Shawnta Pankey vanished in Idaho on April 15th, 2018. The then-25-year-old was seen near her Grangeville apartment with her boyfriend, Eddie Mills, around 2:00 AM. Surveillance cameras captured the couple making several trips back and forth from the apartment to Mills’ car while carrying camping gear. Shawnta and Mills left the apartment building in the vehicle around 2:15 AM. By 11:06 AM, Mills returned to the apartment building alone. Shawnta was never seen or heard from again.
Shawnta was reported missing the following day, after she did not pick up her daughter from her mother’s house as planned. When Mills was questioned, he said that he and Shawnta got into an argument while camping at Pine Bar along the Salmon River. Shawnta then decided to talk a walk around 10:00 AM and never returned.
As the last person to have seen Shawnta, Mills was inevitably labeled as a person of interest. He denied any knowledge of her whereabouts and agreed to take a polygraph exam. Reports stated that Mills did not show up for the planned polygraph at first – but he did eventually take the exam, and he passed. This still did not rule Mills out completely, but it did prompt investigators to look at other possible scenarios.
One couple reported seeing a woman matching Shawnta’s description hiking up grade near the river between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on the day of her disappearance. Investigators conducted several searches in that area and in the surrounding areas, but they were unable to locate Shawnta. The area from which she vanished reportedly has very little cell phone service, so investigators were unable to track her cell phone pings.
On May 5th, 2019 – over a year after Shawnta’s disappearance – human remains were found near Buffalo Eddy on the Snake River. Days later, it was confirmed that those remains were that of Shawnta Pankey. The FBI then began conducting a forensic examination on her remains. By late November 2019, it was announced that investigators had finished the forensic examination, but they declined to provide any further details.
To this day, Shawnta’s cause and manner of death has not been revealed. However, there is speculation that she was murdered. Many people still believe her boyfriend Eddie Mills was involved. Still – no arrests have been made in Shawnta’s case.
Shawnta’s loved ones are hoping to find answers in her case. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office at 208-983-1100.