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Out of Harm's Way

Everyone knows what it is like to make and keep a promise. When you make that agreement, you would do anything to make sure it is honored, especially as a dying wish. That is where today’s story leads us, to tragedy and the keeping of promises but, one could not do it all to keep one individual out of harm's way.

First, I would like to thank Sara, the sister of Christopher Dietterick. For years she has been on a mission to find the answers to bring her brother home. She knows with Chris’s health issues coupled with the passage of time, he is more than likely no longer alive, but Chris still needs to be brought home and laid to rest for his family and his children.

Christopher Dietterick was born on December 16, 1977, to parents Pamela Wiseman and Jan Dietterick. The Dietterick family lived in Delaware. In 1980, when Chris was three years old, his sister Sara was born. Chris and Sara grew up close. Chris was an average student and played sports during his childhood. He enjoyed baseball the most. Jan would play baseball with his son often. When Chris was 10 years old Jan and Pam divorced, it was a troubled split. It is unclear if it was the circumstances of the split or the divorce in general, but it effected Christopher's relationship with his father tremendously. This chain reaction led Chris down a path of no return, to the point he carried this with him throughout his life.

Pam, Chris, Sara & Chris's niece, Raven

After the divorce of his parents Chris and Sara lived with their mother and grandmother. Their lives were now different from what they had known growing up to that point. Pam enrolled her children in the big brother/big sister program. The children now had more siblings. A brother and a sister. Throughout the years the children always remained close. As a teen Chris started to act out but nothing unlike any normal teenager. His parents tried the “tough love” approach, but nothing really seemed to stick. When Chris went to live with his father, he seemed to be getting his life together but the strained relationship with his father still lingered.

Chris & his mother Pam

In the early 2000’s Chris met and married the love of his life, Shilo. Shilo and Chris attended high school together but caught each other’s eye later in life.  The couple married and shortly, Shilo became pregnant. The couple had twins, a girl Sara and boy, Micheal. they were the apple of their parents’ eye. Chris and Shilo were married for less than a decade but their love for each other never faded. After their divorce Chris moved in with his sister Sara. It was here where Chris’s life started to spiral, ultimately never bouncing back.

In 2010 Chris was working for a company and Chris was one of the managers. The company was opening a new location in Ohio. They asked Chris to travel to the state to open the store. Chris did this but in a very small window of time Chris met a new love interest, Nicole. They became inseparable and when Chris returned home to Maryland, he brought Nicole along. Living back home with Sara, Sara started to notice a change in her brother, one that seemed to come along with his new girlfriend. Sara quickly found out Chris was battling addiction. Sara made the difficult decision and told Chris he had to leave. Chris’s relationship with Nicole was short lived as they split up after only 6 months of dating. Chris’s addiction never let up with the breakup, never coming back.

Chris, Raven and Sara

Chris and Raven (what a wholesome memory)

Chris’s addiction led to him being unhoused. While trying to make his way in the world, Chris met a man named Wes. Wes, a gay man lived with his parents Sue and Bill off Locust Lane in Elkton Maryland. Wes invited Chris into his home and although it is unknown the extent of Wes and Chris’s relationship, Wes was in love with Chris romantically. Their relationship held strong until Wes passed away in 2016, due to a long illness. Prior to his death, Wes made his mother promise him that when his time was up, she would still take care of Chris. Sue held that promise, Chris still lived with Wes’s parents. However, as time continued, Chris believed he was a burden to the elderly couple. Chris made the decision to move into a tent into their backyard. In 2019 this is where Chris lived. He did come and go as he pleased, often inside the home. Sue and Bill still fed him and washed his clothes. Chris often bragged that he was “the most well-dressed homeless man”. Although, his circumstances were less than ideal he still had a sense of humor and enjoyed making others laugh, even if it was at his expense. In 2019, Chris was diagnosed with melanoma in his leg, this made him walk with a noticeable limp. This also prevented him walking long distances. Chris had regular visits at The University of Maryland hospital for his immunotherapy. Those visits were scheduled with medical transportation. He was also in liver failure and was in the process of a liver transplant.

Chris & Sara on her wedding day "He's my best friend"

On May 30, 2019, Chris’s day started out just like every other day. In the morning, at approximately 11:15AM Chris was seen on surveillance footage at the Help Center where he received an external battery for his cell phone. He walked out of the facility, off camera out to the street. Chris was heading back home only a short distance away from the Help Center. A man and a woman were caught on surveillance with him. These acquaintances claimed once Chris exited, they walked out to the parking lot and went their separate ways, but not before Chris said he would call them later. That call never came.

A still shot of the surveillance video that caught Chris and his acquaintances. Chris is seen in the long white shirt.

The following day Chris was supposed to show up to meet his ex-wife and children. Repeated calls to his cellphone went unanswered. That is when Shilo called Sara to see if she had heard from her brother. Chris was in regular contact with Sara, she also supplied him with his cellphone. Sara went to the address on Locust Lane. Sara spoke with Sue and Bill who told Sara they hadn’t seen him for a few days. Sara asked for access to his tent and belongings but oddly the couple told Sara they threw everything out. That is seemingly where the trail of Chris ends. There has been no trace of him since. Sara explained her brother often carried a black backpack that held items like his driver's license and medications. Nothing has ever been recovered. But there may have been a lead that would shortly come. On the same street in Elkton, Locust Lane, Chris’s ex friend Wayne also resided on. Wayne and Chris used to live together but the relationship was violent. Chris later left Wayne’s home and told everyone he feared for his life with Wayne and although he left, he was nervous Wayne would retaliate against him at some point. After Chris vanished Wayne bragged about having Chris’s cellphone, the only item that Chris would have been carrying.

The distance from The Help Center to where Chris resided on Locust Lane

What happened to Christopher Dietterick on May 30, 2019? The day started out like any other. Although he was unhoused Chris’s circumstances were different from most. He had a place to stay, and although he preferred to sleep in a tent in the backyard of his late friends’ home, Chris had warm meals and clean clothes. Chris did not have many things, like a car, or a bank account but he did have a cellphone. Chris’s cellphone has never been recovered and when he vanished it either died or was turned off, but his old friend Wayne claimed to have it in his procession. Despite this, Elkton police never searched Wayne’s residence. The distance between The Help Center and where Chris stayed on Locust Lane was only a couple minute walk, which due to Chris’s physical conditions he wouldn’t have been able to walk far. Is it possible something happened while on his walk back home? Or were the acquaintances Chris was seen on camera with somehow hold the missing piece to where he went? It seems Sue and Bill kept their promise to take care of Chris after their son’s passing but with danger lurking, they could not keep him out of harm’s way.

If you have any information, no information is too little, please contact the Elkton Police Department.

Christopher's children, Sara and Micheal, hold a small gift drive annually in honor of their missing father. This drive is for the homeless community in the area. If this does not pull at your heart strings, I don't know what will. If you are in the area for the holidays this is such an amazing cause.

The flyer Chris's children created for the drive in 2020

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