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By EWU Emma
What is up, EWU Crew? Today, we are going to be covering five missing person cases across the United States that end with the victims being discovered under unusual circumstances. So, buckle up because these stories come with a twist.
Watch this in video format here: https://youtu.be/p38Pj0p1XsU
#5: Harley Dilly
Our first story revolves around the disappearance of 14-year-old Harley Dilly. Harley was your average neighborhood teenager—he would spend time with his friends, watch sports games, and fawn over the girls in his school. Harley had ADHD, high-functioning autism, and was one of the smartest kids in his grade.
Although his parents knew that Harley was smart and well-behaved, they didn’t want to raise Harley without a solid work ethic. That’s why his parents did not respond well to his “demands” for them to buy him a new cellphone after he broke his current one in December 2019. Instead, they told Harley that he would have to earn it, and until then, he would need to wait.
On Saturday, December 21, 2019, Harley’s father, Marcus Dilly, grew increasingly worried about Harley when he hadn’t been home since the day before. And even though Harley had been notorious for going out with friends and not returning home until the following morning, he had never stayed out this long before. So, around 11:50 that night, Marcus decided to call the Port Clinton Police Department and report his son missing.
As it turned out, his father was rightfully worried about Harley’s whereabouts.
According to Marcus, Harley had been out with several of his friends on Thursday night. Some of them had decided to go to a Cavs game while others just hung out, but there were inconsistencies as to where Harley had ended up in the mix.
On Friday morning, however, Harley had been at home with his mother, Heather Dilly. Heather recalls Harley complaining that he had not been feeling well and begging her to stay home from school. Harley had used this ploy dozens of times, so Heather knew better than to fall for it. She told Harley to “get to school” and stop messing around. Heather left for work shortly after the discussion and assumed that he had gone to school.
Harley did not come home from school that day, nor Saturday, which led to his father contacting the police.
Investigators quickly began asking about Harley to his friends and neighbors. All of his friends had seen him Thursday night at different times, but no one recalled hanging out with him after school on Friday. This was odd to the Dilly family and officers since that meant they essentially had no information to work off.
Around 2:30 AM on Sunday, just hours after Marcus Dilly had reported Harley missing, the local police dispatched a “be on the lookout” order for Harley. It felt as though everyone in Fort Clinton, Ohio, was holding their breath, hoping that Harley would reappear unharmed. Although, at that point, most of the Port Clinton community had started to assume the worst. Heather and Marcus began mulling over the possibility that their son had been kidnapped or brutally murdered by some stranger or—even worse—someone they knew and trusted.
Much to everyone’s surprise, that was not the case at all.
On the morning of Monday, January 13, 2020, the police had been thoroughly searching homes up and down the street the Dilly’s lived on, hoping to find some clue as to where he could have disappeared. When the detectives entered an abandoned home, only a few houses away from the Dillys, they found Harley's body. He was dead—that was evident to the officers—but what was strange was that his body was discovered stuck inside the house’s chimney.
Actual photos of the chimney where Harley was discovered.
As odd as it was to find Harley’s body inside this abandoned house’s chimney, officers were quite certain that there was no foul play involved in Harley’s death. In fact, they were rather sure that Harley himself had climbed up an antenna tower to the roof of the house and entered the chimney from there. Sometime after that, Harley must have realized that he had gotten himself stuck. The coroner who did the autopsy on Harley’s body ruled his cause of death as compressive asphyxia, indicating that the pressure of the chimney walls had slowly suffocated him.
#4: Chi Thi Lien Le
Our second story that we have in store for you today begins in Houston, Texas.
Domestic criminal offenses are more common within households than many people think. Those who are fortunate and lucky enough are sometimes able to escape from these toxic dynamics. Unfortunately, others aren’t.
Curtis Allen Holliday, a 58-year-old business mogul, was known to be a kind man in public and a monster in private. His wife, 29-year-old Chi Thi Lien Le, was often subjected to distress throughout their marriage. In November and December of 2019, Curtis received two separate charges for assaulting Chi Thi Lien Le in their Houston home.
Chi Thi Lien Le’s family were mostly unaware of the situation she had faced, which is what made her sudden disappearance so shocking and confusing.
Chi Thi Lien Le and Curtis Allen Holliday together before her disappearance.
On April 3, 2020, Chi Thi Lien Le’s family could not seem to get in touch with their daughter for a few days. They knew that she was often busy, and perhaps just unable to reach her phone, but it was extremely unlike her to not return any calls or texts. Whenever they tried to contact her husband, Curtis, he very cleverly dodged their questions. Something about Chi Thi Lien Le’s lack of communication did not sit right with her family, so they quickly reported her missing to local authorities.
In cases involving a violent spouse, in particular, it is common to question the partner of the person missing—as they may have had something to do with it. This made questioning Curtis Allen Holliday rather easy. And soon, this led to the police arresting Curtis on May 5, after he was charged with violation of bond on a protective order and continuous harm against a family member. While the police had Curtis in custody, they were able to search the properties that he was associated with. Investigators found nothing particularly interesting at the home Curtis shared with his wife, but everything changed when they began searching elsewhere.
The police conducted a search at Curtis’s business in the 5800 block of West Sam Houston Parkway North, hoping to find some potential clues as to his wife’s whereabouts. And when the officers were about to end their search, one of the investigators realized that the business had rather large commercial freezers on site.
With bated breath, investigators slowly opened one of the business freezers on the property and found the remains of Chi Thi Lien Le stuffed inside.
