“The Young and the Restless” is the CBS soap opera that has captivated viewers since its premiere in 1973. Although it focused on two families, Brooks and Foster, the show eventually branched out to follow the daily lives of four – Newman, Winters, Abbott and Baldwin. Unsurprisingly, with over 12,500 episodes and many head writers, the TV show has had countless exciting side characters. Mariah Copeland, played by Camryn Grimes, was undoubtedly one; after storylines involving Victor and Sharon Newman, Kevin Fisher and Austin Travers, she was kidnapped in an episode aired in August 2021, near her pregnancy due date. We listed all suspects, then explained who the writers chose.
Fans accused at least three people
Fans who thought Camryn Grimes looked familiar need to know that she played Cassie Newman between 1997 and 2005, when the writers wrote her out of the show. After making several reappearances as Cassie’s spirit, the writers gave her a new role in January 2017, as her lookalike Mariah Copeland, who turned out to be related to Cassie. Nick, whom she had a crush on for a while, is Cassie’s biological father, making fans suspect that he may have had something to do with her disappearance, despite the one-sided romance.
Moreover, Benjamin “Stitch” Rayburn, Nina Webster, Abby Newman and Ian Ward all had reasons to want Mariah Copeland gone; hence, there was a hot debate on Internet forums about who committed the crime, a mystery the writers solved in late 2021.
The prime candidate was “Stitch” Rayburn
When Mariah vanished without a trace, viewers could only see the text messages that she sent. After it became apparent that they didn’t look like something that she would have written, viewers knew that Mariah was a victim of foul play. Ben “Stitch” Rayburn was the suspected culprit; he returned to Genoa City shortly before Mariah disappeared, also stared creepily at Mariah from the window in the Chancellor mansion, and was the last person who saw her ‘alive’ when they chatted in the park. Overall, the show implied his guilt, and also depicted him as obsessed with Abby, Mariah and the baby.
Ben also had the means and knowledge since he was a military medic, and could have kept Mariah safe in captivity. It was hard to guess why Ben, Abby Newman’s ex-boyfriend, would do it, or why Devon, Rey, and Victor would find Mariah’s phone in his gym bag. However, the storyline seemingly connected “Stitch” with Chance Chancellor, Abby’s current husband.
Chance was in the military police during his army days, and may know Ben from that period. Also, he could have hired “Stitch” to watch Mariah until he returned. Viewers may remember that he abruptly left “The Young and the Restless” in February 2021, adding to the mystery. However, the actor Donny Boaz revealed that his departure was unplanned, meaning that his abrupt exit wasn’t something the writers intended. Donny had real-life reasons; he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early 2021, at the time when CBS had to cut the show’s budget during the pandemic, and had let him go.
Abby Newman was also suspicious
Once viewers realized that Dr. Rayburn couldn’t be the perpetrator, suspicion fell on Abby Newman, whose child Mariah was carrying. Although she agreed to be the surrogate and the two were seemingly on good terms, some viewers thought that the storyline could involve fetal abduction. It’s a crime committed by women who cannot or don’t want to conceive, and choose to fake the pregnancy before stealing another woman’s child and claiming it as their own..
Although she didn’t fake her pregnancy, and helped Devon, Rey and Sharon when they wanted to look for her, Abby has been through trauma. Max pushed Abby down the stairs while she was dating his father, “Stitch,” and lost the baby she was then carrying. Thus, Abby could have developed some unusual feelings due to PTSD late in Mariah’s pregnancy, and wanted Mariah gone from her children’s life.
Her inaction was also uncharacteristic. Abby comes from one of three influential families, and is a go-getter. Yet, she neither asked her father for help nor hired a private investigator. Also, she claimed that she was ‘giving Mariah some space’ despite spending significant money to move Mariah to her mansion, and ensure that she had everything she needed. Viewers speculated that she hid Mariah under everyone’s nose by locking her in one of the soundproof rooms in the Chancellor mansion. However, despite all her motivation and atypical behavior, Abby wasn’t the kidnapper.
Abby receives a cryptic message from Mariah today on Y&R.
Many fans suspected Nina Webster
Nina Webster also had a unique motive to keep her unborn grandchild away from Mariah. Viewers may remember that Rose DeVille, played by Conley, did that with Nina’s baby son Ronan. Thus, a PTSD episode may have triggered Nina, and she may have feared that Mariah would back out on giving her child to Abby. Surrogate mothers usually sign a contract, and must abide by it even if they bond with the baby. Thus, they would lose parental rights and are legally required to hand the child over. Since this was a drama-filled soap opera, viewers considered this possibility as a way to expand the storyline. However, once again, the revelation episode proves that Nina had nothing to do with the crime.
