by Thomas Lauth | Aug 20, 2018 | Criminal Investigations, Human Trafficking, Investigations, Missing Persons, News |
Mollie Tibbetts, 20, has been missing since July 18, 2018, from Brooklyn, Iowa.
A new website was launched Monday that has generated over 1,500 new tips received from people trying to help find missing University of Iowa student Molly Tibbetts.
A spokesperson for Crimestoppers Greg Willey announced the reward fund has also climbed to nearly $400,000 which is a record for the 36-year old organization.
The amount of the reward is likely to continue climbing a spokesperson for Crime Stoppers told the press.
News outlets nationwide are continuously providing the public with updates, and the non-stop coverage is also breaking national records. The case is being compared to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway whose reward fund was $1 million.
House where Mollie Tibbits vanished while house-sitting. Photo Courtesy of Chris Bott, DailyMail.com
On July 18, 2018, Mollie Tibbetts, 20, vanished while house-sitting in her hometown of Brooklyn approximately 70 miles east of Des Moines with only a population of less than 1,500 people.
Mollie had been house-sitting for her boyfriend Dalton Jack’s two dogs while he was out of town working about 100 miles northeast in Dubuque.
Molly put on her shorts and sports bra, along with her running shoes and Fitbit and headed out for a jog just like she did every evening, according to neighbors.
Then she vanished.
Jack received a Snapchat message and looked at it but did not reply right away. Police have not released any information about when the message was sent. The following morning, he sent a “good morning” text the following day but received no answer. When an employee at the day-care center where Mollie worked called to see why she had not shown up for work, Mollie didn’t answer. Calls went straight to her voicemail.
Early on, dozens of volunteers searched in empty buildings, in ditches, and cornfields to no avail. Now there are millions throughout the country who know Mollie’s name due to the record number of worldwide new stations reporting about her disappearance.
“A daughter to anybody in this community is a daughter to everybody,” Brooklyn resident Joy Vanlandschoot told the Iowa Register. “We all hope the same effort would be made toward our own children.”
Mollie Tibbett’s has quickly become America’s child, that accompanies a fear every parent of a young daughter, who was just venturing out on her own, has in the back of their mind when their child doesn’t show up for work or answer their phone.
Brooklyn is in Poweshiek County, located just off Highway 6 and a couple miles north of Interstate 80 in central Iowa.
Mollie’s mother Laura Calderwood told the ABC news it has been “excruciating” not knowing where she is. “She is just such an outgoing, fun, loving life, loving person,” said her mother.
Calderwood told the Gazette, “It is impossible for me to imagine. I can’t even speculate about what might have happened.”
(FBI joined in the search for Mollie Tibbets early on.)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the search, working with the local Poweshiek Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
However, police have remained closed-mouthed though, even canceling two weeks of scheduled new conferences meant to update the public on the investigation. People are speculating if police may know more than they are releasing.
“To have a complete stranger to come into a small town like this, someone would have to come forward and mentioned they’ve seen this person,” former FBI ex-profiler and director of the forensic sciences program at George Mason University, Mary Ellen O’Toole told Fox News. “She was likely not kidnapped. She either got into the car of someone she knew or had a relationship with, or it was someone who had a non-threatening demeanor.”
However, O’Toole said it was also unlikely Mollie ran away from her life. Though police have been tight-lipped, O’Toole’s analyzation of the case may reflect authorities believe someone Mollie knew abducted her. Everyone’s prayer is she is still alive. In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Mollie’s father Rob Tibbetts shared he also thinks his daughter is with someone she knows.
(Mollie Tibbits father Rob tell media he believes his missing daughter is with someone she knows.)
“It’s total speculation on my part, but I think Mollie is with someone she knows, that is in over their head, Rob said. “That there was some kind of misunderstanding about the nature of their relationship and, at this point, they don’t know how to get out from under this.”
He added, “Let Mollie come home and hold yourself accountable for what you’ve done so far, but don’t escalate this to a point where you can’t recover yourself.”
Robert Lowery of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children told CBS news the case has garnered national attention because it’s rare.
