Back in Vermont in 1978, a woman named Grace Canto Reapp and her five-year-old daughter, Grace Noel “Gracie” Reapp, vanished off the face of the earth. The husband/father, Michael, was a suspect in their cases for a long time. He remarried and moved to Florida. Then in 1996 he walked out of his life. He left after the police began searching his former property in Vermont for Grace and Gracie’s bodies, and a Vermont reporter called his home in Florida to interview him about it. The last known trace of him was an ATM withdrawal in New Orleans.
In 2006, Michael was finally charged with the murders of Grace and Gracie. The theory was that he killed Grace cause she found out he was having an affair, and Gracie witnessed her mother’s murder so he killed her too. (Reminds me very much of the murder of Jennifer Blagg and the disappearance of her daughter Abby, but there was a conviction in that case.) Unfortunately the authorities were no closer to finding Michael than before, so the case stagnated again.
Well, they finally got a break, and it’s not an altogether happy one: Michael has been identified as a John Doe out of Yuma, Arizona. Thus he is beyond the reach of earthly justice.
The circumstances of his death are unusual. On January 10, 1997, he kidnapped a man at gunpoint and stole his money and car. His victim escaped and Michael, driving the man’s car, was in a high-speed chase down the highway. The police caught up to him and forced him to pull over, and they were trying to get him to get out of the car so he could be arrested, but instead he shot himself in the head. And he had no ID or anything and remained unidentified for thirteen and a half years.
Grace and Gracie’s loved ones may be relieved that Michael has been located and is no longer a danger to society, but now he will never be held accountable for what he did and will never get a chance to tell whatever it was that he knew (assuming he would have done so). This was not the only tragedy in the family; one of the couple’s sons died young in 1996. Natural causes, the flu I think.