Karlie Guse: Missing teenager vanished after leaving California home in distressed state

Karlie Guse poses for a selfie
Karlie Guse has been missing for nearly five years. Pic credit: Mono County Sheriff’s Office

Teenager Karlie Guse left her Mono County home near the California/Nevada border in the early hours of the morning and has been missing now for nearly five years.

This tragic case has a high media and online profile due to the tragic and strange nature of Karlie’s disappearance and has led to widespread speculation. Here are the facts as we know them.

In October 2018, Karlie was an ordinary teenage girl living with her father, Zachary Guse, and stepmother Melissa Guse in Chalfant Valley, a small town near Bishop, California. Zachary shared custody with Karlie’s biological mother, Lindsay Fairley, who lived in Wellington, Nevada.

Karlie was a well-liked, mentally stable 16-year-old who was just leading a regular life. However, she had previously suffered a bad episode after smoking marijuana, leading to paranoid behavior.

On October 12, 2018, Karlie attended a Friday night high school party with her boyfriend, Donald Arrowood III, and unfortunately, she smoked some weed, which once again caused a bad reaction. Arrowood has since admitted that his girlfriend hadn’t smoked weed in a while and that it may have “triggered something.”

The teenager began behaving erratically and expressed intense fear. She called her stepmother, Melissa, and begged her to come pick her up.

Karlie Guse found in a state of psychosis after smoking weed

At about 9 p.m., Melissa drove toward the party and found Karlie running around a street in a state of panic about two blocks away from the party.

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When Karlie was taken home, she continued to exhibit strange behavior. Melissa later recalled that she was as pale as a ghost, wild-eyed, and in a state of distress.

She talked about needing to read a Bible and referred to a plate of salad as the “Devil’s lettuce.” As her strange behavior continued, Melissa and Zachary began filming her in the hope of replaying the footage later to show the negative effect narcotics have on her.

This footage has never been publicly released, which has led to some debate about its content. Some reports state that Karlie had been openly asking for help, telling her parents to dial 911, but other reports argue that Karlie was just asking them to call 911 if something was to happen to her.

At some point in the night, Karlie went to bed. There is some confusion next over the actions of Melissa because she has changed her story. Melissa initially told the media that she checked in on Karlie at about 5:45 a.m. and found her sleeping, but when she went to wake her at 7:15 a.m., the teenager had vanished.

However, Melissa has since changed her story and maintains that she stayed with her stepdaughter the whole night. She said she awoke at 7 a.m. to discover Karlie had sneaked out at some point.

Melissa Guse defended herself on Dr. Phil in Karlie Guse case

In a 2019 interview with Dr. Phil, Melissa admitted to initially lying but defended herself by pointing out that it was early in the investigation and she was under stress and didn’t know what to say or how to perform in media interviews.

Karlie was then spotted wandering the streets not far from her home by three different witnesses. Neighbor Kenneth Dutton, who knew the family, said he saw Karlie pass his house in the early hours of October 13.

Richard Eddy may have been the last person to see Karlie. He was in his hot tub when he saw a teenage girl of Karlie’s description walk past his house. Eddy thought the situation strange because it was a “chilly morning,” and the girl was dressed in just a t-shirt.

Eddy also said the girl was waving a 12-by-12 piece of paper in the air as she walked by his home. About an hour later, Melissa knocked on his door, asking if he’d seen Karlie, to which he responded that he probably had.

The former police officer offered to jump on his motorcycle to see if he could still spot her in the canyon; however, after a short search, he concluded that she was nowhere to be found.

A third unidentified witness who had been heading out to cut firewood also reported seeing Karlie in the vicinity of the nearby Highway 6. This would all lead the authorities to focus a large part of their search on the highway, which either leads toward Bishop and near her home or across the desert into Nevada.

Karlie’s dad, Zachary, wasn’t too concerned when he first learned his daughter was not in her bedroom. He thought they would probably find her wandering the neighborhood.

Mono County Sheriff conducted the search for Karlie Guse

When they couldn’t find Karlie, they began knocking on doors, Eddy’s included, but after over two hours of searching, they realized they had a major problem. Zachary called the Mono County Sheriff’s Office and filed a missing persons report.

Karlie had left most of her belongings at home, including her cellphone, so there was no way to track her movements. The cops began by interviewing everyone in the neighborhood and searched the surrounding area around Highway 6.

The searchers deployed helicopters, scent dogs, Search and Rescue teams, and off-road vehicles to traverse the desert terrain, hills, and canyons that dotted the area. Official and private searches continued operating for days and weeks. But no sign of Karlie was ever found.  

Zachary later told the FBI, “I’m down to two things. I’m down to either she crossed that desert so far that nobody found her or she was abducted. She got in the wrong car with the wrong person.” He added, “My whole body and soul. I’d give it all up just to have her home safe.”

The Californian terrain
The terrain where Karlie went missing was desert-like. Pic credit: FBI

Missing: Karlie Guse case received overwhelming media and public attention

The case garnered a lot of media and online attention, with countless amateur sleuths providing their unfounded opinions on social media. As social media users increasingly directed suspicion toward the family, especially Melissa, the Mono County Sheriff had to publicly ask people to leave the family alone.

The sheriff has also clarified that nobody has been charged in relation to Karlie’s disappearance but also stated that there is no evidence of a crime. However, an 18-year-old was charged with supplying cannabis to Karlie.

Melissa and Zachary, and Lindsay Fairley, Karlie’s mom, have all done multiple interviews, including an infamous appearance on Dr. Phil when Fairley appeared to point fingers at Melissa and Zachary.

Fairley dismissed the three eyewitness statements as unreliable and speculated that her daughter had passed away during the night from an overdose. She tearfully told Dr. Phil that Melissa had seen Karlie with her eyes open during the night, and she believed that that was when she had died.

Karlie Guse smiles in a baseball cap
Karlie Guse disappeared from her home in Mono County, California. Pic credit: FBI

On the show, Fairley also faced criticism and was accused of not helping in the search for Karlie. She defended herself by saying she wasn’t on the search party because she was paralyzed and sick with fear and grief.

Karlie missing now for nearly five years

The FBI and Mono County Sheriff’s Office say the investigation into Karlie’s whereabouts is continuing. Her mom, Fairley, is still hopeful her daughter will turn up safe.

Fairley told NBC that she spends a lot of time working on her house. She told the outlet, “I feel like I’m preparing for Karlie to come home any second now. I just want the house just right. Almost like when you’re expecting a newborn and want them to feel safe because I know my daughter is somewhere…and I don’t know if she is safe.”

At her disappearance, Karlie was 16 years old, 5’7 inches tall, and weighed about 110 lbs. She had blonde hair and blue eyes and has a piercing in her left nostril.

Karlie was wearing most likely wearing gray sweatpants or jeans, a white t-shirt, and Vans brand shoes.

Members of the public who think they may have any information about what happened to Karlie should contact the Mono County Sheriff’s Office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 760-932-5678. Or they can contact the Sacramento Office of the FBI by calling 916-746-7000 or your local FBI office.

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