Disappearance of LeeAnna Warner
LeeAnna Warner, a young girl, went missing in Chisholm, Minnesota on June 14, 2003. It is suspected that she was abducted and m*rdered. On that day, between 5:00 and 5:15 p.m., LeeAnna was last seen walking home from a friend’s house. She was spotted walking on either southwest Second or Third Street. LeeAnna was only 5 years old when she disappeared.
While there is no solid evidence of a kidnapping, the police believe it is the most likely scenario, as they would have found her if she had simply wandered away.
Over the years, the police have received more than 1700 leads. However, due to the lack of substantial evidence, they have never had a definite suspect. To this day, LeeAnna has not been found, and her case remains unsolved.
The Warner family consists of Tiffany Kaelin Whittaker, who prefers to be called Kaelin Whittaker, Christopher Warner, and their daughter LeeAnna Warner.
Before their marriage, both Christopher and Kaelin had been divorced. They met and moved in together in late 1996, and LeeAnna was born on January 21, 1998. The Warners had recently moved to Chisholm a few months before LeeAnna went missing.
LeeAnna was described as an outgoing, friendly, and courageous child. She had advanced survival instincts for her age. She enjoyed playing with dolls, riding her bike, and spending time with her family. In October 2003, Kaelin was charged with a hit and run incident involving Christopher. Sadly, Kaelin passed away on December 10, 2022.
On June 14, 2003, LeeAnna was seen for the last time walking barefoot from her friend’s house, which was about a block and a half away from her own home.
According to Kaelin Warner, they had just returned home from the Side Lake Rummage Sale when LeeAnna expressed her desire to play with her friend, who lived a few streets away. Although Kaelin insisted that LeeAnna should rest, she eventually allowed her to go on the condition that she would be back by 5 p.m.
At around 4:30 p.m., LeeAnna set off for her friend’s house, a short walk she had done independently many times before. However, upon reaching her friend’s place, she discovered that nobody was there, so she decided to turn back and head home. Between 5:00 and 5:15 p.m., she was last seen walking on southwest Second or Third Street.
At 5 p.m., when LeeAnna had not returned home, her mother started to worry. Around 5:30 p.m., Kaelin began searching for her daughter, seeking help from the people in the neighborhood. Parents and children from the nearby areas joined the search efforts.
Despite the extensive search party, by 9:00 p.m. there were no sightings of LeeAnna. It was at this point that Kaelin and Chris reported their daughter missing to the local police.
At the time she went missing, LeeAnna was approximately 3 feet 0 inches (0.91 m) to 3 feet 2 inches (0.97 m) tall and weighed around 50 pounds (22.67962 kg). She was a petite Caucasian girl with brown hair, which was cut into a short bob style. Her eyes were dark brown. LeeAnna had two notable distinguishing features: a mole above her left ankle and a dimple on her left shoulder.
When she was last seen, LeeAnna was wearing a sleeveless blue denim dress (some sources mention a denim shirt) with a belt, orange underwear, and a flower earring with a red garnet in her right ear. She was not wearing any shoes or socks.
Upon receiving the call from the Warner family, the Chisholm Police Department quickly arrived at the scene. Another search party was organized, this time with the involvement of both volunteers and authorities. Police officers, firefighters, local volunteers, and expert trackers with bloodhounds gathered to search the town.
The search team thoroughly checked various locations such as garages, barns, sheds, and abandoned iron ore mines, hoping that LeeAnna had simply wandered off and become lost. Despite their efforts, no clues or indications about LeeAnna’s whereabouts were found. The search continued for over 48 hours but yielded no results.
In the weeks that followed, extensive search efforts were undertaken, utilizing helicopters and bloodhounds. However, by the end of the month, no significant progress had been made in finding LeeAnna.
Approximately one month after her disappearance, someone from the local community discovered child’s footprints near Longyear Lake, where LeeAnna had been with her mother on the day she went missing. The Chisholm Police Department decided to drain the lake in the hope of finding any trace of LeeAnna or her body. Unfortunately, no additional evidence related to her case was found. The search had to be halted during the winter due to freezing conditions in the area.
In the summer of 2004, authorities initiated another search in Chisholm, but it did not uncover any new evidence regarding LeeAnna’s disappearance. Since then, no further official searches have been scheduled.
As of 2020, Chisholm Police Chief Vern Manner stated that there are still individuals of interest in the case, although they cannot be classified as suspects due to the lack of evidence. He mentioned that they have not been able to clear these individuals of suspicion either.
Suspects and theories
Several suspects and theories have been linked to the disappearance of LeeAnna Warner. However, none of them have been substantiated or proven true up to the present day.