“We always have a small percentage like we’re seeing with Mollie, where they simply disappear and for no investigative reason or for any purpose that we can determine, and these would make Mollie’s the most difficult that anyone can face.”
While some experts in the field of missing persons believe, due to public perception, telling the public Mollie may be with someone she knows could be dangerous in what is clearly a dangerous life or death situation, they also believe appealing to the person who took Mollie may be law enforcement’s only hope right now.
(Authorities release map of areas of interest.)
On August 15th, authorities announced they are seeking to talk to anyone that was in the highlighted areas on the above map on July 18, 2018, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. The notice was posted on www.findingmollie.iowa.gov.
The highlighted area surrounds the vicinity of Mollie’s boyfriend’s home, where she was staying the night she vanished, and two tracts of farmland accessible only by dirt roads.
One of the farm locations next to Big Bear Creek, a waterway that runs northwest of Brooklyn in Gilman, and northeast to Marengo, emptying into the Iowa River approximately 20 miles away.
(D & M Carwash in Brooklyn, Iowa, where authorities are seeking information from anyone in the area the night Mollie Tibbits vanished.)
Another location included on the map is the D & M Carwash in the town of Brooklyn.
Police have not released why they are focusing on these areas and no suspects have been announced in the case.
“We are considering all potential scenarios,” said Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. “It is possible Mollie came into contact with someone who caused her harm.”
Mollie’s cell phone has still not been located.
As of May 31, 2018, in the United States there were 87,608 active missing person cases in the National Crime Information Center at the FBI. Of that number 8,853 were classified Involuntary, also termed a Nonfamily abduction. The state of Iowa has 35 missing adult cases deemed involuntary in the FBI database and another 63 missing person cases listed as Other.
The “Other” category normally describes a situation where there is not enough information available to law enforcement through their investigation to deem the person missing under involuntary circumstances.
The Missing Person Information Clearinghouse at the Iowa Department of Public Safety profiles the state’s missing adult and children’s cases on their website. You can find the profile of Mollie Tibbetts on their Homepage.
Disappearance of Jodi Huisentuit
Jodi Huisentruit was a popular 27-year old news anchor at KIMT-TV in Mason City, in northern Iowa. When she failed to show up for work 23-years ago to anchor the 6 a.m. broadcast, police were notified. Until the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, Jodi’s disappearance was considered one of the most widely publicized missing person cases in Iowa history.
Findjodi.com ran by the news station and retired law enforcement announced on March 12, 2018, the Mason City Police Department had executed a search warrant for two vehicles owned by a man named John Vansice, now 72-year old and living in Arizona.
Court records indicated police were seeking GPS data from a 1999 Honda Civic and a 2013 GMC 1500 once owned by Vansice.
“As you know, we continue to actively work Jodi Huisentruit’s missing person case from June 27, 1995,” said Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley.
(Photograph taken at Jodi Huisentruit’s birthday just weeks before her disappearance.)
The day prior to vanishing, Jodi had attended a golf tournament and according to Vansice, went to his house afterword to view a videotape of her birthday party earlier that month.
Approximately 4 a.m. on June 27, 1995, KIMT-TV producer Amy Kuns realized Jodi had failed to show up for work and called Jodi’s apartment. Jodi answered and explained to her boss that she had overslept and leaving momentarily to drive to work.
By 6 a.m. Jodi had still not arrived so Kuns filled in for her on the Morning Show “Daybreak.
At 7 a.m. the news station called the police.
When police arrived at her apartment complex they found Jodi’s red Mazda Miata parked in her usual parking place. They also found what appeared to be a struggle at the car and personal items to include Jodi’s bent car key, indicating force reflecting an abduction.
In September 1995 the Huisentruit family hired a private investigator from Minnesota, who then enlisted the help of another private investigator out of Nebraska who worked to take the story to national news outlets like Unsolved Mysteries, America’s Most Wanted and Psychic Detectives.
Police have conducted over a thousand interviews during the investigation into the disappearance of Iowa’s beloved news anchor.
