The Disappearance of Cassie Compton

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EARLY LIFE:

Cassie Kay Compton was born on December 4, 1998 to Judy Compton Kimsey and Roy Compton. At the time of her disappearance, she was living with her mother and Kimsey’s then-fiancé, Brandon Lee Rhodes, in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Compton and Cassie’s four siblings resided in Kingston, Oklahoma. She’s said to have been especially close to her brother, Chris Newcomb.

According to reports, Compton is a registered sex offender, having been charged with lewd or indecent proposals/acts on a child. According to Kimsey, she too was placed on the sex offender registry. She claims Compton assaulted her oldest daughter and, as such, she was charged with failure to protect a child. She was then forced into a plea deal, which involved her being named a sex offender. She asserts she has since been removed from the registry.

According to Kimsey, Cassie and Rhodes didn’t get along, but other than that, she was like any other teenager. She was home-schooled and working toward her GED.

Cassie suffered from bipolar disorder, having been diagnosed at 13. She’d been prescribed antidepressants, but didn’t like taking them and would flush them down the toilet. She visited the doctor a few days before her disappearance.

LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:

At 1:30pm on September 13, 2014, Cassie was picked up by her friend Hunter Snyder. The pair and Snyder’s family spent the day at the demolition derby in DeWitt, and she stayed at their residence for the night.

She spent the majority of the following day with the Snyders. According to Hunter’s mother, Tracey Snyder, she’d been unusually quiet during her visit.

DISAPPEARANCE:

Cassie was driven home by Hunter and another family member at around 6:05pm on the evening of September 14, 2014. When she entered the family home on 15th Street, she found her mother sick in bed and Rhodes in the residence. Sometime between 6:25pm and 7:00pm, she left the house with just her black LG smartphone.

There are two accounts as to what happened after Cassie arrived home that evening. The first comes from Kimsey, who says Rhodes was cooking dinner while she lay in bed, sick. At some point, Cassie said she was running to the store to grab some things, and Rhodes subsequently fed Kimsey dinner in bed.

Rhodes tells a different story. He says he went to buy cigarettes. At the same time, Cassie texted Kimsey to say she was going out “to get a smoke”. Rhodes reportedly took Kimsey’s car for the errand, despite not having a driver’s license, and was gone for several hours. When he returned home, he went into the bathroom and vomited, and stayed in there for over an hour.

This version of events is corroborated by Hunter and his mother, who say Cassie texted him between 7:00pm and 7:15pm, informing him she was going to buy cigarettes. This is believed to be the last contact she had with anyone before her disappearance.

At 9:14pm, Rhodes called Hunter’s mother to ask if Cassie was at their house, the first of three calls he would make to the Snyder residence that night. Unfortunately, Cassie wasn’t there.

On the morning of September 15, Kimsey discovered her daughter still hadn’t returned home. She contacted Cassie’s friends and grew concerned when none of them had seen her.

There are currently conflicting reports as to who reported Cassie missing, with some news outlets saying it was Kimsey and others claiming Hunter’s mother was the one to contact the authorities. Rhodes claims to have rode his bike to the police station on the evening of September 14, but was told he had to wait 72 hours before filing a missing persons report. However, there is no confirmation or record to verify this claim.

SEARCH:

In the days following her disappearance, the Stuttgart Police Department worked on the theory that Cassie was a runaway. As such, no AMBER Alert was issued. They filed a report with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and followed up with family in Kingston, Oklahoma.

When they realized Cassie likely wasn’t a runaway, they requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police and the FBI.

Kimsey and Rhodes’ cellphones were seized by police, and Kimsey’s car was searched. Items of interest were also collected from Cassie’s bedroom.

Numerous volunteer and police searches occurred during October 2014. These included a search of the Stuttgart Airport, which was reportedly based on cellphone pings; areas within a one block radius of the family home; and the town cemetery. This came after rumours arose that Rhodes was loitering in the area and asking about the traffic that drove by on a daily basis. The banks of nearby reservoirs, as well as local dumpsites, were also searched.

According to an insider, the FBI, the Stuttgart Police Department, and Fish and Game combed the railroad tracks behind R.W. Manufacturing and a wooded area two blocks from 15th Street. It was based on the theory that Cassie’s remains were likely transported by someone, possibly Rhodes, who was walking or riding a bicycle.

That same month, a concerned citizen urged local residents to turn on their porch lights one Sunday night, as a reminder Cassie was still missing.

