Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Disappearance of Karissa Schell


Karissa Schell vanished at the age of 16 on April 21st, 2011. The young teen lived in Turlock, California at the time of her disappearance. Karissa was living with friends during the spring of 2011. She left her friend's residence between 2:00 and 3:00 AM on April 21st. Karissa reportedly said she'd be back later that morning, but she never returned. 

Once Karissa was reported missing, the police labeled her as a runaway--even though she had no prior history of running away. Although she was staying with friends, she reportedly had a good relationship with her family at the time of her disappearance. Karissa also was an avid social media user but has not updated her Facebook page since the day she vanished. It's unclear why, exactly, police were so quick to classify Karissa as a runaway, but it appears that they had some sort of evidence to suggest that she left on her own accord. 

Over a decade has passed since Karissa disappeared, and there is still very little information available about her case. Due to her classification as a runaway, it's likely that Karissa's case did not receive as much attention as other missing persons cases. However, there are various postings on social media that may contain clues about what happened to her.

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Like many teenagers during the late 2000s-early 2010s, Karissa was very active on Facebook. The postings on her Facebook page suggest that she was into the drugs/drinking/partying scene. In fact, just hours before her disappearance, she posted a status update stating, "its a gresat [sic] day im fucked up".


This post is just one of many that indicates Karissa was using drugs and drinking regularly. These posts inevitably lead one to theorize that drugs were possibly involved in Karissa's disappearance. Maybe Karissa left her friend's residence to meet up with a drug dealer, and it ended badly. Maybe she suffered an overdose. It appears neither option has been ruled out, but if either theory ended up being true, it would directly contradict police's belief that Karissa ran away.

On April 18th, 2011, Karissa posted that she was in the hospital. When someone commented to ask why, Karissa replied, "Dizzy and double vision shaking.cant stand or walk."


Karissa did not post any follow-ups about her hospital visit, but if she was suffering from some sort of medical issues, it's possible that this plays a role in her disappearance as well. Still, if Karissa died from some sort of medical emergency after leaving her friend's residence, it seems likely that her remains would have been found. Additionally, this would also contradict the belief that Karissa ran away.

Five days before Karissa's disappearance, she posted her cell phone number to her Facebook page. Someone commented on the post stating that she was going to "get a stalker" after posting her number.


While it appears the person who commented was joking around, it is completely possible that Karissa posting her number publicly could have made her more accessible to the wrong people. Statistics have shown that sex traffickers often find their victims online.  By posting her number to her Facebook page, Karissa could have potentially given a trafficker direct access to her. Traffickers often groom their victims to gain the victim's trust before trafficking them. If Karissa did, in fact, run away, it's possible that she was lured away by a trafficker or someone else with the wrong intentions. 

After Karissa vanished, her mother Michelle Renee Schell began a Facebook page to spread awareness about Karissa's disappearance. In 2016, Michelle shared a picture of a young girl who she believed was Karissa. 



It's unclear where Michelle found this image, or if police have worked to identify whether or not the person in this image is Karissa. It's also unclear when this picture was taken, but Michelle's post suggests that it was taken/posted online after Karissa's disappearance. 

Michelle also wrote several other posts criticizing the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Turlock Police Department for their lack of effort in investigating Karissa's case. In October 2017, she wrote, "Time to call National Center for Missing and Exploited. I dread calling them. They don't know how to do an age progressed photo! Also found out that Turlock Police station was suppose to give use our karissas [sic] phone records. Of course the detective never did. Had he listened to me she might have been found. At the time that she went missing I had her phone pinged. It showed she was in Redwood City, California. I told the detective right away and he just made excuses and blew it off!! It angers me to no end!!!!!"

Turlock and Redwood City are approximately 106 miles away from each other. Additionally, Redwood City is part of San Mateo County--an area that where sex traffickers are not uncommon. If Karissa's phone was actually in Redwood City, this would support the theory that Karissa was potentially trafficked. 

It appears that the Facebook page run by Michelle has not been updated since 2020, but another Facebook page dedicated to Karissa's disappearance was active as recently as August 2021. In April 2021, said Facebook page shared a screenshot of direct messages from a journalist at the Turlock Journal. 



It's worth noting that the information provided in this direct message has not been publicly confirmed. The author on the Facebook page does not believe the details in these messages to be true. In response to these DMs, the author wrote, "I do NOT understand why Turlock Journal is responding to people and saying that Karissa Alline Schell has been seen in the local area and does NOT wish to be found, these claims are false and inaccurate as well as inappropriate and someone should be disciplined accordingly.  Also I do NOT understand why TPD is not in regular contact with the mother in regards to the case. They have failed Karissa Alline Schell by passing her case off as a runaway there is no evidence that supports such claims. Karissa had no reason to run away."


Despite all of these postings of rumors and speculation, it appears that there has not been any substantial evidence of Karissa's whereabouts since she disappeared. She remains missing today.

If you have any information that could help locate Karissa, please contact the State of California Department of Justice here.

2 comments:

  1. Wow. I feel so bad for her and her family. Regardless if police THINK someone under the age of 18 is a runaway or not, in my opinion ALL missing minors should be looked for and investigate all possible scenarios. It's also obviously CRYSTAL CLEAR from her social media posts that she WASNT SAFE.

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  2. That photo may definitely resemble Karissa, but unfortunately it's not.
    It's fairly easy to see who it is without much research but for the heck of it I ran a reverse image search on it and it came back exactly who I figured.
    Kat von d. The tattoo chick

    ReplyDelete

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