The March 2018 police activity reflects the authority’s relentless efforts to find out what happened to Jodi. Her family and the news station she once worked for refuse to give up hope.
(Jodi Huisentruit’s sister JoAnn Nathe visits billboard dedicated by KIMT-TV.)
Last month, Jodi’s sister JoAnn Nathe, along with her daughter Kristen visited Mason City to see the billboards dedicated to Jodi on her 50th birthday by the website group.
The family also released a statement read by KIMT-TV General Manager John Shine.
We would like to send out a big thank you to the members of the Find Jodi team for all the work they have done and continue to do in trying to find answers and keeping Jodi’s case alive, including these beautiful billboards.
It is amazing to us that many of the members never met or knew Jodi personally, yet they are so willing to give of their own time and resources to help solve the case and bring Jodi the justice she deserves.
We would especially like to thank Josh Benson, his wife Tara Manis Benson, and Caroline Lowe for all the effort they put into making these billboards a reality. We are so grateful, and we know Jodi would be as well.
We would also like to say thank you to the members of Jodi’s Network of Hope for all the work they do in making something good out of something so tragic. From scholarships and safety training to the annual golf tournament, you help keep Jodi’s spirit alive, and we are grateful to you.
Thank you for the continued support in our mission to bring Jodi home.
As reported in the Star Tribune, just last month, remains were found in a rural area near Mason City, and a moment of hope is realized by Huisentruit’s family and friends.
Thomas Lauth. Founder of Lauth Missing Persons has worked over twenty-years on missing person cases and considered an expert in the field. “With the tragic disappearance of their daughter the Tibbetts’s family should not give up hope. Family and friends should continue to place Mollie’s information daily into the media spotlight and be in close contact with investigators. With Mollie’s case making national news, other missing person cases stand to be revived by the public interest. Like all families of missing persons, they hold on to hope and sadly, some endure years not knowing.”
To learn more about missing persons investigations, please visit our website.
by Thomas Lauth | Nov 10, 2017 | News |
Humboldt County, in picturesque northern California, is the home of the majestic Coastal Redwood forests with about 110 miles of breathtaking coastline along Pacific Coast Highway 101. Approximately 250 miles north of San Francisco, Humboldt is approximately 2.3 million acres of combined dense forests and public land with a population of only 134,623 people according to the 2010 census.
Formed in 1853, rural Humboldt County has a rich pioneer history and once solely inhabited by the Wiyot Indian tribe dating back to around 900 BCE. It borders the scarcely populated and heavily forested Trinity County with the rugged Klamath Mountains running north into Oregon.
Traveling through, one can quickly be taken back in time to a life of living off the land and part of the allure for many seeking a simpler way of life.
Dotted with hundreds of beautifully ornate historic Victorian homes, Eureka is Humboldt’s largest town. Also known as “Best Small Art Town in America”, an estimated 8,000 artists call it home along with students attending College of the Redwoods main campus. The well-known smaller college town of Arcata is about a 7.5-mile drive north past the magnificent Arcata Bay.
Neighboring Trinity County is 3,179 square miles of rugged terrain and the Klamath Mountains occupying most of the county and a popular area for backpacking, camping, and fishing.
Trinity is a place of splendid and inspiring scenery where there are no traffic lights, parking meters and local drugstore in the historic California Gold Rush town of Weaverville has been filling prescriptions since 1852.
Humboldt’s dark past
Known as “Bigfoot Country” where hundreds of sightings have occurred and people from around the world tell stories of the large, hairy, human-like creature lurking in remote regions of the northern California forests, stories of murder and missing persons have also been told for decades.
Long gone are the days’ hippies hitchhiked from across the country promoting love and peace in Humboldt County. Urban refugees and long-time residents can tell you the innocence of Humboldt is now gone, replaced by increasing violence, unexplained disappearances, and missing person fliers.
Emerald Triangle and Murder Mountain
Known as a Stoner’s paradise since the 1960’s, small business owners, students, artists, people seeking inner peace and those wanting to live off the grid, have been drawn to the beauty of Humboldt County.
