Christopher Woitel was filmed walking up the stairs to his apartment a month ago. He never came back down.
update 2/18/2021 12:18 PM
Police have finally revealed where they found the body of Christopher Woitel, more than a month after he disappeared.
They said they carried out a search of the apartment on Friday, but found no evidence of a crime or forced entry.
On Monday they returned, and this time discovered the body in a small, three-foot-tall crawl space above the bathroom, "which was hidden from plain view."
"Personnel from the San Francisco Fire Department arrived and needed to cut a hole in the ceiling in order to retrieve Mr. Woitel's remains," SFPD revealed in a statement.
They said Woitel likely accessed the crawl space from the roof of the building, and not from inside his apartment.
The San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office began an investigation; the cause of death is still pending an autopsy.
Foul play is not suspected.
update 2/17/2021 7:26 AM
Christopher Woitel has been found dead INSIDE the apartment building he supposedly disappeared from.
Family of the missing computer programmer confirmed the sad news on Tuesday in a statement on Facebook.
While a number of outlets reported that the building had been searched by police multiple times in the past month, Chris's devastated childhood friend Mark Guarino told TooFab police searched the building for the first time... on Monday.
"It wasn't an extra search. It was just a search," he claimed. "They didn't search until this week, so it wasn't extra. They just didn't do anything until this week."
Police have not revealed exactly where in the building the body was discovered, or given any indication as to how he died, or if foul play is suspected. An autopsy is expected this week.
Chris disappeared on January 9, more than a month before his body was finally discovered, literally in the place he was last seen.
Frustrated with police inaction, the family were forced to hire a private investigator; Guarino — who spearheaded the social media campaign to find his friend — suspects the PI wasn't able to conduct a proper search of the building as he didn't have a warrant... something that would not have impeded SFPD.
As to why police were so slow to investigate, "I don't know, I couldn't even begin to guess," he said.
"Friends of mine — who have experience with other stories in the area — have said that Chris was gay, and that one of the persons questioned was homeless, and maybe those were two factors that the police have been slow to react on."
"Maybe if Chris was an executive with a tech company out there they would have responded quickly? I really don't know."
He said Chris's family are "devastated and really frustrated," but it is too early to tell if they will seek to take further steps against the police for their apparent inaction.
"That's the frustrating thing, his body had been sitting there for so long," Guarino said. "It seemed natural just to search the building... and it didn't happen until Monday. He could have been buried by now."
TooFab has reached out to SFPD for comment.
original story 2/15/2021 3:51 PM
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!"
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.