Debunking email hoaxes and exposing Internet scams since 2003!

Hoax-Slayer Logo Hoax-Slayer Logo

DividerDivider
Home    About    New Articles    RSS Feed    Subscriptions    Contact
DividerDivider


Site Navigation










Reachelle Marie Smith Missing Child Email

Summary:
Email forward claims that 3-year-old Reachelle Marie Smith is missing from her Minot, North Dakota home (Full commentary below).

Status:
True

Update - April 2009:
Different versions of the email are now circulating that include an alternative photograph of Reachelle but omit important information about the case (Details in commentary below).



Example:(Submitted March 2007)
Subject: This Child Is Missing

You never know where this email could end up and I'm not going to stop passing this one around if it means a little girl can be found!!!

Please spread this picture far and wide.... you just never know. If it was your child, what would you do?

Reachelle Marie Smith

BEFORE YOU SKIP THIS, LOOK AT THE LITTLE GIRL. DO IT AGAIN. NOW SEND IT TO ALL IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK. IT TAKES 10 SECONDS. PEOPLE ARE MISSING HER AND SHE WANTS TO BE HOME. DO SOMETHING GOOD.

If you were to see her, or have any information, you should contact the Minot Police Department at (701)852-0111.

Reachelle Marie Smith Information Poster

Click for larger image



Commentary:
The information in the above message is true. Reachelle Marie Smith went missing from her Minot North Dakota home on May 17th 2006.

Authorities believed that Reachelle, who was three years old when the abduction occurred, was taken by Leigh Cowen who lived with the girl's aunt and legal guardian. Cowen at first told the girl's aunt that she was staying with her mother but this proved to be untrue and police issued an Amber Alert. On the 22nd May, Cowen's body was found inside a van at the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge. He apparently committed suicide in the van via carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, there was no evidence that Reachelle had been inside the van and an extensive search of the wildlife refuge found no trace of the child.

Subsequent searches have revealed no new leads in the case. If you have any information about the whereabouts of Reachelle, please contact the FBI or local police.

Update: April 2009
Several abridged versions of the Reachelle Marie Smith message began circulating in 2008 and 2009. An example of one of the newer versions is included below:
IF YOUR CHILD WAS MISSING WOULDN'T YOU PRAY THAT EVERYONE PASSED THIS EMAIL ON!!!!! DO THE RIGHT THING AND LOOK AND FORWARD!?

Missing Girl from North Dakota !!!!!!!!!!

You never know where this email could end up and I'm not going to stop passing this one around if it means a little girl can be found!!!

Please spread this picture far and wide..... You just never know.

Reachelle Marie Smith

BEFORE YOU SKIP THIS, LOOK AT THE CHILD. DO IT AGAIN. NOW SEND IT TO ALL IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK. IT TAKES 10 SECONDS. PEOPLE ARE MISSING HER AND SHE WANTS TO BE HOME. DO SOMETHING GOOD.
Unfortunately, the new versions omit important information about the case, including the child's name and police contact details. A recipient who has no prior knowledge of the case would have no way of knowing who the child is or if the case described is genuine. Because many such "missing child" emails turn out to contain false information, some recipients have dismissed the new version of the email as just another hoax.

One version includes an email signature for a UK resident, which has lead many recipients to believe that the child is actually missing from the UK rather than the US.

This illustrates a real problem with such missing person emails. They tend to mutate as they travel. False or misleading information can be added, or, as in this case, important facts can be removed. In other cases, they continue to circulate needlessly long after the missing person has been located.

It is therefore important to check the facts before forwarding any missing person email. If you receive one of the new, abridged versions of the Reachelle Smith email, please take a moment to add the child's name and a link to the FBI fact sheet about the case before forwarding the message.

References:
FBI - REACHELLE SMITH
Suspect in N.D. Girl's Abduction Dies

Last updated: 23rd April 2009
First published: 28th March 2007

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen