized Reachelle missing the day of, instead of 4 days later. Personally if my mother has my daughter, im calling every couple hours to check in and see how she's doing. Terrible parenting, lack of responsibility, poor communication, carelessness, ect are all to blame in this little girls disappearance. But that is something that the "aunt" and "mother" will have to live with the rest of their lives.

Yours Truly said...

Oh, P.S. Leighs mother was Military, Im not sure if she got orders and had to move, or if she retired and moved. My memory doesn't go that far back. But she lived on base, and authority's did speak with her about it, and found she had no connection with it all.

Anonymous said...

I know it has been just about 8 years but i just found this blog so here is what i have to say about this. who i am is not inportint but i was there trough the whole event. i have first meet the mother when she was in school and meet Reachelle right after she was born and as for the father leigh wanted to be the father but was never told by the mother that he was. when i first saw the beautifull lil angle samantha told me who the father was and it was not leigh. infact he had never even slept with steph let alone sam, so the thaught that he was told that is hard to beleave. what is not hard to beleave is that he told every one that he was. infact she was receaving child support from the father from shortly after she was born and that was made posible by dna testing shortly after reachelle was born. so there was no daught on who the father is. and by the way i dont ever recall seeing a tat of or for her on him and i spent alot of time with him and lil Reachelle the weeks before she vanished. as for the biodad and leaghs mom yes they were cleared.

i think now and will always think that she is alive till i see it for myself. as for all the prayers thank you very much. i may never now what happened to her but till provine otherwise i will always beleave in my mind, heart, and soul that that man had a part in her disappearince.

thank you all for your conserce and comment. the last 8 yrs have been a nightmare for me her familly and all others that were close to her so thank you. i am always serching for her.