Katie Dowd, SFGATEOct. 18, 2020Updated: Oct. 18, 2020 8:37 a.m.
Richard Eddy remembers it was chilly on Oct. 13, 2018. The fact stuck with him because it made it even more unusual to see a young woman in a T-shirt walking past his Mono County home in the early morning hours.
The teen had long hair and wore gray pants. She was alone.
“I thought, ‘That’s kind of weird,’” Eddy said in an interview for the FBI. “And she was waving a piece of paper. Like a 12-by-12 piece of paper. She was just waving it in the air and walked by.”
A short time later around 8 a.m., a woman knocked on his door asking if he’d seen her daughter. Eddy said he probably had and volunteered to hop on his motorcycle to drive into a nearby canyon to see if the girl was still on the road. After a quick look, Eddy returned to the woman with disappointing news.
“I told her I didn’t see anything. And she said, ‘Well, thank you very much,’” Eddy said. “And that’s about the last I heard of the whole thing.”
Police believe he may have been the last person to ever see Karlie Lain Gusé.
In the two years since Karlie disappeared, her story has only gotten stranger and sadder — and seemingly no closer to being solved. The basic facts are these:
Karlie, then 16, was living with her father, Zachary Gusé, stepmother, Melissa Gusé, and two younger siblings in Chalfant Valley, a town near Bishop, Calif. She was happy and well-liked at school, with no history of conflicts other than typical teenage mishaps.
On the evening of Oct. 12, 2018, she attended a party with her boyfriend. At some point, she smoked some weed, which she’d had previous adverse reactions to. Soon, it was apparent something wasn’t right. She began to express feelings of intense fear and called her stepmother to beg for a ride home.
“She hadn’t smoked in a while,” her boyfriend, Donald Arrowood III, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2019. “It could’ve triggered something.”
Melissa arrived around 9 p.m. to pick her up. She found Karlie running down a street, away from the party.
“She was really pale, looked like a ghost,” Melissa told the Review-Journal. “Her pupils were really dilated.”
Once home, Karlie continued to exhibit erratic, paranoid behavior. She called a plate of salad “devil’s lettuce” and vacillated between expressing affection and worrying she needed to read the Bible. At this point, Melissa and Zachary say they began recording Karlie with the intention of showing her later how marijuana made her upset and frightened. Because the audio has never been released to the public, there is some disagreement about what exactly it captured. Some secondhand accounts say Karlie asks her parents repeatedly to call 911. Melissa has always maintained Karlie asks her to call 911 if something bad were to happen to her, not urgently.
It is here that the timeline loses some of its clarity, as Melissa’s retelling has changed over time.
In her initial statement to the media, Melissa said she checked in on Karlie at 5:45 a.m. and found her asleep in bed. When she went to wake her at 7:15 a.m, Karlie was gone. In a later telling, one that Melissa now maintains is the accurate version, she stayed in Karlie’s room the entire night to keep watch over her. When Melissa woke at 7 a.m., Karlie was no longer in the room with her.
The timeline coalesces again after this discrepancy. Zachary and Melissa immediately began a search of the home and neighborhood, knocking on doors as corroborated by Eddy’s account. By 9 a.m., they’d canvassed the surrounding area to no avail and called the police. Law enforcement searched all along Highway 6 near White Mountain Estates Road and into the canyons and mountains beyond with dogs and helicopters.
“I’m down to two things,” her father Zachary said in a recent interview with the FBI. “I’m down to either she crossed that desert so far that nobody found her, or she was abducted. She got in the wrong car with the wrong person.”
“My whole body and soul. I’d give it all up,” he added. “Just to have her home safe.”
This week, the FBI launched a new campaign to revive interest in Karlie’s case. In the two years since her disappearance, investigators have inspected her phone — which she left behind that morning — her social media and talked to friends and family over and over.
“We’ve never experienced another case like this,” Mono County Sheriff Ingrid Braun said in a statement.
In the absence of facts, speculation has filled the void. Thanks to the family’s appearances on “Dr. Phil,” “Dateline” and Nancy Grace’s podcast “Crime Stories,” the story has gone national. Karlie’s disappearance is the subject of countless Facebook posts, YouTube videos and internet comments. So many fixate on Melissa — many referencing her inconsistencies about that morning’s events — that the sheriff has publicly asked people to stop harassing the family.
There has been a great deal of conjecture over Karlie’s mental state that day. Some argue she must have ingested, knowingly or not, a substance other than marijuana that precipitated a form of psychosis. According to some reports, her last text to her boyfriend wondered if her weed was “laced” with something. Given her reported history with marijuana-induced paranoia, it’s also possible she had a severe reaction to that alone. Regardless of what altered her mind, she wasn’t clear-headed when she walked out of her home and into the desert beyond.
“We will not give up on Karlie,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan said Tuesday. “People don’t disappear into thin air.”
Sometimes, though, it feels like Karlie has.
Anyone with information about Karlie is asked to call the Mono County Sheriff’s Office at 760-932-5678 or email email@example.com. Tips can also be sent anonymously to the FBI via their website. She was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, gray sweatpants or jeans and Vans brand shoes. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5-foot-7, 110 pounds with dark blond hair and blue eyes.
Originally published at: https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Karlie-Lain-Guse-Chalfant-Valley-15650908.php?fbclid=IwAR1m4RqLH-eD1wtRaLDDtkhsUuaJx5nvvgPQwDZPa5WUYbm3YM6GWU6Vnb8