Episode 088: Rachel Cyriacks

August 21, 2023

Rachel Cyriacks dropped her husband off at a friend’s house, then vanished into thin air. Did she walk away from her life or was there something more sinister at play?

Episode Media
Rachel Lucille Cyriacks (Facebook)
Rachel and Brad Cyriacks (Facebook)
The quilt that disappeared with Rachel on November 13, 2013 (Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office)
1995 Chevy Silverado with South Dakota license plates 4CH634 (Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office)
Episode Sources
Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Bite-Sized Crime. This week I’m bringing you a missing persons case that has the potential to be solved, it just needs someone to come forward. This episode discusses sensitive topics, so listener discretion is advised.

On the afternoon of November 13, 2013, 30-year-old Rachel Cyriacks drove her gray Chevy Silverado from her home in Woonsocket, South Dakota, to the neighboring town of Huron. Her husband Brad had just been released from the Beadle County Jail, and she was on her way to pick him up. The twenty-minute drive was a known dead zone, and when her phone finally got a signal closer to town, Rachel saw she had a missed call and voicemail from Brad – he was at a local gas station, could she pick him up there?

Rachel picked up Brad and the couple drove back to Woonsocket, a tiny town with a population of just over 600 people. But they didn’t stay long. After spending a short time at home, Rachel and Brad drove back to Huron. Rachel dropped Brad off at a friend’s house, then turned around and drove back home once again.

The next day, Rachel’s mother Mary was surprised and a little disappointed that she hadn’t heard from her daughter. November 14th was Mary’s birthday, and Rachel had promised to call. It wasn’t unusual for Rachel to distance herself from the family for long periods of time, but she always made it a point to talk to her mom on her birthday, and it wasn’t like her to break a promise. Mary tried not to worry, but when Rachel still wasn’t responding to texts and calls the next day, Mary was convinced that something was wrong.

Still, Rachel was a grown woman, a wife and mother of three – she could ignore her phone if she wanted to. Mary gave it a few more days before finally driving to Rachel’s house and letting herself inside with the key Rachel had given her. Mary told InForum, “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? Or if I was in the house and [Brad] came home, what would he do if he found me in there?”

But Rachel wasn’t in the house, and nothing seemed out of place. However, Mary’s intuition told her that something bad had happened to her daughter, and she was determined to find out what.

Mary began reaching out to Rachel’s friends and neighbors, hoping that someone had seen or heard from Rachel. But no one had – it truly seemed as though Rachel had vanished.

Mary finally gathered her courage and filed a missing persons report with the Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office. Unfortunately, the sheriff’s office didn’t take the report very seriously – as we’ve heard countless times before, Rachel was an adult and was allowed to go missing.

But by this time, Mary was convinced that her daughter hadn’t disappeared on her own. She kept pushing, and finally, a month later, an investigation was officially opened on Rachel’s case.

The week Rachel disappeared had been pretty routine. On November 10th, she posted a picture on Facebook with some friends. On November 11th, she worked a shift at her temp job at a pet food cannery in Mitchell, South Dakota, 40 minutes south of Woonsocket. On November 12th, she was active on Facebook, but didn’t make any posts. On November 13th, she drove to Huron to pick up Brad. After that, no one saw or heard from Rachel again.

Naturally, investigators wanted to speak with Brad Cyriacks. He told detectives that yes, Rachel had picked him up at a gas station in Huron after he was released from jail on the 13th. They had driven home, then back to Huron where Rachel dropped him off at his friend Travis’ house. According to Brad, Rachel then drove off in her gray Silverado. Rachel’s cell phone records seemed to confirm Brad’s story.

But Rachel’s family wasn’t about to let Brad off the hook that easily.

Rachel and Brad had been together since they were teenagers, and had married when Rachel was just 19. Soon, they had three kids – two boys and a girl. Rachel considered Brad to be her soul mate.

But Rachel and Brad both struggled with their own demons. According to Mary, Rachel had gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd early on, and her small childhood rebellions soon turned into bigger issues with more serious consequences. Rachel went from smoking weed with friends to getting caught up in more dangerous substances like prescription pills and crystal meth. She would go on binges that sometimes lasted days or weeks at a time. She even served time in jail for possession and distribution.

Brad also struggled with substance abuse, and it landed him in trouble over and over again. Between 2003 and 2017, Brad was sent to state prison eight times for drug-related offenses and parole violations.

Caught in the middle were Brad and Rachel’s three children. At the time of Rachel’s disappearance, the children were in the custody of family members. But according to Mary, Rachel was working hard to get them back, determined to get clean. “She loved her kids. She was going to try to get her life together.”

Unfortunately, drugs weren’t the only issue in Brad and Rachel’s relationship. For years, Rachel had been the victim of Brad’s abusive behavior, and her family and friends had tried over and over again to get her out. Finally, in 2013, it seemed like Rachel might have been close to breaking free.

In August, just three months before she disappeared, Rachel filed for an order of protection against Brad. In her request, Rachel said that Brad had threatened her with a knife, pulling her hair and hitting her in the face. She wrote, “Domestic abuse has been an issue in the past. Cops can testify to this. I will be harmed physically and mentally.” Rachel claimed that this particular assault stemmed from the fact that they were in the middle of a divorce that Brad didn’t want.

