Details of Disappearance Christopher was last seen hiking with his mother and younger brother on Grey Rock Mountain Trail in the Poudre Canyon in Poudre Park, Colorado, off Highway 14, on April 30, 1978. He hiked ahead of his family, apparently lost the trail, and disappeared. His mother reported him missing at 5:30 p.m., three hours after she last saw him.
There were several other hikers on the trail that day, both alone and in small groups. Three of them, a man named Allen Shoupan and two women, came forward and gave statements to the police, but most of the hikers have never been identified.
The two women who came forward were hiking together and they saw Christopher. They also saw a man sitting on some rocks. They described the man as dark-haired and -complected, wearing a straw cowboy type hat, with a camera hanging from his neck. This man has never been identified; he was not Shoupan.
The two women sat down to have lunch not far from the dark-haired man. During their meal they heard two voices, one of which was a young boy's; they assumed the boy was Christopher. They couldn't make out what was being said, but the boy started yelling and one of the women felt something was wrong. She wanted to investigate, but was too afraid to do so.
After a short time, the yelling stopped. The two women finished eating and went back down the trial. They passed the spot where the dark-haired man was sitting, but he was gone. They did find a Diet Pepsi can lying on the ground there, however. One of the women picked it up, put it in her backpack, and later threw it in the trash.
Christopher was carrying a can of Diet Pepsi, his favorite drink, when he disappeared. Littering was uncharacteristic of his behavior. 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 been hiking on the Grey Rock trail before and was 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.
- Larimer County Sheriff's Office
Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 23, 2021; age-progression updated.