Kristen Modafferi vanished 25 years ago, on June 23rd, 1997.

  1. Watch this 6:55 minute segment of American's Most Wanted. (Directly below).

  2. Next - quickly read thru the 12 chapters on this page. (It will only take you about 10-15 minutes at the most). It highlights the most important events of the past 25 years regarding her case.

  1. Who is Kristen Modafferi

Who is Kristen Modafferi?

Kristen lived her young life along the Providence Rd area of Charlotte, NC until she vanished just after her 18th birthday. She vanished while on a summer vacation out in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from Providence High School, attended St. Matthews Catholic Church and worked at Wolfman Pizza near the Harris Teeter Shopping Center on Providence Rd near 485.

She's been missing since June of 1997 (the same week Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear).

This occurred when she just turned 18. She would have been 43 years old today.

The sad truth is that only a few people are looking for her anymore. This happened 25 years ago and the world has moved on. It does not have to be this way, hence...this manuscript.

I believe in the power of everyday common people. Someone out there has the intuition and/or the skill set to get things moving again in this very solvable mystery. Thank you for at least caring enough to want to learn the details of her disappearance.

Born on June 1st, 1979

Kristen was a good kid from a nice family. She graduated from Providence High School a year early and excelled so well in high school that NC State awarded her a ‘full four year academic scholarship’. She actually completed her Freshman year at NC State before her 18th birthday.

As part of her educational curricula, NC State was advising students to consider taking one of their summers to travel for the ‘life-experience’ it offered.

Kristen loved the idea.

She made arrangements to spend her first summer (between her Freshman and Sophomore years) in San Francisco and even enrolled at Berkeley to take summer classes whose credits would go towards her degree back at NC State.

As a bright-eyed young woman just turning eighteen years old, this was something she was passionately looking forward to.

Naturally, her parents were a bit concerned with their daughter going so far away and initially told her she could not go. It was just ‘‘too far’. She was still just 'too young’.

When you mix ‘passion’ with ‘youth’ - the product is unbridled enthusiasm and Kristen just would not take ‘no’ for an answer. She kept at her parents daily: ‘Please, please, please…’.

Her parents, Bob and Debbie, wanted the best for their child and when they started thinking about how she had always been such a great kid, never a problem, did fantastic in school, etc., they decided not to ‘clip her wings’ and finally broke down and gave her their permission.

“O.K., but BE CAREFUL” they pleaded. And with that... she was on her way!

2: The Summer of 1997

The Summer of 1997

Kristen actually flew to Oakland on her 18th birthday.

She wanted to live in San Francisco, but even way back in 1997, the rents were just ridiculous, so she found an affordable room for rent across the Bay in Oakland. There was no lease required, she could just pay month-to-month for the three or four months she planned on being in the area.

Her roommates met her at the airport. They were four guys and one girl sharing a big house at 274 Jayne Avenue in the Adams Point District of Oakland.

A 'go-getter', she jumped on the BART subway the following morning for the 20 minute ride into San Francisco and hit the ground running. She began handing out resumes all over the place looking for part-time summer employment.

One place she applied to was Spinelli’s Coffee located on the ground floor of the Crocker Galleria in downtown San Fran. It was right in the middle of the Financial District. The manager, Bernadette Melvin, later told police: “When Kristen came in, I was fully staffed but she was just so darn likable that I told her I would somehow find hours for her."

"I literally hired her just based on her enthusiasm. I kind of saw ‘myself’ in Kristen. I remembered back to when I was her age”

Keep these calendar dates in your mind as they are important to her story:

  1. June 1st - Kristen arrives in town.

  2. June 2nd - Kristen gets hired at Spinelli’s.

  3. June 24th - Berkeley summer school starts.

So - from basically June 2nd till June 24th, Kristen worked at the Coffee Shop from 7:00am - 3:00pm. From 3:00pm till almost midnight, she was just exploring the city. Retired FBI Agent Desvernine called Kristen ‘an urban tourist’.

Each day was a new adventure. She knew that once June 24th arrived, between ‘work and school’, her tourist days were pretty much over. With that in mind, she packed a lot of sightseeing into those three weeks.

​Then came that fateful day: Monday, June 23rd, 1997

3. June 23rd, 1997

June 23rd, 1997

From Kristen’s perspective, this was her last day of freedom. Her summer classes were to start the next day, so that afternoon was her last day to really take in the sights of the Bay Area.

With that in mind, she asked her co-workers for any advice as to what she could do on her final night of freedom.