The freezer as pictured on news sites.
The brutal and horrific discovery was not at all what investigators had expected to find when they entered Curtis’s business property.
Chi Thi Lien Le’s case was ruled as a homicide, and her husband was later charged with her murder.
#3: San Juana Macias
The next case we have for you today is that of the disappearance of San Juana Macias in Austin, Texas. San Juana Macias was reported missing on July 5, 2019 after her family had not heard from her for several days. At the time, she had been spending a lot of her free time with her then-boyfriend Jamie Wingwood. The two had a rather normal relationship from the outside looking in: they went on dates, argued about petty things, and considered the possibilities of the future.
However, for San Juana Macias, that future would never come.
While the couple was staying in an East Austin motel room, they allegedly got into some kind of argument. The discussion became increasingly more heated, and Jamie lost his temper as it went on. He reached over and grabbed an iron the couple had brought into the hotel room and swiftly hit San Juana over the back of the head.
Having realized what he had done and knowing he would be in big trouble if San Juana ever woke up, Jamie continued to strike her repeatedly with the iron skillet. Once he was finished, he quickly gathered all of the couple’s personal belongings and rushed out of the motel room.
Once he reached his car, he sent a cryptic text to his sister, stating that he loved her and that he intended to disappear “forever” starting that day. After sending the message, Jamie took off toward Louisiana with no real plan in mind.
When San Juana Macias’ family began reaching out to Jamie’s family regarding her absence, Jamie’s sister felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She was positive at that moment that her brother had murdered San Juana and was now on the run. Investigators quickly began interviewing Jamie’s family, and from there on, they were led to believe that Jamie was their prime suspect in San Juana’s disappearance.
Jamie Wingwood after his arrest.
Officers chased 40-year-old Jamie Wingwood all the way to Louisiana. They were able to capture him and subsequently charge him with aggravated assault and tampering with evidence, as they had been unable to find San Juana’s remains anywhere.
Austin Police Department investigators were then able to interview Jamie since they had him in custody. During that interview, Jamie could not manage to lie. He confessed to killing San Juana and told detectives that he had left her body back at the Austin motel in room 219.
With this new information, officers were dispatched to the motel room right away. However, when they arrived, they found nothing out of the ordinary and—more importantly—no trace of San Juana Macias anywhere. Officers double checked the room number and began questioning employees right away. It didn’t make sense that the room had been cleaned by housekeeping, and not a single person noticed a dead body in the room. It was immediately evident to the officers that Jamie was lying to them to throw them off further.
When they returned to interrogate Jamie once more, he again denied having moved his girlfriend’s body from the scene of the crime.
Instead, he solemnly whispered to one of the detectives that the officers should “look under the mattress in the box.”
The crime scene.
A chill ran down the detective’s spine as he relayed the message to the officers at the crime scene. When authorities pulled back the mattress and stared down at the half-taken-apart box frame that had been underneath it, they were faced with the remains of San Juana Macias. The victim had been undetected in that very motel room for three days without so much as one person realizing the evidence was there, hidden in plain sight.
Jamie has now been charged with murder, punishable by up to 99 years in prison.
#2: Carlos Rios
The next story revolves around missing person Carlos Rios in Houston, Texas. Carlos was a happy-go-lucky individual who happened to have found himself under some fatal circumstances.
On March 2, 2019, Carlos’s family realized that they had not heard from him in quite some time. His parents and friends alike realized that something must have been incredibly wrong for him to not respond to any texts or calls. Especially since this was wholly uncharacteristic for Carlos, as he was arguably the best communicator in their entire family—even being merely 24 years old.
For a while, the investigation into Carlos’s disappearance appeared to have been going nowhere fast. There were no real leads, no specifics about the last place he was seen, and no cell phone pings to point investigators in the right direction. It appeared to many of Carlos’s loved ones that he had disappeared into thin air.
That is until a chilling discovery was made by accident.
In April of 2019, an unnamed man was heading to a Club Creek apartment, near Woodfair, to potentially buy it. The apartment was dirty and needed to be deep cleaned after its last tenant had left unexpectedly, but once the man arrived at the residence, he was taken aback by the worst smell he had ever experienced in his life.
The odor was so strong that when the man opened the apartment door, it nearly made him physically ill.
Neighbors around the complex had mentioned that they had noticed a few flies in the apartment windows but had not thought much of it.
The Club Creek apartment complex.
Right away, the potential buyer knew that something was terribly wrong with the state of the apartment. He contacted local law enforcement just minutes after having opened the door. When the Houston Police Department received the call, they were acutely aware of what could be waiting for them inside the Club Creek apartment. When authorities arrived on the scene, they were swept away by the horrid smell that bellowed through the hallway when they opened the apartment door. Upon searching around the unit for the foul smell’s source, the investigators were immediately led to the bedroom. Inside the bedroom, however, there was nothing.
Or so they thought.
The crime scene.
When the officers removed the mattress from its place in the room, they found a body that was completely wrapped up in bedsheets. Upon the remains’ discovery, the officers had medical examiners called to the scene almost immediately. These medical examiners were able to confirm that the man under the mattress was indeed Carlos Rios.
However, they could not quite conclude what had happened exactly.
When the police informed Carlos’s family of their findings, they were heartbroken. More than that, they were determined to find the monster who took Carlos’s life and left him in a box spring.
