Stephanie Crane’s disappearance has remained a mystery for 28 years


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

CHALLIS — Twenty-eight years ago, on Oct. 11, 1993, it was an ordinary day for most everyone in Challis.

By approximately 9 p.m. that evening nothing was the same in the small quiet town.

The Custer County Sheriff’s Office staff had a relatively calm day. There had only been two calls for service. One was a request for a Fish and Game Officer for an injured buck deer and the other was a call for assistance at the junction.

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

Stephanie had gone bowling after school, she bowled in a league with her friends. Between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Sandi went to the Challis Lanes Bowling Alley, which is directly across the street from the Challis High School, she paid for Stephanie’s bowling and then briefly 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 over to the high school to watch soccer practice or was heading to her family residence which was approximately 500 yards away from the bowling alley.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. when Stephanie had not arrived home, Sandi said she had gotten a funny feeling something was wrong. Sandi said she called the bowling alley only to find Stephanie was not there. Sandi said she then drove around town for a couple of hours looking for Stephanie on her own before coming into the Sheriff’s Office at approximately 8:16 p.m. to report she could not find her daughter.

At 8:20 p.m. the Sheriff was notified. At 8:26 p.m. the deputy that was in the office left to go check the creek that runs behind the bowling alley. At 9:06 p.m. the Challis Volunteer Fire Department was called out to come and assist in the search. At 9:08 p.m. Custer County Search and Rescue was called out. There were approximately 60 searchers out looking for Stephanie that evening. The search continued until approximately 12:30 a.m.

On October 12, 1993, at approximately 7 a.m. the search for Stephanie resumed. Custer County Sheriff 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. The boat crews that checked the Salmon River from Challis to Salmon also failed to turn up any sign of Stephanie.

In 1993 there were no Amber Alerts, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, My Space, YouTube 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 also stuff envelopes with a flyer of Stephanie and a cover letter for a nationwide mailing to get the word out that Stephanie was missing. Also, in October 1993 Stephanie’s case was also featured on the show “America’s Most Wanted”

In November 1993, a benefit concert was held for Stephanie’s cause by the Braun Brothers. Her case was also featured on a short-lived news magazine show on Fox network called “Front Page”

In 1994 and again 1997 “The Child Connection, Inc,” was an independent non-profit organization, which previously assisted with searches for missing children throughout the US and Canada came out to Challis to help locate Stephanie. Despite their efforts, Stephanie was not located.

In 2010 the Custer County Sheriff Office contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and requested the assistance of “Project Alert”. This is a group of retired Law Enforcement Professionals trained by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to participate in a variety of ways on missing children’s cases.

Still, even with their assistance, Stephanie was not located.

In 2012, acting on different tips that were received, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office searched different areas of Custer County, these searches turned up no signs of Stephanie.

In 2016 Stephanie’s case was featured on Dateline’s “Cold Case Spotlight” on the internet, also in 2016, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office started reviewing and re-evaluating possible evidence and even traveled out of state to conduct some interviews.

In April 2018, Stephanie’s case was featured on the Investigative Discovery Channel on a show called “Disappeared”. The episode was entitled “Into the Mist”.

Stephanie’s case is still open and will remain open until she is found.

Every tip that the Custer County Sheriff’s receives is followed up on. 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 encouraged to call the Custer County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 879-2232, or you can call the Custer County Sheriff’s Office 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 also send an email to

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