Investigators still searching for Christine Flahive 25 years later

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Published: Updated:
Christine Flahive (Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office)

Saturday, Jan. 4, is the 25th anniversary of Christine Flahive’s disappearance. She was last seen leaving her home on her bike. Detectives believe she was heading to JD’s Lounge in downtown Punta Gorda, then to a trailer off Rollins Street.

That’s where detectives are focusing their search for Flahive: on a piece of land off Rollins Street where Jonathan Payne was staying in 1995.

Despite conducting dozens of interviews and receiving dozens of tips over the last 25 years, they’re still left with more questions than answers.

After 25 years, family, friends and detectives are still left wondering: Where is Christine Flahive?

“A substantial amount of time has elapsed and, of course, without finding her whereabouts, it makes it that much more difficult,” said Detective Kurt Mehl with the Charlotte County Sheriff Office’s Cold Case Unit.

The unit is now investigating the case as a homicide.

“We also have information from a confidential informant, a confidential source, that she is deceased,” said Cold Case Unit Detective Mike Vogel.

Investigators named Payne as a person of interest last year, even though he died in 2011.

They got a helpful tip that he and his associates had access to some big machines.

“Construction type machinery that could allow for burial rather deep,” Mehl said.

Detectives and cadaver dogs spent a bulk of early 2019 searching several properties, including Rollins Street. They found some concerning items, but they won’t help with the investigation due to Mother Nature.

“The ones we could submit were submitted but unfortunately, due to time and degradation, there is not really anything of value to do any kind of comparison of DNA or anything of that nature,” Mehl said.

Detectives believe Flahive was killed in Charlotte County and her remains are still in the area. They say finding out what happened to this Charlotte County mother is a top priority.

“As investigators, we want to solve a case,” Vogel said. “I mean, that’s what we do. But also, just as human beings, we want to resolve the case for the family.”

If you knew Payne or if you frequented downtown Punta Gorda around January 1995, contact law enforcement or Crime Stoppers.

There’s still hope for solving this case. Detectives have solved three Charlotte County cold cases in the last eight years.

Investigators confirmed that Phillip Barr, who is serving a life prison sentence for the murder of Tara Sidarovich in Punta Gorda, lived on the same property as Payne, moving in a few years after Payne moved out.

Barr’s ex-girlfriend’s family owned that land and the property next door. But detectives don’t believe Barr, or his ex-girlfriend, were involved in Flahive’s disappearance.

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