Details of Disappearance Christopher stayed home from school on April 20, 1990. He said he had a bad headache and planned to stay home from school. His father went away on a business trip that day and his mother left him alone at their Eagan, Minnesota residence, after giving him an over-the-counter pain medication for his headache.
When they came home, the family's light blue 1988 Dodge Caravan was gone, the family dog was running around loose, and there was a note on the kitchen table from Christopher reading: "Mom, Something important came up + feeling somewhat better. Back by six. (Unless I get lost.) Love, Chris" The word "lost" in the note was underlined twice. Christopher's mother believes his statement about getting lost was just a reference to the fact that he occasionally got lost while he was driving.
Christopher never arrived home and has never been heard from again. He withdrew $200 from his savings account the day he disappeared. The next day, a handwritten note arrived at his parents' home, postmarked Duluth, Minnesota; that town is about two and a half hours from Eagan.
The note said Christopher had lied about being sick so he could use the family's car to get away "to not even I know where." He said he intended to take his own life, and apologized for hurting his family and loved ones.
Two days after Christopher was last seen, the Dodge Caravan was found abandoned on the roadside in Itasca County in northern Minnesota, near the George Washington State Forest and the Chippewa National Forest, about twenty miles north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Christopher's grandparents lived in Grand Rapids. Inside the van were the keys and a note from Christopher explaining who owned the van.
An extensive search of the area turned up no indication of his whereabouts; it's possible he hitchhiked to an unknown destination. After Christopher's disappearance, his family got a tip from someone who claimed they'd picked up a hitchhiker resembling him who asked to be taken to Duluth, the place where the suicide note had been mailed from. This story has not been verified.
The family also got a lot of strange calls where the caller would not speak and there would be background noise like a party. Christopher's mother believes the strange calls were from him. They continued for six months before stopping abruptly.
In 2004, the Eagan Police Department got an anonymous letter postmarked Seattle, Washington that asked them to stop looking for Christopher. The letter writer said Christopher was a "guardian angel" and that he would return home when he was ready. Police eventually concluded the letter was a hoax.
Prior to his disappearance, Christopher hadn't given any indications there were problems in his life. He was an excellent student who'd been invited to join the National Honor Society and was a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist, and he was a member of his school's swimming team and played the clarinet. His other hobbies included skiing, camping, reading, laser tag and computers.
Christopher was carrying his father's 1954 to 1956 model Mossberg 20-gauge bolt-action shotgun with a three-shell clip at the time of his disappearance, but he apparently didn't take any ammunition with him. Authorities believe the gun may have been abandoned somewhere in rural Minnesota and was possibly found later by a hunter.
Photos of a similar gun, and watch similar to what Christopher was wearing, are posted with this case summary. Investigators would like to hear from anyone who found such a gun in 1990 or afterwards.
Christopher's case remains unsolved and many agencies classify it as a runaway. His parents still live in the house where they lived in 1990, and have kept the same phone number. Police believe it's likely he took his own life and that his body has not been found yet.
- Eagan Police Department
Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 1, 2018; four pictures added, details of disappearance updated.