On October 4, 2014, potential items of interest were found below the Bayou Meto Bridge, about 15 miles from Casscoe. They included a half-drank bottle of Gatorade, two men’s shirts, a teddy bear, a girl’s Hugs and Kisses sweater, men’s toiletries, two carrying bags and two folded drapes. They were later determined to have been purposely placed under the bridge on the night of October 3.

In an effort to prompt those with information to come forward, Kimsey offered a $1,000 reward.

On November 6, 2014, a teenage boy falsely reported that he was Cassie.

There have been claims Cassie was spotted at Wal-Mart or local convenience stores, but these sightings have never been confirmed.

More than one person has accessed Cassie’s Facebook account since she went missing. It’s currently unknown if this was done by someone related to the case or investigators.

In March 2015, Kimsey held a balloon release at the Ponder Auction parking lot, located at 1504 South Leslie Street.

Private investigator Tina Storz has been working the case since 2015. She works for Halos Investigations, Inc., a private Mississippi firm that investigates cases of trafficked and missing children.

In September 2019, KATV reported Rhodes had sent them a letter, in which he wrote that he wanted to bring an end to the case and provide closure to Kimsey. However, he later denied playing a role in Cassie’s disappearance.

In January 2021, the FBI reopened their investigation after users on social media discovered a video on TikTok, featuring a girl who looked similar to Cassie. It had first been shared to Facebook, before being uploaded to TikTok by a user calling themselves plush1plush2. In it, a young girl with dark hair and two blackened eyes sits in the back of a vehicle while two men speak off camera.

An effort was made by the FBI, the Stuttgart Police Department, the Morgan Nick Foundation, the NCMEC and the National Child Protection Task Force to identify the female in the video. It was soon discovered it wasn’t Cassie and was instead a woman named Haley Grace Phillips, who’d gone missing in Los Angeles, California. In a video shared to her Instagram story, Phillips identified herself as the girl and shared that she’d been robbed shortly before the video had been filmed.

Despite the false hope the video gave Cassie’s family, they were happy it brought about a renewed focus on the case.

At present, investigators have shared no one has been ruled out as a suspect in the case. Their primary lead is Rhodes, who’s been named a person of interest. In the years since Cassie went missing, he’s been jailed numerous times, including in 2015 on drug charges and in 2019 for theft, firearms possession and for driving while suspended.

Investigators have not stated what, if any, evidence they have implicating him in the crime. In 2019, he stated in an interview that he never saw Cassie after she arrived home on the evening of September 14, 2014, and he’s denied any involvement in her disappearance. Despite this, Cassie’s brother believes he was somehow involved. While Kimsey initially believed Rhodes had something to do with her daughter’s disappearance, she has since said she now believes otherwise.

The Stuttgart Police Department says the case is still active and that leads come in fairly frequently. However, they have not yet received a tip that points them toward what happened to the missing girl.

AFTERMATH:

Rhodes’ relationship with Kimsey ended in the weeks following Cassie’s disappearance, and Kimsey has since married another man. In an interview shortly after their breakup, she called Rhodes “controlling”.

In September 2020, more than 100 people gathered in front of the Stuttgart Police Department for a candlelight vigil to raise awareness about the case and that of a missing 40-year-old, Miranda Michelle Owens. Owens was last seen at a car wash in Stuttgart on April 21, 2015 and has not been seen since. She is described as a Black female with black hair and brown eyes, standing at 5’6″ and weighing approximately 120 pounds.

The Find Cassie Compton Facebook page was created to help raise awareness for the case, as was a Twitter account, @FindCassie. However, the latter account hasn’t been updated since 2016.

Cassie’s disappearance has been featured on numerous podcasts and TV shows.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Cassie Kay Compton went missing from 15th Street in Stuttgart, Arkansas County, Arkansas on September 14, 2014. She was 15 years old, and was last seen wearing a blue spaghetti-strap top, black and white plaid shorts, and blue and grey cowboy boots with 2″ to 3″ heels. At the time of her disappearance, she stood at 5’3″ and weighed approximately 100 pounds. Her hair was dyed strawberry blonde, and she has blue eyes. She has a sideways heart-shaped birthmark on her upper left arm and a scar on the left side of her face, starting at her cheek, near her nose. Her ears are pierced.

Currently, the case is classified as endangered missing. If alive, she would be 22 years old.

Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Stuttgart Police Department at 870-673-1414 or the Arkansas State Police at 870-850-8630. Tips can also be called into the FBI’s Little Rock office at 501-221-9100.

Image Credit: Independent/The U.S. Sun

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