Once the morning rush died down, Kristen stood at the counter with her co-workers’ John Burkhalter, Kelley Strathman and Allan Beauregard. The four of them began bouncing ideas and suggestions off one another as to what Kristen could do later that afternoon.

Anything they suggested she pretty much had already done so at the end of their brain storming session, Kristen still had no concrete idea she was actually going to do.

She only said, “Well, I’ve already been to Ocean Beach. Maybe I’ll check that out again.” She ended the conversation with no concrete plan in mind.

3:00pm arrives and Kristen’s shift is complete. Oddly enough, she leaves work that day but forgets to ‘clock out’. She never did that before and even now, after 25 years, we have no way of knowing if there is any significance to that. Something sinister? Or just forgetfulness? We don’t really know.

***This is Important***

Forty-five minutes later, at 3:45pm, Kristen’s co-workers see her still at the mall. She was walking along the 2nd floor corridor ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with another young woman who had blonde hair. John Burkehalter and Allan Beauregard both said there was nothing out of the ordinary about this, just two young co-ed’s walking together. They were not in any conversation. The co-workers did not recognize the ‘blonde-haired’ woman with Kristen.

​This has led law enforcement to wonder if they were actually together or just the randomness of two people next to each other at the mall.

I obviously don’t know, but I ‘do’ think they were together.

I walked that same corridor several times. The 2nd floor of that mall at 3:45pm on Mondays is empty. Hardly anyone there. I doubt that two strangers would casually be walking shoulder-to-shoulder.

That being the case, despite lots of media attention and requests for this woman to please contact law enforcement, no one ever did.

​That 3:45pm sighting of Kristen was the last known verifiable sighting of Kristen that we are aware of.

4. 'Suspect'


The word ‘suspect’ is a word loaded with TNT and one needs to be very careful when throwing that adjective around for very obvious reasons

If that person is innocent, then that is just not fair to them.

For that reason, I will not use that word. Instead, I am only going to rely on language that has already been used by the Oakland Police Department, the FBI and America’s Most Wanted. They include:

  1. John Walsh: “police believe he knows more than he is saying." (referring to Jon Onuma)

  2. The FBI: ‘He's the center of our investigation’. (referring to Matthew Luque), And:

  3. Oakland Police: “He ‘is’ connected and we just need to 'nail down' how he is connected to this case.” (referring to Jon Onuma)

5. 96.4%


Sometimes it feels like I spend half my life thinking about this percentage. It is central to what helps me understand that Kristen’s case can be solved.

​I came across this stat on the web many years ago. It’s an FBI statistic that says that “when a woman meets with foul play, the chances that she somehow knew her assailant is 96.4%.”

Restated: Truly random attacks on females is less than 4 percent.

When I mentioned this to an FBI agent he quickly corrected me: “It’s much higher than 96.00%, Dennis”, he said.

6. '35-50 People'

'35-50 People'

Remember earlier when I wrote that Kristen was only in the Bay Area from June 1st till June 23rd? That is just 23 days. This works to Kristen’s advantage as the universe of people whom she knew was very small.

  1. 5 Roommates

  2. About 20 co-workers

  3. A few neighbors

  4. And who knows - maybe twice that in total.

  5. The ‘asterisk’ here is obviously she worked at a coffee shop so it may have been a customer.

With the potential of it being a customer set aside - then Kristen’s universe of people she knew is roughly between 35 - 50 people.

***Restated, there is better than a 9 out of 10 chance that one of these 35-50 people at the very least know something about what happened to Kristen.****

7. The Roommates

The Roommates

The 274 Jayne Ave house was in foreclosure.

  1. Griffin Cherry turned down $500.00 cash.

  2. Roommates opened Kristen’s mail.

  3. Roommates never called the Modafferi's after Kristen vanished.

  4. In 22 years, no roommate has ever once reached out to the Modafferi’s.

I was able to meet with and speak with the roommates several times and they all seemed very nice and cordial.

After meeting with them several times, there really was no new ground to cover and they did politely ask me to leave them alone unless there was something new to discuss. They were not at all rude about it. I think from their perspective they felt that they gave me their time and answered my questions. I can see their point.

The one exception was Kurt Opshal. I never once was able to meet him. Whenever I was at the house, he was not around. I do not know this for sure, but I am pretty certain law enforcement spoke with him.

Griffin Cherry was dating Rosie Levine but their relationship needed a break. As for as break-ups go, this was a very cordial one. Besides, Rosie wanted to spend the summer in France. It was Rosie’s bedroom that now became vacant that led Griffin to post her room for rent on the web. (The very early days of the web!)

