Missing child case continues to be worked by Sheriff’s Office

Oct. 11, 1993, probably started out as an ordinary day for most everyone in Challis. By 9 p.m. nothing was the same. The Custer County Sheriff’s Office staff had a relatively calm day. There had only been two calls for service, a request for a Fish and Game officer for an injured buck deer and the other for assistance at the junction.

At 8:16 pm. that evening Sandi Crane came into the Sheriff’s Office to report she could not find her 9-year-old daughter Stephanie and the calm was shattered.

Stephanie had gone bowling after school. She bowled in a league with her friends. Between 4 and 4:30, Sandi went to Challis Lanes, across the street from Challis High School, paid for Stephanie’s bowling, spoke with Stephanie and gave her $1 for a snack. It was understood Stephanie was to go directly home after bowling.

Accounts differ as to whether Stephanie was going to the high school to watch soccer practice or was heading home, 500 yards from the bowling alley.

At 5:30 p.m. when Stephanie had not arrived home, Sandi said she had a funny feeling something was wrong. Sandi called the bowling alley to find Stephanie was not there. Sandi drove around town for a couple of hours looking for Stephanie before coming to the Sheriff’s Office.

At 8:20 p.m. the sheriff was notified. At 8:26 p.m. the deputy in the office left to check the creek behind the bowling alley. At 9:06 p.m. the Challis Volunteer Fire Department was called out to assist. At 9:08 p.m. Custer County Search and Rescue was called out. There were 60 searchers looking for Stephanie. The search stopped at 12:30 a.m. and resumed at 7 a.m. Oct. 12.

Custer County sheriff’s deputies, 300 searchers, two planes, hundreds of phone calls, FBI agents, Idaho State Police officers, Fish and Game officers and a team of tracking dogs failed to turn up any sign of Stephanie. Boat crews checked the Salmon River from Challis to Salmon and found nothing.

In 1993 there were no Amber alerts, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, My Space, You Tube or Reverse 911. To get the word out that Stephanie was missing, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office relied on volunteers to hand out fliers and stuff envelopes with a flier and a letter for a nationwide mailing to get the word out.

Stephanie’s case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in October 1993. In November 1993 a benefit concert was held by the Braun Brothers. Her case was featured on the news magazine show “Front Page.” In 1994 and 1997 The Child Connection Inc., which assisted with searches for missing children, sent people to Challis to help locate Stephanie, to no avail.

In 2010 the Custer County Sheriff’s Office contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and requested the assistance of Project Alert, a group of retired law enforcement professionals who help on missing children’s cases. In 2012, acting on tips, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office searched parts of Custer County, but no signs of Stephanie were found.

In 2016 Stephanie’s case was featured on Dateline’s “Cold Case Spotlight.” The Custer County Sheriff’s Office started reviewing and re-evaluating possible evidence and conducted interviews out of state that year. In April of 2018 Stephanie’s case was featured on the Investigative Discovery Channel on a show called “Disappeared.”

Stephanie’s case is still open and will remain open until she is found. Every tip the Custer County Sheriff’s Office receives is followed up. Stephanie has dark brown hair and blue eyes. Her face is freckled and she has a space between her two upper front teeth. She has a cowlick on the right side of her hairline and a scar over her right eye. Stephanie would be 37 this year.

Anyone with any information about Stephanie is asked to call the Custer County Sheriff’s Office at 208-879-2232, the Sheriff’s Office tip line at 208-879-5372 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-842-5678 or email stephaniecranetips@gmail.com.

Linda Dubiel

Custer County Sheriff’s Office

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