On April 9, 1979, 7-year-old Charles was last seen in Santa Ana, California with his father, Dennis. He went to work with Dennis, who delivered water tanks to businesses and private homes.
After Dennis finished work, he left Charles at the corner of Chestnut Avenue and Lyon Street while he went to unload his truck because he didn't want his boss to find out that he took Charles to work with him because children were not allowed to ride in the trucks.
Dennis told Charles to walk to an address in the 300 block of south Lyon Street and wait to be picked up. When Dennis went to the designated location 10 minutes later, Charles was gone. Dennis searched the neighborhood for half an hour and then notified the police.
At the time of his disappearance, Charles's parents were fighting over custody of him; his mother had legal custody, but he had lived with Dennis for most of his life. He and Dennis had traveled from Colorado to California three weeks beforehand so he could attend a custody hearing scheduled for April 26th.
Authorities looked into the possibility that one of the parents was hiding Charles, but they found no evidence to support this theory.
Convicted child killer James Crummel is the prime suspect in Charles's disappearance, as well as in the 1995 disappearance of 9-year-old Jack Phillips from Big Bear Lake, California. He was a violent serial sexual abuser with a record of child molestation dating back to the 1960s. All but one of his known victims were boys in roughly the same age group as Charles and Jack.
In August of 1967, Crummel abducted a 14-year-old Wisconsin boy, molested him and beat him almost to death. He served 5 years of a 30-year sentence for the crime.
In 1983, he was convicted of the February 1967 murder of an Arizona boy and sentenced to life in prison, but the conviction was overturned in 1987 due to ineffective counsel. Crummel ended up pleading guilty to kidnapping in the Arizona case and was released later that year.
In 1997, Crummel was charged with the murder of a thirteen-year-old neighbor boy, James Wilfred "Jamey" Trotter, who disappeared in 1979. In 1990, Crummel "discovered" the boy's skull, but it wasn't identified until 1996.
After his murder arrest, investigators approached Crummel about Jack's case and he offered to confess to Jack's murder if prosecutors would not seek the death penalty for the Trotter murder, but the deal was turned down and Crummel was convicted of Jamey Trotter's murder in 2004 & sentenced to death.
In June of 2012, James Crummel committed suicide on death row by hanging himself with an electric cord. He didn't leave a note.
Charles is missing under suspicious circumstances and investigators believe that he may have met with foul play. His case remains unsolved.
Charles is described as a Caucasian male with brown hair, blue eyes, a height of 3'0 and weighs 45 pounds. He was last seen wearing a blue denim Levi's jacket with U.S. Army patches on the arms & pockets, a multicolored t-shirt and blue pants. He has a scar on his forehead.
Charles' nicknames are Chris, Chrissy and Christy.