Carlos’s family informed the authorities that Carlos had often visited a friend by the name of Jesus Cardenas at the address Carlos’s remains were found. Immediately, officers jotted down Jesus as their number one person of interest in Carlos’s disappearance and subsequent murder. Investigators are allegedly rather positive that Jesus is responsible for Carlos’s death, but they are currently hoping to get some kind of confession out of him.
Unfortunately, Jesus Cardenas is currently nowhere to be found. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
#1: Timothy Allen Johnson
Our fifth and final story is that of the chilling disappearance of Timothy Allen Johnson.
In Spalding County, Georgia, not much goes on that makes national headlines. That is, except for the occasional human remains discovered in unexpected places. On Sunday, February 11, 2018, a man was rummaging around a property in Griffin when he came across something peculiar.
The man in question had been attempting to steal belongings from the former, closed-down Griffin Motel. This was not an uncommon occurrence as there were few security measures to keep people off the property, and the abandoned motel still held a variety of semi-valuable items.
While scouring the empty motel for anything worth grabbing, the man came across a foul smell in one of the rooms. When he peered into the room from the doorway, he expected to see human remains on the floor, as if he were entering some kind of horror film.
Instead, he saw absolutely nothing. There were no furniture pieces in the room. In fact, there were not even any boxes like in the other parts of the motel.
The smell, the man realized, was coming from within the wall of the motel room.
Terrified at what could be lurking behind the wall, covered in cheap wallpaper, the man quickly ran out from the motel and immediately called the police. When the authorities arrived on the scene, they were also baffled by where the smell was coming from and its causes.
Following the man’s assumption that there was something stuck within the wall, local firefighters helped the police bust into the wall. With flecks of old paint and pieces of drywall falling to the floor around authorities, no one could have been able to guess what happened next.
The crime scene.
Slumped between the interior parts of the wall were the remains of Timothy Allen Johnson, who had gone missing in December of 2017. There was no evidence to make officers think that there was any foul play involved at all. In fact, investigators were relatively certain that Timothy had also been trying to steal items from the property. Specifically, copper wires, since they were abundant within the motel walls and it was allegedly evident to the police that Timothy had crawled inside of the wall to gather some and wound up stuck.
Whatever his reasoning was for situating himself within the walls of an abandoned motel room, officers also believe that it had something to do with Timothy’s alleged known methamphetamine problem. He had been known by acquaintances to be rather fearless and determined to get what he wanted out of life.
As they say, curiosity killed the cat.
By EWU Emma
What is up, EWU Crew!
Today, we’re going to talk about a super convoluted story that’s been dubbed the “Pike County Massacre”. It happened a few years ago back in April of 2016, in a tiny town in Ohio.
Watch this in video format here: https://youtu.be/10wvSgh4uf4
When Bobby Jo Manley arrived at her former brother-in-law Christopher Rhoden, Sr.’s home on the morning of April 22nd, she found it odd that his two pit bulls were outside his trailer. Normally, they were kept inside. Things got even weirder when she turned the handle of the front door and found that it had been locked. It was rare for Chris to lock the door. But when she used a spare key to enter his home, she walked into something horrific.
As she began to search for her loved ones, she found a gruesome scene. That’s when she discovered her 40-year-old brother-in-law, Chris, and his 38-year-old cousin, Gary Rhoden, lying dead on Chris’s bedroom floor. Bobby Jo ran outside to grab her cell phone from her vehicle and called 9-1-1. The call was spine-chilling.
After making the report, Bobby Jo ran over to her nephew’s home, which sat on the same property.
Frankie Rhoden was the son of her sister, Dana, and Chris, Sr. However, Frankie’s door was also locked. She pounded on his door, begging to be let in. Within moments, the lock clicked and the door was opened by Frankie's three-year-old son. Bobby Jo rushed back to the bedroom, only to find Frankie and his fiancée, Hannah Gilley, lying dead. They were both just twenty years old and each had sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the head. Lying between the two was their six-month-old infant, Ruger Rhoden.
Yes, what I’m telling you is that a person came into this house while the parents were asleep and murdered them, leaving their tiny baby orphaned and left between his two deceased parents.
In tears, Bobby Jo reached over her nephew’s body to pick up baby Ruger. She wrapped him in a blanket, and put her hoodie on his toddler half-brother, Brentley, before rushing them out of the trailer. Her brother, James Manley, then hurried over to the home of Dana Rhoden, their sister, and the mother of Frankie Rhoden. Also living there was Dana and Chris’s sixteen-year-old son, Chris, Jr., their nineteenyear-old daughter, Hanna Rhoden, and Hanna’s newborn baby, Kylie Mae. When James opened the door, he reportedly heard the baby crying and instantly knew what had happened. More on James in a moment. When police arrived, Hanna’s four-day-old baby was found alive lying on the bed with her— but Hanna was dead.
As the scene unfolded on Union Hill Road that morning, seven family members were confirmed dead – all of them shot. Early that afternoon, in a fourth trailer located only a few miles away, an eighth body was discovered – that of 44-year-old Kenneth Rhoden, Chris, Sr.’s brother. As the news broke, the small village of Piketown was shaken. Police advised everyone to stay indoors with their doors locked until more information came to light. It was one of the most horrendous murders to have ever hit Ohio.
All but one of the victims had been shot multiple times. Some 32 shots were fired throughout the whole ordeal. To protect the investigation, the court sealed the coroner’s reports for all eight people. However, media outlets filed a lawsuit that would lead to the release of heavily redacted versions of the autopsy reports.
