Suspect in N.D. Girl's Abduction Dies

Suspect in N.D. Girl's Abduction Dies

There are 74 comments on the The Associated Press story from May 25, 2006, titled Suspect in N.D. Girl's Abduction Dies . In it, The Associated Press reports that:

Authorities searched a wildlife refuge Wednesday for a missing 3-year-old girl after the body of the man who authorities suspect took her was found following an apparent suicide.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Associated Press.

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Rachel

Williston, ND

#1 May 25, 2006
I'm so sad for this little girl. It makes me sick to think someone could do this! How could her family let a strange man take her all the time? People need to watch there children better! It makes me so angery that some people are so trusting, hopfully this will open other peoples eyes!!! You can't trust anyone!!! I pray that they find her alive and safe.
Kim

United States

#2 May 25, 2006
Did the guardian not think it odd that she put her little girl to bed at around 10:30pm and then when she woke up she was gone. How would someone take a sleeping child somewhere, late in the night and the mother not find that odd? I am sure that the PD has checked the residence and the childs room for evidence , and I think the guardian needs looked at a bit closer. I think something is wrong here, I think she knows more than what she is saying.
tracey

Wilmington, NC

#3 May 25, 2006
I was watching Nancy Grace last night. Is it correct that she was not reported missing for three days?
Kim

United States

#4 May 26, 2006
Yes I heard that also , I think though that it was four days. That's what I mean , if you put her to bed and she was gone in the night ... wouldn't you call after her right away. I do not understand ......
Ann

Beaumont, TX

#5 May 26, 2006
This is very sad. But I believe I would look at the Aunt, I don't think she is telling the truth. None of what she says sounds like the truth. I personally think that something or someone did something to that little girl and I bet Cowhen was told to dispose of the body..but after he didn't return home...the Aunt had to report her missing before anyone becomes suspicious. I think Cowhen felt bad for what he did and that is why he didn't leave a note after killing himself because he didn't want to expose the truth about the Aunt.
I just don't think someone waits 4 days to report a 3 year old missing. No one in there right mind would wait. There is a reason she waited. I know when I am away from my little girl for any period of time..I talk to her everyday on the phone at least 2 times a day. How would any Mother/caregiver go 4 days not knowing the welfare of the girl.
Don't get me wrong,I hope they find the little girl just fine....but as days go by the possibility of fine her alive is slim.
Matt McDonald

Emporia, KS

#6 May 26, 2006
I myself have a 3yr old girl. It is terrifying to think that this incident happened not more then 3 hours away! This is a parent's absolute worst nightmare. If Leigh is guilty of anything (which is fairly apparent hence the suicide), then he got off pathetically easy. Children should never ever be preyed upon. In a perfect world we may be able to detect some of these perverts through behavioral patterns and psychological testing and recognition early on. As a parent, I pray that day is near and our children can grow up with one less thing to corrupt them. Honestly, if something like this would happen to my child, or a member of my family, I would seriously go beyond the arm of the law and end their life. No one deserves a heart break like this.
Kim

United States

#7 May 27, 2006
I think that they will find that the Aunt did have something to do with this , or atleast she knows what happened. The story just doesn't add up to me. I think your right , something happened probably there at the Aunts house. I only pray that someone knows where the child is , wether she is alright or not I would just want to know where to find her. I cannot imagine what a desperate situation that would be , I only know that I could never live without knowing where my baby was. I feel that it was terrible for that man to kill himself without telling where that child is. How in the world could someone do that ?
Gretchen

Duluth, MN

#8 May 27, 2006
Rachel wrote:
I'm so sad for this little girl. It makes me sick to think someone could do this! How could her family let a strange man take her all the time? People need to watch there children better! It makes me so angery that some people are so trusting, hopfully this will open other peoples eyes!!! You can't trust anyone!!! I pray that they find her alive and safe.
Please understand that the stories you hear are not always telling you all the information. Leigh was not some strange man, he was the man that Raechelle called Daddy. There was a reason that Leigh's mom took her for visits all the time. Up until recently, no one knew that Leigh was not the biological father. The media also fails to mention that a few months ago, the accused had been hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Yes, the story does seem fishy, and it would be easy to place all the blame on the deceased, but let's demand the full story. If Raechelle is to be found, we can't just allow authorities to take the easy out.
Jim

Demotte, IN

#9 May 27, 2006
This situation is all around not good. My thoughts and prayers are with ALL the families and friends involved in this situation. However, just because Leigh reportedly at this time committed suicide, we nor the police have all the facts and until Reachelle is found (hopefully alive) with more evidence surrounding her I believe everyone especially the aunt and mother should be a "person of interest" until the police can prove otherwise. We don't know who told the police that Leigh said his mother had the child. It is known that Leigh had a troubled past. What if Leigh didn't have anything to do with the disappearance of the child and it was pegged on him by the Aunt & Mother? At 22 and with a past history, he could have been really scared with no where to turn. The aunt said the last time she saw the girl was when she put her down at 10:30pm the night before. Who would have fed this child food? As a father of a 3 year old, I would have called his mother to at least said "Good Morning" to my daughter!!
Gretchen

