Police Close Case of Missing Girl From North Dakota After Suspect Identified

Reachelle Smith
Minot Police Department

Reachelle Smith disappeared at the age of 3 from her home in North Dakota. Her body was never found. Fifteen years later, cops believe they know who her killer was.

Over 15 years ago, a 3-year-old girl from North Dakota vanished from her crib. Today, police say the suspect was a neighbor living downstairs.

Leigh Cowen is believed to be the man responsible for the young girl's disappearance, Chief John Klug said during a press conference last week, according to the AP.

Police believe "without a doubt" that the girl was killed by Cowen, who killed himself a week after she vanished, KXNET reported.

A substantial amount of the girl's blood was recovered in a cooler at Cowen's home, police revealed for the first time last Tuesday. Neighbors and family members reported that he had been acting bizarre after the girl disappeared.

Reachelle Smith was put to bed in her Minot home on May 16, 2006, and was never seen again. Six days later, her legal guardian and aunt, Stephanie Smith, reported the girl missing, according to the AP.

Cowen was living with Smith at the time and claimed to be Reachelle's father despite DNA tests proving he was not.

Cowen's body was found May 23, 2006 in a van northwest of Minot. He died from carbon monoxide poisoning just 12 hours before police found him, according to reports.

At the time of her disappearance, the city's former police chief called the case one of the most "complex and frustrating cases his department had ever investigated," the AP reported.

“Our hope is to offer hope and closure for the families ... so they can continue to restore their lives in the wake of tragedy,” Chief Klug said.

The girl's body has never been found.

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