Law enforcement initially thought it could’ve been a case of a domestic dispute gone awry with the perpetrator taking their own life, but this idea was thrown out when it was evident that none of the deaths appeared to have been caused by anything of the sort. It also became clear to the police that the incident must have involved more than one perpetrator. Bobby Jo and James Manley, as well as two friends who had ridden to Chris, Sr.’s residence with Bobby Jo that morning, were all brought in for questioning, and were soon released.
The searches conducted at three of the four crime scenes revealed several large, illegal marijuana grows. Attorney General Mike DeWine called it a “commercial operation”. Additionally, reports emerged regarding the discovery of evidence that suggested the family may have been running an unlawful cockfighting ring. These tidbits of information ignited speculation that suggested the Rhodens’ murders may have been linked to gang activity, drug turf wars, or even the Mexican cartel.
Authorities towed away more than 100 cars from the Rhoden’s property as part of their investigation.
Additionally, they transported the four trailers in which the crimes were committed to a fenced yard at a Hadsell Chemical Processing property in Waverly, Ohio, to more thoroughly search them for evidence. A command center had already been set up at this location before the arrival of the trailers.
This decision became highly controversial, as some suggested the site was not secure enough to protect the trailers from anyone who may want to tamper with evidence. Soon enough, due to a foreclosure on the warehouse, the trailers had to be relocated. The Pike County Board of Commissioners approved an expensive emergency motion to erect a pole barn on a nearby site, to house the trailers as they continued to be investigated.
So, a whole year goes by and, although investigators seemed to be hard at work on the case, no arrests had been made.
Remember how I mentioned I would say more on Dana’s brother, James Manley, in a moment? Well, one year after the Pike County Massacre, investigators wanted to keep an eye on James. They secretly placed a GPS tracking unit on his vehicle. He had allegedly failed a lie-detector test before this, although he was never named as a suspect or person of interest. Within seven days, James discovered the device and destroyed it, for which he later faced vandalism and tampering with evidence charges, which have since been dismissed.
Then, state and local law enforcement begin a search at a 71-acre farm formerly owned by Jake Wagner, Hanna Rhoden’s ex-boyfriend, and the father of her then three-year-old daughter, Sophia. The same day, they also searched for another farm owned by the Wagner family. Although no information has been released regarding these searches, this is when things start to take shape for the public. It’s worth noting that Jake filed for sole custody of Sophia within days of the homicides – and he was awarded it only a few months later. Reports state that the little girl was in the care of Jake and his family on the night of the murders.
A few weeks after the searches, the Wagner family moved to Kenai, Alaska. They claimed the move was prompted by a need to protect Sophia from the swirling rumors that accused the Wagners of being involved in the Rhoden murders. It had become public knowledge that the Rhodens and the Wagners had been duking it out for custody of Jake and Hanna’s young daughter. Then, two years passed since the murders, and still, no one had been apprehended. However, investigators continued to keep their focus on the Wagner family. In early November of 2018, they completed an examination of all evidence that had been collected up until that point. Within days, four of the Wagners were arrested, including 26-year-old Jake, his 48-year-old mother Angela, his 47-year-old father Billy, and his 27-year-old brother, George.
They were charged with conspiring and executing the murders of the seven Rhoden family members and Frankie’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley. A press conference held by law enforcement followed soon after, in which Sheriff Charles Reader claimed that, although the Wagners had been very careful, they had not been careful enough. Prosecutors sought the death penalty for all four of the suspects.
Jake’s father, Billy Wagner, was arrested in Lexington, Kentucky, about 100 miles from the site of the murders. It’s not clear what he was doing there. Interestingly, two weeks before the brutal killings of the Rhoden family, a similar-style murder was carried out on a couple living in Kenton County, Kentucky (about 75 miles away from Peebles, Ohio). It involved a well-known drug dealer and his girlfriend, who were both murdered while sleeping in their bed, much like what happened to the Rhodens and Miss Gilley. Officials have not confirmed if the two cases are related.
As of now, all four of the Wagners await their trials. They’ve all pleaded not guilty to their charges. Angela Wagner has lost her phone call and mail privileges, as she continued to discuss the case with family members, even after the court ordered her not to do so.
Both of Jake Wagner’s grandmothers were charged in connection with the case, too. Seventy-six-year old Fredericka Wagner was accused of covering up the homicides by lying about two bulletproof vests she had purchased online. She claimed she bought them after the murders for protection. Fredericka was charged with obstruction of justice and perjury, ultimately being released on a $100,000 bond. In June 2019, these charges were dismissed. Web sleuths allege that she is a powerful woman in her community and could’ve been the mastermind behind the murders.
Jake’s other grandmother, 66-year-old Rita Jo Newcomb, was also charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, as well as forgery. Newcomb is a certified notary and is accused of forging custody papers. Yes, those custody papers – the ones involving Jake Wagner’s and the late Hanna Rhoden’s daughter, Sophia. The very custody battle that is believed by investigators to have been the motive for the slayings of the Rhoden family and Frankie’s fiancée, Hannah Gilley. The documents in question were signed just nineteen days before the murders.
In a shocking turn of events, and what may ultimately lead to a huge break in the case, Rita Jo accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to her misdemeanor charges, in exchange for a dismissal of her felony charges. She admitted to lying to investigators to protect her daughter, Angela Wagner, and agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors. According to prosecutor Angela Canepa, a handwriting expert confirmed that it was not Newcomb who forged the custody documents. It isn’t clear if she will be forced to testify against her daughter, son-in-law, or grandsons, as a part of her plea deal. However, she is not permitted to contact any of them, nor may she communicate with Fredericka Wagner. For now, she is off house arrest and is awaiting her trial.