I said this was a cordial separation. Rosie did go to France and upon returning, she and Griffin got back together and are now married living on the East Coast.

Hans and Kurt Opsahl are brothers, and Justin Nuisuler was kind of like Kristen: He needed a room to rent for the summer and so he had no relationship with Griffin, Rosie, Kurt or Hans.

House in Foreclosure.

The house is located at 274 Jayne Avenue. Go ahead and Google it. It is located in a very safe District of Oakland known as Adams Point. Each evening, Kristen would take the BART home to Oakland and walk about a mile from Telegraph Rd (or maybe Broadway), past Lake Merritt and up Montecito Hill (a long uphill walk) to her Jayne Avenue home. I mention this because it is possible something happened to her on her walk home.

274 Jayne Avenue has an interesting backstory. The house was already in foreclosure when Kristen moved in. The roommates were honest with Kristen about that before she accepted the invitation. The way California Real Estate laws work - the roommates were allowed to stay in the house for several months before having to vacate.

The actual landlord at the time did not live at the address, he/she subletted it to the five roommates.

Griffin Cherry turns down $500.00 cash.

Here is where it gets weird. The head roommate, Griffin Cherry, told the Modafferi’s that the landlord was no longer even paying the mortgage to the bank so Kristen’s $500.00 was not even going to the landlord. (I don’t know - but maybe it was going toward utilities/general expenses). I am still a little cloudy on this but I am positive Law enforcement knows every single detail about this ‘arrangement’ so they are definitely fully aware of it’s details.

Kristen’s rent for the room was $500.00 per month. Remember, Kristen vanished on Monday, June 23rd. Three days earlier, Friday, June 20th, Kristen pulled $500.00 out of her Wells Fargo account and handed the cash to the lead roommate, Griffin Cherry.

Griffin told her he needed a money order and gave the money back to Kristen. Griffin then told Mr. Modafferi that Kristen planned on redepositing the $500.00 back into her account and she would bring him the money order on Monday.

She never deposited the money back into her account.

Roommates opened Kristen's mail.

Private Investigator Tim Hames was one of the first investigators to search for Kristen. He went over to Jayne Ave but no one was home. He looked in the mailbox and saw an envelope addressed to Kristen and so he took it out of the mailbox to look at it only to discover it had already been opened and replaced back in the box.

The roommates did admit to opening the letter but their explanation seemed plausible. They said they were starting to get concerned about Kristen and just instinctively opened her mail thinking possibly the envelope might offer some type of indication as to Kristen’s whereabouts.

I recently spoke to Investigator Hames and his memory is telling him it was a letter from the library as Kristen had gotten a library card early that month.

Roommates never called the Modafferi's.

When Kristen failed to come home Monday and Tuesday night, the roommates were starting to get worried. Still, they never called Kristen’s parents to alert them that they did not know where she was.

Thier reasoning for not doing so is totally plausible and very believable. So, this is one instance where it really is not as bad as it sounds.

This was not a house that was rented by 5 very close friends. Both Justin Neisuler and Kristen were both found via ads online. Everyone had their own lives, going their own ways, all on different schedules.

Kristen was a college kid. They actually thought that maybe Kristen had a boyfriend or other friends in the Bay Area and she was staying with them. The last thing they wanted to do is call her parents and have them start freaking out over Kristen when all she may have been doing was crashing at a friend’s house. (Remember - at this point - no one is thinking ‘disappearance’, ‘abduction’ or worse.)

Kristen had a friend out there that had signed up for the same class at Berkeley that she was taking. The roommates did speak with her. They both decided to at least wait till the following day because it was expected that Kristen would just show up for class.

When that didn’t happen, it was time to call her Mom and Dad. The only reason they did not is because Mr. Modafferi beat them to it.

He called them first.

The reason he did is because he received a call (or email - I forget) from one of Kristen’s friends back East. She was calling because she was a little concerned that Kristen was not returning any of her calls, so she called Mr. Modafferi to see if he knew what was going on.

It was her friend's concern that prompted Mr. Modafferi to call the house phone at 274 Jayne Ave.

That was the worst phone call of his life. As soon as he hung up, he and his wife were frantically making flight arrangements to get out to the Bay Area ASAP. My recollection is they literally flew out that same day.

No Contact in 25 Years.

I can understand why the roommates never called the Modafferi's those first few days, and I do believe they would have called Mr Modafferi within hours if he had not called them first. So that part is understandable.

