CARLSBAD — A missing teenage girl who hasn’t been seen or heard from since Jan. 4 has prompted a federal investigation and tip line for anyone with any information on the 17-year-old who was last seen publicly with an older, unidentified man at a San Marcos restaurant.
At just after 8 a.m. Jan. 4, the parents of Christine Jelinek phoned Carlsbad Police to report their daughter was missing.
She is described as a white female, with thick, dark brown shoulder length hair and brown eyes. She stands 5 feet 9 inches and weighs about 150 pounds.
“We just want to hear that she’s OK,” said Kaitlyn Smith, Christine’s mother.
A Jan. 11 press conference was held at the Carlsbad Police Department, one week after Christine’s disappearance. Smith, accompanied by her husband Danny Smith, was visibly distraught as she talked about her daughter.
“Christine loves to write, she loves to draw, she loves comic books,” Smith said. “She wants to make her own comic books and she’s getting really good at it.”
Authorities handed out a sketch of the male suspect Christine was seen with before she went missing, along with photos of Christine.
Christine took two pairs of jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt, and also had in her possession seven or eight artists books and possibly a Nintendo DS portable game system, said Lt. Paul Mendes, of the Carlsbad Police Department, at the conference.
“This male is unknown to Christine’s parents, her associates or friends. It is believed that in the early morning hours of Jan. 4, Christine had left her home and has not been seen or made contact with her family since,” he said.
The man is described as a white male adult, 45 to 50 years old, about 5 feet 11 inches and about 160 pounds. His eye color is unknown. His hair is described as short, but lighter on the bottom than the top, and also described as peppered. He was seen wearing jeans and a blue or gray button down shirt, Mendes said.
At about 11 a.m. Jan. 3, Christine was seen at the Boxing Club at 1691 Melrose Drive in San Marcos, which borders Carlsbad.
She was said to be there for a routine workout, and then went to Subway, which is only a few shops away in the small strip mall.
Mendes said that the Subway has wireless Internet access, and Christine may have used her portable Nintendo electronic game system to access the Internet and make contact with the “person of interest.”
Smith said they did not allow Christine to use the Internet at home, and were unaware that the Nintendo DS she received for Christmas has online capabilities.
Christine and the man were seen together at the Melrose strip mall, and spent about 45 minutes at Mariah’s West Wind Restaurant before he reportedly gave her a ride home.
“They basically were using this spot for a place to talk,” said Michael Synodin, owner of Mariah’s Restaurant.
He said neither of them ordered anything off of the menu, and also that he had never seen the man before.
Synodin said that the two left sometime in the noon hour, and that Christine came back afterward with her parents to prove her whereabouts that day.
Christine may have used the online name Kira Hawkins in chat rooms.
The FBI is participating in the investigation, and the National Center for Missing Children has also activated a case for Christine.
Fliers with Christine’s picture and missing status are posted around the community, including at two schools that are near the area of the strip mall where Christine was seen with the man.
Christine graduated early from Foothills High School, which is in the San Marcos Unified School District, but has a sibling that attends one of the district’s schools.
Gary Debora, assistant principal at San Elijo Middle School, which has posted fliers of Christine, said there are several scenarios in which the schools can offer resources, such as counseling, to students that are affected from a disturbing situation such as this one.
“If we see something that needs to be addressed, we can get a jump on it and work with the family as best as we can. We want to make sure (the) school environment is as normal as possible,” he said.
The tip line number is 760-931-2223.