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Episode 71

The Humboldt Five, Part 1

October 12, 2020   Tags: , ,
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Billy and Paul begin their look into the Humboldt Five with this first part of a two part series. They delve into the missing person cases of Jennifer Wilmer, Karen Mitchell and Christine Walters. Each young woman disappeared near Humboldt County and hasn't been seen again. The circumstances swirl around the California Redwoods, marijuana, the Grateful Dead and an infamous potential serial killer. Our job? To find answers--and justice--for the Humboldt Five.

Jennifer Wilmer:
Jennifer Wilmer had always bucked against authority and cared for those who weren’t included or protected.  So it wasn’t terribly surprising when Jennifer decided to embrace the hippie culture. She became a Deadhead. And when she was 20-years-old she left a full scholarship behind at St. John’s University to relocate to Arcata, California. It’s an oceanside town about 200 miles north of San Francisco--where a good bit of the counter hippie culture had relocated. 

But as the summer of 1993 dragged on, Jennifer began to experience depression and sought counseling. She eventually called her mom Susan and told her she was ready to come home. Susan purchased Jennifer a plane ticket. All she had to do was go to a travel agency and activate it. 

But Jennifer told Susan she was going to move to the country with a group of friends and continue to give California a chance. She moved into a house in Trinity County with her boyfriend Tro and his friends--Mingo, Rebecca and Opie. 

On September 13, 1993, Jennifer left a note for her roommates:

“Bye everybody,
Went to my first day at the farm. Wish me luck! Good luck to you Mingo, and see you in a few months. If someone could give food to the kitten as needed I’d appreciate it. Hopefully I’ll see you folks later”

Signed with a heart and her name “Jade.” It would be the last correspondence Jennifer/Jade’s friends or family would have with her. 

Left behind at the house were Jennifer’s identification, clothes, address book, Bible, bankcard and sleeping bag. According to her mom, the sleeping bag was the most telling item left behind. No one in Jennifer’s lifestyle would leave to run away without their sleeping bag.

Karen Mitchell:
16-year-old Karen Mitchell moved in with her Aunt Anne and Uncle Bill Casper, but was still close to her mother Mary who lived in Orange County. In November 1997, Karen was attending Eureka High School and planning to graduate a year early to attend Humboldt State University to study environmental science.

The school was on Thanksgiving break. That week, on top of her normal job at Coastal Family Development Center, she was helping her aunt at her shoe store in the Bayshore Mall. On the morning of November 25th, Karen talked on the phone with her mom about colleges and financial aid. The two made plans for the holidays and then Karen went with her aunt to Annie’s Shoes. 

Aunt Anne asked her if she wanted a ride to the Coastal Family Development Center when she finished up at the store. Karen declined the offer. The daycare was only a mile away from the mall and it was pretty outside. So around 2:45 PM, Karen began the short walk to work.

Anne went to pick Karen up from the daycare, and was immediately worried to find out her niece never showed up to work her shift. The local sheriff’s department and the FBI came in to search for Karen. Family and friends drove around night and day looking for any sign of where she may have walked. The Karen Mitchell Call Center was set up. 

But by Christmas, most of the activity at the call center had dried up. There was one tip, however, that had come in that seemed to point to who may have taken Karen.

A retired Humboldt Sheriff officer called into the call center. He said he’d noticed Karen walking on Broadway, the street she would have taken from the mall to the daycare center, when a car pulled up next to her. The former officer was able to describe a light blue four door 1976 to 1978 sedan. He said it was either a Ford Grenada, a Mercury Monarch or a Nissan. He said the car had California plates and “Eureka” was on the rear plate’s frame. 

But the caller didn’t just describe the car. He also was able to describe the driver. It was an older white man--between 60 and 70 years old. He was balding with light gray or sandy blonde hair. The man had green or gray eyes and a large nose, which appeared to have been broken previously. He was small in stature and wore glasses. He was wearing a long-sleeved button down light blue shirt. 

Christine Walters:
23-year-old Christine Walters was studying botany and ethnobotany: the scientific study of the relationships between people and plants--at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 

In the Summer of 2008, she went to visit friends in Portland, Oregon. It was supposed to be a three week trip. But towards the end of those three weeks, she told her family she was going to Northern California, specifically Eureka. She would still be returning to Stevens Point in the fall. 

But Christine decided she liked the area and chose to stay a little longer. She was having problems finding regular work and asked her parents to send money. Her dad put a thousand dollars in her checking account.

She became immersed in the counterculture and spirituality that had spoken to Jennifer over a decade before. At first, she remained in regular contact with her family--but then it became sporadic.

Then, on November 12, 2008, Christine was found standing on the front porch of a house on Tompkins Hill Road in Arcata, California--the same town Jennifer often spent time in. She was naked, confused and covered in scratches that looked like they were from briars. Christine told the homeowner she was afraid--that someone was following her. She claimed demons were chasing her through the forest.  The homeowner called the police.

Law enforcement assumed Christine was on drugs and took her to St. Joseph’s Hospital. They screened her for drugs, but she came back clean--So they didn’t charge her with anything. Instead they took her to the nearby Red Lion Hotel on 4th Street. Once at the hotel, Christine talked to her family. She was ready to come home.

An airline ticket was booked, but Christine didn’t have any of the necessary documents to fly. She and her mom came up with a way for Christine to be able to get the required identification. Christine would have to go to the local copy store and receive a fax with her official government documents. And she did that on November 14th. 

People at the store said Christine seemed paranoid and video surveillance backed up what they saw. She was clutching the papers tightly and looking around. She left the copy store, and hasn’t been seen since.

Shortly after her disappearance Christine’s belongings were discovered at Green Life Evolution Center in Arcata. Her backpack had her money and the identification she was trying to replace in order to return home.

ASSIGNMENT:
The first case is that of Jennifer Wilmer, also known as Jade. She was last seen on September 13, 1993. She is a white female with brown hair and blue eyes. At the time she went missing her hair was in dreadlocks that she often wore pulled on top of her head. She has a faint scar on her left eyebrow and her ears are pierced. She would be 48 years old now. 

The second is the case of Karen Mitchell. Karen was last seen on Broadway, walking from Bayshore Mall to the Coastal Family Development Center in Eureka, California on November 25th, 1997. She was wearing a long-sleeved tan shirt, dark brown corduroy pants, tan leather shoes, small hoop earrings, three silver rings and a silver necklace with a crystal. She is a white female with sandy brown hair and blue-green eyes. She has pierced ears. She would be 40 years old.

The last case today is Christine Walters. She also used the names Airy Meadow, Airystar, Meadow and Star. Christine was last seen at a copy shop in Eureka on November 14th, 2008. She is a white female with strawberry blond hair and blue eyes. Her nose is pierced on the left and her ears each have multiple holes. Christine has a small black butterfly tattoo on her lower front hip. She also has a purple and green iris tattooed on the nape of her neck. She would be 35 years old now.
 
If you have any information on any of these cases, please contact us.   

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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