Real Name: Kristen Deborah Modafferi
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: June 23, 1997
Date of Birth: June 1, 1979
Height: 5' 8"
Weight: 140 lbs.
Marital Status: Single
Characteristics: Caucasian female with brown hair and eyes. Kristen has facial dimples.
Details: Eighteen-year-old Kristen Modafferi was a design student at North Carolina State University. In June 1997, she arrived in San Francisco, planning to spend the summer studying photography at nearby UC Berkeley. She found employment at Spinelli's Coffee Shop, located in the Crocker Galleria, during the week and at Café Museo, located inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on weekends. She was scheduled to begin classes at Berkeley on June 24, 1997.
On June 23, just one day before classes began, Kristen asked a Spinelli's Coffee Shop coworker for directions to Baker Beach, next to Land's End Beach. She clocked out for the day at 3pm and was last seen at 3:45pm in the Crocker Galleria with an unidentified blond woman. The witness, a coworker, thought this was strange because she normally left the mall immediately after her shift ended. A bloodhound tracked her scent from there to a nearby bus stop. The bus route would have taken her to Sutro Park Beach, near Land's End Beach. Her scent was also traced there, but was lost near a cliff. Investigators feared that she may have fallen to her death from Land's End Beach.
When Kristen's parents learned of her disappearance, they immediately flew to San Francisco to search for her. Police soon came across a personal ad that read "Friend seeking female friend to share activities, enjoy music, photography, works out, walks, coffee, or simply enjoying the beach, and exploring the Bay Area" which they believed she had either placed or answered. They suspected that the person who did so was connected to or actually was the unknown blonde woman last seen with Kristen after she left work on June 23, 1997.
On July 10, 1997, a phone call came into the ABC affiliate, KGO from a man named Jon Onuma. He stated that two lesbians had kidnapped Kristen, killed her, and then dumped her body under a bridge in the Point Reyes area of Marin County. When police questioned the two women they said that Jon was angry with them because they fired his girlfriend from the place where they worked. He admitted that he made the phone calls and learned about the case from TV.
Three other women came forward and claimed that Jon abused and tortured women. Also, they discovered that he often met women through personal ads, like the one that Kristen placed. He also reportedly used other women to lure women to him. They suspected that the blonde woman may have been an associate of his. When they questioned one of his female victims, she said that he mentioned Kristen in a threat, stating that: "the same thing that happened to her could happen to you."
Finally, when police searched Jon's girlfriend's apartment they found that her diary had pages ripped out of it; they were written around the time that Kristen vanished. She said that he had ripped them out and that the information may have been incriminating. However, he took a polygraph test and claimed that he passed. Police never had enough evidence to arrest him, so he was set free.
Kristen remains missing.
Suspects: Authorities would like to locate the unidentified blonde woman seen with Kristen on the afternoon that she vanished. The witness noticed that they were very close to each other and it appeared that they were good friends. The woman is not a suspect, but police believe that she may have vital information in the case.
Jon Onuma called the police with a tip that Kristin had been killed as part of a lesbian love triangle with two other women, but this story failed to check out and is now believed to be false information created to throw the authorities off track. Jon is now a person of interest in the case.
Suspected serial killer Robert Durst has also been considered a possible suspect in the case. He was believed to be in the area around the time she vanished. However, no other evidence connects him to the case.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the June 20, 2001 episode. It was also profiled on America’s Most Wanted, Haunting Evidence, and Missing.
Results: Unsolved. In 2015, cadaver dogs indicated that human remains were present in the basement of Kristen's house in Oakland, California. In 2017, it was announced that blood was found in there; DNA testing seemed to indicate that it belonged to her, as it partially matched her parents. However, more tests will be done before this can be confirmed. Private investigators hired by her family believe that she was most likely killed in the basement and her body transported elsewhere. However, it has not yet been located.
- Modafferi Family Website
- Kristen Modafferi on Unsolved.com
- Kristen Modafferi on Wikipedia
- Kristen Modafferi on The Charley Project
- Kristen Modafferi on the NCMEC
- Kristen Modafferi on the FBI Website
- Family continues efforts to find missing daughter
- Missing student gets name on legislation
- Other agencies look at Durst in unsolved cases
- Is Kristen Modafferi’s disappearance tied to murder suspect Robert Durst?
- Possible break in Kristen Modafferi case after 18 years
- 20 years later, private investigators shed light on cold case
- Persons of interest in 20-year-old case speak out
- What happened to Kristen Modafferi? One man's 20-year search for answers in San Francisco cold case
- Potential lead in Kristen Modafferi cold case goes uninvestigated
- Kristen Modafferi on Find a Grave