Investigators believe the person who killed Rachel Anthony in 2001 was buying Mickey's Malt Liquor and Kool cigarettes the night she disappeared.
Anthony, of Pequot Lakes, was finishing her shift at Ultimate Liquors in Pine River on Feb. 27, 2001, when someone bought the liquor and cigarettes at 9:57 p.m., the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and Cass County Sheriff's Office said Friday.
It was the last sale she made before she disappeared.
Investigators are hoping these details, which had not been made public until now, will offer a clue about her killer.
Authorities haven't been able to identify the person who made the purchase, and they consider them a person of interest in Anthony's death, a news release says.
“We hope that this new detail may jog someone’s memory and we encourage them to come forward,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in a statement. “Rachel’s family deserves answers, and the person who killed her deserves justice.”
Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch said, "If someone has information, even if it's the smallest detail, please report it as this little detail could make a difference."
It was bitterly cold on Feb. 27, 2001, so Anthony went out to warm up her car, a Ford Escort, before she was scheduled to close the liquor store at 10 p.m.
It was part of her routine before she brought out the trash and locked up, her daughter later told police, according to the Brainerd Dispatch.
A police officer patrolling the area noticed her car idling in the parking lot at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2001, and went to check things out, a news release says. The back door of the liquor store was unlocked and Anthony's purse and coat were still inside the store. But she was nowhere to be found.
The Brainerd Dispatch says investigators looked into who was driving on Highway 371 that night and at receipts from the liquor store during her shift. These indivuduals were all eliminated as suspects.
Except for the last transaction of the night, where someone came in to buy Mickey's Malt Liquor and Kool cigarettes. The sale was never completed and had apparently interrupted Anthony's nightly routine, the paper says.
After countless searches, Anthony's body was found six weeks later, on April 14, 2001, about 15 miles away in Breezy Point. Four teens on horseback found her body down a roadside embankment.
An autopsy revealed she died of asphyxia due to homicidal violence, reports note. No suspects have ever been identified.
Investigators do believe the killer either had family ties to the area or lived in the area at the time Anthony was killed, the Brainerd Dispatch says.
$50K reward for information
These new details from investigators come two days before the 21st anniversary of Anthony's disappearance.
Anyone with information that could help identify the person who made the purchase at the liquor store that night, or who has any details about Anthony's death, is asked to contact the Cass County Sheriff’s Office at 218-547-1424 or the BCA at 651-793-7000. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, Spotlight on Crime continues to offer a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Anthony's death.