On January 9, 2021, fifty-year-old Christopher Woitel of San Francisco, sent a final text message to his niece pleading with her to urge his sister, Lara Haben, to check her messages. Haben discovered a text from Woitel, explaining that he had insufficient funds to make it out to the mountains where he said he wanted to stay with friends, and asked her to deposit money into his bank account. When Lara tried to call him, he didn’t pick up, nor did he respond to multiple attempts to make contact over the next 48 hours. There would be no more activity on his bank account after January 8 and he would never make it to his friends in the mountains.
On January 11, 2021, Woitel’s family, who, for the most part reside in Missouri, filed an official missing person report with the San Francisco Police Department. Initially, police did not consider the absence suspicious and it would take the department a month to actively investigate Woitel’s disappearance as a missing person case.
Unable to sit around and let time pass waiting for the San Francisco Police Department to act, Woitel’s family hired private investigator, Scott Williams, in an attempt to locate their missing loved one.
Christopher Woitel displayed paranoid behaviour days before he went missing, including text messages to friends and family asking for money and social media updates where he talked of running away to the mountains. Woitel had been posting continuously about the capitol riots in Washington, DC, and said he feared the mobs of protesters would flood the local area. His posts reportedly became more and more erratic, with the final updates describing how he heard a voice through a megaphone from a passing car calling to residents to evacuate the area. He claimed that he also heard explosions.
Woitel lives in a third-floor apartment on Guerrero Street. When investigators checked CCTV footage from the complex, they saw Christopher Woitel enter with a bottle of wine in one hand, but did not see him leave. Woitel was last seen entering the building on the night of January 8, 2021. CCTV did not show him leave the apartment and the security chain on his front door was still latched from the inside. Police are unsure how the man exited the building as he was not picked up exiting through the backdoor. Woitel is described by friends and family members as giving and intelligent. Although he worked as a computer programmer for most of his working life, he quit due to issues with his mental health and was living off government benefits at the time he went missing. He was well-liked in the local community and when asked about Woitel, neighbours recalled him warmly and shared stories of all the times he helped them out. Helping those in need was something Woitel started doing after the death of his partner ten years earlier. He actively fed homeless people in the community, getting to know many of them and allowing them to use his facilities. One neighbour even said Woitel had saved his life after his kidneys failed and the man rushed him to a local hospital.
Woitel’s family travelled from Missouri to San Francisco to hand out flyers to those passing by the street the missing man lived on.
He became emotionally attached and attracted to one of the homeless local men in particular, a man known as Bood. The pair had bonded during Bood’s many stays at Woitel’s apartment, but the attraction was one-sided. Bood had no interest in Christopher Woitel romantically, but he stayed at his place when he needed to and allowed the man to pay for whatever he wanted, including his cell phone bill. When Bood didn’t get what he asked for, he would throw a fit. When asked to describe the homeless man with whom Woitel was so infatuated, a friend described him as large and looming with an interest in the occult. The pair had an argument over social media the night that Christopher Woitel went missing, they both used Woitel’s account and the heated exchange of words was regarding money. Woitel was the last to send a message, he was angry and heated and told Bood never to come to the apartment again.
Williams managed to track Bood down in Emeryville, but when questioned the man reportedly spoke nonsense. He claimed Woitel had been murdered by several people and told the P.I that robbery was the motive. When asked who killed Woitel he referred to several individuals by their first names only. Bood had Woitel's phone on his person, it was out of battery and wet when he showed it to Williams. Woitel's family explained that he would often lend the phone to Bood, who claimed he bought it from the missing man on January 7, 2021.
Continuing with the same disorganized speech pattern, Bood claimed that he was able to psychically see Woitel's body wrapped in plastic with a bullet hole to the head. He even provided a location: a body of water near an abandoned warehouse in Mariposa Street. No body has yet been found.
Christopher Woitel is still missing and although those following the case speculate Bood may be involved in Woitel’s disappearance, the missing man’s family believe Bood is too physically impaired to move the 5”10, 200lb Woitel alone, on account of a leg injury that causes him to limp. Although the Emeryville Police Department has not yet publicly commented about the case, reports state that Williams uncovered an aggravated assault charge in Pennsylvania against Bood's name.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the San Francisco Police Department 24-hour tip line on: (415) 575-4444
Update: The body of Christopher Woitel was discovered by police in his apartment over a month after he was reported missing on January 13, 2021. His body was found in the crawlspace above his bathroom and police believe he accessed it through the roof. Woitel's cause of death has not yet been released.