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Homicide cold case still open: What happened to Rachel Anthony?

Spotlight on Crime is still offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Anthony’s death.

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Jessica Anthony submitted this photograph of her mother, Rachel Anthony, who disappeared the night of Feb. 27, 2001, at the end of her shift at Ultimate Liquors. Her body was found six weeks later. The case remains open and to date there has been no closure for the family.
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Who killed Rachel Anthony continues to be a mystery.

Anthony was 50 years old when she disappeared 19 years ago on the night of Feb. 27, 2001, at the end of her shift at Ultimate Liquors in Pine River. It was bitterly cold and Anthony started her car to warm it up before her drive home. A police officer discovered the car idling just after midnight and, upon checking the liquor store, found the back door unlocked with Anthony’s purse and coat still inside, but no signs of her.

Investigators looked at who was traveling along Highway 371 that night, looked at receipts made at the liquor store and what type of alcohol was purchased. All those who made purchases from the liquor store during her shift were cooperative and were eliminated as suspects.

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Rachel Anthony was 50-years-old when she disappeared 19-year-ago on the night of Feb. 27, 2001, at the end of her shift at Ultimate Liquors in Pine River. Her body was found six weeks later and the case still has not been solved. Submitted photo

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The last purchase rung up by Anthony that night was at 9:56 p.m., but the transaction was never completed.

While investigators and agents looked for clues, extensive searches were ongoing in Pine River and the surrounding area by air and land to find Anthony. Neighborhoods were canvassed, but there were still no signs of Anthony.

Her body was found six weeks later by four horseback riders in their teens — April 14, 2001 — in a ravine off an infrequently traveled road near Breezy Point, about 15 miles away from Pine River. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to homicidal violence.

The investigation has continued over the years and many leads were followed, possible suspects were ruled out and still today, there are no answers on who abducted and murdered an innocent woman.

The case remains an open investigation with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said the sheriff’s office has followed every lead they’ve received and have turned up nothing.

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David Bjerga (right), formerly a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agent in Brainerd, and Mike Diekmann, a former Cass County Sheriff’s Office investigator, talk in 2017 about the Rachel Anthony case. Both men retired years ago, but worked on the case together. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

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“We still get leads from time to time and some new leads tie back to previous leads and unfortunately time is not in our favor,” Burch said of the almost two-decades-old case. “But this case is still open and active. Most people who interviewed people for this case have retired.

“If somebody has something, even if it's the smallest, most minute thing please say something. You never know, this little detail could make a difference.”

There are several ways for people to report a tip on the Rachel Anthony case. People may call the BCA tip line at 877-996-6222 or the Cass County Sheriff’s Office 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677. People also may email a tip to bcatips@state.mn.us .

Spotlight on Crime is still offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Anthony’s death.

“Our thoughts and prayers are still with the family and I would give anything to solve it for them,” Burch said. “I encourage anyone who knows anything to please call us.”

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