Kaelin Whittaker, Christopher Warner and Family
Kaelin and Christopher were not considered suspects in the case of LeeAnna’s disappearance, and they were not required to undergo lie detector tests. However, Christopher had experienced domestic issues with his ex-wife and had obtained a restraining order against her. He also alleged that she had made threats against Kaelin and LeeAnna.
Despite this information, authorities did not find a connection between Christopher’s past problems with his ex-wife and the disappearance of his daughter.
In the years following LeeAnna’s disappearance, Kaelin and Christopher decided to move away from Chisholm in an attempt to start anew. They expressed feeling that the town was no longer safe and no longer felt like home to them.
Matthew James Curtis
Matthew James Curtis, a 24-year-old man at the time, emerged as a significant suspect in the disappearance of LeeAnna Warner. In August 2003, Curtis was arrested for possession of child pornography, which drew the attention of the authorities. He underwent several interrogations regarding his potential involvement in LeeAnna’s case.
Authorities suspected Curtis due to his previous charges and his proximity to LeeAnna. They obtained a warrant to search his pickup truck for DNA samples. However, the thorough search of his vehicle and personal belongings yielded no evidence linking him directly to LeeAnna’s disappearance.
In September 2003, one day before his scheduled court appearance for the child pornography charges, Curtis’s lifeless body was discovered in his pickup truck a few miles outside of Chisholm. According to authorities, it was determined that Curtis had suffocated himself with a plastic bag, and his d*ath was officially classified as a suicide.
Nevertheless, Curtis’s dath sparked speculation and controversy, with some questioning the circumstances and suggesting foul play, believing that he may have been mrdered and his d*ath staged as a suicide. However, it is important to note that there is currently no evidence supporting such claims.
Joseph Edward Duncan III
Joseph Edward Duncan III was a convicted sx offender who faced accusations of kidnapping two children in Idaho. During an unrelated investigation of his computer, authorities discovered an encrypted document that referenced LeeAnna Warner’s disappearance. Duncan also maintained an online diary, in which he expressed fear of being implicated in LeeAnna’s case in 2004. He expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation into him and his displeasure with being labeled a sx offender.
Given Duncan’s knowledge of the missing girl from Minnesota, authorities launched an investigation to determine if he had any involvement in LeeAnna’s disappearance. However, no substantial evidence was found to bring him to trial. Additionally, a timeline of Duncan’s recent activities indicated that he had not been in the Chisholm area at the time when LeeAnna was reportedly abducted.
“A little old lady”
Christopher and Kaelin informed the authorities that in the weeks preceding LeeAnna’s disappearance, their daughter had been exhibiting peculiar behavior. On one occasion, they found LeeAnna playing with a case full of Barbie dolls and their accessories, even though they had never bought such toys for her. When questioned about the source, LeeAnna mentioned receiving them from “a little old lady.”
Approximately a week before she went missing, LeeAnna packed a suitcase with her cherished belongings and expressed her desire to live with her new family. Additionally, her parents discovered her sleeping inside her closet one night, claiming she was afraid of monsters lurking outside her window.
Investigators thoroughly investigated these incidents, but no evidence emerged to suggest that someone had used toys to entice LeeAnna away from her family. Consequently, this information was disregarded in the investigation.
During the period when LeeAnna went missing, several witnesses reported sightings of individuals who drew their attention. One of these individuals was described as a man in his mid-thirties, approximately 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 meters) tall, and weighing around 155 pounds (70 kilograms). He was said to have a dark tattoo of a star or a sun on his right arm. However, the identity of this man remains unknown.
Around the same time, witnesses also observed a maroon and blue Cadillac driven by an African-American man in his twenties or thirties, sporting a bald or shaven head. Additionally, there were reports of an unfamiliar older-model rusty brown pickup truck driven by a Caucasian man with black curly hair.
None of these individuals have been positively identified, and their connection to LeeAnna’s disappearance remains uncertain.
LeeAnna’s disappearance garnered significant attention from local media, particularly in Chisholm and the nearby regions. The case was featured on America’s Most Wanted in July of the same year, bringing wider awareness to her disappearance. In more recent years, People Magazine undertook an investigation into the case, seeking to shed further light on the young girl’s disappearance.
Additionally, the podcast True Crime Garage dedicated a two-part series to exploring the details of LeeAnna’s disappearance. The first part delves into the circumstances surrounding her vanishing, while the second part examines potential suspects in the case. These efforts aimed to keep the case in public consciousness and potentially generate new leads or information