Ian Ward was the culprit
Ian Ward, who claims that he’s the biological father of Nikki Newman and Dylan McAvoy, had a long history as the show’s supervillain. He was a cult leader involved in several criminal endeavors, such as the computer virus, Paragon, which could hack into any computer systems and provide administrator access. After he attacked Newman Enterprises and Jabot Cosmetics, he was imprisoned for a long time. After making a daredevil escape and being recaptured twice, it seemed like that’s where things would end.
However, in typical soap opera fashion, the offender was the person people least expected. Ian not only returned, but unraveled several secrets. For one, he raised Mariah in his cult after Helen Copeland stole her at birth on his orders. Second, Mariah was Cassie Newman’s twin sister, meaning Sharon Newman, later Sharon Case, was her biological mother.
He manipulated Mariah before kidnapping her
Ian encouraged her to get closer to Sharon Newman, because she reminded him of Cassie, Sharon’s daughter, and he knew the truth about her heritage. He was also there for Mariah when Abby Newman wanted to frame her for stealing Noah Newman’s wallet. Mariah showed that she thought the world of him when Nick confronted her about Ian taking advantage of young girls – she defended him, noting that he was a father figure to her. Mariah also listened to his advice when Ian urged her to finish her surrogacy, instead of leaving town. She also moved in with Sharon and Nick on his insistence, showing his power of persuasion.
Similarly, Ian was there when Nick discovered the truth about Mariah’s birth parents, and manipulated Mariah into going with him when Sharon kicked her out. After leaving her hanging for a long time, making her question everything and worry about having to deliver the baby alone, Ian showed up and revealed his part in her kidnapping.
Shortly after, he drugged Mariah again and put a wedding dress on her, telling her that she would marry him in front of his associate, Clarence. After she rejected his offer, Ian drugged her to the point of immobility and forcibly married her. Luckily, his plans to drug Nikki and Dylan failed, and Nick and Sharon found and rescued Mariah after they chased Ian away. Although his actions were clear, and the show implied that he wanted to extort Sharon, two other motives were left on the table. He could have hoped to get more money from Abby for her child, and may also have been obsessed with Mariah, seeing as she was brought up in his cult.
Surprisingly, despite all evidence, Mariah refused to acknowledge Sharon as her biological mother, giving her two-week notice at the Underground before moving away from the ranch. Ian left some blood behind, which implied that Dylan may have murdered him, but later returned from hiding, and Paul Williams tracked him down and arrested him.
Mariah was happy that her baby survived
Although the show focused on character drama, fans noted how Mariah’s story, unbeknownst to her, took a complete turn. She was kidnapped as a child, raised in a cult, and nearly suffered the same fate when the cult leader kidnapped her and tried to take her child away. Although she’s reluctant to accept reality, she still builds a bond with her mother and her mother’s partner Nick, which is crucial for escaping Ian’s clutches.
Additionally, although the show didn’t focus on the possibility of losing her baby, it was plausible. Mariah was locked in a room with no entertainment, access to information, or knowledge of her captor that could help her escape. Thus, the stress and constant fear may have led to a miscarriage.
Even if that didn’t happen, she would have to give birth alone in captivity without medicinal tools and knowledge. If successful, she would have had to keep her baby alive, fed and healthy for an undeterminate period. All this meant that Mariah nearly suffered the same fate as Abby. Some viewers were convinced that the story would take such a turn, and that the two would connect over a mutual loss.
She went on to have a happier future
After a life-changing ordeal and a discovery about her biological family, Mariah put the drama with Ian, Abby, and “Stitch” behind, which the writers depicted with a dramatic scene in which Mariah drenches Abby with a jug of water after she insulted her. Consequently, writers again hinted at the obvious choice, a heterosexual relationship with Tyler Michaelson or Kevin Fisher, but threw a curveball at the last moment. Tessa Porter worked in The Underground club at the same time as Mariah, and they were great friends when she dated Mariah’s brother Noah Newton.
They eventually accepted that they had feelings for each other, dated for a while, and became engaged before setting a wedding date for 13 May 2022. Sadly, they had to delay it in typical soap drama fashion, due to Rey Rosales’ tragic death in a car crash. Nonetheless, fans were ecstatic that the writers involved Mariah in a positive storyline. They hoped that the pair, whom they labeled “Teriah” online, would live a happily-ever-after existence.