Lost in the Ashes

On the evening of September 23, 2012, EMTs respond to the report of a fire at a farmhouse in rural Tennessee. They arrive to find the McClaren home totally engulfed in flames. It is assumed that Bubba and Mollie McClaren and their two young grandchildren, Chloie, 9, and Gage, 7, were trapped inside. Their mother, Cheryl, arrives to the scene and watches in horror, assuming that all have perished. In the days following the fire, world-class investigators sift through the smoldering debris searching for the family’s remains. They find Cheryl’s parents and two family pets, but they do not find the remains of her children. The investigation pivots to support Cheryl’s theory that Chloie and Gage were actually kidnapped from the scene before the fire was intentionally set. An Amber Alert is immediately issued for the children. One year after the incident, there’s a sighting – and photo taken – of a young girl in a diner. Cheryl is convinced it’s Chloie. But authorities are unable to track down the child in the photo. Cheryl continues to hope that Chloie and Gage will someday return to her.

See digitally rendered age progression photos of Chloie and Gage below. If you have any information about their disappearance go to unsolved.com or email the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at tipstotbi@tn.gov.

Download a transcript of this episode


  1. William

    While looking at missing posters and doing check ups on other cases I have been following, the poster on the website for the national center for missing and exploited children that is supposed to belong to Gage, is under the name “Christopher Daniel”. At first I did not believe it was the same one and thought it may have been a picture mix up, but it also tied in with Chloie’s missing poster as well. Not sure if this might have been a mistake made by the NCMEC or what, but I thought I would bring it to everyone’s attention. Thank you!


  2. Sa’Nai H.

    I was just thinking the if their mom and auntie thinks that the motive was the money in the will, that would indicate that either someone they know or someone who was apart of the old will could have “taken them”. I Don’t understand why they didn’t look into that… but even if it was for the inheritance then as soon as they kidnappers got the money they would logically kill the kids because they don’t need them anymore. But who knows this is a pretty interesting episode though.


  3. a r

    so if the mother thinks that the murder was based off of the change to the will wouldn’t they just need to go down the line and see who was on the original will? I hate to speculate but isnt that what were all doing, mother has drug problems – is it possible she owed someone money and they decided to kill her parents and kidnap her children in order to get the money? myabe her guilt wont let her tell that part of the story idk these are just my thoughts.


  4. Adair Sigurdson

    Hey so I just got into this tonight and here I go I usually don’t comment. Has anyone heard of the Sodder family? They lost five children in the same fashion in 1945. Okay now I know a big part of the episode featured a forensic anthropologist, I actually took that in University too so some of my questions were as to the children’s bones. They are so different from adults, not the same mass or density they feel so similar to cartilage, would it be possible with the fire reaching temperatures stated in the area of cremation that there really was just nothing left? There had to be water brought in, the fire I assume was going for a while, there are a lot of questions I have. At that age I was playing with fire and I was pretty curious. Could one of them have accidentally started it and couldn’t get out? Like the main heat source would radiate out, I just think if they were in the right spot with the right temperatures and the length of exposure and their bone development would or could their be anything left?


    • Sav

      Would they be playing with fire at 10 pm? And explain the fact that the grandparents were in the same bed. And the safe was taken, guns too. They left out the part where bubba had many guns that he showed off, and there was only one found in the rubble. And maybe there’s a possibility that they were closer to the main heat source, but it still doesn’t add up. They even had found bird bones!!!


  5. Steve French

    It broke my heart to tell this story. Hoping for closure for Chloie and Gage and their family.


  6. Lady J

    Christie M Groves, I was thinking the same. I 100% agree with you.


  7. Dru442

    This reminds me of the case from Welch, OK of Ashley Freeman and Laura Bible from 1999. They were two teenagers best friends staying at one of their homes for a sleep over and a huge fire broke out. In the ashes they found one of their two parents shot to death by a shot gun but the girls were missing and have not been located.


  8. Alisa O'Kelly

    @christie groves do you seriously think you’re more of an expert than a forensic anthropologist of 30+ years? Imbecile.


  9. johnny

    does anyone know where we can find the photo from the diner?


  10. Christie M Groves

    I am certain the children died on that day in the fire as sad as this is. Oil Furnace Fires can burn at such hi levels they will destroy children and pets completely, I even know where safes have melted down to something that looks like coal. What ever caused this fire it was Hot and sudden, I can only suggest having an arson investigator or forensic investigator review the files and the autopsies on the pets and adults. I am trying to be realistic at how hot the fire was and depending where the children were it could have been hottest in that area. It sounds like the floor gave out and the Grandparents were on their way to see what was happening it could have been as simple as a back draft and the heat and the house exploded and the children were just blown up so bad as not to be found. It takes a very special crew and technology to sift through damage such as this. We need far more info for this to be a mystery. I hope the Mother gets the help she needs to resolve this so she can move on. Very sorry for the losses.


  11. Ann Hashbarger

    I so hope these kids go home to their mother. Prayers for all of you. I’m so sorry this happened and can’t even imagine how devastating this has been.


  12. Felix Chen

    Thank you for bringing renewed attention to this. I hope they are found safe soon <3


  13. Donna

    This is my hometown. So very sad, I pray that they are found one day.


  14. DRWHO42

    This was such a sad story but I think these children may be alive based on what I heard and hope they are. Fingers crossed they are found.


leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.