What concerns me more is that in over 25 years, not one of them has ever once reached out to the Modafferis just to let them know they care about whatever it was that happened to Kristen.

Maybe it is just me, but there seems to be something not right about that.

8. The Neighbors

The Neighbors

278 Jayne Avenue served as a half-way house for probation violaters from the Oakland and Alameda County region. That alone would have eliminated ‘Jayne Avenue’ as a place the Modafferi’s would have allowed Kristen to live.

They never knew it.

I was canvassing the neighborhood for about a year after Kristen vanished and just casually struck up a conversation with a young kid who was staying at the house next door. He was the one who told me about it being a half-way house and I couldn’t believe it.

I called Oakland PD right away and they were not aware of it either. Read this. It was written by a member of the Adams Point Neighborhood HomeOwners Association.

*NOTE: A screenshot of the full letter is below this 'pull-quote'.

A Plea from the Jayne Avenue Neighbors

As most of you know, 278 Jayne Avenue has been a nuisance for years. It was a Convalescent Hospital from the 60s until the state closed it down for licensing violations in 1985. Since then, 278 Jayne has been home to - a pit bull breeding and fighting ring, - raising and slaughtering rabbits, - a methamphetamine laboratory, - several roach coaches (closed by the Health Department for poisoning Laney College students, and also for selling drugs), - a rooming house for indigents (mainly 5150s or mental cases) - a poorly supervised program for 'youth' with gender issues'.

278 Jayne opened again recently under cover of deception, lies and deceit. Instead of a facility for 9-14 year old 'youths' as we were told it would be, it is a halfway house for juvenile probationers. That's right, bounced out of juvie halls in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco, they come straight to Jayne Avenue.

So, you can see why this may be what happened to Kristen. Remember, she would not go home most nights till after 11:00pm. She had to walk the last mile from the BART subway station to her home.

Her home was right next door to this house of horrors...and she never knew it.


Over the years, the house was eventually shut down and sold off. Today, a new owner has turned the home completely around and has been terrific to the Modafferi's.

9. Wild Card

Wild Card

If we knew what happened to Kristen, this manuscript would not be necessary. The truth is that we don’t know. I want to make it very clear that Kristen’s disappearance really may not have anything to do with the roommates, neighbors, co-workers or the ‘Onuma/Lampo’ theory that I am about to explain next.

I saved them for last because this is what I personally believe happened to Kristen. Please keep this in perspective:

We just don’t know what happened

10. Jon Onuma - Matthew Luque - Jill Lampo

Jon Onuma - Matthew Luque - Jill Lampo

**About 10 days after Kristen vanished, an anonymous call was placed to the ABC-TV station in San Francisco. The caller was calling about Kristen. He said:

  1. Kristen was killed by two women in the backseat of a car on Market Street near Castro Street.

  2. She was then taken north over the Golden Gate Bridge up to the Point Reyes forest area.

  3. Her body was then hidden beneath a wooden bridge.

  4. The two women worked at the local YMCA.

He then hung up the phone.

The reporter called 911 and the tip landed at the desk of the cops investigating Kristen’s case. The cops head right over to the YMCA and realize that these two women do in fact exist. However, the cops could tell in seconds, that these two women had nothing to do with Kristen, so they asked the ladies who they thought might had pulled such a stupid prank?

They told them to check on Jon Onuma. The reason for their suspicion was that Onuma was dating one of their employees, a gal named Jill Lampo. Onuma would often make veiled threats to them over his opinion of the way they treated his girlfriend.

Great work by the cops. So they next head over to Lampo/Onuma apartment on O’Farrell Street in San Francisco. They have the tape recorder running in their pocket as they knock on the door.

Onuma was home and agreed to speak with the cops. At first he denied making the call but then he changed tactics and began proudly bragging that he made the call. ‘Absolutely’...he boasted.

He then told the cops that he made the call claiming that he women killed Kristen as a way of getting revenge upon them for the way they treated his girlfriend.

“It was all just a bad joke,” he told the cops.

Onuma was never arrested for this and that has always bothered me. Joking around and diverting Law Enforcement’s ‘manpower and resources’ in the early days of a missing person case should have legal consequences.

At least now the Oakland PD have a viable lead.

11. Spinelli's Coffee - (Kristen's Job)

Spinelli's Coffee - (Kristen's Job)

Before I explain to you the significance of JIll Lampo and Matthew Luque, I need to take you back to a Spring day back in May of 1998.

