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.

Select It Sunday: Timothy Davison

Chosen by Orla, way back in November 2013, this week’s case is Timothy Jacob Davison, who missed being a Flashback Friday case by a hair. FF cases are on or before October 5, 1985 — my birthdate — and Timothy disappeared ten days later. He was four years old and living with an aunt in the town of Decatur in central Illinois. Timothy’s aunt went with him to a shopping center that day. He was asleep, so she left him alone in the car while she shopped. She says she was only gone for half an hour, but when she came out he was gone, presumably abducted.

If Timothy is still alive, he may not remember much, if anything, of his previous life. He was a slow learner and reportedly didn’t know his own last name in 1985. His aunt/guardian apparently came under suspicion, or at least I assume she did because the cops dug up her yard, but they found nothing and I don’t know if she is still a suspect.

I did my usual Google search for more info on this case and found this Google News article from October 16, 1985. It has a few shreds of additional information which I’ll add to his casefile, though I’m not even sure they’re worthy of a notice on the updates page.

An aside: Timothy is from one of those remarkably unlucky “lottery families” I talk about sometimes where more than one member of the family is missing. Another aunt, his mother’s sister Cindy Smith, disappeared in 1987 from Florida. No indication that the cases are related; Cindy’s boyfriend is the prime suspect in her case.

MP of the week: Christi Jo Nichols

This week’s featured missing person is Christi Jo Nichols, a 22-year-old mother of two who disappeared from the town of Gothenburg in central Nebraska two weeks before Christmas in 1987.

Although her then-husband, Mark, says she simply left him,the police disagree and are investigating this case as a possible homicide. What person who’s run away ditches their car, their purse and the suitcase they packed? Whenever a person disappears and their car is left behind, I tend to think that it was probably not voluntary, unless there’s evidence to the contrary (i.e. a bus or plane ticket). Especially in a state like Nebraska, I should think, you really need a car to get anywhere.

The most recent article I could find about this case was from 2012.

Select It Sunday: Jeffrey Coonradt

Selected by Sarah: Jeffrey Allen Coonradt, who disappeared on December 20, 1987. The 27-year-old was stationed at Fort Ord, a military base that has since closed. A friend said he dropped him off, and then Jeffrey got swallowed into nothingness.

Speaking of nothingness, I have almost nothing on this disappearance. Half the information in his Charley Project casefile is background info about his family. Foul play is suspected in his case, but I’ve no details beyond that.

What happened to Jeffrey five days before Christmas, twenty-seven years ago?

Select It Sunday: Marjorie Knox

This week’s selection is Marjorie Alice Knox, chosen by Cristobal. This fourteen-year-old girl disappeared without a trace on Valentine’s Day, 1987. Authorities believe she could have been the victim of a serial killer. There were also unconfirmed reports that she was pregnant, though what that would have to do with her disappearance I don’t know.

Marjorie was from Chaparral, New Mexico, a small town 25 miles from El Paso, Texas. She attended a party in El Paso on the day of her disappearance and may have been seen walking down the road in Chaparral in the wee hours the next day.

Around the time of her disappearance, several women disappeared from the area and many of them were later found buried in the desert. Marjorie and two others are still missing. David Leonard Wood was convicted of six homicides. He had also lived in Chaparral and knew Marjorie. Other than the circumstances, however, there’s no evidence to tie him to her disappearance. Several execution dates have been set for Wood, but I can’t find any articles saying they’d done it, and as of this past October he was still alive.

Beyond David Leonard Wood, the police don’t seem to have much to go on in her case. At least one of her friends believes she’s alive, but I don’t know why. She still has family looking for her.

Marjorie is of Thai ancestry. If she’s still alive she would be 41 years old today.

MP news lately

I’ve been out of the loop the last ten days, but here’s a couple of things that have happened in the meantime in the missing persons world.

Jenika Feuerstein has been located deceased. The twenty-year-old disappeared from Mesa, Arizona five years ago, on January 3, 2009. Target shooters found her skeletal remains taped inside a container in the desert. Obviously a homicide.