Emerald Triangle, consisting of the Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties, is a mountainous and heavily forested area where marijuana growers cultivate California’s number one cash crop. In fact, much of the estimated 104 billion nationwide sales of marijuana is grown there.
This is where Humboldt County and the surrounding area become downright dangerous, even deadly. Old timers say Humboldt is no longer the home of the peaceful hippies and quiet homestead marijuana growers. Instead, Humboldt has become home for those wanting to make a fast buck trimming pot plants, bringing drifters and even the Bulgarian cartel to town. “It is a modern day green rush,” says Detective Chandler Baird the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
While many are moving in, others are moving out. A once colorful mural on the side of the Co-op building located on E Street in Eureka is now fading along with the feeling of safety within the community. Known for strange disappearances, northern California has even been identified as the trolling ground of serial killers dating back decades, tourists are often warned not to venture too far out on their own. The beautiful, yet ominous fog covered forest has kept many secrets over the years.
Murder Mountain is one of those not so secret . . . secrets, approximately 84 miles south of Eureka, in southern Humboldt County. During the early 1980’s, the area got its name, in part, after serial killer couple James and Suzan Carson confessed to killing and dismembering a co-worker on a marijuana farm. The couple was charged with three homicides but remain suspects in as many as 10 more. Numerous disappearances and unsolved homicides have haunted the area.
Murder Mountain in Alderpoint, has a population of 186 residents but concern grows throughout Humboldt as homicides and disappearances appear to be expanding throughout the county.
In fact, a self-proclaimed vigilante group known as the “Alderpoint 8” have become community heroes after reportedly obtaining a confession from a person of interest and leading authorities to a gravesite of Garrett Rodriquez who had vanished in late December 2012 and creating a presence of order though some citizens feel the local group of men are using intimidation and committing crimes too.
Whether the threat is external or community members “on the inside” the threat to resident’s and visitor’s safety appears real. Either way, for every missing person and unsolved homicide, there is a family holding on to hope and waiting.
Numbers don’t lie
According to the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there were 87,180 active missing person cases in the U.S. as of September 30, 2017. In addition, there were 8,589 active Unidentified persons entered into the national database, most deceased.
California leads the country in the number of missing person reports with 19,316 missing persons, compared to Texas that numbers 5,988, and Arizona with 2,281 active missing person reports.
Though California has captured national attention for the depravity of several serial killers throughout the decades, experts attribute the higher number of missing person reports is due, in part, to mandatory reporting requirements. California Penal Code 14205 states in part, all local police and sheriff’s departments shall accept any report, including telephonic reports of missing persons, including runaways, without delay and shall give priority to the handling of these reports over the handling of reports relating to crimes involving property.”
1993 Disappearance of Jennifer Wilmer
Many have gravitated to Northern California in pursuit of a new lifestyle in a climate where they can be the free spirits they are. Jennifer Wilmer, who went by the nickname Jade, was one of those bright free spirits who went searching for more in the redwoods of northern California, where she was last seen in 1993.
Born April 13, 1972, Jennifer grew up on the bustling east coast in Long Island, NY, and attended the privileged St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset. A hard-working student, Jennifer had earned a full scholarship to St. John’s University in N.Y.C. a private, Roman Catholic, research university located on Utopia Parkway in Queens. Dropping out after only one semester, Jennifer expressed to family and friends she wanted to pursue her own “utopia” and enroll for classes at the College of the Redwoods, in Eureka, California. In 1992, a bright and beautiful 20-year old arrived in the seaside community of Arcata on a journey into the hippie counterculture.
Arcata is a town where the vibrant old souls of Haight Ashbury seemed to preserve the 60’s. The intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets is located in San Francisco about 200 miles south of the seaside town of Arcata. A place where the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, the Mamas & the Papas and the Fuggs help create a psychedelic subculture where youth and young adults throughout the country flocked. Following the likes of LSD guru Timothy Leary who coined the term, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, that is exactly what some did, even decades later.
Upon arriving in Arcata, Jennifer told her family classes at College of the Redwoods were full for the semester, so she opted to find work as a local waitress and rented space in a house with several roommates located in Hawkins Bar in scenic Trinity County, approximately 50 miles east of Arcata on California State Route 299.
