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Friday marks 26 years since Challis girl's disappearance

On Oct. 11, 1993 Stephanie Crane left a bowling alley in Challis, and vanished without a trace.
Credit: KTVB file
Stephanie Crane disappeared in Challis on Oct. 11, 1993.

CHALLIS, Idaho — The mystery surrounding the disappearance of a 9-year-old central Idaho girl has stretched on more than a quarter-century. 

Friday, Oct. 11 marks the 26th anniversary of the date Stephanie Crane vanished from Challis, Idaho. All these years later, investigators have not given up, and say the case will remain open until she is found. 

Stephanie was last seen Oct. 11, 1993 at the Challis Lanes Bowling Alley, located across the street from Challis High School. At about 6 p.m., investigators say, she finished bowling and left the alley, headed either to the high school to watch soccer practice or to her own home, located about 500 feet away.

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She never made it to either destination. 

At about 8:15 p.m., Stephanie's mother, Sandi Crane, reported her daughter missing to the Custer County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office immediately launched a search  along with Custer County Search and Rescue, and Challis Volunteer Fire Department.

The search halted after midnight that night, then picked back up the next morning. Despite help from about 300 searchers, two planes, the FBI, Idaho State Police, Fish and Game, a team of tracking dogs, investigators turned up no trace of the missing girl. A boat crew, who searched the river from Challis to Salmon, and hundreds of phone calls also failed to turn up any sign of Stephanie. 

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In the days and years that followed, the Custer County Sheriff's Office searched areas around Challis and followed up on any possible lead, without success. 

At the time of her disappearance, Stephaine was 4'02" and 65 – 85 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was described as having freckles, a small gap between her front teeth, a cowlick on the right side of her hairline and a scar near her right eye. 

Stephanie was last seen wearing a maroon-and-white striped hoodie with "GIMME" printed on the front, maroon sweatpants and maroon and white tennis shoes.

The AMBER Alert system, the tool used by law enforcement to quickly disseminate information about abducted or endangered children, did not yet exist in 1993. Despite the disappearance being featured on multiple TV programs over the years, the case remains unsolved.

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Law enforcement is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Stephanie's disappearance.

"Every tip that comes into the Custer County Sheriff's Office about Stephanie is checked into," the sheriff's office wrote in a press release. 

Anyone with information about what happened to Stephanie Crane is urged to call the Custer County Sheriff's Office at 208-879-2232, he Custer County Sheriff tip line at 208-879-5372, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-842-5678), leave a comment on Sheriff Lumpkin's Facebook page or send an email to stephanietips@gmail.com.  

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