Open Case Virginia: Search for Christopher Douthat speeds up
Six years have come and gone, and a Roanoke family says they still have no idea what happened to their missing son. Christopher Douthat vanished on October 25, 2013. He was 24. But new leads are still coming through to State Police.
In our series Open Case Virginia, his family is pleading with the community for help and warning those who may be responsible that justice will be served.
“It’s horrible because you feel like you’re constantly living in a nightmare," said Mary Douthat, Christopher Douthat's mom. "You’re like you’re in a dream but when you wake up you know the reality is there, this is not a horrible nightmare or dream this is you you know, it’s just real.”
Mary Douthat's reality today remains one in which she constantly wonders what happened to her son.
“We’re not giving up hope," she said, holding onto the arm of her other son, Michael. "That’s not, you know, in our vocabulary because justice is going to prevail for Christopher.”
Her 24-year-old was last seen on October 25, 2013. She dropped him off for work at Vinton Roofing. He worked a job site in Botetourt County and was let off of work early. Later that day, back in Roanoke, he cashed a paycheck at the Vinton Kroger and made his way to Chapps Tavern, the last place he was seen alive.
“I don’t consider this to be a cold case."
Special Agent Douglas Hubert took over this case in January of 2018 from Vinton Police. He began at square one and his team of three full-time agents set to work interviewing more than 150 people.
“We have a pool of persons of interest in this case," Hubert said. "And we’ve spent a lot of time putting their locations, to show that they’re in the path of Christopher Douthat. People don’t go missing from strangers very rarely. IT’s not a TV show or anything like that. At this point, we’re working this case pretty significantly and we’re working it as a homicide and we’re working it rapidly but methodically.”
He says the investigation has led them into Roanoke County, the city and into Franklin County. Social media posts, cell phone records and tips from the public have provided viable leads. Hubert is closer to closing this open case than he was when we spoke last year, but cautions that progress isn't made overnight.
“The next step is to continue as we’re going now," Hubert said. "These persons of interest, we’re moving in on them and that may mean other charges from other crimes to get to where we need to be.”
Where Mary and her other son Michael would like to be is at peace, knowing the full truth of what happened.
“There’s no social script to tell you how to deal with having a missing brother or having a missing family member or anyone missing," said Michael Douthat. "Really you just kind of have to find out what to do on your own as far as this sort of thing. It’s just an extremely painful thing to go through.”
Billboards went up around Roanoke and Franklin Counties for several weeks, raising eyes and awareness for the need for even the smallest pieces of information.
“Even if you think it doesn’t have to do with the case," Michael Douthat pleaded, "it may have something very well to do with it.”
In the meantime, a plea from a desperate mother.
“You keep optimistic. But you do realize too you may never see them again. That’s the case, I want to bring what’s left of my son and it’s hard to say, his remains home," she said, "and give him a proper burial. He deserves that dignity and respect.”
And a grieving brother issues a warning to those who are responsible for his brother's disappearance.
“They are a grub of the highest order. And we need to bring them to justice. We’re going to dig you out. We’re going to dig you out.”
You can read
on Christopher Douthat's case from 2018.
Any information or tips about this case can be delivered to Virginia State Police by contacting Special Agent Hubert:
Salem Field Office
3775 W. Main Street
Salem, VA 24153
Office: (540) 375-9528