On April 30, 1978, Christopher was last seen hiking with his mother and younger brother on Grey Rock Mountain Trail in Poudre Canyon in Poudre Park, Colorado, off Highway 14. He hiked ahead of his family, lost the trail, and vanished. At 5:30 p.m., three hours after his last sighting, his mother reported him missing.
On that day, there were several other hikers on the trail, both alone and in small groups. Three of them, a man named Allen Shoupan and two women, came forward and gave police statements, but the majority of the hikers were never identified.
The two women who came forward were hiking with Christopher when they saw him. They also noticed a man sitting on the rocks. They described the man as dark-haired and well-built, wearing a straw cowboy hat and carrying a camera around his neck. This man’s identity has never been revealed; he was not Shoupan.
The two women sat down for lunch near the dark-haired man. During their meal, they heard two voices, one of which was that of a young boy, whom they assumed was Christopher. They couldn’t understand what was being said, but when the boy began yelling, one of the women became concerned. She wanted to look into it but was too afraid.
The yelling eventually came to a halt. The two women finished their meals and returned down the trail. They passed the dark-haired man’s seat, but he was no longer there. However, they did discover a Diet Pepsi can on the ground. One of the women picked it up, stuffed it in her backpack, and then threw it away.
When Christopher vanished, he was carrying a can of Diet Pepsi, his favorite drink. Littering was out of character for him. Shoupan could not have been the other voice the two women heard, as investigators determined Christopher and Shoupan were never near each other in that location. Shoupan does not recall seeing the dark-haired man, and he himself is blond and didn’t look like him.
The night of Christopher’s disappearance was very cold, with wind, rain turning to sleet, and then snow. The overnight temperatures dropped below freezing and the child would not have survived without shelter. Christopher had never hiked on the Grey Rock trail before and was therefore unfamiliar with the terrain.
He has never been heard from again and an extensive search, involving 170 foot searchers, 30 searchers on horses, three helicopters and some tracking dogs, turned up no sign of him.
There were some possible sightings of Christopher in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah in the months following the child’s disappearances. The witnesses who think they saw Christopher described him as “scared,” “confused,” and “dirty.” In two separate states, the boy resembling Christopher was selling newspapers and claimed if he sold enough, he would get a trip to Disneyland. None of the sightings have been verified.
At the time of his disappearance, Christopher lived with his family in Laporte, Colorado. He was a student at Cache la Poudre Elementary School and had been on the honor roll for years. He was popular at school, but preferred reading to spending time with friends or playing outside. He attended the Meadowlark Church of Christ in Fort Collins, Colorado. He enjoyed swimming, roller skating, bike riding and running; he ran at the school track for two miles every night.
A childhood friend of Christopher’s created a blog and Facebook page about the case. His friend believes he was abducted, probably by the dark-haired man. His disappearance remains unsolved.