There are two opposing reports for the day Jennifer vanished on September 13, 1993. One person reported Jennifer was last seen leaving her Willow Creek residence to go to a travel agency to pick up a one-way return airline ticket to New York her mother Susan Wilmer had purchased for her. Her family was desperate for her return, but she never arrived at the travel agency to retrieve her ticket.
Another report indicates Jennifer had been seen hitchhiking in the vicinity of Hawkins Bar toward Willow Creek to inquire about a job opportunity at a local farm. The distance is approximately 9.5 miles northwest of her residence.
According to High Times journalist Elise McDonogh’s article, “Humboldt County: Murder Mayhem and Marijuana”, even as far back as the late 1970’s people looking for work as farm hands and marijuana trimmers were warned of the dangers of accepting rides from strangers and the strange disappearances around Murder Mountain. Of course, few could imagine such dark evil lurking in such picturesque surroundings.
The Vanishing of Karen Mitchell
Twenty years ago, sixteen-year-old Karen Mitchell vanished on Nov. 25, 1997. Known as one of Eureka’s long-lasting unsolved mysteries, Karen was only five days away from her seventieth birthday, a high school junior who vanished in broad daylight.
Karen moved from Southern California to live with her aunt and uncle, Bill and Annie Casper who were well-known in the community. Annie still owns “Annie’s Shoe Store” where Karen had visited her aunt before disappearing on Broadway, in downtown Eureka, on her way to the Coastal Family Development Center where she helped care for children.
When it was discovered Karen was missing, law enforcement and volunteers from the community conducted ground searches and went door to door. Police followed-up on thousands of leads but no information has ever lead to her whereabouts. Karen’s disappearance impacted the entire community and her family has never given up hope they will find out what happened to her that fateful day.
In a Eureka Times-Standard article in Dec. 2012, reporter Kaci Poor interviewed Dave Parris, then lead investigator of Karen’s case at Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. “I will never forget her short hair, her beautiful eyes, and cheeks,” Parris said. “I remember5 the jewelry that she wore and the clothes she had on. I have never met Karen Mitchell – to this day, I have never met her—but when you go into her bedroom, read her college applications, talk to her family . . . you begin to know her.”
The day Karen vanished she had been filling out college applications and had planned to attend Humboldt State University. Described as a liberal and opinionated young lady, she loved politics, the environment, and children. Parris said, “You could tell she was going to be successful. She was going to be a person who would make a real difference.”
Parris, who is now retired, says he still thinks about Karen’s case. Over the years, Karen’s disappearance has spurred many theories but the detectives now on the case have not received any new leads that have helped any progress on the case.
Initially, thousands of tips poured in that now take up over 30 volumes, that stand over six-feet high.
Parris recalls a tip he received from a former police officer. The officer had told detectives he had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a light blue 1977 Ford Granada that had slowed down to talk to a young girl who closely resembled Karen the day of her disappearance.
Despite tracking down 1,200 vehicles scattered across the West Coast that matched the vehicle description, no solid leads were ever found.
In 1999, Wayne Allen Ford, a resident of a nearby trailer park, walked into the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office with a severed female breast in his pocket and proceeded to confess to authorities that he had murdered four women during 1997 and 1998. Detectives interviewed the 36-year old truck driver, but he could not be tied to Karen’s disappearance. Ford was eventually charged with four counts of first-degree murder unrelated to Karen’s case, sentenced to the death penalty and currently serving time in San Quentin prison.
Another suspected serial killer and millionaire Robert Durst became the focus of authorities. A very private man, Durst is described as an enigma. Durst was known to love marijuana and his privacy, two things Trinidad and Eureka offer. Also known as the “Lost Coast”, a ghost-like Durst could live undetected. Though Durst had no financial worries of his own, he was known to hang out with transients, the down and out.