Since these arrests, several weird things have gone down with the case, which left some to wonder if there is more to the story.
Several months after the arrests, a member of the prosecution team was removed by Prosecutor Rob Junk for reasons still unknown to the public. Coincidentally, it was Brian Reader–the brother of Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader. He had served in several of the Wagners’ pre-trial hearings before his removal.
Then, nearly a year after the Wagner arrests, Sheriff Charles Reader was indicted on sixteen charges. According to reports, he was charged with:
• Two felony counts of tampering with evidence
• Four felony counts of theft in office
• Seven misdemeanor counts of conflict of interest
• One felony count of securing writing by deception
• And two counts of theft (one being a felony and the other, a misdemeanor)
Reader claims the charges are part of a witch hunt intended to take him down as sheriff. He was ultimately suspended from his position, and, later, an additional two charges were tacked on to his indictment, including one felony count of engaging in corrupt activity and a second charge of theft in office. He had stolen money seized as evidence in unrelated drug cases. Rumors say he had a gambling problem. In May of 2020, Reader pleaded not guilty to all 18 of the charges and is awaiting trial.
Seven months after the sheriff’s arrest, a Bureau of Criminal Investigations Supervisor, who was tasked with overseeing the Pike County Murders case, was suspended and demoted. Michael Trout was accused of misconduct, acting in a manner unbecoming of an agent, retaliation against another employee, and lack of professionalism. He categorically denies these allegations. His work as an investigator was not immediately called into question, but Trout did later admit that there was “dysfunction” in his unit that was handling the Rhoden murders investigation. And an employee working under him said that Michael cannot be trusted. All these “good guys” dropping like flies in this case. It’s more than a little weird.
Weeks later, in June 2020, a lead prosecutor on the case, Angela Canepa, suddenly and unexpectedly resigned, stating that she was leaving to pursue other opportunities. However, she soon rejoined the prosecution team, appointed by the court as special prosecutor.
What is going on here?!
Some people claim that state and local law enforcement may be somehow involved in the slayings of these eight people, claiming that all of these weird occurrences are indicative of something deeper. Anything is possible; we’ve seen authorities involved in, covering up, and skewing murder cases many times in the past. After all, corruption is rife in some police departments and government branches.
What do you think?
Is some kind of police cover-up going on?
Could it be related to drug activity and turf wars?
Or do you agree with the authorities in that the heated custody battle is what led to the murders?
Maybe someone within the Rhoden family had something to do with this?
By EWU Emma
What is up, EWU Crew? Today, we are covering the case of Karlie Guse.
Watch this story in video form here: https://youtu.be/vSvVkGqD6m0
On the morning of October 13th, 2018, the stepmother of 16-year-old Karlie Lain Guse awoke to every parent's personal nightmare.
The door of her Mono County, California home was slightly ajar, and her stepdaughter was nowhere to be found. Karlie Lain Guse was never seen again. She completely vanished without a trace. As the case began to unfold, the insane events leading to Karlie's disappearance were revealed, and for many, the bigger picture they formed was quite disturbing.
Karlie Guse lived with her father Zachary Guse, stepmother Melissa Guse, and two younger brothers in a rural California neighborhood. Karlie's parents had gotten divorced when she was just a toddler, and later on, she decided to move in with her father, because her biological mother, Lindsay Fairley, was moving to Nevada. According to friends and family, Karlie had a relatively happy childhood and adjusted well to what can often be an unsettling transition into newly divorced parents. She was described by many in her close circle as being sweet, funny, and popular.
And Karlie's biological mother, Lindsay Fairley, said that the two of them were best of friends. However, in the days leading up to her disappearance, Karlie began to have what one friend described as episodes. Karlie was terrified that someone was tracking her on her phone. The creepiest part is, to this day, no one knows why Karlie thought she was being tracked.
Despite Karlie's episodes of irrational fear, life went on as usual. On the evening of Friday, October 12th, 2018, she asked her parents if she could go to her high school's football game.
However, Karlie never made it to the game.
Instead, she ended up going to a house party with her boyfriend, Donald, the last time she would ever see him. This is where things start to take an extremely bizarre turn. Something about Karlie that night seemed very, very wrong. Something at the party horrified Karlie, leading into a disastrous night before her disappearance.
Later that evening, at around 8:00 PM, Melissa Guse called Karlie asking if she needed a ride home from the football game. At first, Karlie answered no and that she would get a ride home from her boyfriend. But just a short while later, things took a dramatic turn. As everyone ese was having a fine time at the party, Karlie began to panic. She became frantic and impossible to console.
Donald stated: “She got scared of the music. She got scared of me.”
Something terrified Karlie so much that night, she no longer cared about pretending she was at her high school's football game. Karlie called her stepmother less than an hour later and asked if she would come pick her up from the trailer park, saying:
"Never mind, hurry up. I changed my mind, come get me. I'm booking it down Dixon Lane. Hurry, hurry, hurry, I'm scared."
Dixon Lane, Bishop, California
Melissa immediately agreed and Karlie came clean about having gone to a party instead of a football game. On her way to get Karlie, Melissa Guse recalled that her stepdaughter did not want to get off the phone and that she was extremely adamant about wanting to be picked up immediately. But when Melissa arrived at the trailer park that night, Karlie was nowhere to be seen.
