Tipline set up in case of Wenatchee girl

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by KING 5 Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on February 16, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 16 at 8:40 PM

WENATCHEE, Wash. - Investigators have set up a new tipline in the murder of 17-year-old Mackenzie Cowell.

Police are asking people who may have seen anyone walking on Squilchuck Highway or South Methow between Pitcher Canyon and Wenatchee the evening of last Tuesday, Feb. 9 to call 509-663- 9911.

An autopsy confirmed Tuesday that the body found in Eastern Washington is that of Mackenzie Cowell. The autopsy also revealed that her death was a homicide, but the cause of death has not yet been released.

The body was found Saturday on a beach about 25 miles from Wenatchee.

Last Tuesday, Cowell left the Academy of Hair Design where she worked, walked to the parking lot and got into her car. Surveillance cameras recorded her driving away the school at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was the last time she was seen.

Four days later, investigators found her 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix parked in a rural area of Chelan County known as Pitcher Canyon. Her purse was locked inside the car.

On Saturday, people walking along the beach at Crescent Bar found what's believed to be her body. Investigators searched the beach along the Columbia River and canvassed the neighborhood.

"It's very frustrating from an investigative aspect," said Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal. "The guys spent countless hours out there. We have guys from Grant, Douglas and Chelan county all working very hard on the case."

So far there are no suspects and no new leads in the case. Gjesdal said the details of the case are forcing them to cover a lot of ground.

"It's a very unusual case in that the young woman lived in Douglas County, worked and went missing from Wenatchee, her car was found in a remote part of Chelan County, yet her body was found in a very remote part of Douglas County," he said.

Neighbors say the riverside property where the girl's body was found has been vacant for months. But they noticed some strange changes to the yard Saturday morning, the same day her body was found.

Gary and Judy Ovenell's home overlooks the crime scene along the Columbia River.

"Saturday morning Gary said, 'Look at the brodie marks down there. That's really unusual,'" said Judy Ovenell.

Although the property has been vacant, they say they noticed new tire tracks there Saturday morning.

"There was something I just grabbed onto, focused on it, because it was so strange, 'cause that place, anybody hadn't been to for so long," said Gary Ovenell.

Around noon the same day, a young female's body was found along the shore with her feet in the water. Investigators found evidence of homicide at the scene and inside the vacant home.

In any homicide investigation, public input can be critically important. Investigators are hoping to hear from anyone who may have a tip. 

KING 5's Linda Brill, Elisa Hahn and Tim Robinson contributed to this report.

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