Zachary Michael-Cole Bernhardt .jpg

Eight-year-old Zachary was living with his mother, Leah Hackett, in the 2600 block of Drew Street in Clearwater, Florida at the time of his disappearance.

Leah told the authorities she had insomnia during the early morning hours of September 11, 2000 and that she left the apartment she shared with Zachary in Clearwater, Florida at approximately 2:00 a.m. and took a short swim & a walk around the area. Zachary was asleep when she left the apartment.

Leah said that Zachary had disappeared from their residence by the time she came home and he has never been seen again.

The accounts as to when Leah discovered Zachary missing differ; some state that she was out of their apartment for only 15 minutes while others believe that she was gone as long as two hours.

Early on in the investigation, authorities stated they thought that Leah knew more about Zachary's disappearance than she had disclosed; she frequently changed residences and was facing eviction from her apartment at the time of Zachary's disappearance.

Leah has maintained her innocence in Zachary's case; she now resides in Hawaii and has changed her last name to Hanson. Zachary's father was never involved in his life and has not been named a suspect in his son's disappearance.

An extensive search of the area produced no evidence as to Zachary's whereabouts; authorities believe that he disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

Kevin Jalbert (who lives near Zachary's home) told an acquaintance that he was a child murderer and he was prepared to find another victim in early 2001. Authorities learned about Jalbert's comments and began tracking his movements.

Jalbert attempted to solicit an undercover officer for assistance in a child abduction, rape and murder in September of 2001; he was arrested shortly afterwards and later sentenced to 40 years in prison. Jalbert claims that he has abducted and raped 1,000 children and killed five, but his sister said that he is a chronic liar and exaggerates to receive attention.

Jalbert led the undercover police officer to Zachary's apartment building and said he had kidnapped a child from there, but he pointed out the wrong apartment and also described Zachary's clothing incorrectly. DNA samples from Jalbert also did not match available evidence in Zachary's case.

Jalbert denied having abducted Zachary, but then he failed a polygraph about his possible involvement in the case. Investigators discovered child pornography websites on Jalbert's home computer. It was determined that he visited a nearby landfill approximately two weeks after Zachary's disappearance.

Jalbert had also been considered a suspect in a child abuse case in Florida some time prior to 2000, but he was never charged in connection with the unrelated case. Authorities stated that they have been unable to rule him out as a suspect in Zachary's disappearance.

In January of 2002, a 5-year-old boy was kidnapped from the same apartment complex that Zachary disappeared from; the boy said his abductor lured him into a vehicle with the promise of icecream, and drove around with him for 10 hours. The boy was left alive in a trash bin in Bushnell, Florida and he was rescued by a passing motorist. He may have been sexually assaulted.

Investigators looked into the possibility that the 2002 kidnapping and Zachary's case were connected, but they found no evidence to support this. The 2002 kidnapping remains unsolved.

As of 2018, Zachary's disappearance remains unsolved.

Zachary is described as an intelligent and cheerful child who excelled in school, where he was in the third grade. His nickname is Zach.

Description[edit | edit source]

Zachary is described as a Caucasian male with blond hair & blue eyes and weighs 60 pounds with a height of 4'6. He has scars underneath his chin, between his eyes on the bridge of his nose & on the right side of his upper lip. He was last seen wearing boxer shorts.

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