Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Christopher and Robert Fontes

Real Names: Robert James and Christopher Paul Fontes
Nicknames: Robby and Chris Durkin
Location: Dublin, California
Date: June 23, 1981


Occupation: Minor (Both)
Date of Birth: January 25, 1978 (Robert), April 18, 1979 (Christopher)
Height: Unrevealed
Weight: Unrevealed
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: Caucasian male (both)


Details: Robby and Christopher Fontes are the sons of police officer James "Jim" Fontes and Cathy Durkin. Jim and Cathy met in high school; two years later, they ran off and got married in Tijuana. Two years after that, they were remarried two years in a Catholic church. Five years later in 1978, Robby was born. In 1979, Christopher was born. In December of 1980, Jim and Cathy divorced, but agreed to joint custody of their sons.
Six months later on June 23, 1981, Jim brought the boys to Cathy's apartment in Oakland, California. For the first time, Jim had vacationed with them for a whole week; now, it was their mother's turn. Cathy told Jim that she had a busy week planned for the boys and that he should not be alarmed if they weren't in when he called. During the week, his calls went unanswered. However, he was not concerned.
On the morning he was supposed to pick the boys up, Jim woke up to a call from his former mother-in-law. She said she had gotten a tape recording in the mail from Cathy and her new husband, James Terrence "Terry" Durkin. On the audio cassette, Cathy confessed that she and Terry had abducted the boys and fled the area. Jim was in disbelief; he went to Cathy's apartment, but found nothing to indicate where she and Terry had taken the boys.
On August 14, 1981, the Oakland police issued warrants for the arrests of Cathy and Terry. One month later on September 23, paramedics were called to a home in Urbandale, Iowa, 2000 miles away. A woman named "Cathy Roberts" was in labor, having trouble with home birth. When paramedics entered, they noticed that there was almost no furniture in the home. They went into the bedroom and helped Cathy deliver her baby. They noticed that the parents did not seem very excited about the birth.
Even though Cathy had lost blood and was exhibiting a weak pulse, she was extremely reluctant to go to the hospital. However, paramedics convinced her that it was necessary. During the trip to the hospital, she was deliberately evasive about her personal and medical history. Her behavior was suspicious, so one of the paramedics went to the police. Investigators found that the "Roberts" had no background. They decided to put the family under surveillance.
Investigators followed the couple everywhere, even to the grocery store. They noticed that Cathy always paid in cash with large bills. When they interviewed people that interacted with the couple, each witness noted that the couple acted suspiciously. Investigators thought it was strange that their attire indicated that they were poor but they always paid with large bills. They were convinced that the man was a fugitive.
The Urbandale Police obtained a warrant to search the Roberts' trash. They found an envelope with "Cathy Font-" and an Oakland address written on it. When they contacted the police in Oakland, Urbandale investigators finally learned that "Cathy and Terry Roberts" were actually Cathy and Terry Durkin. On October 23, 1981, Terry was arrested. Cathy remained free on her own recognizance so that she could take care of her one-month-old baby. Christopher and Robby became wards of the state of Iowa.
The Almadea County D.A. Robert Hutchins contacted Jim Fontes and told him about the arrest and discovery of his sons. He urged Jim to get to Iowa as soon as possible. Jim was in Oregon at the time; he immediately bought tickets to Iowa. However, his trip had two layovers and was expected to take nine hours. Meanwhile, Hutchins contacted a Des Moines social worker; he feared the courts in Iowa would give the boys back to the Durkins. He begged the social worker not to let the boys go back to the Durkins. She told him that the decision had already been made; the boys were going back to their abductors.
When Jim got to each airport, he made several phone calls to Hutchins. Meanwhile, Hutchins contacted a D.A. in Urbandale, telling him that Jim had a court order and urging him to put the boys in protective custody. However, his pleas fell on deaf ears. When Jim arrived in Iowa, he learned that the Durkins had taken the boys and vanished again. Jim has been searching for his sons for nine years. He fears that they may not even remember him due to the passage of time.
Suspects: Catherine and James Durkin
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the November 14, 1990 episode.

Jim Fontes reunited with his sons

Results: Solved. Within minutes of the broadcast, dozens of viewers in Albuquerque, New Mexico called the telecenter to say that they recognized Kathy and Terry Durkin. The couple had been living on the outskirts of Albuquerque in a trailer home. Shortly before Midnight that night, FBI agents apprehended the Durkins without incident. They were arrested on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for parental kidnapping. They were later released on $5,000 bail.
Christopher and Robby were located safe; Jim and his wife immediately went to Albuquerque and was reunited with his sons after nine years. The boys returned with Jim to Dublin, California. They re-acquainted and began to heal the pain brought by nine years of separation.