Sixteen-year-old Kristy told her family she was spending the night of August 1, 1997 at a girlfriend's home in Crestview, Florida, but she stayed at her boyfriend's instead; this was the first time she had spent the night with him.
Her boyfriend, Mack Cawthon, told authorities that Kristy departed his house on north Lloyd Street at approximately 5:00 a.m. on August 2, 1997. He asked her to leave his home early so his grandparents (who lived next door) wouldn't know that she had stayed there.
Mack's residence was located less than one mile from Kristy's family's Walnut Avenue house, about a fifteen-minute walk. She never arrived home and has never been heard from again.
In February of 1998, six months after Kristy's disappearance, a bag containing clothing belonging to her was found in a wooded area behind the Crestview Plaza Shopping Center. The area had already been thoroughly searched by investigators and cadaver dogs; they believe, therefore, that the bag was left there after the search.
The contents included a shirt, shorties, underpants, a bra, socks, keys, and makeup which all belonged to Kristy. The bag was not hidden and the clothes inside appeared to be more weathered than the bag.
In 1999, unidentified female remains were located in a canal west of Boynton Beach, Florida and authorities incorrectly identified the body as Kristy in January 2001. Her loved ones finalized funeral arrangements by the time the mistake was corrected, but the burial had not taken place.
Investigators initially believed that Kristy's dental records matched the victim. The error was reported less than one week after the incorrect identification was announced.
Police originally believed Kristy was a runaway, but later decided she met with foul play due to the long period of time that passed where she didn't contact anyone. At first they investigated her family, who have all since been ruled out as suspects.
Mack Cawthon has not been named as a suspect either and investigators stated there were no inconsistencies in his story. They described his relationship with Kristy as "on-again, off-again."
Kristy was not having any problems at the time of her disappearance and she left behind all her belongings, including her medication that she was taking for a kidney infection.
Authorities believe that Kristy was abducted by someone she knew. Her mother describes her as a naïve, trusting individual.
Kristy's mother now lives in Alabama, but she continues to hope for resolution in her daughter's disappearance. As of 2020, her case remains unsolved.
Kristy is described as a Caucasian female with brown to sandy-blonde hair, blue eyes, is 5'3 and weighs 109 pounds. She has a right lazy eye, pierced ears and a pierced navel.
She was last seen wearing a dark-colored t-shirt and and white shorts, or a white cut-off t-shirt, blue jeans, a friendship necklace and several rings.