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Investigators hone in on suspect in South Dakota missing persons case

In the months and years leading up to her daughter’s disappearance, Mary Schabot watched Rachel Cyriacks struggle through the realities of an abusive relationship — the ups and downs and the unsuccessful attempts by loved ones to help her get out.

Rachel Cyriacks Header 2
Rachel Cyriacks was last seen Nov. 13, 2013 while driving to Huron, S.D. from Woonsocket, S.D.
Photo courtesy of Help Find Rachel Cyriacks.
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WOONSOCKET, S.D. — On Nov.13, 2013, Rachel Cyriacks drove her gray 1995 Chevrolet Silverado from her hometown of Woonsocket to a correctional facility in nearby Huron, where her husband was being released from jail following a Halloween evening domestic violence incident.

That was the last anyone — aside from her husband, Brad Cyriacks — has seen or heard from her.

It wasn’t unusual for her to distance herself from family and friends for periods at a time. Yet her mother, Mary Schabot, sensed almost immediately that something was off.

“My birthday is on the fourteenth of November, and so I kind of got concerned when she didn’t call me on my birthday, because she promised she would,” Schabot said.

Schabot had been living with a long held fear.

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In the months and years leading up to her daughter’s disappearance, she watched her struggle through the realities of an abusive relationship — the ups and downs and the unsuccessful attempts by loved ones to help her get out.

In August 2013, Rachel Cyriacks filed for a temporary order of protection against Brad Cyriacks in Sanborn County, citing domestic abuse, according to court documents. That added to the laundry list of incidents — some of which have been documented by the courts — relating to domestic violence in the relationship.

While Schabot openly admits she has her suspicions as to who was involved in her daughter’s death, she isn’t alone. South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Agent Tyler Neuharth openly said this case has one suspect: Brad Cyriacks.

“Brad is the prime subject right now,” Neuharth said. “He knows that, I’ve told him as such.”

Neuharth wouldn’t disclose the entirety of evidence implicating Brad Cyriacks, yet said he and his team are continuing to gather evidence, with the ultimate goal of discovering her remains and filling in the final holes to a mystery that has captivated — and frustrated — many in the southeastern corner of South Dakota.

“We’ve had some people come forward recently that have some information that at least, on the surface, looks credible,” he said. “So we’ll continue diving into that to see if we can identify the original source and try to get the best information possible.”

The day Rachel Cyriacks disappeared

Rachel Cyriack’s last known movements were tracked by cell phone records obtained by law enforcement.

Brad and Rachel Cyriacks
Rachel Cyriacks went missing on Nov 13, 2013 from the area near her hometown of Woonsocket, S.D. Her husband, Brad Cyriacks, was the last person to have seen her. He has been named by South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigators (DCI) as a suspect in her disappearance. <br/><br/>
Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Records indicated she traveled from Woonsocket to Huron on Nov. 13, 2013, confirmed by an incoming call from a gas station in Huron, near the location of the county jail. After receiving a voicemail while traveling through a known dead zone, she then made one outgoing call to a gas station in Huron, which is where law enforcement believes she picked up Bradley Cyriacks.

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The story painted by cell phone records matches the one Brad Cyriacks told investigators. From the gas station, he claimed they made the 20-minute drive home, where they stayed for a brief period of time before she drove him back to a friend’s house in Huron. He claims that was the last time he saw her.

“According to his own statements, that’s the last person that we’re aware of that sees her alive,” Neuharth said.

The investigation begins

Schabot hadn’t heard from her daughter for one week following the absence of her traditional birthday call when she worked up the courage to take matters into her own hands.

Armed with a key to her daughter’s house, she went searching for Rachel Cyriacks — or clues that would lead her in the right direction.

“When I went over to the house, my blood pressure was probably sky high because I didn’t know what I was going to be walking into, ya know what I mean,” she said. “Or if I was in the house and he came home, what would he do if he found me in there?”

Schabot didn’t discover anything out of the ordinary in the home — there was no indication of a struggle and no sign of her daughter. She began to reach out to friends and neighbors in the hopes someone had heard from her since Nov. 13. To her dismay, nobody had seen Rachel Cyriacks.

At that point, she renewed her pleas with law enforcement. A month after she went missing, Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office launched an official investigation into the disappearance of Rachel Cyriacks.

Considering the large land mass in and around Huron, Neuharth said DCI has prioritized their resources to follow where the tips lead.

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“It’s all based on the tips and leads that we’re getting from doing interviews with involved parties: friends, associates, people who might have information for where she’d be,” Neuharth said.