She continued driving around, searching for Karlie. That's when she spotted a faint light, coming straight for her. Guided by the light of her cellphone, Karlie was frantically making a beeline for Melissa's car in the pitch darkness. In a state of complete hysteria, Karlie jumped into the backseat. According to Melissa:
“She was really pale, looked like a ghost. Her pupils were really dilated.”
Even though Karlie was now safe in the car and far away from whatever had sent her into a state of alarm, she was still panicking. She kept jumping from seat to seat, worrying that somehow the car would kill her and repeating over and over again how scared she was. Melissa Guse later informed police that her stepdaughter had admitted to smoking a substance at the party she had attended and that she seemed excessively paranoid and on edge, even after she returned back home. At one point, it took Melissa almost 15 minutes to calm Karlie down, but she had refrained from taking her to the hospital, because she did not feel that Karlie was in immediate physical danger.
Melissa believed Karlie was just having a bad reaction to something she had taken at the party. But this was just the beginning of Karlie's distressing breakdown. Safe back at home, Melissa and Zachary Guse both claim that Karlie was continuing to act very erratically. According to Zachary, he had gotten home from work and had a couple beers when Melissa and Karlie showed up. He said that his daughter would huddle in the corner and act almost afraid of her parents one minute, and then the next, she would be telling them how much she loved them. He also explained that she was particularly afraid of her phone and her parents being around her.
Melissa and Zachary kept asking Karlie what was wrong, but she kept telling them she didn't know.
She begged Melissa to spend the night with her, wanting to paint her toenails, color, and read the Bible. In between her odd requests, Karlie's mental state was a complete rollercoaster, up and down, every few minutes. She would regain her senses one moment to fall back into a state of complete and utter paranoia. At one point in the night, after dealing with Karlie's nonstop erratic behavior, Melissa took out her cellphone to secretly record Karlie with the intention of showing her the following morning.
She figured this would be an important lesson: show Karlie how she behaved while she was under the influence. Karlie had already gotten suspended from school for a month for her use of this particular substance and had to attend counseling on school campus. Although these two secretly recorded videos have not been released to the public, multiple accounts describe the footage as a short clip of Karlie repeatedly saying that she is scared but doesn't know why.
However, once Karlie's private investigators got their hands on this footage and showed her biological mother, Lindsay Fairley ,her mother claimed that the footage told a very different, extremely disturbing story. According to Lindsay, Karlie was begging Melissa to call 911, but she continued refusing to do so. Melissa counteracted this later on, stating that one video captured Karlie asking:
"If something were to happen, would you call 911?" and Melissa answered, "Of course."
Fox News was granted permission to listen to one of the two recordings, revealing more of Karlie's fragile mental state that night—and it's pretty chilling. According to Fox: “Karlie's shaking voice conveyed deep angst, saying she didn't want to sleep in case she was killed and asking Melissa to call 911, if needed. The teary teen apologized and allegedly continued in something of a panic mode, littered with ‘I love you’s and ‘hi’s, talking to her stepmon, who appeared to have been calmly talking her down until after 3 AM.”
According to Doug Kari from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who also listened to the audio: “At one point, in the eight-minute audio, Karlie says, ‘I really messed up today,’ and Melissa tries to sooth her by saying, ‘We all do things in life that we regret, substances especially.’ After Melissa urges Karlie to get some sleep, the troubled girl responds, ‘No, I don't want to go to sleep. You're gonna kill me.’ Melissa tries to reason with her. ‘Why would I kill you? That's preposterous.’
‘I'm just thinking all this demonic stuff,’ Karlie sobs. ‘I can't help it.’”
Shortly after the video was filmed, Melissa prompted Karlie to eat a little something before going to sleep and tried to give her a salad and energy bar, before helping her to bed. Karlie would not take anything. She spat the salad out in disgust, saying it was the devil's lettuce.
According to a Facebook comment allegedly written by Melissa, Karlie had also been writing on a piece of paper that night, for a few hours.
Whatever she wrote remains a complete mystery.
What could Karlie possibly have been writing for hours?
While trying to calm Karlie down, Melissa was texting Karlie's boyfriend, Donald, who was deeply worried about her.
Karlie and her boyfriend, Donald.
This next text caught the attention of many internet sleuths, who found it rather suspicious. In a text to Donald, at 1:27 AM, Melissa asked him to please pray. Karlie's behavior only continued to escalate as the night wore on. According to one video from a collection of Facebook live streams Melissa made, Karlie was so paranoid that she would not let her stepmother out of her sight and was determined to stay by her side the entire night.
Melissa stated in her Facebook video: “And then she was like, ‘Can we go to bed?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And she was like, ‘Well,can you come sleep with me?’” She even asked Melissa if she would sleep with her for security. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, why not? Whatever, I'll lay with you and watch a movie.’”
That's when the unthinkable happened.
Now, this is where Melissa's story starts to get a bit fuzzy, raising a lot of suspicion on the internet. At first, Melissa Guse reported that she had put Karlie to bed and spent the night in her own room. When she then went to check on Karlie and her brothers at around 5:45 a.m., she found everyone present and nothing was out of the ordinary, until she checked again, around 7:45 a.m., and Karlie was missing.
However, Melissa later changed her story and claimed that she had spent the entire night by Karlie's side to make sure she was safe and comfortable. She stated that the last time she saw her stepdaughter, she was in bed beside her at around 5:45 AM.
