In July 2008, Christine Walters visited friends in Portland, Oregon. The 23-year-old fell in love with life on the West Coast. She was supposed to go back to Wisconsin in a few weeks, but she chose to stay longer out west. She went to Humboldt County, California, and fell in love with the spiritual way of life there. Christine’s life looked like it was going well, but in November 2008, everything changed. Christine became scared and thought that everyone was out to get her. Then, on November 14, 2008, she was nowhere to be found.
She was a junior at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and was studying ethnobotany and plants. She worked on an organic farm for a while while she lived in Stevens Point. She liked her classes and had planned to go back to Wisconsin before the fall semester began, but she changed her mind when she realised how much she loved living in California. She put off studying for a while so she could spend more time on the West Coast.
Christine kept in touch with some of her friends through MySpace and told them how much she loved the beauty of Humboldt County, which is in the middle of nowhere and about 300 miles north of San Francisco. Toni Osiecki, one of her friends, said, “She was getting back in touch with herself.”I can totally see her being happy with just living day to day. Christine’s last message to Toni was on October 2008, when she sent her an apology message on MySpace for not being in touch. She said she had been “off the grid for a while” and not had access to a computer.
Christine was always in touch with her parents in Wisconsin during the first part of her trip. She had been a yoga teacher back home, and she talked about why she might want to open her own studio out west. She called home less often after she moved to California, but she would sometimes ask her parents to send her money because she didn’t have a steady job.
Christine went through some kind of traumatic event in the days before she disappeared, but it wasn’t clear what it was. A person in Humboldt County called the police to say that Christine was at their front door, naked and acting like she was scared for her life.
When deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department arrived, they tried to question Christine but she couldn’t say what was wrong. She was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital to get help, but it wasn’t clear what was wrong with her. She had some scratches on her body from running through thorns without clothes on, but she seemed to be in good health overall.
Anita Walters, Christine’s mother, called her while she was at the hospital. “She was scared.” I didn’t understand what she was saying and thought she was crazy. She said that smoke was blown in her face at some kind of ceremony. After saying that someone was after her, she stopped talking.
Christine was checked for drugs while she was in the hospital, but the test came back negative. She got out of the hospital and was driven to the Red Lion Hotel by deputies. There, she called her mother to let her know she was ready to go home. The hotel bill from her parents paid for her to stay there until she could plan her trip to Wisconsin.
Christine told her mother that she had lost her ID card and needed to get a new one before she could fly, even though she wanted to go home. She asked her mother to fax the papers she needed to a copy centre. On November 14, 2008, when she went to get them, employees said she was acting a little strangely. The woman was trying to hide the papers so that no one could see what she was taking out of her purse.
Anita talked to people at the copy shop and wrote down, “They said she was standing outside looking like she was thinking, ‘Where should I go and what should I do?’ and then she was gone.” Christine wasn’t seen or heard from again after she left the copy centre; she never made plans to fly home or called her parents.
On November 17, 2008, Christine’s parents said she was missing. The women who knew her in Wisconsin said they didn’t know much about her life in California. Katie Kloth remembered, “We found out she just chose to stay.” We had no idea where she worked or who she lived with, so we weren’t sure if that was a good situation.
Katie said Christine’s first plan was to take a vacation in Portland after breaking up with her boyfriend. “She was always up for an adventure. I think she always wanted to keep travelling because she wanted to teach yoga but wasn’t sure where she’d fit in.” We all agreed with her that living out West would be better for her free spirit.
Friends noticed that Christine was living a less materialistic life even before she moved to Oregon. Her favourite places to shop were thrift stores. She only ate natural foods and never put on makeup. In California, she met a lot of people who shared her views.
When Christine was last seen, her backpack was found at Green Life Evolution in Arcata, California. It is a health food store and spiritual centre. Investigators were told by the center’s owner that Christine often left her things there while she went for walks in the Arcata Community Forest. However, Christine had always come back to get them. Police found Christine’s ID card and money in her rucksack.
Chris Cook, a private investigator, was hired by Christine’s parents to help them look for their daughter. He had faith that she was still alive. “We are looking for her and working with the sheriff’s office every day. We still hope to find out what happened to her since she went missing.” When Christine was checked out at the hospital, they didn’t find any signs of mental illness or drug use, he said. “She was just really scared.” Investigators were trying to figure out what scared her.
It was Christine’s mother who said she saw a difference in her daughter after she moved to California. “Her thoughts were shifting; she was pulling away from the internet and other selfish things…”She wasn’t really doing anything important; she was just hanging out.
Thomas Lauth, a private investigator, said that Christine took part in something called a “tea ceremony” not long before she was taken to the hospital. Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drug that is used in these ceremonies. “In the United States, tea ceremonies are actually against the law. The people who hold these events say they are ceremonies for cleansing. They could be dangerous because some people can have bad reactions to them. If someone has a disorder or illness like bipolar disorder or depression, it can show up.
Anita didn’t think her daughter would have chosen to stop talking to her family and friends. Christine would have called to let her parents know she was okay, even if she didn’t want to go back to Wisconsin. A few days before she disappeared, her father put $1,000 in her bank account, and it hadn’t been touched since.
Anita was afraid that someone had hurt Christine. Because she is such a little girl, I worry about her being out there by herself and lost. Someone could have killed her if they saw her that way. She felt bad that she didn’t find out about Christine’s severe paranoia until after she was gone. If she had known, she would have flown to California to get her daughter and brought her home.
Christine was friendly and could make anyone feel at ease, but she was also trusting, and Anita thought she might have put too much faith in the wrong people. She said her daughter was “too trusting” and didn’t always know what was right or wrong with people.
Detective Dan Paris of Humboldt County told reporters that they had found no proof that anyone had hurt Christine. However, he did say that he had no idea what happened to her after she left the copy centre. “Was this a young woman who chose to cut herself off from everyone?” Does this look like a young woman who totally lost it? Or did someone do something bad to her? We have no idea. We don’t know, but I wish we did.
The sheriff’s office was doing everything it could to keep the case going in March 2010, but Detective Paris said they didn’t have much to go on. He was sure Christine was still alive and hoped she would figure out where she had been and show up at some point. Christine never got in touch with anyone, though, and no one knew what happened to her.
A lot of rumours have been spread over the years about what happened to Christine, but no real proof. Some people think she went missing on her own and chose to live a more nomadic life, while others think she was probably killed. Until Christine shows up again or her body is found, no one will know what happened to her.
Christopher Lindsay Walters went missing in Humboldt County, California, in November 2008. She was only 23 years old at the time. Christine took some time off from college to travel in Oregon and California. She was having a great time at first, but in the days before she went missing, she went through some kind of traumatic event. Investigators don’t know if Christine is still alive or dead, so they don’t know what happened to her. Christine is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 100 pounds. She ran away and is thought to have blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. She has two tattoos: a big purple and green flower on the back of her neck and a small black butterfly on her hip. Her ears and nose are too. Please call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department at 707-445–7251 if you know anything about Christine.