The Mysterious Disappearance Of Karlie Gusé

The disappearance of 16-year-old Karlie Gusé from her Chalfant Valley, California home has baffled investigators since 2018. The teen was reported missing after leaving her house in the early morning hours of October, 13 that year. According to the FBI, Gusé left her home wearing just a t-shirt, sweatpants, and Vans shoes but did not take her phone or any belongings. She was last seen walking past the home of a witness and neighbor, Richard Eddy. 

In a video interview posted on the FBI's YouTube page, Eddy stated that it was 6:30 or 7 a.m. when he noticed a young girl with long brown hair walking by. He thought was "unusual" at that hour and also because it was "chilly" out and she was only wearing a t-shirt with no jacket or coat. He also said that he saw the girl waving a piece of paper as she was walking.

At about 8 a.m., Eddy said Gusé's step-mother, Melissa Gusé, came to the home to see if Eddy had seen her. He said he thought he had and hopped on his motorcycle to see if he could find the girl he had seen, thinking she may have gone into a nearby canyon — but he found no trace of her. 

According to FBI agent Brad Bilderback, the place where the teen went missing is very desolate. In a video posted to YouTube, he said "To really up and vanish like she did — it's mind-boggling. Somewhere somebody knows something." 

Karlie was acting erratic and paranoid the night before she disappeared

According to Crime Online, Karlie's step-mother, Melissa, told investigators that the night before Karlie's disappearance, she picked her up at around 8:30 p.m. and that Karlie had told her she'd smoked marijuana and was feeling "paranoid." To her stepmother, Karlie seemed "disoriented." 

Stories of the Unsolved reports that Karlie's behavior after Gusé picked her up that night was highly erratic — the teen was paranoid that someone was going to kill her or that she would die. She was particularly concerned about being traced on her cell phone. This leads some to believe Karlie Gusé was on something other than marijuana that night and possibly still high when she left the house. 

After some time, Karlie calmed down and Gusé slept next to her, per Crime Online. Melissa woke up around 5:30 a.m. and saw Karlie lying in bed with her eyes open, then drifted off again until 7:15 or 7:30 a.m. When she awoke, she says, Karlie was gone. Karlie's father, Zachary Gusé told the FBI he has two theories: He said he believes that Karlie either walked so far into the desert that she died out there, or she was abducted as she was walking down the road, per an interview on YouTube.

In another FBI interview posted to YouTube, Bishop Union High School Principal David Kalk said that at first, it felt like Karlie would turn up, but after multiple searches provided no clues (and with so much time passing), he thinks in the backs of people's minds they're "resigned to the fact that we may never see Karlie again." 

The search

Melissa and Zachary Gusé called the police around 9:35 a.m. the morning of their Karlie disappearance, according to NBC News. The Mono County Sheriff's Office began a search using helicopters, dogs, and boots on the ground, as Carson Now reported. That search lasted about a week before it was halted on October 25, 2018. The sheriff's office then set up a checkpoint along Highway 6, because Karlie had last been seen heading in that direction. However, the checkpoint didn't turn up any results. 

Private searches continued after the sheriff's office paused its efforts. Zachary Gusé described the heartbreaking process in an FBI video posted on Youtube

"Just the emotion of the anxiety, the depressive part of it while you're going — and I wouldn't stop pushing myself. I just kept going," her father said. Zachary said he spent about three months searching the desert before he had to stop. "I lost it," he said. "I lost my mind." 

In December of 2018, a pair of bloody underwear was discovered near where Karlie disappeared, according to Fox News. They were sent to be tested but were forwarded to the wrong forensic facility. However, police later said they didn't believe the underwear were related to Karlie's disappearance.

False leads

In the two years since the teenager went missing, there were a few reported sightings of her in California and Nevada, but they turned out to be false alarms. Then, in early 2021, a young woman with the username @imhavingsomuchfunn began to post on TikTok, as nofilter reported. In the videos, she danced to TikTok songs. Because she acted strangely in the videos, viewers speculated that she might be a kidnapped Karlie Gusé. They would ask her to do certain things like blink or touch her hair if she was in trouble, and she appeared to follow their instructions. She also seemed to make a hand signal representing domestic violence. Further, she and Karlie both had nose rings. However, the young woman had another account called @chickfilletpeabrain and ultimately released a video saying she was safe, in which she spoke with an English accent. She also deleted the original videos. 

The Mono County Sheriff's Office also responded to the theory on Facebook. "Many have sent information regarding TikTok videos which feature a girl who looks like Karlie. There is a resemblance, but we have confirmed with Karlie's family that it is not her," the office wrote in a January 5, 2021 update.

A mother's suspicions

Not everyone was satisfied with the narrative surrounding Karlie Gusé's disappearance. Her birth mother, Lindsay Fairley, has expressed suspicions about Karlie's stepmother, Melissa, and Zachary Gusé's account, speculating that her daughter might have overdosed the night before she went missing. She even insinuated in an interview with Dr. Phil that Melissa might have awoken to find Karlie already dead. "I believe my daughter had a drug overdose," Lindsay said in the interview (via Crime Online). "And I believe it because she was asking for help ... And I believe very early morning Melissa saw her with her eyes open and I think that's when my daughter passed." Fairley also told Crime Online that she was suspicious because the couple changed their account of the disappearance more than once.  

Zachary was arrested for domestic violence on February 11, 2021, casting doubt on the other half of the couple. He was charged with a felony count of bodily injury to his wife. However, police still have not charged anyone in connection with Karlie's disappearance or even announced any suspects. The Mono County Sheriff's Office said they were still searching for her in their most recent Facebook update on October 13, 2021, exactly three years after she went missing. "If you have information regarding Karlie's whereabouts or disappearance, please call the Mono County Sheriff's Office Tipline at 760-932-5678, or email karliegusetips@monosheriff.org. You may also contact the Sacramento Office of the FBI at 916-746-7000," the office wrote.