Tommy Lynn Sells, a serial killer, was executed last Thursday. He’s listed as a suspect or person of interest in several Charley Project cases: Lauria Bible/Ashley Freeman, Juanita Bardin and Stefanie Stroh. Yay, more cases for me to update! I might not put up a notice for these ones though.

They’ve started a search for the body of Ladana Wiley, who disappeared from Texas on New Years’ Day, 2000. Ladana’s case has never once been updated in the whole history of the Charley Project. I don’t have much on her.

Thomas Funk‘s family has doubled the reward for information leading to his location. He went missing from Florida in 2011 — another case about which I know little. I’ve got pics of his tattoos though.

A sad anniversary

As I was reminded by Holly, Amanda Nicole Eileen “Nikki” Campbell, age four, disappeared 22 years ago today, two days after Christmas. She was last seen riding her bicycle outside her Fairfield, California home that afternoon/evening. (Probably, during the winter, 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. counts as evening.) She seemingly vanished without a trace. No witnesses to anything suspicious, no one heard any screaming, etc. She was gone. Makes me wonder if she was taken by someone she knew and trusted, but who knows?

I updated her case recently, without posting a notice on the updates page, to add a photo of Nikki’s bike which was found abandoned.

She was young enough to make it possible that someone is keeping her alive and she doesn’t remember where she came from. If so, she would be 26 years old today. Wherever you are, Nikki, I hope you make it home way or another.

A familiar story

Nearly three weeks ago, the Oceanside/Camp Pendleton, California Patch put out an appeal about the 1987 disappearance of eleven-year-old Elaina Rivera, last seen in Ramona, California. Very little information is available about her disappearance and the Patch article requested that anyone who had information about the disappearance, or about Elaina herself, contact them.

I think it’s great that they took the effort to do that. But, as far as I can tell, they’ve gotten no responses whatsoever. Just “few details are available in her case.” Which is the most depressing line to ever appear on Charley, and it appears all too frequently.

Elaina, you existed once and perhaps you do still. I know that face, and I want as many people as possible to know it as well. You deserve to be remembered. I only wish I knew something about your life, about the kind of girl you were before you walked into oblivion.

Select It Sunday: Christopher and Lisa Zaharias

There was some family drama today and I nearly forgot all about Select It Sunday. But there’s eighteen minutes left of Sunday, so have at it: Christopher and Lisa Zaharias, one of the oldest family abduction cases on my site. Christopher was three and a half and Lisa one year old when they were abducted by their mother, Susan Elizabeth Zaharias, on November 20, 1987.

Twenty-five years they’ve been missing. And they probably don’t even know.

The children’s searching father, Louis, claims Susan was abusing cocaine and crystal meth in 1987. They were actually still married at the time of the abduction, but then Susan took the kids and left him and they vanished without a trace. Louis got a divorce and custody after the fact. There were sightings of Susan and the kids in several different states in the eighties, but I don’t know if there’s been any credible tips on their whereabouts in a long time. Susan has an active warrant out for her arrest.

Chances are the kids are still out there. Chances are they’ve been alienated against their father and, if and when they are eventually located, they won’t want anything to do with him. This particular story is nearly always the same in the end.

My first Select It Sunday

For the very first Select It Sunday, I’m featuring Daniel Southers, who disappeared from Fort Bragg in California on September 17, 1987. He was 25 years old and a big guy, six foot three and about 250 pounds. A relative, his daughter I think, asked me to write Daniel up for a Flashback Friday, but he didn’t qualify for that, so I decided to invent Select It Sunday for cases like his.

Not a whole lot is known about Daniel’s case, other than he was involved in a marijuana-growing operation and his disappearance was probably drug-related. I always say, morals aside: get involved with drugs, especially manufacturing or selling drugs, and you’re poking death with a stick.

Is Daniel still out there, hiding maybe? I know of people who walked out of their lives for far more trivial reasons. If he is still alive, he is 50 or 51 years old by now.

His family has created a Facebook page for him.