She disappeared 27 years ago today, and many are still wondering what happened to her - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

She disappeared 27 years ago today, and many are still wondering what happened to her

  Published at  | Updated at
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready ...

The following is a news release from the Custer County Sheriff’s Office.

CHALLIS – This Sunday marks 27 years since Stephanie Crane disappeared.

On October 11, 1993, the 9-year-old girl from Challis disappeared while going bowling with her friends after school.

Around 8:15 p.m., Stephanie’s mother, Sandi Crane, came into the Custer County Sheriff’s Office to report that she could not find her daughter. Stephanie was three and a half feet tall, between 75 and 80 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. She was wearing maroon sweats, a maroon and white striped top with the words “GIMME” across the front and maroon and white tennis shoes.

By 9 p.m., the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, Search and Rescue and the Challis Volunteer Fire Department were all out searching for Stephanie.

The first lead in the search was that someone had seen her headed home. Prior to leaving the bowling alley, Stephanie told someone she was going to the football field. The Sheriff and one of the deputies searched the creek between the bowling alley and the Crane residence. The search extended throughout Challis, the elementary school, high school, and surrounding areas. All of Stephanie’s school friends were contacted, and most of her classmates were contacted along with the bowling team. No one had seen her.

The search was suspended at 12:30 a.m. with plans to resume the search at 7 a.m.

The following day, 300 hundred searchers, two planes, hundreds of phone calls, FBI agents, Custer County Sheriff’s Deputies, Idaho State Police, Idaho Bureau of Investigation, Fish and Game Officers and a team of tracking dogs failed to turn up any clues as to Stephanie’s whereabouts. Boat crews that checked the river from Challis to Salmon also failed to turn up any sign of Stephanie.

1993 Crane

Stephanie’s disappearance was reported nationally by America’s Most Wanted and CNN. Custer County relied on volunteers to hand out fliers with Stephanie’s picture. Volunteers also stuffed envelopes with fliers of Stephanie and a cover letter for a nationwide mailing.

The Custer County Sheriffs Office contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children in 2010 and requested assistance from Project Alert. Project Alert representatives are retired law enforcement professionals who are trained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited children to participate in a variety of ways on missing child cases. They specialize in long term missing children cases.

In 2012, CCSO searched different areas of the county after receiving some tips on where Stephanie might be. They never found her, but the sheriff’s office has continued to work with other agencies through the years to try and find out what happened to her.

Stephanie would have celebrated her 36th birthday with her family and friends this past September 28.

Both of Stephanie’s parents passed away without ever knowing what happened to her. Her mother, Sandi Crane, passed away on August 14, 1997. Her father, Ben Crane, passed away on October 11, 2012. Both passed from natural causes.

Stephanie has sisters, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles that would like to know what happened her.

In February 2017, a 56-year-old former convenience store clerk was convicted of killing Etan Patz in 1979. Etan was the first missing child to be featured on a milk carton. In 2012, Pedro Hernandez confessed to killing Etan Patz. Etan’s body has not been found. During Hernandez’s trial, it was brought out that he had confessed that he killed a child in a prayer group as far back as possibly 1981 and also made a confession to his brother-in-law. It appears that no one had reported this to law enforcement.

If someone has told you that they had something to do with Stephanie Crane’s disappearance, you need to report this to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office — even if you think it is not true. All tips and leads are checked into. If someone has told you that they are responsible for the disappearance of someone else, please report that to the appropriate law enforcement authority.

The Custer County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that this is still an open and active case. Stephanie’s case will not be closed until we find out what happened to her.

There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Stephanie’s disappearance. If you think you have information about Stephanie, call the Custer County Sheriffs Office at (208) 879-2232 or you can call the Custer County Sheriff tip line at (208) 879-5372 and leave a message. You can also call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-842-5678). You can leave a comment on Sheriff Lumpkin’s Facebook page or send an email to