Misty Donna Copsey

Left and Center: Misty circa, 1992

Right: Age Progressed to age 35


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: September 17, 1992

Missing From: Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington

Classification: Non-Family Abduction

Date Of Birth: March 10, 1978

Age: 14 years old

Height and Weight: 5’8″ and 120 pounds

Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Blonde hair, Green eyes, Misty has previously fractured both her forearms, she has a mole under her right eye and a scar under her right knee, one of Misty’s teeth has a root canal and 3 others have fillings in them

Clothing/Jewelry Description: A navy blue pullover sweater, baggy blue stonewashed jeans with funky stitching and had rolled up cuffs, a pair of brown suede shoes, Misty was last known to be wearing a gold ring at the time of her abduction

NCMEC Number: 774514


Details of Disappearance

Misty Copsey was last seen in Tacoma, Washington on September 17th 1992. She was last known to be walking back to her family’s residence from the Puyallup Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington. She went ether with a close friend, Trina Brevard. She was originally going to take the Pierce Transit bus back to her neighborhood in Spanaway, Washington but she missed the bus which left at 8:40 pm.

Misty called her mother and told her that she was going to possibly get a ride from an older friend, Rheuban Schmidt. He was 18 years old in 1992. Her mother didn’t trust him and told Misty to get another ride or someone else to help her get home. Misty decided to walk home eventually. A witness placed her in downtown Puyallup at approximately 10:00 pm that night. She was walking along Meridian toward the westbound on-ramp of Highway 512.

Misty never arrived home and was never seen or heard from again. Her mother reported her missing the day after her disappearance. She did this after she contacted all who knew the girl and found she was nowhere.

Investigators initially suspected that Misty was a runaway. Two of her classmates came forward claiming they had seen and made contact with Misty in the days after her disappearance. One of them claimed that Misty called her after she went missing. The other stated she thought she had seen Misty on September 21st, 4 days after her disappearance.

Investigators believed both girls and used their statements as evidence of the runaway theory. They closed the investigation into her disappearance and refused to reopen the case for many weeks. They also falsely informed the media that Misty had been found safe. There was an unconfirmed report which said Misty was in Northern Minnesota soon after she disappeared.

Investigators reopened the investigation into Misty’s disappearance in December of 1992, they started to believe that Misty met with foul play. They now believe that Misty was abducted and murdered.

Schmidt initially claimed that he was called by Misty to ask for a ride but that he refused her request. He didn’t have enough gasoline in his car. Schmidt’s roommate claimed that he left shortly after the phone conversation had ended. Schmidt denied the story and said he never saw Misty that night or had any knowledge of her whereabouts.

Brevard and Schmidt were interviewed 5 months after Misty’s disappearance. When she was interviewed, Trina told investigators that Schmidt was supposed to take her and Misty home that night, he told them he couldn’t because he didn’t have enough fuel. Misty called him back and told him how to get inside her home so that he could get money to purchase fuel.

Schmidt still refused the request by saying he didn’t even have enough gas to get Misty back to her house which was 6 miles away from his own. Trina said that after the call and the denied request, her and Misty decided that she would walk back to her home and that Misty would take the bus home. They parted ways at 8:45 pm.

It was later revealed that Trina had actually lied about walking back to her own home that night. She was actually picked up by her 23 year old boyfriend, Michael J. Rhyner. She did tell investigators that she and Rhyner offered Misty a ride home but she did not trust Rhyner and refused the offer. She told Rhyner that Misty took the bus when he dropped her off at her house.

Rhyner didn’t have a criminal record when he was an adult but when he was 16 years old, he abducted and raped an 11 year old girl at knifepoint. He was not charged with that case. Some officers theorize that Rhyner returned to the fairgrounds later on and was able to convince Misty to get into his car. He denied this ever occurred and has since taken a polygraph in the case. He passed and is not considered a suspect in the case.

When Schmidt was questioned by investigators, he confirmed Trina’s story of what happened that night. In addition to the confirmation, he also told them that he suffered from blackouts most of his life. He told them he had one during that night and couldn’t remember what actually happened after the second phone call with Misty ended.

Schmidt states he woke up the next morning at his grandmother’s farm located near Enumclaw, Washington. Investigators asked him if it was possible that he blacked out and hurt Misty during this, he responded with “I don’t know”. Schmidt was subjected to a polygraph exam but the results were inconclusive. It’s possible he was trying to influence the results.

On February 7th 1993, a private search for Misty uncovered her underwear, jeans, and shoes that she wore during the night she disappeared. The cloths were covered in mud and were rolled up in a ditch near the intersection of State Highway 410 and Weyco Road. The clothing had been exposed to the environment and elements for an extended period of time.

13 days after the discovery of her clothing, Misty’s toothbrush and hair pick were found approximately one-half mile away from the location that her clothing had been found. Misty carried these two items in her purse at the time of her disappearance.

