The heads of the three agencies involved in the investigation were asked: Could the investigation into the Cowell homicide take months or years?
• “There is always that possibility. … It’s not going to be a quick investigation to solve. On the other hand, if we get some forensic information back or someone gives us the right information, it could close very quickly.”
— Harvey Gjesdal, Douglas County sheriff
• “It certainly could. We may not ever be able to solve it to the point where we make an arrest. We might be able to assume who committed this crime, but to ever be able to make an arrest, we don’t know.”
— Mike Harum, Chelan County sheriff
• “It could; it’s possible, but I’m sure hoping not. I guess I’m optimistic. I feel it will be solved, maybe not in the near future, but in the reasonable future. … I can’t be specific.”
— Tom Robbins, Wenatchee police chief
WENATCHEE — On Saturday, it will be a month since the body of 17-year-old Wenatchee High School student Mackenzie Cowell was found at Crescent Bar.
Investigators say they have no suspects.
Could this investigation go on for months? Years?
The answer would seem to be yes.
“There are investigations that go on for years, and there are some that, from up front you can identify a suspect very easily,” said Doug Jones, spokesman for the task force investigating her death. “Unfortunately, in this case, we have no witnesses, at least none that have stepped forward, and we have no obvious evidence that points to anyone in particular. It’s a different situation from a case that is solved in the first week.”
The task force remains at nine full-time detectives, Jones said, and there has been no talk of scaling back anytime soon.
On Tuesday, he said detectives are still working leads. “Every detective in the room got a good assignment to tackle this morning, as far as moving this case forward.”
Investigators have kept information close to the vest in this case. Jones said they don’t want to leak out information that could give the killer any clues about how to throw investigators off track.
This week, Jones remained typically vague on answers:
• What’s new with the case? “We’re still following up associations that she had, things like that, hoping for a big break, for a tip which we haven’t gotten.”
• What evidence has come back from the crime lab? “We’re still waiting for most of the crime lab results. I doubt we will release crime lab results either, until we have a suspect in custody.”
• What have you learned from cell tower research? “We’ve gotten a lot back but we are still waiting for some stuff from a couple of different providers.”
• What have you learned from tips to the RiverCom dispatch Center? “Nothing I can comment on. … As of March 4, we’ve gotten 195 tips but … nothing that we can really sink our teeth into.”
• Have you determined if this is a random killing or a killing by someone Cowell knew? “Both possibilities are still out there.”
• What do you tell women who say they are afraid of a random killer? “They should exercise common sense, be on just a little bit more heightened alert. They should not go out alone at night without an escort; just be wise as far as personal safety goes.”
• Is Cowell’s cell phone still missing? “Yes.”
• Are investigators frustrated with the lack of results? “I’m not sure frustration is the word, but we’re maintaining our diligence and hoping for a lead that can get us there.”
• How many people have you interviewed? “A conservative estimate is currently at 670 … this includes students, friends, family, associates, residents of Crescent Bar and Pitcher Canyon, citizens at the boat launch area and those providing tips.”
• Have you conducted any polygraph tests? “To date, we’ve done at least eight polygraph exams of which the names and results will remain confidential at this time to maintain the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”
• Have you executed any search warrants? “Task force detectives/agents have conducted numerous searches as part of our basic investigative process of elimination of places where Mackenzie may have gone or been associated with. Those responsible for the locations have signed consent to search forms.
“Thus far everyone has cooperated with our investigation when asked and allowed the searches.” Jones declined to say where searches had been conducted.
“To the extent that none of the searches to this point have revealed where the actual homicide occurred or evidence pointing to a suspect, it would not be appropriate to release and would potentially hinder the investigation in the future.”