Not really knowing what else to do, I decided to start all over and go back to ‘square one’. I received permission from Arthur Spinelli to speak with his employees about Kristen. Mr. Spinelli was the CEO of several Coffee Shops in the Bay Area.

With his permission, the manager of the Crocker Galleria store, a kind woman by the name of Bernadette Melvin, set aside a table in her shop and instructed all of her employees to take time to sit down with me and share whatever they had regarding Kristen.

I spent the entire day at Spinelli’s that day and remain grateful to Arthur Spinelli and Bernadette Melvin for making that possible.

Bernadette also provided me with a list of employees so as I interviewed each one, I simply checked their name off of my list. I was able to speak with every employee except one; a young man by the name of Kelley Strathman. Kelley had quit his job before I showed up on the scene.

Not to worry. One of coworkers told me: “Dennis, I know how to get ahold of Kelly. Call a guy named Matthew Luque. He and Kelly are friends and he can give you Kelly’s number.” The co-worker also told me that she knew for a fact that Matthew’s name was listed in the phone book.

It was all very innocent. The coworker was right, Matthew’s name was in the phonebook, so I called him:

Dennis: “Hi, this is Dennis Mahon calling. Is Matthew there?”

Matthew: “Hi Dennis, this is Matthew. How can I help you”

Dennis: “Matthew, I am friends with the family of Kristen Mod…..

Matthew: “Look! I’ve got NOTHING to do with that. You got it? You got? You got it?

Then he slams the phone down.

I never even got Kristen’s last name out of my mouth before Luque went ballistic on me. More than that - the ONLY reason I was calling him was to get Kelly Strathman's phone number.

It just made no sense. So I called the Oakland PD investigator and let him know what just happened.

Years later I was able to make contact with Kelley, and he was just like all the other employees, just very cordial. The only outlier in this whole entire scenario was Matthew Luque.

Ok - keep this story in mind because I am going to come back to it shortly. It’s important.

12. Jill Lampo

Jill Lampo

Remember that the initial anonymous phone call to the ABC affiliate led cops to the local YMCA. The lead led to both Jon Onuma and Jill Lampo.

Two days after Matthew Luque hung up on me, the Oakland PD raided Onuma’s apartment with a ‘search warrant’ in hand. In the apartment, cops found a Diary/Day Planner belonging to Jill Lampo.

I will share with you a detail of what the Day Planner revealed in the next segment. But for now:

Our Biggest Tip

  1. June 5th, 2012

  2. Jill Lampo is having a personal meltdown crisis.

  3. She calls her uncle and thus begins about a 4 hour phone call.

  4. Jill begins to tell her uncle everything that has gone wrong in her life.

  5. At some point, her Uncle decides to start taking notes.

  6. He did not want to get involved - but luckily his wife felt differently.

    1. She then Googles ‘Jill Lampo’ and that took her to

    2. The wife then contacts me and sends me a copy of her husbands’ notes.

The handwriting is a little hard to read, so I created this graphic below so you can easily read the most important part.

This ‘lead’ arrived in my email inbox almost 15 years to the day after Kristen vanished. As crazy as this sounds, the arrival of this tip came in 7 long years ago!

So Jill is having a nervous breakdown and confides in her uncle that she helped abduct and kill a woman and that the guilt was tearing her up inside. She doesn’t mention Kristen by name, but her statement to her uncle is extremely suspicious to say the least.

Back to that Timeline

A refresher:

  1. June, 1997: Kristen vanished

  2. May, 1998: Matthew Luque angrily hangs up the phone at the mere mention of Kristen’s name.

  3. May, 1998: (2 days later) Cops raid Jill’s apartment and find a Day Planner

  4. June, 2012: Jill Lampo confides in her Uncle that she helped abduct and kill a woman

  1. Matthew Luque’s name was in Jill’s Day Planner.

  2. Turns out that Jill and Matthew used to date.

  3. Jill told me she broke up with Matthew Luque to start dating Jon Onuma.

  4. Shortly after Kristen vanished, Matthew Luque started working at the exact same Coffee Shop as Kristen.

  5. He was referred to work there by his friend, Kelley Strathman.

  6. Kelley did work alongside Kristen.

13. Matthew Luque

For reasons already explained previously, I am staying away from the word ‘suspect'. I prefer to quote the exact words used by Law Enforcement. Here is an email from the FBI investigating Kristen’s case that was written back in 2008, fourteen long years ago:

14. Jon Onuma