Brad was later charged with violating the protection order and was also charged with kidnapping, but that particular charge was dropped. Brad pleaded guilty to violating the protection order and spent a short time in jail before being released on the condition that he would stay away from Rachel and complete domestic violence intervention classes.

Ultimately, when it was time to extend the protection order, Rachel failed to show up for court, and the order was dropped. But Brad’s abuse continued. On Halloween night, Rachel called the sheriff’s office to report that Brad had once again assaulted her. When officers showed up, Brad resisted arrest and was taken to the Beadle County Jail in Huron. Just two weeks later, Rachel would pick him up at a nearby gas station.

In the months following Rachel’s disappearance, investigators questioned Brad, but they hesitated to name him as a suspect. When asked if Brad had anything to do with Rachel going missing, Sheriff Tom Fridley told the Argus Leader, “It’s certainly a possibility, but we are just trying to sort out the leads right now.”

Early on, investigators put out information about Rachel’s vehicle, hoping someone would spot the 1995 Chevy Silverado pickup truck. And by the end December, they had it. The truck was found on a bee farm in Huron – a farm owned by the family of Brad’s friend Travis, the same Travis Rachel had supposedly taken Brad to see on November 13th.

According to the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigations, the truck was found hidden behind a steel outbuilding, and there was significant damage to the underside of the vehicle. The drivetrain had been pulled out, leaving the truck completely inoperable. When investigators asked Brad and Travis why the truck was in such a state, they claimed they were just doing some repairs.

DCI Agent Tyler Neuharth told InForum that Brad said he had been driving the truck regularly since November, but that seemed to contradict his original statements. Brad originally said that Rachel had dropped him off in Huron and then left in the truck, but he never explained how he got the truck back from her. “The weird thing is that Brad… has never really had a good story for how it got up there.”

Investigators seized the truck and processed it for evidence, but it wasn’t as helpful as they had hoped. They searched the undercarriage in particular, wondering if any of the damage would speak to what may have happened to Rachel. They even asked local residents to look for property damage on back roads and fields in case the truck had come into contact with fences or trees. But according to Agent Neuharth, “It didn’t really answer any questions.”

As the months passed, investigators searched as much of the surrounding area as possible, but the terrain in rural South Dakota was vast and unyielding. They had to prioritize tips that came in, waiting for someone to say something that could prove useful. Neuharth told InForum, “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.”

One such tip took investigators to Wolsey, a town 15 miles west of Huron, where they believed Rachel might be buried. The DCI brought in cadaver dogs and ground penetrating radar, which allowed them to search for disturbances in the ground. But it ended up being a dead end.

Other tips sent investigators all over the state. They searched abandoned buildings, deep wells, junkyards and landfills. Drones flew overhead, and dive teams used sonar equipment to search the deepest parts of lakes and rivers. The sheriff’s office even asked private citizens to help out, for property owners and hunters to keep their eyes peeled for clues. Sheriff Fridley told KELO, “We’ve even asked those that may have an airport that pilots need to get some hours in… do you want to fly Huron, Woonsocket areas to get hours? We’ll gladly take their assistance.”

But as the one year anniversary of Rachel’s disappearance came and went, hope began to wane. Investigators were now operating under the assumption that Rachel was no longer alive. Their focus was now recovery rather than rescue.

In March of 2015, investigators released a new piece of information to the public. Something else had disappeared with Rachel – a handmade quilt that held special meaning for her. They posted a photo of Rachel holding up the quilt, a big smile on her face. Authorities hoped the image would trigger someone’s memory, that perhaps if they found the quilt, they might find Rachel too.

As each year passed, investigators reminded the public that they weren’t giving up on Rachel’s case. But with time, the information they were getting was less and less useful. Agent Neuharth told Dakota News Now, “Some of the tips that we receive are fairly far-fetched. We start doing our research, we start looking into those leads, and we start figuring out where they’re generated from and a lot of it is third or fourth hand information. The information gets skewed and by the time it reaches us, it’s not even close to what the original person said.”

But Neuharth was still hopeful. “These tips that have come in recently seem to be much more credible than some of the tips we’ve received in the past. So I’m very optimistic that these are actually going to lead us in the right direction, lead us potentially to where Rachel’s at, and also to who is responsible for what happened to her.”

However, Neuharth was clear about who he thought was responsible. He told InForum, “Brad is the prime subject right now. He knows that, I’ve told him as such.”

Rachel’s mother believes the same thing. Mary told Dakota News Now, “Brad knows something… He told me she would go missing someday and I said well, I’ll always remember that.”

Although Mary believes her daughter is dead, she still hopes to have closure someday. She wants Rachel’s remains to be brought home and her killers brought to justice. She also hopes that Rachel’s story gives other women the strength to escape their abusive relationships before it’s too late. “Don’t believe that he won’t do it. He will. He eventually will. Just a matter of time and who knows what day that’s going to be.”

Rachel Cyriacks is still missing. She was last seen on November 13, 2013 in Huron, South Dakota. At the time of her disappearance, she may have been driving a gray 1995 Chevy Silverado. She is described as a white female with dark blond hair and hazel eyes. She has a surgical scar on her abdomen and multiple tattoos, including the initials “RJ” on her right forearm and the name “Brad” on the left side of her neck.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Rachel Cyriacks, please contact the Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office at 605-796-4511.

And if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. Help is available 24/7 – it is free and confidential. Domestic violence is not your fault: you deserve to be safe.