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Local cold case for missing man gets new attention from state police

(WDBJ)
Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 2:32 AM EDT
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A cold case in Vinton is getting a fresh set of eyes from law enforcement and officers say they are already learning new information.

“Oh yes I will never forget that day,” said Mary Douthat. “I never dreamed in a million years when I dropped him off at work that morning and told him I loved him that that would be the last time I would ever see his face again and get to tell him that I love him."

Mary Douthat is missing a son.

Christopher Douthat, 24 at the time, went missing on October 25, 2013.

She has not seen or heard from him since.

"I dropped him off at work and we were singing to the radio and we were laughing and we were smiling and when I dropped him off I said I love you son and he said I love you too and I'll talk to you later,” she recalled. “And that was the last time I got to tell him I loved him."

Douthat says she drove Christopher to work at Vinton Roofing that day.

He worked at a site in Botetourt County.

After finishing work early, police reports say he got a ride to the Vinton Kroger. He cashed a check.

From there he went to Chap's Tavern on Campbell Avenue and was seen in southeast.

Then, within an hour, he vanished.

After receiving new tips in 2017 and auditing the cold case, the Vinton Police Department handed it over to Virginia State Police in January.

It's now in the hands of Special Agent Douglas Hubert, who told WDBJ7 that state police have more resources and time to dedicate to finding out what happened to Douthat. Still, at this point he said they do not have any indication of what happened to the young man.

"We go back and do the same interviews again, visit the same people. And those interviews have then generated other interviews,” Hubert said. “We have been able to branch out quite a bit further than the initial investigation did."

Hubert said they've done 30 interviews total. Newer technology is helping them along. Court documents reveal the department has submitted new search warrants for social media posts, including Christopher Douthat’s Facebook account.

Hubert is tight-lipped, but says they do have persons of interest.

"Just with us taking this case over and going out and getting boots on the ground and talking to people and people have picked up little pieces of information during that time that they might not have thought was is important then, but is important," he said.

At her kitchen table, Mary Douthat points to pictures of a young Christpher Douthat she keeps pasted on a poster board. She takes them to local events used to educate the public about missing persons.

“And that's him at three years old when he grew his own watermelon!" she said, pointing to a bright eyed boy showing off a halved watermelon. “He was so proud of that watermelon!”

Douthat described her son as a young man with a caring heart. She said he liked to hunt and fish and worked on cars. She said he was enamored with his young daughter, which is why she believes he never would have left on his own accord.

Christopher Douthat had a somewhat troubled personal life. According to court records, he was arrested in 2010 for grand larceny. He was charged with violation of probation, but it was later dismissed.

His mother said she does not get to see her granddaughter. Hubert said Douthat and his girlfriend had twin children together, along with the woman’s other child from a previous relationship. One of the twins died in August of 2013. Hubert could not confirm the circumstances of the child’s death.

Hubert did confirm Douthat and his girlfriend had protection orders on each other at the time he disappeared and that she was caring for their child. Douthat was scheduled to appear in court Monday October 28 in Franklin County, just days after police believe he disappeared.

But Mary Douthat said things were on the up for her son. She said he was happy and knows of no one who she believes would want to hurt her son.

"I miss him so much. I just want him home,” she said, becoming emotional. “That's all I want or some kind of closure of answers so I can get the grief process. Because you grieve but it's so hard when you don't have any answer or closures."

As she approaches the five year anniversary of his disappearance, all she wants are answers.

“I'm just asking please, please some forward with any information. Please."

Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact state police. They can be reached at 800-542-5959 or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov