Details of Disappearance Christian was last seen in Anchorage, Alaska on November 3, 1966. He left his parents' home in the 4300 block of north Star Road, ran some errands, went to a drive-in movie theater, and then called his girlfriend after the movie was over. She said he seemed to be in a good mood and planned to wash his car, attend a car club meeting and then go home. He never arrived at the car club meeting, never came home and has never been heard from again.
The next day, Christian's 1963 Chevrolet Impala was found abandoned and his parents reported him missing. The police initially believed he was a runaway, even though he'd left his cherished car behind.
There was a break in the case in 1974, when James Ronald Ethridge applied for a job with the police in Spokane, Washington. He was a former student at East High School in Anchorage, where Christian had also attended for only a few weeks before he transferred to West Anchorage High School. As part of the interview process, Ethridge was asked if he knew of any unsolved felonies. He then told the story of Christian's murder.
According to Ethridge, Christian had dated a certain girl while attending East High School. The girl had also dated another East High School student, Roger Padie, who became jealous of Christian and started carrying a .22 pistol in his car. On the night of Christian's disappearance, he and Padie met on Sand Lake Road to discuss the situation. Padie told him to stay away from the girl, then grabbed the gun out of his car. Christian tried to wrestle it away from him and Padie shot him in the head, then shot him again after Mike fell.
Ethridge stated after Christian's death, Padie put his body in his car trunk and drove away, but developed a bad tire and had to pull over on Turpin Road. Another classmate, Arthur Melickian, stopped to assist him and they put Christian's body into Melickian's car's trunk, drove it to Ethridge's house, and asked him to help them. Ethridge told them he didn't want anything to do with it, and Melickian told him not to tell anyone.
Melickian and Padie then drove the car to the home of two other classmates, Ken Wise and Roman Lenz, and moved Christian's body into Lenz's car. An unnamed female classmate as at their house, and all five of them got into the car and drove wet on 15th Avenue. An Anchorage police officer pulled them over for a routine traffic stop, did not realize anything was wrong and did not search the car. The group drove around town, dropped off Wise and the female classmate, and went east on Glenn Highway. They pulled off a then-unnamed dirt road at Eagle River, drove for a time, and stopped. Lenz and Padie buried Christian's body in a shallow grave and Melickian stayed in the car.
After news of Ethridge's statement in Washington reached Anchorage police, they reopened the investigation into Mike's disappearance. On May 9, 1975, Padie was arrested and indicted for first-degree murder. The alleged accomplices were not indicted because the statute of limitations had expired in 1971.
Padie's first murder trial ended in a mistrial. In the second one, the defense admitted his guilt but emphasized that he had led a law-abiding life in the years since, and asked for probation. Midway through the second trial, the defense offered a deal to the prosecution, which was accepted. Padie pleaded no contest to manslaughter. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Christian's body has never been found. Although Padie did lead authorities to the site where it was said to be buried, nothing could be located there; it's possible the grave was disturbed by animals. Foul play is suspected in Christian's case due to the circumstances involved.
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated April 20, 2021; casefile added.