Duluth, MN

#10 May 27, 2006
Matt McDonald wrote:
I myself have a 3yr old girl. It is terrifying to think that this incident happened not more then 3 hours away! This is a parent's absolute worst nightmare. If Leigh is guilty of anything (which is fairly apparent hence the suicide), then he got off pathetically easy. Children should never ever be preyed upon. In a perfect world we may be able to detect some of these perverts through behavioral patterns and psychological testing and recognition early on. As a parent, I pray that day is near and our children can grow up with one less thing to corrupt them. Honestly, if something like this would happen to my child, or a member of my family, I would seriously go beyond the arm of the law and end their life. No one deserves a heart break like this.
If the media would do it's job and practice fair and accurate reporting of all the facts, Leigh's death would be portrayed in a different light. With past suicide attempts, I think it's entirely possible that he had nothing to do with Raechelle's disappearance. It angers me that authorities seem to have given up on looking at any other suspects. Leigh was a troubled young man, but he had no history of violence, and as far as I understand, had nothing but love for the child that he thought was his own. Has anyone even given him the dignity of posting an obituary?
Pat

Raleigh, NC

#11 May 27, 2006
I agree with you Gretchen. Leigh's mother was led to believe she was Reachelle's grandmother. She didn't find out the truth until Monday when the Amber alert was put out. The Smith family took advantage of her. They allowed her to visit and provide clothes and toys for Reachelle.I feel very sad for the Smith family, but there is something not right with them. Stephanie Smith reminds me of Susan Smith. It's something in her eyes.
Tess

Minot, ND

#12 May 31, 2006
Pat wrote:
Stephanie Smith reminds me of Susan Smith. It's something in her eyes.
That's a really horrible thing to say! This whole family is going through hell. They are grieving for their missing family member and being put through polygraph test when they are hurting terribly. It's a complicated situation and the police are sorting it all out, but just imagine for a moment that you are Stephanie's mother and you just read that post. Even if it were to turn out to be true that is so hurtful! How would you feel if that was your child that someone was talking about like that? Have a bit of respect would you? If she bother's you fine, but think about the others involved for half a second.
Tess

Minot, ND

#13 May 31, 2006
Somehow I doubt it. One thing that the new's has not reported was that he stole the van from the Stephanie's mother that he was found dead in.
Gretchen wrote:
<quoted text>If the media would do it's job and practice fair and accurate reporting of all the facts, Leigh's death would be portrayed in a different light. With past suicide attempts, I think it's entirely possible that he had nothing to do with Raechelle's disappearance. It angers me that authorities seem to have given up on looking at any other suspects. Leigh was a troubled young man, but he had no history of violence, and as far as I understand, had nothing but love for the child that he thought was his own. Has anyone even given him the dignity of posting an obituary?
Pat

Raleigh, NC

#14 May 31, 2006
Sorry? What exactly do you doubt?
Pat

Raleigh, NC

#15 May 31, 2006
All I meant with referance to Susan Smith is that this family seems to know more than they are saying. It's that strange look between the tears. I'm sure they are sad. Something bad has happened here. Bottom line is that this little girl needs to be found and the lies need to be figured out. There is a lot more to this family and their decieving ways.
Ann

Beaumont, TX

#16 May 31, 2006
Pat I agree with you. I think the family is lying or at least not telling the whole story. Something happened to that little girl. I will repeat myself again no mother would wait four days to report a child missing. No mother would go without talking to their child, even for a day. I think someone in that family knows what happened. Tess do you know these people? Maybe you can give us some insight on them. All we know is what we have seen on TV. All I see is lies in the eyes of Stephanie Smith. All the people here are giving there own opinion on what they think and what makes sense to them. And what this family says doesn't make sense.
Gretchen

Duluth, MN

#17 May 31, 2006
Tess wrote:
Somehow I doubt it. One thing that the new's has not reported was that he stole the van from the Stephanie's mother that he was found dead in.
<quoted text>
No, I did read that he was in a stolen van, but Smith was not reporting the van stolen. If you had done any research at all on this, you would know that.
Gretchen

Duluth, MN

#18 May 31, 2006
Ann wrote:
Pat I agree with you. I think the family is lying or at least not telling the whole story. Something happened to that little girl. I will repeat myself again no mother would wait four days to report a child missing. No mother would go without talking to their child, even for a day. I think someone in that family knows what happened. Tess do you know these people? Maybe you can give us some insight on them. All we know is what we have seen on TV. All I see is lies in the eyes of Stephanie Smith. All the people here are giving there own opinion on what they think and what makes sense to them. And what this family says doesn't make sense.
I only know of the Smiths but I did know Leigh Cowen well. He was a warmhearted, and caring person. He did have issues with depression but he was the most easygoing, passive person I've ever known. Anyone who knew him knows there was no way he could ever hurt anyone, let alone a child he had raised as his own.
Gretchen

Duluth, MN

#19 May 31, 2006
Please don't forget to include Leigh Cowen's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers
Ann

Beaumont, TX

#20 Jun 1, 2006
Gretchen, I do believe he was a warm hearted person. I dont doubt that for a minute. I have personally dealt with people who have mental disorders and depression, usually they are very good hearted. From what I have read I believe he really loved that little girl and wouldn't hurt her. I personally believe Stephanie Smith knows exactly what happened to that girl. A little girl just doesn't disappear off the face of the earth. And the guadian/mother just doesn't report her missing for days. Its just odd. I would have been to the police immediatly.
I feel bad for the Cowen family...from what I understand they didn't know that the girl was not their grandaughter, and the Smiths took advantage of that. Which in my opinion doesn't make them quality people. Now, the Cowen family has to deal with the death of their son and the police think he took the girl. my thoughts and prayers do go out to them. I have another question, how can Cowen have stolen the van from the Smith family...I thought he was Stephanie Smith's boyfriend. Wouldn't he have used it all the time. When did she(Smith) report the van stolen 4 days later? If I went out and saw my van stolen I think I would have reported it immedieatly. None of it makes sense, if it doesn't make sense then what she (Smith) is saying probably is not true.

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