Christopher Woitel was filmed walking up the stairs to his apartment a month ago. He never came back down.
A San Francisco computer programmer has been missing for more than a month after he was filmed entering his apartment… and never coming out.
Chris Woitel, 50, was last seen on January 8 when a security camera recorded him walking up the stairs inside his three-story apartment building on 65 Guerrero St, with a bottle of wine in his hand.
The camera never showed him come back down. While his apartment has a back door, CCTV cameras covering that area never recorded him leaving, either.
Investigators found the apartment empty, with no sign of foul play. The chain lock on his front door was still engaged.
Frustrated with the slow response from police, his family hired a private investigator, and further bizarre details surrounding the disappearance have since emerged.
Woitel’s niece was the last person to hear from him, when he sent her a text at 3PM on January 9, begging: “Please tell Lara to check her messages. It’s urgent.”
His sister, Lara Haben, told the Mission Local that she did try to call him back, but couldn’t get him.
She said in the final days before he vanished, her bother had been acting strange and paranoid, posting weird things on Facebook, freaking out over the Washington D.C. riots, asking for money for a lost cell phone and speaking about escaping into the mountains.
On January 8, Woitel texted Haben about explosions he heard outside his apartment; he said he felt San Francisco was “unsafe” and feared Trump supporters might also invade the city. Just hours before he vanished he reported a “man on a loudspeaker” passing by in a car, warning residents to “get out now.”
He also asked his sister to put some money in his account because “75 bucks isn’t going to get me very far.” But neither his account or his credit cards have been used since.
“My gut feeling is, something bad happened,” Haben said.
Family, friends and neighbors all said one thing in common about Woitel: he was extremely generous, and felt great empathy in particular for homeless people.
He would frequently bring them food at shelters, let them use his shower at his apartment or even let them stay overnight.
One homeless man in particular, “Bood” — whom he had known for years, after letting him stay at his apartment to recover from a leg injury — was one of the last people to see Woitel; he was recorded entering the apartment shortly before 10PM on January 7 and leaving just before 6AM the following morning.
A close friend of Woitel’s, Jose Reyes, said the missing man had become romantically infatuated with Bood, frequently gave him money and paid his phone bills, but that the attraction was not reciprocated.
“He would waste his bank account on whatever Bood wanted,” Reyes claimed, adding he warned his friend of the homeless man, who he said practiced Satanism and the occult. “I just got this vibe from him,… He would freak out when Chris didn’t get him what he wanted.”
The night before Woitel went missing, Woitel messaged Bood on Facebook (Bood had been using Woitel’s account to send messages to friends).
“You f—— a–hole! DONE. THAT’S IT. ENOUGH. You are on your own,” Woitel wrote to Bood. “You are far too much trouble. Phone number? Get your own. I’m not paying for you to harass people. You are an a–hole. Don’t ever come here again!”
Bood never responded.
Three weeks later, on January 29, Bood wrote on Facebook that he heard Woitel had been “jumped and robbed for his computers”, adding he’d been “killed” by people named “Nigel, Alonzo, lc, and Eric.”
When the private investigator caught up with Bood, he had Woitel’s phone. The handset was “dead and wet”, the PI noted. He told them Woitel had sold it to him for $100.
When interviewed, Bood told him he “had strong psychic abilities and had seen in his mind that Christopher had been shot in the head and wrapped in plastic before his body was dumped in the water at the end of Mariposa Street in San Francisco near an abandoned warehouse.”
Despite believing him to be “bad news”, Reyes does not believe Bood harmed Woitel — at least not by himself — given his bad leg.
“He couldn’t have moved his body,” he said. “Because he could barely walk.”
Meanwhile, one of Woitel’s neighbors has another theory: he is lying low and trying to make a clean break, as he had witnessed him on a number of occasions trying to avoid a pair of friends who visited frequently, whom the neighbor could only describe as “funky” and “thugs from the underworld.”
After Woitel’s family filed a missing persons report on January 11, police initially told them “there was nothing to indicate that the subject was at risk or that there was any suspicious circumstance involved.”
However they have since told them they are now investigating because of the “unique circumstances” — but wouldn’t specify which circumstances specifically triggered the investigation.