MP of the week: Christopher Zaharias

This week’s featured MP is Christopher Louis Zaharias. He and his sister, Lisa Mae, were abducted by their non-custodial mother, Susan Elizabeth Zaharias, from from Santa Ana, California. Christopher was three years old at the time, and Lisa was one year and eight months old. I actually did a Select It Sunday entry for them almost three years ago but thought I’d cover them again. (Mostly because it wasn’t until after I put Christopher on the frontpage and had almost finished this entry that I remembered the SIS entry, and I don’t feel like writing another.)

This is one of the oldest family abduction cases featured on Charley: Christopher and Lisa have been missing for nearly thirty years. That’s concerning by itself. Even more concerning is what the children’s left-behind father, Louis, says: Susan was using cocaine and crystal meth at the time she took the children.

Louis has been very active online in his search for his children. He has Facebook pages for them here and here. Several possible locations have been suggested: Oklahoma (where Susan’s parents live), Michigan, Pennsylvania, Canada or elsewhere in California. Susan has a warrant out for her arrest for custodial interference, and according to this article, there is a thirteen-million-dollar civil judgement against both her and anyone else who assisted with the abduction or is helping to hide the family.

Given their respective ages at the time they went missing, I doubt the Zaharias children remember their father or realize they’re missing. And if their case follows the usual pattern of family abductions, they’ve probably been told their father was abusive or that he’s dead or that he abandoned them.

I can only think of one family abduction case where, before he was caught, the abductor, a father in that case, grew a conscience and admitted to his child that he had stolen her from her mother when she was little and that her mother loved her and was looking for her. He advised her to go to the United States (they were living in Mexico) and look for her mother, which she did, and so she was found. That was over ten years after the abduction, when the abducted child was almost grown up. This doesn’t, of course, take back what the missing girl’s father did, all the years he basically stole from her life, but at least he took responsibility for his actions and tried to fix things.

It’s been a very long time but I’m sure this case is solvable. Robert Maple Baskin and Katherine Christine Baskin were found after 20 years, Eva Marie Fielder was found after 26 years, and Kipper Lacey after an incredible 42 years. But will the kids be open to any kind of relationship with their father if and when their whereabouts are discovered? Zachary Stratton Smith and Chelsea Paige Smith were located 13 years after their mother abducted them, but last I knew, they refused to have any contact with their father.

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9 thoughts on “MP of the week: Christopher Zaharias

  1. Kat July 20, 2016 / 11:49 am

    I cannot remember the names right now, but because this was in New England where I’m from (RI,, I think) I vividly remember the case(s) of two sisters who were abducted by their father. He went to trial decades later, it was a BIG deal at the time and they were firmly behind him to the point of vilifying the mother. It was so sad, all the way around. I look at some of these cases resolved so many years later and the toll is immeasurable. These kids almost always are standing with the abductor, and many of them have no desire to even meet the parent left behind, no matter what the circumstances were. And that, indeed, means despite any pitiful consequences, that the abductor won. It breaks my heart.

      • Kat July 20, 2016 / 8:59 pm

        Thank you, yes that is it. I had long forgotten his name. I did remember one of the girls was called Rachel. I wonder if they ever reconciled with their mother or what the ultimate outcome of the case was, after it was all “over”. I just recall what a huge impression it made on me, what a big big deal it was at the time. I still think about Sabrina Allen now that she is found, she was a case that I was very passionate about, and I wonder how she is. I also look at Jaycee Dugard and how strong she has been, different circumstances, but what a remarkable woman.

    • forthelost July 21, 2016 / 12:12 am

      I know Sabrina’s family; she’s doing reasonably well now.

      • Kat July 21, 2016 / 3:53 pm

        Thank you. I am very happy to hear that. I remember when she was taken, that was one of those cases that I thought “oh, it’ll be easy to find her, over in a minute, etc.” I could not believe how long it was before she was found. Sometimes there are cases easily solved, and sometimes not. I do wonder though, was her mother prosecuted (if you know?)? I know she had possible mental issues, but we heard a lot more about Savannah in Australia then Sabrina, though her family may have wanted it that way. Thanks again!

  2. Miguel July 20, 2016 / 2:28 pm

    There’s a video recently uploaded regarding this same case in unsolved.com on which Mr. Zaharias details aspects of the abduction.

  3. Melinda July 21, 2016 / 1:02 am

    Wow, the Zaharias case is truly a blast from the past! I believe it was profiled on Unsolved Mysteries many years ago. Christopher was a gorgeous little boy.

    I hope that he and his sister will one day be found, but the chances of that seem very unlikely. Not impossible…but unlikely. The more time goes by without any leads in a case, the more difficult it is to find closure.

  4. Abbe July 23, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    The oldest abduvted-by-parent case that I have read about that was solved was the abduction of Seif Benkailly Mahssen. He was abducted in 1958 and found in 2009 so I believe that Christopher and his sister can be found, it a long shot but who knows, it might happen.

  5. Sarah July 28, 2016 / 9:04 pm

    I don’t know why but I think there will be answers in this case soon. Just a gut feeling. It’s been so long…I guess the two might have their own families now.

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