The items found were subjected to laboratory analysis and tests which showed that there were no signs of blood or semen on any of them. The jeans did have three red paint chips which have since been lost in the time after the jeans were found and tested. A DNA test was done on the jeans in 2009. It was discovered that DNA found on the jeans did not come from Misty but actually came from an unidentified male.

Investigators spoke to several witnesses who said that Schmidt told them the location of Misty’s body. He claimed that her body would be discovered 6 miles away from the location that her clothing was discovered in. His grandmothers farm is 6 miles away from that location and he also stated he was there the morning after Misty’s disappearance.

Schmidt did admit to making the statements about the location of her body but claimed he only said them to get people “off his back”. He told investigators that the statements were untrue and agreed to take a second polygraph exam regarding Misty’s disappearance. He passed this one.

Despite the fact that he passed the second polygraph, investigators still viewed Schmidt as a person of interest in Misty’s presumed abduction. In 1996, one of Misty’s friends accused Schmidt of raping her but refused to go forward with charges 2 weeks later. He was convicted of theft in 2000 and in 2006, his wife got a protective order against him and accused him of threatening her life and to burn down her home.

Investigators have no evidence that Schmidt was involved in her case and he has not faced any criminal charges in relation to Misty’s disappearance. Investigators have another suspect in Misty’s disappearance, however.

A local man named Cory Bober is considered another person of interest in Misty’s presumed abduction. He was extremely interested into the Green River killer. The Green River killings took place in King County, Washington in the early 1980s, the victims of the killings were mostly prostitutes and teenage runaways.

Cory had a suspect in mind that could’ve been involved in the killings and would always contact law enforcement with his ideas as to who killed all the women. The suspect he suggested was charged with child rape later on after the tip bit he was not the killer. Gary Leon Ridgway was charged and convicted of murdering 48 of the women but he’s suspected of killing many more. 

Copsey has been looked at as a possible Green River victim and the paint chips that were found on Misty’s jeans were sent for comparison to paint used by Gary Ridgeway. He used to paint vehicles but the paints were not a match. The samples found on Misty’s jeans were lost for a time but have since been located.

Investigators are unsure if Misty was in fact a Green River victim. Bober also told police he believed that the Green River killer was involved in the murders of Kimberly DeLange and Anna Chebetnoy. Both girls were 15 and 14 when they were murdered. Kimberly went missing on July 22nd 1988 while at an arcade in a shopping center.

Anna went missing on August 11th 1990 from the same shopping center in Puyallup as DeLange did. Her body was discovered a year later in September of 1991. Kimberly’s body was found later in 1988. There bodies were distributed within 100 feet of each other.

Investigators found that both victims were killed exactly 2 years and one month apart from each other. Bober told police that another girl would disappear 2 years and one month after Anna. Misty disappeared around this time. Bober started to contact Misty’s mother about his theories regarding her case. He believes a local pedophile was responsible for Misty’s abduction.

Her mother, Diana, and Bober had a toxic relationship in the years that he contacted her. She has accused Bober of killing Misty and in return he would insult her. His behavior has given police and Diana the suspicion that he was involved in Misty’s disappearance.

It was actually Bober who suggested that a search take place on Highway 410, this is where Misty’s clothing was found. That location is only a 10 minute walk away from where DeLange and Chebetnoy were found murdered. The cases are believed to be connected.

Bober has maintained his innocence in Misty’s disappearance and am even agreed to take a polygraph to clear his name. He cancelled the test. He had no criminal history prior to Misty going missing but he did get arrested on drug charges afterwards. He had a partial alibi fort he night that she went missing which is why he isn’t fully considered a suspect in the case. He barley leaves his apartment due to being agoraphobic and doesn’t possess a drivers license.

Several other people have been questioned about Misty’s disappearance but no arrests have been made in relation to her presumed abduction and murder. There’s been no trace of her since her clothing was found in 1993.

At the time of her disappearance, Misty was described as a excellent student who played volleyball, softball, and basketball. Misty wasn’t troubled in any way at the time of her disappearance and never showed any signs of wanting to leave on her own accord. Her parents divorced shortly after Misty was born in 1978 and she lived with Diana in 1992. Her and Misty’s father have both been excluded as suspects in the case.

Misty was levelheaded but her mother said she was a naive teenager at the time she went missing. Diana and the police involved in the investigation believe that Misty was killed and possibly the victim of a serial killer. She was declared dead by the Pierce County Medical Examiner in May of 2000. Her body has never been found and her case remains unsolved.


Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Puyallup Police Department 253-841-5415

Pierce County Sheriffs Office 253-591-3337


Source Information

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Charley Project

The Doe Network

NamUs

The News Tribune

Bringing Misty Copsey Home