Wenatchee-area teen found dead in apparent homicide

MONDAY, FEB. 15, 2010, 8:36 A.M.

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say they believe a body found along the Columbia River on Saturday is that of a 17-year-old Wenatchee-area girl missing since Tuesday.

Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal said Sunday that authorities are working under the assumption that the body discovered in Crescent Bar Saturday is that of Mackenzie Cowell, of Orondo, Wash.

Gjesdal told the Wenatchee World he’s basing his assumption on the victim’s appearance, as well as information from a detective who has been working the case and has seen the body.

Gjesdal wouldn’t comment on the cause of death, but he called the case a homicide. An autopsy is planned for Tuesday.

Cowell was last seen leaving a beauty school class in Wenatchee last Tuesday. Her locked car was found that night in Pitcher Canyon near Mission Ridge, about 40 miles from her home in Orondo.

The body was found near the Douglas-Grant county line. A vacant house at the site was searched for clues.

The Seattle Times reported that the body was fully clothed and the feet in the water.

The Times also said that 200 people gathered in Wenatchee on Friday for candlelight vigil for Cowell.

Cowell lived in rural Douglas County, which is east of Wenatchee, but worked inside the city.

Divers have searched in the river and in ponds near where the body was found in an effort to find evidence, the sheriff said.

He asked residents of the area to remain calm and vigilant, but to not overract if it seems that investigators are moving slowly. He said a methodical investigation is necessary, and that authorities will move quickly if circumstances warrant action.

There was no indication that the case is connected to a wider criminal endeavor, Gjesdal said.

The sheriff asked that anyone with information about the case to call the Douglas County sheriff’s office at (509) 884-0941 of the county’s dispatch center at (509) 663-9911.

Click here to comment on this story »