An initial tip led the investigation to the Sand Creek Area, located near Wolsey. With information that Rachel Cyriack’s body could have been buried there, investigators brought in ground penetrating radar. The technology allowed the team to detect any disturbances up to 30 feet underground, without having to dig up the entire area.

Rachel Cyriacks Search Map
A tip led law enforcement to thoroughly search the Sand Creek area of South Dakota with ground penetrating radar technology for the remains of Rachel Cyriacks, who went missing on Nov. 13, 2013. She was last seen driving from her hometown in Woonsocket to Huron. <br/>
Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Searches also included cadaver dogs, highway patrol airplane surveillance, dive teams and the use of side scan sonar technology when searching rivers and bodies of water. Private search and rescue teams have also come in to assist with the case.

Additional leads have led investigators to search 20 different wells in the area, junkyards, abandoned buildings and a thorough search of the James River, which flows through Huron.

To this date, the searches have not uncovered any item related to Rachel Cyriacks.

Her truck, however, was discovered by law enforcement in January 2014.

The vehicle was located on a Huron bee farm owned by the family of Travis Griffith. According to initial law enforcement interviews, Brad Cyriacks claimed his wife dropped him off at Griffith’s house on Nov. 13, 2013 — and that was the last he saw of her.

Griffith was a known friend to both Brad and Rachel Cyriacks.

Attempts by Forum News Service to reach Griffith and Brad Cyriacks have not been successful.

The truck and the bee farm

The Chevrolet Silverado was found behind a quonset on the bee farm, seemingly out of sight. When law enforcement discovered the vehicle, it wasn’t operable due to considerable damage to the undercarriage of the truck. The drivetrain had also been pulled out.

Rachel Cyriacks 2
Rachel Cyriacks is described by her mother as a giver who looked out for those she loved. She went missing Nov. 13, 2013 from her hometown in Woonsocket, S.D.<br/>
Photo courtesy of Help Find Rachel Cyriacks.

When questioned, Brad Cyriacks and Griffith told law enforcement officers they had been working on repairs for the truck.

“They kind of gave a half story on oh I’m doing some repairs,” Neuharth said. “They could never really explain the damage and why the drivetrain was pulled out of it.”

Brad Cyriacks told investigators he had been driving the vehicle regularly after the date Rachel Cyriacks officially went missing. How he got the truck back from his wife remains unknown.

“The weird thing is that Brad, the husband, has never really had a good story for how it got up there,” Neuharth said. “Again, according to his interview, he says she drops him off up there and then goes her own way in the truck.”

DNA investigations have been conducted on the truck to see if there is anything out-of-the-ordinary that would indicate foul play inside — or outside of — the truck. The undercarriage, in particular, has been the source of curiosity.

“We searched the undercarriage of it, wondering if maybe some of the damage under there was related to her death,” Neuharth said. “And we extensively searched the truck… it didn’t really answer any questions.”

Investigators still remain in possession of the truck.

Rachel Cyriacks Missing Poster
Investigators are seeking tips that will lead to the whereabouts of Rachel Cyriacks, who went missing from the Huron, S.D. area in 2013. <br/><br/>
Photo courtesy of Help Find Rachel Cyriacks.

A tumultuous relationship

Rachel and Brad Cyriacks married young. Together, they had three children, who were in the custody of family members at the time of her disappearance.

The two also had a history of drug abuse, which added to the tumultuous nature of the relationship and complicated custody issues. Yet Schabot said her daughter was doing what she could to get her life together — and get her children back.

When Rachel Cyriacks was filling out the paperwork for the temporary protection order against her husband, Schabot said she was also seeking a divorce and actively trying to regain custody of her children.

“She loved her kids,” she said. “She was going to try to get her life together.”

Schabot remembers her daughter as a caring individual who would go out of her way to help out friends in a tough spot — especially when children were involved.

“If she knew a friend who had kids and it was their birthday and they didn’t have the money to buy presents, she’d come over to me because I’d have a stash and get stuff for the kids,” she said. “She’d take it and give it to them. She always liked giving out presents. She was a giver.”

From where she sits, Schabot doesn’t believe her daughter is alive. Yet she still hopes her remains are uncovered — and that those responsible are brought to justice.

Trisha Taurinskas is an enterprise crime reporter for Forum Communications Co., specializing in stories related to missing persons and unsolved crime. Her work is primarily featured on The Vault.

Trisha can be reached at ttaurinskas@forumcomm.com.
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