She came home after her country singer hero tweeted about her disappearance.
Now, a New York woman who vanished in June—and re-appeared only when Shania Twain pleaded for more information on her case—has been accused of faking her own kidnapping.
Police say Rachael Mattice, 24, surrendered on Friday in Mayfield on charges of filing a false police report. The young woman was believed to have been kidnapped after she disappeared from her family’s cabin on June 23.
She texted her mom before heading into a no-service area: “I’m at the bottom of the hill. Goodnight and I love you.”
After her disappearance, Mattice’s mother, Wendy Mattice, told Fox News that just running off was “not in her nature.”
Police put up a massive search effort after Mattice was reported missing, which included helicopters and canine search teams. They followed 400 leads. And then the saga came to a close on Friday.
“While I hope it provides peace of mind to residents of Hamilton and Fulton counties, it gives me no pleasure to announce that the Rachael Mattice case has been closed by the arrest of Rachael Mattice,” Troop G commander William Keeler told reporters.
Mattice told police she’d been “forcibly abducted,” kept in a shed, and beaten, Keeler said. She also told them she was bound, blindfolded, and driven by her kidnapper to within two blocks of her parents’ home on the day she returned.
“I don’t believe she made the story up,” her mother Wendy told the Albany Times-Union. “When she was dropped off at home, she ran to the house. I wish I had a camera to show you what she looked like. She looked like hell. She lost 10 pounds. The whole thing pisses me off because we don’t have the money to fight this. But I will stick with my daughter until my grave. There is someone out there watching my daughter. The police will be sorry when someone else is kidnapped.”
Information about Mattice’s attorney was not immediately available. She did not return a request for comment.
A description of the supposed suspect in the disappearance showed a bearded white man in his mid-fifties to early-sixties. Police said he was last seen in jeans and a navy blue T-shirt, and smelled like a smoker. But after Mattice’s arrest, police officials said he didn’t actually exist.
Instead, they said a witness they spoke to on July 18, almost a full month after Mattice went missing, said he’d picked her up at a trailhead in Hamilton County and drove her to “a seasonal camp in Canada Lake, New York.”
“The camp itself belongs to the boyfriend of Rachael’s aunt,” Keeler said. “It was a place she frequented, and that she knows well.”
The witness’s statements were backed up by two other hikers, and medical reports that showed no sign of Mattice having been abused, according to police. But she’s still sticking to her story, Keeler said.
At the time she went missing, Mattice, who worked as a home health aide for Hamilton County, was being investigated in a prescription drug theft. Police were planning to talk to her about her potential role.
“She knew. She knew that we were going to be interviewing her,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Karl Abrams.
The investigation is ongoing.
The Mattice family retained an attorney for Rachael soon after she got back. They did not return a request for comment.
Despite the alleged faked abduction, those closest to Mattice were tireless in raising awareness about her plight. It was her soul sister Cynthia Nellis who reached out to Shania Twain to ask for her help in the search.
“You are Rachaels favorite country artist. She absolutely adores you. Her parents use to call her Shania when she was little because she would sing your music all the time. She had every tape, cd, knows every lyric to every song,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m reaching out to you in hopes that you can make one of Rachaels dreams come true by sending a message out to her. Help us bring her home…and help to bring a little joy to Rachaels life. Even if it’s only for a moment…”
Twain responded the next day.
Twain did not answer a request for comment on Twitter.
Nellis, the friend, had posted numerous updates on the case to her Facebook page, but has been silent about the arrest.
“Ya gotta come home hunny,” Nellis wrote on July 4. “My heart just isn’t whole without ya. Like I said, what’s a Louise without her Thelma?”
“I got my thelma back,” she wrote after Mattice returned on July 6.
There are no numbers listed for Nellis, and she did not return a request for comment sent by Facebook message.
At one point, Mattice was featured in a Crimefeed story with two other missing women. They were also later found safe.
In Mattice’s case, police are still trying to establish what Mattice was doing—and where she was—during her two-week absence. She faces a $1,000 fine or up to a year in prison.
And that money spent on her search? Mattice probably won’t have to pay it back.
“It doesn’t usually work that way,” Keeler said. “That would be nice.”