At the beginning of 2008, 23-year-old Christine Lindsey Walters had her whole life in order and a bright future ahead of her. A botany and ethnobotany student at the University of Wisconsin, she was known as intelligent and friendly, and a diligent student who loved nature and taught pilates and yoga part time. In the summer of 2008, she decided to take a trip out west from the home she shared in Deerfield with her parents in order to visit Portland, Oregon to meet a friend. The plan at the time was for her to take her trip and then return to her regular classes that Fall, but this simple summer trip was to turn into a bizarre odyssey for Walters, and a very weird unsolved mystery.
It all started out perfectly fine. Walters had simply fallen in love with the nature and lifestyle of Oregon and wanted to stay a little longer. She maintained regular contact with her parents, calling frequently and always seeming to be upbeat and cheerful. She ended up falling in with a group of friends out there and moved to Eureka, in Humboldt County, California, but even then, there was absolutely no reason to think anything was wrong, and it was just taken to be the adventurous spirit of a young woman with wanderlust. At Eureka she was along a beautiful stretch of rugged coast and its majestic redwood trees and mountains, the type of place Walters loved, and she was very excited about being there. However, things began to take a turn for the strange.
Her stay out west gradually began to draw her into the realms of spirituality and New Age beliefs. She began to fall in with a group of New Agers and participated in rituals and shamanic gatherings, such as what is called a “cleansing ceremony,” utilizing a hallucinogenic concoction produced from a South American vine, called ayahuasca. She purportedly also got heavily involved with an environmental group of spiritualists and a potential cult called of Green Life Evolutions, and she also began to ask her parents to borrow money more frequently. It was around this time that her calls to her parents began to trail off, until they barely heard from her and then all calls stopped and there was no word from her for several weeks.
Then, on the morning of November 12, 2008, Walters suddenly turned up on the doorstep of a random home in Arcata, completely naked, and with bloodied feet and little cuts and nicks all over her body. The young woman was babbling incomprehensibly, and was in some sort of dazed, trance-like state, which caused the family, who she did not know at all, to call the police. Walters was then taken to the hospital where her story would get even weirder than turning up naked, raving and nonsensical at a stranger’s door in the wee hours of the morning.
She told hospital staff that someone had been chasing her through the woods, and that the cuts she had sustained were from briar bushes, but she was very secretive about who it had been or why she had been nude. Drug and alcohol tests came back negative, so it was unclear just what exactly she was talking about or what had happened to her. It was only after she was discharged from the hospital that she would confide in her mother that she had been pursued by “demons” through the forest and that she had been “through hell and back,” without elaborating further except to say these forces could find her at any time. She did express her wish to return back to Wisconsin as soon as possible, and her father wired her $1,000 to help her out. It seems that at some point during her ordeal she had lost all of her identification and papers, so she had her mother fax some important documents to a copy center in Eureka. Things would only get stranger from there.
On November 14th, Walters turned up at the copy center in the middle of the day at 3:30 PM, looking a bit disheveled and dressed in nothing but her pajamas and slippers. She looked a bit rough, but otherwise appeared mostly normal, if a little on edge, and collected some copies of her driver’s license before asking the staff where the local DMV was. She then left the shop and made her way on foot towards the DMV, which was only less than a mile away, but she would never make it there. Two days later, on November 17 Walters was still nowhere to be seen, and was reported as missing. In her bank account sat the $1,000 her father had lent her, completely untouched, and a chapter of the Green Life Evolution Center in Arcata was found to have in their possession her backpack, money and the identification she claimed to have lost. Why would she have said she needed new ID when it was right there in her backpack all along? Who knows? The owner of the building told police that Walters often left her belongings there when she went out for hikes in the redwoods. It seems that this particular hike had turned out far stranger than most.
The case of Christine Walters has gone on to be a bit of a conundrum. There has been no clue whatsoever as to what has happened to her, no leads, nothing. She has just evaporated off the face of the earth. We are left to wonder what her strange appearance at that stranger’s house meant, and her ramblings about being chased by demons and someone being out to get her. We can only guess as to why she appeared at that copy shop in her pajamas to get ID that she already had left behind at that center, and what happened to her after that. It has been theorized that her cleansing ceremony and the effects of the ayahuasca might have caused some psychotic break, but her test for drugs and alcohol had come clean. Another idea is that she fell in with a bad crowd and had been the victim of foul play, and her mother has said of this:
I believe she was too trusting of the people she met in California. She didn’t know the people and didn’t understand the culture out there. And I know there are a lot of young adults who go out there and don’t want to be found. I honestly believe that is not the case for her. If she said that now, she would be totally brainwashed. Her and I were very close. After 23 years of raising her, I realized she was with different people in a different environment with different ideas. These ideas were not very good. It was after this tea ceremony that things went bad.
However, there is no way to know if this is true or not, and none of the people she was known to hang out with have ever been treated as a person of interest. The case and all of its odd details have stoked puzzlement ever since, with one private investigator hired by the Walters family lamenting, “This has been one of the most baffling cases I have seen in my twenty-years of investigating missing person cases throughout this country.” The case has never been solved, Christine’s family continue to look for answers, and it is unclear what will become of this really quite strange vanishing.