Christopher Woitel’s loved ones haven’t seen or heard from him since Jan. 9. His banking activity has ceased and his Guerrero Street apartment remains untouched.
“He’s dearly missed, and we just can’t figure out exactly where he could have gone or who he could have gone with,” said Michael Woitel, Christopher’s youngest brother.
While his family reported him missing on Jan. 13, police say most missing person cases are resolved within a few days or weeks on their own and cases aren’t transferred to the Special Victims Unit until 30 days after the initial claim.
Frustrated with the lack of urgency, Woitel’s family hired a private detective, Scott Williams, on Jan. 29, and are asking the public for help in locating him.
“The fact that the police are sort of slow walking this thing — the trail’s getting cold,” said long-time friend Jennifer Berg.
San Francisco police released a news release about the case on Feb. 10, in hopes of finding the 50-year-old computer programmer. He is described as a white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 200 pounds. He has brown eyes and dark brown, wavy hair, and wears a gray-brown beard and glasses.
He’s also known as a gentle, giving man, the middle child in a family of eight from Chicago. The family says Woitel has an accepting outlook on life, and is notorious for inviting people in need into his apartment, including those experiencing homelessness.
“He just is a very compassionate person about things that were going on in the world, people who were not given a fair shake. I think he sees things through that lens,” said Mark Guarino, a journalist and childhood friend of Woitel.
Loved ones find his acts of service to be inspiring, but Berg said he’s always had some trouble putting himself first. She worried about him bringing people into his home regularly.
“It was always a little concerning, and he didn’t really like to talk to me about it too much because I would always say ‘What are you doing, why are you doing that?’” Berg said.
One man in particular that Woitel helped a few years ago has raised concerns after he told Williams that Woitel was murdered and his body disposed of in the Bay. He was also in possession of Woitel’s cell phone as of Feb. 2, Williams said.
“I would recommend to the family that a detective from the SFPD make contact with [the man] and follow-up statements he has made pertaining to Christopher’s disappearance,” Williams said in a press release.
In an efforts to launch a wide-spread search, Woitel’s family will hand out flyers and postcards on Friday to passersby in the area of Market and Guerrero streets, Woitel’s neighborhood. As the days go by, the family just wants answers.
“Somebody out there has information. Somebody out there knows what happened to Chris and knows where he is,” Michael Woitel said. “We just need to know. We need to bring him home.”
“I mean I’ve started imagining all kinds of things, you know. When you don’t know what happened, all you have is all of your worst nightmares,” Berg said.
San Francisco police are asking anyone with information to call the SFPD 24- hour tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.