Christine Walters went to Portland, Oregon to visit some friends in July 2008. The 23-year-old fell in love with life on the West Coast, and though she was supposed to return to Wisconsin a few weeks later, she decided to extend her stay out west. She made her way to Humboldt County, California, embracing the spiritual lifestyle she found there. Things seemed to be going great for Christine, but everything changed in November 2008. Christine grew paranoid and seemed to believe people were out to get her. On November 14, 2008, she vanished without a trace.
Christine was a junior at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, where she was studying botany and ethnobotany. While she was living in Stevens Point, she spent some time working on an organic farm. She enjoyed her classes and intended to return to Wisconsin before the fall semester started, but that changed once she realized how much she loved the California lifestyle. She decided to defer her studies for a while so she could spend more time on the West Coast.
Christine stayed in contact with some of her friends through Myspace and told them she had fallen in love with the beauty of Humboldt County, a rural area about 300 miles north of San Francisco. One friend, Toni Osiecki, stated, “She was getting back in touch with herself…I can totally imagine her being completely content living day-to-day.” Toni last heard from Christine in October 2008, when she sent her a Myspace message apologizing for being out of touch; she said she had been “off the grid for a while” with no access to a computer.
During the first part of her trip, Christine had been in constant contact with her parents back in Wisconsin. She had worked as a yoga instructor back at home, and she talked about the possibility of opening her own yoga studio out west. After she headed to California, her calls home were more sporadic but she would sometimes call and ask her parents if they could send her money as she didn’t have a steady job.
In the days leading up to her disappearance, Christine went through some type of traumatizing experience, though it was unclear exactly what happened. Police in Humboldt County received a phone call from a resident who reported finding Christine at their front door, naked and seemingly in fear for her life.
Deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department responded and tried to question Christine, but she was unable to articulate what was wrong. They took her to St. Joseph’s Hospital for treatment, but it was unclear exactly what was wrong with her. Although she had some scratches from running through briars without her clothes on, she otherwise appeared to be in good physical health.
While she was at the hospital, Christine called her mother, Anita Walters. “She was very scared. She wasn’t making any sense to me and was acting paranoid. She said she was at some type of ceremony where they blew smoke in her face. She said someone was after her, and then she just stopped talking.”
While at the hospital, Christine was tested for dr*ugs, but the test came back negative. She was released from the hospital and deputies drove her to the Red Lion Hotel, where she called her mother and said she was ready to return home. Her parents paid for her to stay at the hotel until she could make arrangements to travel to Wisconsin.
Although Christine wanted to return home, she told her mother she had lost her identification at some point and needed to obtain a new ID card before she would be able to fly. She arranged for her mother to fax the paperwork she needed to a copy center; when she went there to pick up the papers on November 14, 2008, employees said she was acting somewhat odd. She seemed to be paranoid and was trying to hide the paperwork so no one could see what she was picking up.
Anita spoke with employees of the copy shop and noted, ‘They said she was standing on the street outside looking like she was wondering ‘Where should I go and what to do?’ and then all of a sudden she was gone.” It’s unclear where Christine went after she left the copy center; she never arranged to fly home, never called her parents, and was never seen again.
Christine’s parents reported her missing on November 17, 2008. Her friends in Wisconsin admitted that they didn’t know much about her life in California. Katie Kloth recalled, “We found out she just decided to stay. We didn’t know who she was living with, we didn’t know where she was working, and we didn’t know if that was a good set-up.”
Katie said Christine originally decided to go to Portland on vacation after she broke up with her boyfriend. “She was always looking for adventure, and I think she always wanted to keep traveling because she wanted to be a yoga instructor and she didn’t know where she’d fit in. She thought out West would be better for her free-spirit mentality and we all thought that would be good for her, too.”
Friends noted that even before she left for Oregon, Christine embraced a less-materialistic lifestyle. She enjoyed shopping in thrift stores, preferred to eat all-natural foods, and never wore makeup. She found many like-minded people in California.
After she went missing, Christine’s backpack was found at Green Life Evolution, a health food store and spiritual center in Arcata, California. The owner of the center told investigators that it was common for Christine to leave her things there while she went for walks in the Arcata Community Forest, though on all previous occasions, she had come back to retrieve them. Inside her backpack, detectives found Christine’s ID card and money.
Christine’s parents hired Chris Cook, a private investigator, to assist in the search for their daughter. He was optimistic that she was still alive. “We’re actively looking and working with the sheriff’s department every day and still hope we can find out what happened to her since she disappeared.” He noted that when Christine was checked over at the hospital, they found no evidence of mental illness or d*rug use. “She was just really frightened.” Investigators were trying to determine what had frightened her.
Christine’s mother admitted that she saw a change in her daughter after she went to California. “Her ideas were changing — she was distancing herself from the internet and other materialistic things…she was just kind of bumming around more or less, with not too many cares in the world.”
Private investigator Thomas Lauth said that Christine took part in something called a tea ceremony shortly before she was hospitalized. These ceremonies involve ingesting a psychedelic d*rug called ayahuasca. “Tea ceremonies are actually illegal in the United States. The people who hold these gatherings pose them as cleansing ceremonies. They are potentially dangerous because some people can have adverse reactions to them…if they have an illness or disorder like bipolarity or depression, it can surface.”
Anita didn’t believe her daughter would have willingly cut off all contact with her loved ones; even if she didn’t want to return to Wisconsin, Christine would have called to let her parents know she was okay. Her father had deposited $1,000 in her account shortly before she went missing and it hadn’t been touched.
Anita worried that Christine had been harmed by someone. “She is just a little peanut of a girl, so I fear for her, being out there all alone and disoriented. If someone saw her like that, she could have met her demise.” She regretted the fact that she hadn’t learned of the extent of Christine’s paranoia until after she was already missing; had she known, she would have flown to California and brought her daughter home.
Christine was a very friendly person who was always able to make people feel comfortable, but she was also somewhat naïve and Anita thought she might have trusted the wrong people. She noted that her daughter was “trusting to a fault” and wasn’t always the best judge of people.
Humboldt County Detective Dan Paris told reporters that they found no evidence that Christine had been harmed by anyone, but admitted that he had no idea what had happened to her after she left the copy center. “Is this a young lady who decided to go off and cut all ties with society? Is this a young lady who had a mental breakdown of some sort? Or is she a victim of foul play? We really don’t know. I wish we did, but we have no idea.”
In March 2010, Detective Paris said that the sheriff’s department was doing everything it could to keep the case active but didn’t have much to go on. He was optimistic that Christine was still alive and hoped that she would eventually show up and let everyone know where she had been. However, Christine never made contact with anyone, and exactly what happened to her remained unknown.
Over the years, there have been rumors about what happened to Christine but no solid facts. While some believe she voluntarily disappeared and decided to live a more nomadic lifestyle, others think she was likely murdered. Until Christine reappears — or her body is found- her fate will remain a mystery.
Christine Lindsay Walters was just 23 years old when she vanished from Humboldt County, California in November 2008. Christine had taken some time off from college to travel in Oregon and California; while she was initially having a wonderful time, she experienced some sort of trauma in the days leading up to her disappearance. Exactly what happened to Christine is unknown; investigators do not know if she is alive or dead. Christine has blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair, and at the time of her disappearance, she was 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 100 pounds. Her ears and nose are pierced, and she has two tattoos: a large purple and green flower on the nape of her neck and a small black butterfly on her hip. If you have any information about Christine, please contact the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department at 707–445–7251.