It’s a September afternoon in Washington, and teenager Misty Copsey has caught the Twitter bug. Like any girl her age, she shares photographs of her life, showing off childhood haunts and snaps of her best friend. But Misty isn’t a normal social media-savvy teen – in fact, she’s been missing for 25 years.
Misty was born on March 10, 1978, to parents Diana Smith and Buck Copsey. Shortly after their daughter arrived, Diana and Buck separated, and Misty spent most of her childhood in her mother’s care. Together, the pair lived in a trailer park in Puyallup, a city some 35 miles south of Seattle, Washington.
Although she didn’t have the wealthiest of upbringings, Misty was by all accounts a popular and happy child. Blessed with a charming personality, she made many friends, and excelled at both studies and sports in school. She also grew particularly close to a girl called Trina Bevard, whom she nicknamed Bean.
Then, in 1992, Diana decided that she wanted Misty to have a better quality of life. The pair moved to a more upmarket home in Spanaway, some 12 miles from Puyallup, and Misty began attending Spanaway Lake Junior High. However, she still kept in touch with her old acquaintances, especially Trina, her best friend.
On September 17, 1992, the Puyallup Fair was in town. One of the area’s main attractions for almost 100 years, it was sure to have been a great source of excitement for teenagers such as Trina and Misty, who was 14 at the time. However, Diana was initially reluctant to let her daughter attend.
Even though Diana was unable to collect the girls at the end of the night, Misty and Trina convinced her to let them ride the bus home. So Diana drove them to the fair, and waved her daughter goodbye. Little did she know it would be the start of a nightmare that would haunt her for the next 25 years.
Details on what happened next are scarce. We know that Misty missed the 8:45 p.m. bus home, and called her mom to tell her that she had another ride. However, the lift was with Rheuban Schmidt, an 18-year-old with an unhealthy crush on Misty. Understandably, Diana told her daughter to find another way home.
At some point in the night, Trina left Misty to head home to Sumner, a town within walking distance of the fairground. Then, about 9:30 p.m., Misty is thought to have spoken to a bus driver. Sadly, however, his route did not take him past Spanaway.
Did Misty try and walk the eight miles back to her home? Many think so, as she was spotted about 10:00 p.m. walking in the direction of Spanaway along Highway 512. Tragically, however, she did not make it, and Diana returned home from work to an empty house.
In a panic, Diana began ringing round Misty’s family and friends, but nobody knew where the teenager had gone. However, police assumed that she had simply run away, and it was months before they began pursuing leads. Finally, in February 1993, a search turned up items of Misty’s clothing in a ditch some 22 miles east of Puyallup.
Nearly two weeks later, items from Misty’s purse were located about half a mile from where the first discovery was made. However, since then, no further trace of the teenager has ever been found. And even though male DNA was recovered from Misty’s clothes, it has yet to be matched to any suspect in the case.
Five months after Misty’s disappearance, police questioned both Trina and Rheuban about the events of September 17. Soon, it emerged that Trina had been with a boyfriend that night – a man almost ten years her senior with a murky past. However, he passed a polygraph test when questioned about his involvement in Misty’s disappearance.
Similarly, Rheuban’s behavior – including his claims of suffering a blackout and waking up in a property near to where Misty’s clothing was found – raised the suspicions of the police. However, polygraph results were inconclusive, and investigators were unable to bring a case against him.
Meanwhile, true crime enthusiast Cory Bober became convinced that Misty’s case was linked to the Green River Killer – an infamous serial killer responsible for at least 48 murders in Washington State throughout the 1980s and 1990s. However, no real evidence to support these claims has been found.
For 25 years, Diana was left to wonder what had happened to her precious daughter. Then, on September 17, 2017, a series of bizarre messages began to appear on Twitter. Although the social networking site had not existed when Misty was a teenager, she seemed to be using it to talk about her disappearance decades in the past.
However, it wasn’t a case of tweeting from beyond the grave. Instead, the messages were the brainchild of Puyallup Captain Scott Engle, who came up with the idea while attending a conference in California. There, he had heard speakers from Manitoba, Canada, talking about how social media had helped them solve a murder case.
Inspired, Engle began to wonder if the same approach might help in Misty’s case. After approaching Diana, the department came up with a unique strategy designed to renew interest on the 25th anniversary of Misty’s disappearance. But instead of taking a traditional approach to social media, they began composing tweets in the teenager’s own voice.
“Hi. My name is Misty Copsey. I am missing and I need your help,” read the first tweet, sent on September 17. Then, the account proceeded to share photographs of Misty as an outdoorsy young girl, spending time with her family and hanging out with friends.
Finally, the account began to detail the teenager’s movements on the night that she went missing. “I told [my mom] that I had another ride home and that it’d be ok. It wasn’t ok,” read the last chilling tweet. The hashtag #mistycopsey means others know how to add to the conversation.
Although Diana has had issues in the past with how police initially treated the case, she hopes that the campaign might bring new facts to light regarding her daughter’s disappearance. “If she’s speaking, shows her pictures growing up,” she told Q13 FOX News in September 2017, “people can relate to that, she was a kid.” So far, the campaign has brought in a number of tips – although none have brought Diana the closure she so desperately hopes to find.