The day of January 25, 2002, started off just like any other for 20-year old Christopher Thompkins. He got up, said good bye to his mother, who he lived with, and left for his job as a surveyor at 8:10 AM that morning. Thompkins met up with the other three members of his 4-man surveyor team and went about their daily routine of survey work at an expanse of lightly wooded area off County Line Road, near Highway 85, in Ellerslie, Georgia. The team moved as a unit, each man spaced 50 feet apart in a line as they worked their way in the same direction through the forest. Thompkins, who was the last in the line, was keeping regular communications with the others and he and the man in front of him were within eyesight of each other.
At one point the surveyor in front glanced back toward Thompkins, who had just been talking to him moments before, to find he was suddenly and inexplicably gone. It didn’t make any sense because the man had just been there several seconds before, but now there was nothing, and nowhere he could have gone without being seen. The surveyor called the others and they searched the area, but what they found only made it all even weirder. Nearby was one of Christopher’s work boots hanging from a barbed wire fence that stretched through the area, with no sign of the other boot. In a patch of grass next to the boot were his work tools, a blue fiber from his work pants, and twelve cents. That was it, and it seemed as if Christopher Thompkins had simply blinked out of existence.
It would not be until 1 PM, around 4 hours after the disappearance, that one of the other surveyor’s would finally call their boss to say that Christopher had “vanished,” and oddly enough the missing man’s own mother was not told about the incident until 4:15 PM. Even then she was informed that they had to wait 24 hours for the police to do anything, and when the authorities finally stepped in they were not able to find any additional clues as to what had happened to him. A more intensive search was launched but nothing was turned up until months later, when the missing work boot was bizarrely found by chance on the private property of a man who lived 900 yards from where Christopher had gone missing.
How did this man just go missing in practically the blink of an eye in full view, only to leave behind just one boot? Where could he have gotten to so fast and why were there no other signs of him anywhere? What happened to Christopher Thompkins? The disappearance has long remained baffling, and was first brought to mainstream attention when it was mentioned in the famous series of books on vanishings, The Missing 411, by David Paulides, and as with many cases of people who have vanished into thin air theories as to what happened to him have varied from the mundane to the truly bizarre.
One of the first ideas was that there had been some sort of foul play involved. After all, the surveyors with him did not report the disappearance for several hours, more than enough time for them to murder him and dispose of the body, allowing them to make up whatever story they liked. However, there was no motive at all for this, no evidence of foul play, and none of the other surveyors were ever seriously interrogated or investigated on the matter. There was also the idea that Thompkins had simply walked off the job and run off to start a new life, an idea supported by his boss’s claim that Christopher had been acting strangely in the days leading up to the vanishing, but his own mother adamantly denied this, saying in an article for the Ledger-Enquirer, “Chris lived with me and I saw him every day. There was neither strange behavior on his part nor any distress.”
Indeed, many of his friends and family would insist that Thompkins had been a well-adjusted, happy individual, and his co-workers painted a picture of a respectable, hard-working individual. There is also the question of, if he did walk away then how did he manage to do it in full view of the others, and why did he do it minus one boot and while leaving behind those other bizarre clues? Another idea still was that he might have been attacked by a wild animal, but if that were the case why wouldn’t there be more evidence of a struggle or injury, and how could this possibly happen within moments and within eyesight of the other surveyor without him knowing? It doesn’t make sense.
This is where we get into some of the more far-out theories that have made the rounds. One idea is that Christopher had seen something out there that he was not supposed to and was silenced by some mysterious party, with the authorities in on it all, explaining the lag time in informing the family. Even weirder still is the idea that some mysterious and very powerful force had actually picked him up and carried him off, with his belongings snagged on the fence as he was carried off. Ghosts? UFO? Bigfoot? Who knows? There are even the ideas that the culprit could be some sort of vortex, a rift between dimensions, or even the doing of ancient Native American spirits or curses from the days when the Native Creek people were massacred and driven from these lands by encroaching settlers. Of course there is no evidence whatsoever for any of these more outlandish possibilities either, and they serve merely to add a layer of additional bizarreness to an already bizarre case. What happened to Christopher Thompkins? It remains a complete mystery.