The family of missing Grangeville resident Shawnta Pankey has announced that human remains found in the Snake River last weekend are those of the 25-year-old woman who has been missing for a year.
Speaking for the family, Pankey’s sister, Cayla Young, announced the confirmation on social media Thursday evening, May 9, stating, “The family and I would like to let everyone know that the body remains that were found in the river have been confirmed to be my beautiful loving sister Shawnta's.”
Detective Jerry Johnson, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, was contacted Thursday evening concerning the announcement, and he confirmed the family’s statement. Further details on the confirmation are pending release by Nez Perce County authorities.
According to a May 7 Lewiston Tribune story, a Nez Perce County Search and Rescue volunteer found a skull and other bones along the river south of Lewiston on Sunday, May 5. The skull was found near Buffalo Eddy on the Idaho side of the river. The Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office dive team searched the area Sunday and Monday, finding bones both in the river and on the bank.
Pankey disappeared a year ago Sunday, April 15, 2018, with her last known sighting at Oscar’s Apartments in Grangeville. Video surveillance cameras confirmed she and her boyfriend, Edward M. Mills, left from Oscar’s Apartments around 2:15 a.m. that Sunday, videoed prior to making several trips to the vehicle with items for a trip. Mills pulled the camper from Pine Bar to near Keuterville and returned to the apartment alone around 11:06 a.m. that same morning.
Mills reported that the pair had camped at Pine Bar along the Salmon River south of Cottonwood. The couple had an argument and he reported Pankey went on a walk around 10 a.m.
She was reported missing the following day by her mother after she failed to pick up her daughter, Sophee.
Hundreds of hours have been invested into the investigation by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, which has involved investigators and deputies, assisted by volunteers, search dogs and drones.