She briefly woke up before drifting back to sleep, noticing Karlie was still awake with her eyes wide open. Then, when Melissa woke again, around 7:15 AM to 7:30 AM, Karlie was gone.
The front door was left ajar.
A single fresh footprint, believed to be Karlie's, left a lone track on the driveway.
A lot of speculation was thrown around concerning these changes in Melissa Guse's story, as many concerned citizens found it odd that so many important details had changed from one of the last people to have seen Karlie. Was this an overwhelmed stepmother who was unsure of what to day when reporters first began questioning her? Did she carry guilt for not having watched Karlie more closely?
Soon after discovering her absence, Melissa and Zachary Guse assumed that Karlie had gone for a walk in the neighborhood to clear her head. Concerned over her mental state from the night before, the two of them jumped in their cars and began driving around, frantically attempting to locate her.
When they failed to find her, her father gave his ex-wife, Karlie's biological mother, Lindsay, a call to inform her that Karlie was missing. Lindsay was adamant that something seemed wrong with this phone call. She stated: “At 9:35 AM on Saturday, October 13th, I was notified by her father, my ex-husband, that she was gone. Gone to me is a huge red flag and has never sat easily with me.”
He then called the Momo County Sheriff's Department and reported her missing. To make matters even more unnerving, the couple also noticed that Karlie's cellphone was still at home, which was very uncharacteristic of the teenager and further raised their cause for concern.
Karlie's boyfriend, Donald, came over to the house after receiving the call that she was missing. According to Donald, he swore he spotted Karlie's cellphone by her bed, but according to Melissa, it had been on the island in the kitchen the entire time.
Once the police began their investigation of Karlie's disappearance, they uncovered three separate witnesses who claimed to have seen someone matching her description walking throughout her neighborhood early on the morning of her disappearance.
According to Mono County Sheriff's, the witnesses are very credible and they have no reason to doubt them: “They are very credible witnesses. We have no reason to doubt them. Two of the witnesses, the first two, knew Karlie, and they had seen her before. So we do not have any reason to question their credibility.”
The first two witnesses actually knew Karlie, and they had seen her before. They have no reason to question their credibility. One witness was an educator, another, a retired law enforcement, and the final witness was a wooder.
Richard Eddy, who lived just on the street from the Guses, was unwinding in his Jacuzzi hot tub, sipping a hot cup of coffee, when he spotted a girl with long hair walking by at about 6:30 AM to 6:45 AM. But something just didn't seem right about the girl he saw.
He stated: “She was looking up, looking around at the sky” with a piece of paper in her hands. “It was kind of unusual. We don't have a lot of kids out walking.”
Another witness, Kenneth Dutton, who lived just down the street and around the corner from the Guses, claims he saw Karlie walking by that morning as well, also holding a piece of paper in her hands. It has been speculated by Karlie's family that the piece of paper was for the counseling sessions Karlie had been attending prior to her disappearance.
Melissa indicated in an interview with “Dateline” that the third final witness, the wooder, told her they had seen someone who looked like Karlie at the corner of Highway 6, around a mile away from her family home, mysteriously standing on the inside of a barbed wire fence at around 7 AM to 7:30 AM. Melissa's accounts of the clothing Karlie was wearing when she vanished also raised many eyebrows.
She first reported that Karlie was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and skinny jeans. But once the eyewitness accounts surfaced, some believed that she seemed to, yet again, change a piece of her story. She then claimed Karlie had actually been wearing gray sweatpants. This was a description that many speculated conveniently matched those who believe they saw her walking throughout the neighborhood. She later stated, on Nancy Grace's podcast, that the actual last time she saw Karlie, she was wearing a T-shirt and undergarments.
She didn't know if gray sweatpants or skinny jeans were missing from Karlie's wardrobe, explaining that she had too many clothes to tell. Despite the reported sightings and massive search efforts to find Karlie using scent dogs and helicopters, the wandering 16-year-old girl is still missing almost a year and a half later. Over time, news of this case went viral.
Thousands of people nationwide joined Facebook Groups, such as Bring Karlie Home and Justice for Karlie Guse, in hopes of finding some piece of information that would be the turning point in her disappearance.
The Karlie Guse press conference in 2019.
But in October of 2019, a detective at the Mono County Sheriff's Department stated: “We are no closer to finding Karlie.” Meanwhile, the groups dedicated to bringing Karlie home descended into drama, viciously turning on each other.
People have primarily joined two different sides with two very different stories theorizing what happened to Karlie Guse. These two camps have been embroiled in a deeply personal battle with accusations of doxxing and harassment flying from both sides. Both sides also cite sources and information surrounding Karlie's disappearance that we can't independently verify.
We're going to go over it all now, so you could decide. Now let's get into camp number one.
One of the darkest and more recurrent theories surrounding Karlie's disappearance places Melissa Guse at the center of the case. This is also the group that Karlie biological mother, Lindsay, has firmly sided on. Thousands of comments from Reddit users have examined the possibility that perhaps Melissa accidentally caused Karlie's death by poorly handling her reaction to substances at the party, and ultimately, scrambled to find a way to cover her tracks. The evidence they use to support this theory is heavily rooted in the fact that Melissa changed multiple aspects of the story she gave.
“There's no need for negativity. A lot of people are bashing, and I don't care, whatever. And right to that person, you don't know me. You don't know what I'm going through. You don't know what we're going through.”