Reported in The Guardian, author of “A Deadly Secret” Matt Birkbeck writes in his book, that credit card receipts place Durst in Eureka the day Karen went missing and that Durst also resembles a police composite of a man who a witness claimed was seen trying to force a girl matching the description of Karen into a car. In addition, Durst was thought to frequent a homeless shelter where Karen may have volunteered and confirmed he was a customer at Annie Shoe Store.
Accused of killing his wife Kathie Durst in 1982 he was never charged. He was then suspected in the murder of friend Susan Berman in 2000 in Los Angeles, then later acquitted of the dismemberment murder of drifter Morris Black in 2001.
While Durst was thought to be in the area of Eureka at the time of Karen’s disappearance, police were not able to tie him to the disappearance of the young, bright girl who had her entire life in front of her. In fact, only more questions have arisen in recent years and speculation several Humboldt County disappearances and murders may be connected. But to who?
The Disappearance Sheila Franks and the murder of Danielle Bertolini
In 2013, beautiful 23-year old Danielle Bertollini moved to California from Bangor, Maine after the death of her infant son. She had hoped to start a new life in Fortuna approximately 17 miles south of Eureka.
Danielle talked to her mother Billie Jo Dick almost on a daily basis, so when she didn’t hear from her daughter, she filed a missing person report on Feb. 19, 2014. She immediately flew from Maine to California to search for her daughter, along with Deemi Search and Rescue where she was a volunteer. Danielle’s father Jon Bertollini who lives in Oregon also traveled to Fortuna to help search for his Danielle.
Danielle had last been seen getting into a car on the road leading to her house in the rural area known as Swains Flats, along Highway 36. A local, James Eugene Jones was questioned by police and admitted he had given Danielle a ride and was the last person to see her. Police soon connected Jones to the disappearance of another Fortuna woman Sheila Franks a week prior to Danielle’s disappearance. The connection between the two cases then raised questions as to other missing person investigations into disappearances of many missing women in the area.
Sheila Franks was a divorced mother and had been living with Jones prior to her disappearance. Jones claims on Feb. 2, 2014, he and Sheila were both at his house and Sheila had gone for a walk and didn’t return. Jones, a 43-year old sawmill worker, was now the focus of both investigations.
However, according to a 2016 Crime Watch Daily report, another connection had been discovered. Shelia’s sister Melisa Walstrom indicated Jones also knew Karen Mitchell. Melisa went to school with Jones and has known him all her life.
After Sheila’s disappearance, Melisa went through a storage unit where Jones had placed Sheila’s personal belongings. “In the storage unit I found my sister’s purse that had money, credit cards, it had a birth certificate, everything that my sister had that was important to her, she wouldn’t up and disappear and not take the money at least,” said Walstrom.
Upon making the discovery of her sister’s belongings in storage, it removed all doubt that Jones had to be responsible for Sheila’s mysterious disappearance.
A friend of Sheila’s confirmed there was trouble in her relationship with Jones and there were signs Sheila had been beaten by Jones a week prior to going missing. “She was like, “Well, Jimmy and I got into a fight and he punched me, gave me a black eye,” added Walstrom.
Police were no closer to answers, until Mar. 9, 2015 when a skull was found in a local riverbed along the Eel River. On May 25, 2015, Billie Jo Dick was notified the skull had been identified was that of her daughter Danielle’s.
Jones has had criminal charges for drugs and a conviction for domestic violence but despite compelling connections between the two women’s disappearances, no arrest has been made. While police say Jones is not a suspect, he does remain a person of interest.
We are still left with questions. Are these disappearances connected? And, is there a serial killer still operating in the shadows of Murder Mountain?
One person believes the theory of a serial killer has merit.
Indiana Private Investigator probes the dark side, another disappearance
Thomas Lauth, an Indiana private investigator who has spent over 20-years investigating missing person cases, has delved into the dark side of Humboldt County on several occasions.
Nov. 14, 2008, another young Wisconsin woman vanished during broad daylight in Eureka. Five months before her disappearance, 23-year old, Christine Walters had been attending college at the University of Wisconsin in Deerfield, and the future seemed bright.
