A “psychotic break” may have led to a young  woman’s disappearance.


Kristi Krebs

Missing:

Gender: Female
DOB: 12/29/70
Height: 5’2”
Weight: 140 lbs .
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown
Defining Characteristics: She has a deformed right thumb that is thick at the knuckle with the tip of the thumb curving inward; she has several large moles on her neck below her right cheek
Remarks: Last seen 8/9/93

CASE DETAILS

August 10, 1993, in a remote corner of redwood forest just east of Mendocino, California, a car was found stuck in the mud. The radio had been ripped out. There were small traces of blood on the dashboard and the front seat, along with shredded identification papers. A few torn-up photographs were scattered nearby. The photos, the papers, and the car were all traced to 22-year-old Kristi Krebs. She had worked as a chef just seven miles from where her car was found.

Kristi’s car was engulfed by flames

For Kristi’s parents, the scene was all too familiar. When Kristi graduated from high school in 1989, she went to work full-time in a local restaurant. She was cheerful and upbeat, but she also became infatuated, and then obsessed, with a married man. Then, on April 30, 1990, three years before her disappearance, Kristi apparently began to fantasize about marrying this man. She drove around in a euphoric daze for hours and lost her way on a country road. Her car became hopelessly stuck in the mud, then burst into flames. When found, the interior had been totally destroyed and Kristi was nowhere to be seen.

The morning after the incident, railroad workers saw a dazed and disoriented young woman wandering along the tracks. The car fire had apparently sent Kristi into a traumatic mental breakdown. One of the men recognized Kristi and called her parents. Bob Krebs is Kristi’s father:

“Initially, we thought things were o.k. But as we were driving back into town, the behavior we were getting from her was very bizarre, chanting and doing very weird things. And I looked at my wife and said, ‘We’re not going home.   We’re going to the hospital.'”

Kristi was found wandering the tracks

Susan’s mother wondered if her daughter would ever be well again:

“At first they thought she might have been on drugs, but they were able to test her and see that there were no drugs in her system.”

Over the next few months, Kristi was in and out of the hospital and was eventually diagnosed as having had a psychotic, trauma-related break. After therapy and drug treatment, she made rapid progress. And after six months, things were looking up.   Kristi was released from the hospital. Her therapists recommended that she go back to work, but only part-time. Kristi’s father said he was thrilled with Kristi’s progress:

“I think it was suggested she work 20 hours a week to start with. And she did incredibly well. And she was very proud of herself.   She got herself a second job in a local fast-food restaurant.”

Her car was abandoned and she was gone

Eventually Kristi began working 10 to 12 hours a day. Three years went by. Kristi’s parents worried about her manic pace. Yet she insisted that she was ok, right up to the night she disappeared.

That night, August 9, 1993, Kristi left work in high spirits. But she didn’t go straight home. Kristi drove around until, at some point, she veered onto a dirt road. She ended up just seven miles from the spot where her previous car fire had occurred. Once again, deep in the redwoods, her car got stuck in the mud. Kristi’s father believes his daughter suffered another psychotic break:

“I think that she probably had flashbacks. It was like reliving that nightmare. And all of that, I think, just overloaded all the circuits. In my mind, the last thing she did, she went through her wallet in total frustration, whether she’s looking at pictures of family and friends, she ripped them up and scattered them around. Whether she was destroying her past and trying to get away from it, I really don’t know.   I know that my daughter went through a really tough time out there for 2 or 3 hours.”

The authorities think that before she abandoned her car, Kristi changed into a gym outfit that she always carried with her. Her work clothes were found, sopping wet and neatly folded, on the backseat.

The next morning, a full-scale search was launched, but there was no trace of Kristi.   However, over the next few months, several sightings were reported in Texas, then in Salt Lake City, and finally, a year later, in California.

Search team looked for Kristi

On June 30, 1994 , just outside the farming town of Visalia, California, an off-duty highway worker named Mike Case picked up a hitchhiker who looked like Kristi. Mike said it was 300 miles south of the spot where Kristi’s car was abandoned:

“At first, I thought possibly she was on some type of drugs. But talking with her a little bit at the beginning, I knew that possibly she was in a world of her own. I did happen to notice that there were two slash marks on her wrist.   And I asked her directly, ‘Well, what happened there?’ And she said, ‘I had a breakdown.'”

