Queen of Hearts: The Murder of Cynthia Rearden

Cynthia Rearden

Her wedding dress was ready but she would never get the chance to walk down the aisle. 

On June 20, 1999, thirty-one year old Cynthia was ready for a night at the bar. She had walked to Hayloft Tavern because her car was broken down, but with a leather jacket over her little black dress, the summer night air didn’t seem too cold on that three mile jaunt (McNerthney.) The bar was busy. While detectives believe she was alone when she arrived at the saloon, witnesses gave conflicting reports as to whether she left by herself. Some say she left with her fiance, others say a group of men she played pool with at the saloon. She may have spoken on a payphone at one point. Still, other witnesses say she was alone when she walked out of the saloon for the last time (McNerthney.)

At the time of her disappearance, she lived in one of the trailer homes at Monroe Motels with her son and fiance and worked on sight as a housekeeper. The motel owner, Jean Ghag gave her a job after Cynthia fell behind on rent and throughout her ten-month employment, she was a hard worker (Hefley.) According to Ghag, Cynthia frequently argued with her fiance (McNerthney.) The night of her disappearance was no different.

Over 160 leads were investigated at the time. Her fiance was not considered a suspect.

Cynthia Rearden

When she wasn’t working, Cynthia loved to take her son to fishing at a creek nearby their home. She would walk alongside him as he rode his bike. Cynthia’s husband committed suicide a few years prior to her murder. Her son was just eight years old when he became an orphan. His grandparents took him in after Cynthia died (Brooks and Morris.) He’ll be 27 this year.

The morning after she disappeared, Cynthia’s fiance called her mother to discuss why she hadn’t picked up her son from the babysitter. The day wore on and her mother assumed Cynthia had gotten home but at 5 P.M. that afternoon, Cynthia’s fiance called again (McNerthney.) Larry Lane, Cynthia’s stepfather, knew something was wrong. In the months following, he walked along railroad tracks checking dumpsters. “I know my daughter,” Lane said. “I know she wouldn’t leave her son like that (Hefley).”

Picture
Knit Sleeve Found by Cynthia’s Bones

His suspicions were confirmed eight months later. On February 10, 2000 Cynthia’s bones were found off of Woods Lake Road west of Sultan. It took the coroner five days to identify her using dental records. She was found by the property owner in a marshy patch of bush and trees with her feet pointed towards his driveway. In the surrounding marsh were scraps of clothing matching the description of what she was wearing when she went missing- black spandex dress, black stockings and a leather jacket- as well as a sleeve from a knit shirt. Detective Jim Scharf of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit Cold Case Team believes the sleeve could lead to Cynthia’s murderer. In 2009, he told Parella Lewis from “Washington’s Most Wanted“, “Finding someone who was in possession of that garment would be a good lead to try and figure out who the killer could be.”

When interviewed by Lewis, Cynthia’s son said “It wasn’t great going up without a mom, so I’m not really fond of the person who did it. So I think they should get whatever they have coming to them.” Almost twenty years have passed and her case still remains cold. Besides being covered on Washington’s Most Wanted, Cynthia’s case was also featured in Snohomish county’s deck of cold case cards as the Queen of Hearts.

Call the toll free line at 1-800-222-TIPS or the Sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845 if you have any information about Cynthia Rearden’s murder.


Brooks, D and Morris, K. (15 Feb. 2000.) Bones found; murder suspected. Seattle Times. Accessed August 14, 2009 from http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20000215&slug=
4004991

Hefley, D. (23 Aug. 2008.) Cold case: Family of Monroe woman angry that killer is still out there. Everett Herald. Accessed August 15, 2019 from https://www.heraldnet.com/news/cold-case-family-of-monroe-woman-angry-that-killer-is-still-out-there/

McNerthy, C. (30 Oct. 2009.) Police hope garment sleeve helps solve cold case. Seattle P.I. Accessed August 16, 2019 from https://blog.seattlepi.com/seattle911/2009/10/30/police-hope-garment-sleeve-helps-solve-cold-case/

Cover photo courtesy of Pamela Pomeroy.

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