Christine, a vivacious young woman, wanted to explore the world. In July 2008, Christine planned a 3-week summer trip to Portland, Ore. She had intended to continue her college studies upon returning to Wis., but instead, Christine decided to abruptly move to Humboldt County with friends she had met during her trip.
In a 2013, Times Standard article, Christine’s mother Anita Walters said, “I believe she was too trusting of the people she met in California. She didn’t know the people and didn’t understand the culture out there.” She added, “And I know there are a lot of young adults who go there to disappear and don’t want to be found. I honestly believe that is not the case for her. If she said that now, she would be totally brainwashed. Her and I were very close.”
Initially, upon moving to Calif., Christine’s calls were upbeat. She had made many friends and connected with individuals who were part of Green Life Evolutions, a group that has since been described as a potential cult and since disbanded. At the time, Green Life had two locations, one in Eureka, another in Blue Lake, approximately 16 miles northeast of Eureka.
Christine’s phone calls home went from happy and upbeat to concerning. On October 28, 2008, Anita recalled a phone call where she asked her daughter to return home for a while. Christine told her mother she wasn’t ready to return because she was on a “journey” and needed to follow her “path.”
One-week prior to her daughter’s disappearance, on November 7, 2008, Christine had been part of a Ayahuasca tea ceremony, using a South American hallucinogen. There were approximately 20 individuals who participated in the cleansing ceremony, led by a Shaman named Tito Santana.
Cleansing ceremonies have been used for centuries. It is said William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg called it yage, but it goes by many names including hoasca, natem, shori, Vine of the Dead, Vine of the Soul, and Spirit Vine to name a few.
Participants describe the experience as mystical and a psycho-spiritual psychedelic trip that can bring visions, self-realization and commonly violent purging, or vomiting.
According to those at Green Life, after the ceremony, Christine stayed with other participants and rested but left by herself the evening of Nov. 11, 2008.
The following morning, a couple found Christine on their front porch on Tompkins Hills Rd., approximately 20 miles away from where she had been staying in Arcata/Blue Lakes. She was naked, cold, hungry, thirsty, with extensive briar scratches all over her body.
Christine was taken to St. Joseph Hospital. Humboldt County authorities interviewed her due to her injuries but found her evasive when recounting what had happened to her. Instead, she claimed she had “walked a long way” and claimed there were demons who could hear her and were trying to get her. Upon Christine’s release from the hospital, she went to the Red Lion Inn in Eureka and called her mother several times from the hotel expressing paranoia and fearfully expressing there were people that were going to find her no matter where she went.
On November 14, 2008, Anita Walters agrees to fax Christine a copy of her driver’s license and social security card, so Christine could go to DMV and access her bank account. At approximately 1 pm Christine dropped the hotel keys onto the front desk and walked out wearing her pajamas.
The owner of Copy Co. Printing at I Street in Eureka stated Christine arrived there at approximately 3:30 pm wearing her pajamas and slippers, hair disheveled, claiming she had lost her wallet but acting very paranoid and looking over her shoulder. She asked for directions to DMV located approximately 1 mile from the copy center and departed. She has never been seen again.
Her family has struggled, only wanting answers. “We want Christine to know we love her dearly and miss her very much, and we pray every day for an answer as to what happened to her. Someone must have seen her and certainly, there is one person that has the answer, so please help us,” said Anita Walters.
“This has been one of the most baffling cases I have seen in my twenty-years of investigating missing person cases throughout this country,” says Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations International headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. “With the mysterious disappearances of so many women in Humboldt County, we can never rule out there may be a serial killer operating in the Humboldt County area, but we are always hopeful someone who knows something will come forward and provide these families some peace that only answers will bring.”
Kym L. Pasqualini is the founder of Nation’s Missing Children Organization in 1994 and National Center for Missing Adults in 2000, serving as CEO until 2010. Kym has spent 20 years working with government, law enforcement, advocates, private investigators, and national media, to include expert appearances on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, John Walsh, Lifetime, Montel, and Anderson Cooper.
A veteran (or dinosaur) in the field of missing persons, Kym is considered an expert in the field of crime victim advocacy and continues to work with media advocating for crime victims.