Mike dropped Kristi off at an intersection near Hanford, California. A week later, he read an article about Kristi’s disappearance and contacted her parents. They immediately sent photographs, which Mike reviewed:

“I went through several of the pictures and my personal feeling was that this is the girl I picked up on the freeway. I’m positive that it is her. I’m positive.

Kristi’s mother is hopeful that Kristy is still alive:

“I believe that Kristi is out there somewhere and that she’s alive, because Kristi is a survivor. She has a lot of strength. She’s very friendly. I believe that she would not be a loner, that she would hook up with someone.”

Kristi’s parents now believe one of the most credible sightings is from a woman who picked up a girl hitchhiking between Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah. The woman was able to describe details about her clothing that had never been released to the public.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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13 Comments

  1. Brie

    I saw this episode this morning and something compelled me to follow an instinct. Recently, my boyfriend and I visited Philadelphia. We took an Uber to the historic district to do some exploring. Oddly, a woman with a deformed right thumb, or possible index finger,was our driver. She had blue eyes and dark hair and seemed like she was in her 40’s. She said she had children, but I can’t remember how many. We had a busy weekend and took many Uber’s so I can not tell you what color the vehicle was, but I hope I will remember. I don’t know if there’s anything to go on here, but I felt the need to at least tell someone.

    Reply

  2. David Foster

    I first saw this case yesterday and my heart went out to Krisi and her family it was such a touching case for I know people who have mental health issues. If I lived in the States I would find time to look but as a previous comment said it’s like a needle in a haystack. I just hope and pray they find closure. But as long as no body has been found their is still hope. As for hope on a lighter note I wish this show would come back it was brilliant and it’s missed over here in the UK theirs only so many repeats you can watch.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    I live in New Orleans and its so unforunate that the city has lots of people like this. That travel here or out of sorts. I really hope one day the family get some closer on this. Its very certain that she was lovec very much

    Reply

  4. Sheri from Fort Bragg

    I think of her often. Especially on her birthday every year. She was very kind, and I couldn’t find anything bad to say about her. I took piano lessons at the same place with her, and went to the same school. I have prayed for decades they would find her alive. But just finding her at all, so her family had closure, would be a blessing after all this time. We are a small close knit community and this has bothered me deeply since it happened. I will never forget her kindness, laugh, and big smile. She was always so happy yo see me when I would stop by round table. I wish she would come back home to fort Bragg. But my personal gut feeling is she is in the woods deceased. That’s not what I want to believe, but it’s what I think is most plausible. That she succumbed to exposure. Nights can get chilly and foggy here. Woods do have mountain lions and brears that roam also. I want so badly to search for her. It’s like a needle in a haystack with the dense foliage floor of the redwoods here. Makes searches harder and more challenging but not impossible. I wish we could restart a campaign to find her and bring her home, but that final approval needs to be from her parents and brother first. Get volunteers to search with trained dogs for remsins and clothing or any sign of her. I don’t know if witness accounts are correct, if it was really her. I just know she is missed and loved back home, and finding her would be such a gift for her family and close friends.

    Reply

    • Corrina Lee

      I was about 9 or 10 at the time Kristy disappeared. I didn’t know her or her family personally. I did see a young lady at a WalMart in the town I now live in. I can’t say for 100% sure it was Kristy. I just remember thinking, I have seen that girl before. And she wasn’t alone. I haven’t been in contact with her mother in years. I used to have her phone number and I would call every now and then to see if there was any news. I don’t even know if she would remember me. I often think about Kristy and her family. Not knowing is probably the worst feeling in the world.

      Reply

    • Nichole

      I believe I have seen her in the independence Missouri location I’ve seen her or I strongly believe its her around Crysler and 23rd st only having a old brown maybe red purse the picture today of what she would look like is her clone I believe to be her and believe she is homeless

      Reply

      • Unsolved Mysteries

        Unsolved Mysteries Post author

        Thank you Nichole – we have passed that information on to the law enforcement agency handling this case.

        Reply

  5. Paula

    try the Railroad about a mile. By a tree. I camped out there in 2000, I senced here badly.

    Reply

  6. Ally

    Are there any updates on this case?

    Reply

  7. Joe sells

    Hoping one day you would call and say we found Kristi .never stop hoping for her to return one day.

    Reply

  8. MARY

    DID THEY EVER FIND HER

    Reply