Now this next detail sent red flags up in the minds of many. There were claims Melissa, suspiciously, had detail work done on her car immediately following her stepdaughter's disappearance, leading into even more theories. Melissa stated:
“I drove my Corolla out in the boonies, over boulders.”
Since Melissa and Zachary first searched for Karlie in their own vehicles, could Melissa have accidentally hit and fatally injured her stepdaughter and covered it up? Additional comments around this theory zero in on the stepmother's somewhat shifty behavior during her Facebook Live videos. Those skeptical of Melissa describe her eyes constantly darting around screen as she films herself, giving often-changing information to her followers about her stepdaughter's disappearance.
They claim Melissa has rarely questioned where Karlie might have ended up and has never made any video begging someone to come forward or speaking directly to the teen to come home herself. Skeptics asked: Does this mean she knows this outcome would be impossible, or is she simply attempting to manage her grief?
In fact, as it turns out, Melissa and Zachary did speak directly to Karlie at Mono County Sheriff's press conference on October 11th, 2019. They stated: “Hi, Karlie. Hi, Kar Bear. I hope you're watching this. I miss you so much.”
In addition, Lindsay, Karlie's biological mother, claims she heard the audio captured the night before Karlie vanished. According to Lindsay, at the end of the audio, there was some sort of scuffle. Alarmed, Lindsay asked what happened at the end and Melissa allegedly just walked away.
Karlie with her father, Zac.
Lindsay also wrote an accusatory post on Facebook in which she described Zac saying:
“At least you have an alibi, Lindsay. You're in Nevada.”
A quick browse around Facebook pulls up a couple of people who have gotten so invested in this theory, to the point that it seems almost a bit creepy. One Facebook user posted that they heard from multiple people that Melissa and Zachary had pulled Karlie's two younger brothers from school, with someone chiming in:
"Has anyone talked to any of the teachers?"
Now let's get into the second camp. Believing Melissa's changing stories aren't as big of a deal as some claim, camp number two points to a few different theories. They also cite disturbing alleged clues leading up to Karlie's disappearance that haven't been mentioned anywhere else. According to some posts, Karlie called a certain hotline for people who feel like taking their own life just weeks before vanishing and had a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, Donald.
She also had a counselor at the local medical center.
According to The Charley Project: Karlie's final text to her boyfriend at 10:15 PM claimed that the substance she smoked had been laced.
Perhaps Karlie was still experiencing intense paranoia and erratic behavior from the night before. Maybe she simply wandered off into the desert surrounding her rural neighborhood, and fell victim to the harsh environment. Did Karlie take a different substance that night, explaining her huge dilated pupils? It turns out, not long before she disappeared, she had asked her biological mother about a psychedelic substance.
Some also point to what they believe is Donald's unusual behavior the night of Karlie's panic, citing his alleged comment in a Facebook Group. Now this is where things get really, really weird.
Donald allegedly wrote:
“No, me and Karlie were walking almost to my house, and she got so damned scared, it was scaring me. So I looked her in the eyes and said, Karlie, baby, you are safe with me. And then she got this horrified look on her face and started screaming my name. So I wrapped my arms around her to hold her, and she bit my side and was pushing away. So I let go, and she told me not to follow her and to go home, so I stayed in the middle of the street, for like 20. I wanted to chase after my baby, but it was pitch black, and I didn't want to scare her anymore. To this day, I wish I had chased after her. I wish we had made it to my house. I wish none of this happened.”
And if that wasn't strange enough, Donald also stated on Facebook about 10 days after Karlie vanished that there was no party the night before she disappeared.
The actual Facebook comment.
According to Donald's Facebook posts, he said:
"No party, Karlie got picked up on the way to my house."
He also said: "Me nor Karlie had been to any parties, and, no, I wasn't at any party the next damn night."
The actual Facebook comment.
This completely conflicts with many news articles, including NBC News, which states: “According to her mother Lindsay, Karlie's boyfriend Donald would later say that after hanging out with friends for a while, Karlie started not to feel well and wanted to leave the party.”
Source: nbcnews.com (https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/missing-in-america/sixteen-year-old-karlie-gus-missing-after-vanishing-california-home-n923066)
In a private conversation that was shared on Facebook, Donald allegedly stated the following as well:
“Me and Karlie did smoke. It was at my friend's house, at like 7 PM, not a party. She got very scared, so we started walking back to my house. Karlie got scared and ran from me and called Melissa. That was the last time I saw her. She got scared of me and started screaming my name and then pushed me away and told me not to come near her and stay away, and that was when she called Melissa and started running. I tried to hold her and calm her down.”
Now let's cover some more theories. Another possibility for the whereabouts of Karlie Guse point to the many travelers that frequent the highway she was potentially seen walking near. Commenters on many of the Facebook pages dedicated to Karlie's return have shared local knowledge of the fact that truck drivers frequent this highway for early-morning routes.
They speculate that she could have possibly been picked up by someone who had evil intentions of kidnapping young girls.
Police were able to uncover what they believe to be Karlie's footprints along the highway, but no viable path could be followed from what was found.
If Karlie had been suffering a continued bad experience from substance usage from the party the night before, she could have very easily fallen victim to someone passing by while still being in a confused mental state, only standing five feet, seven inches and weighing just 115 pounds.
Although search parties have scoured the areas surrounding her home and the highway to no avail, maybe she slipped and fell in a ravine and was unable to find her way back home.
Regardless of how she happened to disappear from her bed, a year and a half ago, the nation will continue to wait and watch in hopes of some clue manifesting to lead to Karlie Guse's whereabouts.