Misty Copsey Vanished From A Small-Town Fair In 1992, And We’re Still Looking For Answers

September 17, 1992, was supposed to be an ordinary trip to the fair for two teenage girls just looking for a fun weekend outing. Misty Copsey was a popular, straight-laced student with good grades, and despite her mother's struggles with alcohol, she was seemingly able to avoid the trappings of her upbringing. All that was cut short, however, when she mysteriously disappeared from the Washington State Fair in her hometown of Puyallup, WA.

Misty Copsey hasn't been seen since, and the search for her whereabouts was both messy and mismanaged. This case is filled with complications and rabbit holes, and has it countless active players - perhaps why the case is still open to this day.

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  • On September 17, 1992, 14-Year-Old Misty Copsey Vanished From The Washington State Fair In Puyallup, WA

    Misty Copsey and her friend Trina Bevard tried a number of times to get Misty’s mother, Diane Copsey, to take them to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. Diane had refused since she needed to care for a 97-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who could not be left alone. Misty researched the bus routes and pleaded with her mother until Diane eventually caved, though she reportedly told the girls, “You better not screw this up.”

    Diane dropped the girls off at the fair in Puyallup, an area police later described as having at least six active sexual predators. Puyallup was a small town with only about 26,000 people, but because of the fair, the population ballooned to four times that number.

    Misty called her mother that evening to tell her she missed the bus, but she reassured her she could get a ride from Rheuban Schmidt, an 18-year-old high school drop-out whom Misty was friends with - though Schmidt reportedly wanted to be something more. Diane disliked Schmidt, so she requested Misty find a ride with someone else, then call her back. Misty complied and began searching in her new electric organizer, but the return call never came.

    Diane assumed her daughter found a ride and didn’t tell her, but when she arrived home, Misty was not in her bedroom. Panicked, Diane dialed 911 and told police her daughter was missing; however, they claimed Misty likely ran away and disregarded Diane's concerns.

  • Misty’s Mother, Diane, Immediately Suspected Rheuban Schmidt, Whom Misty Reportedly Asked For A Ride Home

    Once she realized Misty was missing, Diane immediately suspected Schmidt, whose crush on Misty was no secret. Diane once overheard a telephone conversation during which Schmidt said, "I get h*rny just looking at you, Misty.” The perturbed mother forced her daughter to hang up the phone. Misty had never reciprocated his interest; however, Schmidt had a car, leading Diane to believe Misty may have indeed asked him for a ride home from the fair.

    Diane called Schmidt, and he told her Misty had called him, but he didn’t have the gas to pick her up. Without the help of police or Schmidt, Diane began contacting anyone else who might know something about Misty's whereabouts.

    She talked to the bus driver who would have driven Misty home; he claimed he encountered Misty in Puyallup, and she had inquired about when the next bus to Spanaway (her hometown) was departing, but he had informed her his was the last one. After the driver recommended she take another bus to Tacoma for a transfer, Misty walked away. That was the last he saw of her.

    The next day, Trina Bevard called Diane to inquire about Misty’s whereabouts. Trina lived closer to the fair than Misty, so she decided to walk home that night. She reportedly last saw Misty heading toward the bus stop.

  • For A Month, Authorities Insisted Misty Had Simply Run Away

    The police listened to Diane’s report and immediately ruled it a runaway case. They refused to entertain any other possibility for one month, citing standard procedure. The case was further complicated by disagreements between jurisdictions: Although Misty was from Spanaway, she disappeared in Puyallup. Puyallup police believed Misty was the victim of foul play, but Spanaway police stuck to their guns and refused to even investigate her disappearance under any other pretext.

    The police talked to two of Misty’s classmates. One classmate (who happened to share a first name with the vanished girl), Misty Matthews, claimed she got a call from Misty saying she was alright. When pressed further, Matthews admitted she wasn’t sure it was really Misty since she only had the voice to go off of. The police were getting nowhere as Diane grew more desperate by the day.

  • For A Time, Authorities Were Suspicious Of Diane, Who Had Already Reported Misty Missing Once

    Part of the reason police refused to investigate Misty’s disappearance was because of Diane’s dubious history. She separated from her husband shortly after Misty was born in 1978. Raising a child in her 20s alone and with almost no income was difficult; she used food stamps while working, and she was known to struggle with alcohol addiction.

    Adding to her negative reputation was the fact that a few weeks prior to Misty’s disappearance, Diane reported her daughter missing, only to find Misty in her bedroom later that evening. Diane was too embarrassed to report back to the police, so the missing person report was still open when Misty actually disappeared.

    Diane was never interrogated in the case, but the police did consider her a potential suspect. Diane filed three police reports within a week of Misty’s disappearance. All three contain discrepancies regarding Misty's final phone call and whether or not she called Schmidt or ran into him at the fair.