What Happened To Chris Giauque?
by Daniel Mintz, February 15, 2012
Having been awarded $200,000 from his presumed murdered son Chris’s estate, Bob Giauque says he can think of no better way to spend it than to post a reward to find out who the killer is.
Missing since the night of Aug. 9, 2003, when he arranged to meet a partner to receive a money drop-off related to a Mendocino County marijuana-growing venture, it is assumed Chris Giauque was murdered. Although there’s been an investigation of multiple suspects and persons of interest, police haven’t been able to pin the crime on anyone.
Members of his family have sought information on their own and the newest effort is Bob Giauque’s offer of $150,000 for information leading an arrest and conviction and an additional $50,000 for information leading to the recovery of his son’s remains.
He’s sent letters to over 1,400 post office box recipients in Laytonville detailing aspects of the crime and offering the reward. The return address on the envelopes asks the question, “Do you know who murdered me?” and the second line reads “$200,000 reward” in red letters.
Giauque has also set up a website, Chrisreward.org, to describe the circumstances of his son’s apparent murder and list contact information for tips. “I’m getting a number of phone calls from Garberville, Willits and Laytonville and I’m trying to piece things together,” he said.
He added that more than one caller has relayed secondhand information indicating that Chris’ body was “severely mutilated.” Giauque said the unresolved disappearance continues to unnerve people who apparently know of it.
“The people I’m talking to are scared shitless,” he said. He will arrange meetings, he continued, but only when accompanied by the private investigator he’s hired. “I’m not going to be picked off alone,” said Giauque.
The reward money’s been placed in an account with second and third trustees who are “very knowledgeable” about the case, so “silencing me won’t stop things,” he continued.
Since the day he learned of his son’s disappearance, Giauque has been convinced that a robbery and homicide occurred. “From day one, I considered him dead,” he said.
He knew of his son’s marijuana-growing ventures on multiple properties in Humboldt and Mendocino counties and once visited one of his grow sites in Salmon Creek. Giauque said he’s never tried marijuana himself — except maybe the contact high he got when he accompanied Chris to a Grateful Dead concert in Oakland — but believes it should be legalized and wasn’t judgmental about Chris’ lifestyle.
He described Chris as a loving son who was particularly close to his mother. Giauque said Chris’ thoughtfulness was shown at Christmastime and one of the more memorable gifts he got from his son was a finely-crafted axe made in Sweden — one he needed to chop the wood that’s his only source of heat at his remote Sonoma County home.
There were aspects of Chris’ childhood that set the pace for the rest of his life. He had heart surgery when he was four years old and again, to fix valve leakage, when he was 16. “Chris had a question about how long he’d live and that made him open to taking more risks,” Giauque said.
One of them was arranging to meet his partner in the Spy Rock area of Mendocino County on the night of his disappearance to pick up $150,000 that was owed to him. Giauque believes numerous people became aware of the meeting and that his son went there alone.
He said he’s gotten a “very good response” to his mailings and website so far. “A number of people they said wanted to contact me in the past and were told not to do so,” Giauque said. “Some of these people feel very badly about what Chris’ family has gone through and it has bothered their consciences for many years.”
And after many years, Giauque is committed to working to find his son’s killer. “I am driven and even my private investigator tells me he would hate to have me going after him,” he said.
To provide information on the disappearance of Chris Giauque, call Bob Giauque at 707-865-0933, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or send him mail at P.O. Box 609, Monte Rio, CA 95462.
Giauque’s private investigator, Doug Newton can be reached by phone at 707-473-9119, by e-mail at email@example.com or by mail at 401 Center St. #19, Healdsburg, CA 95448.
On the evening of Saturday August 9, 2003, Chris Giauque went to the Spy Rock area and met with a business partner, Ben Lomax, near the Iron Peak lookout point. This area is north of Laytonville in Mendocino County. Chris was on probation for cultivation of marijuana and reportedly left his vehicle, a 1994 blue Toyota extracab pickup truck, at this location as he did not want to be seen in his truck on the property that he, Ben Lomax, and Adrian Vasquez owned at 8500 Simmerly Road, Covelo. Reportedly, Ben Lomax gave Chris a ride into and out of the property. Chris was reported as last seen in this area around 9pm. It is presumed that he became a robbery-homicide victim. Chris had made this trip to pick up a substantial amount of cash from Ben Lomax. Ben had apparently let a number of people in the area know of the pending business transaction.
In an apparent attempt to steer the initial investigation away from Mendocino County, Chris’ vehicle was dropped off the following day in Humboldt County approximately 50 miles north of Spy Rock Road and two miles south of Myers Flat on the Avenue of the Giants near Elk Creek Road. This is north of the Salmon Creek area where Chris had his home. Most likely his vehicle traveled along Bell Springs Road to the site where it was dropped off. Another vehicle driven by a second person followed Chris’ Toyota extracab pickup truck and after Chris’ vehicle was abandoned, the driver was picked up by the person following the Toyota.
Among the individuals of interest in this case are Ben Lomax and Scott McKinney. Scott also owned a property on Simmerly Road. On Sunday, August 10, 2003, Scott was seen with one of his upper arms heavily bandaged and apparently he had sought medical attention late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. When Scott was seen on Saturday afternoon, the day Chris went up to the property, Scott’s arm was not bandaged. Unfortunately, Chris went to the Spy Rock area alone and did not take his dog or anyone with him. However, Chris always carried a knife in his fanny pack. It is possible that Chris used his knife to defend himself.
During the afternoon of Monday, August 11, 2003 Chris was reported missing by Rebecca Smiley Giauque, his wife of two weeks. Rebecca was accompanied by Ben Lomax and Ron Sinoway, a southern Humboldt County lawyer. The report was taken at the Humboldt County Garberville Sheriffs’ substation. Needless to say, it is rather unusual that a spouse reports her husband missing while being accompanied by a lawyer and the last person who admits to seeing Chris before his disappearance.
Bob Giauque, Chris’ father, was notified of Chris’ disappearance the evening of August 11, 2003. When Bob made contact with Rebecca, her first comment was that she was considered a suspect in Chris’ disappearance. The following day when Bob again made contact with Rebecca, he was told that she was advised by her lawyer not to have any further communication with him. Less than a month after Chris was reported missing, Rebecca, with the assistance of Humboldt County civil lawyer, Kelly Walsh, filed papers in Humboldt County Superior Court to request that she be given control of Chris’ assets and be named the conservator of Chris’ estate. Although Bob Giauque contested this action, the court awarded the conservatorship to Rebecca because a spouse is usually given precedence. On September 9, 2010 an order that established the fact of death for Chris was signed in Humboldt County Superior Court. This order was kept confidential.
It is extremely sad to lose a family member to a robbery-homicide. To this date, Chris’ body has not been located. What happened to Chris can also happen to other individuals who grow and process marijuana in the Spy Rock area. A life is worth substantially more than whatever money is gained.
Chris was a Caucasian, six-feet tall, weighing 145 lbs with blue eyes. He had a full beard and sandy blond hair in dreadlocks, which were four-feet long. Chris was a very high profile individual. A number of people are aware of the events and the circumstances that led up to his disappearance. The perpetrators of this crime should not be allowed to go on with their lives as though nothing happened.
Bob Giauque, the father of Chris Giauque, is offering a $150,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and subsequent conviction of the individuals responsible for this homicide. An additional sum of $50,000 is being offered for information that leads to the recovery of Chris’ remains. A trust account with these funds has been established at Luther Burbank Savings in Santa Rosa. If anything should ever happen to Bob Giauque, the reward funds will remain available until 2018 from the person responsible for handling Bob’s estate.