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.