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40-Year-Old Cold Case: The Disappearance of Christie Farni

Christie Lynn Farni went missing when she was 6 years old in 1978. Medford Police are still searching, 40 years later.

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 2:54 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 6:50 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- This week marks 40 years since 6-year-old Christie Lynn Farni was last seen. 

Investigators say Farni went missing while walking to Jackson Elementary School on December 14th, 1978.

The 6-year-old was going through a rough patch with her family. Farni's mother died in 1977, and Farni had just testified during a Grand Jury hearing against her father the day that she went missing. Farni and her brother were living in a foster home at the time of her disappearance, after allegations arose that her father, Kenneth Farni, physically abused her.

Retired cold case detective Terry Newell worked closely with Farni's family members over the years. He said he still has hope someone will come forward with some answers. 

"Finding Christie or what happened to Christie would be paramount in this agency," Newell said. 

Newell spent 35 years with the department. He knows Christie's case like the back of his hand

"It launched a huge investigation, the police department, the community, search and rescue teams, other agencies, OSP," Newell said. 

Police interviewed family members, including Farni's father.

"There was nothing really to indicate he was responsible, he was actively seeking other assistance from area law enforcement and some private groups," Newell said. 

Newell said investigators also identified a maternal grandfather of Farni's in Michigan who had talked about taking his daughter's children back there.

"We obtained the services of local law enforcement back there, they conducted an investigation of schools, and family members and we were never able to locate Christie back there as well," Newell said. 

As the years have progressed, several well-known serial killers have confessed to killing Farni. One of them, Heny Lucas, said he killed a young girl in Medford around the time Farni disappeared.

"His statement was pretty much dis-proven and then ultimately he recanted a great deal of his prior confession," Newell said. 

Newell said the most recent tool detectives utilized was ancestral DNA.

"A couple years ago we obtained the services of some of the family who helped us submit DNA samples to a couple of the private companies," Newell said. 

However, the DNA never provided a match.

Newell said the case has been at a standstill for awhile. He hopes this anniversary of Farni's disappearance will get people talking and will lead to new tips.

"Some people thought that this case was resolved and it really wasn't you know, they hadn't heard about it in a number of years, it fell out of the limelight," Newell said. 

He said if detectives were to get any new tips, they would not hesitate to look into them.

Medford resident Sabra Hughes will never stop searching for answers about Farni's disappearance.

"Every year it's kind of hard because even though she's not my daughter, she's my ex-husband's step-sister, this little girl has always taken a piece of my heart," Hughes said. 

She said she won't ever let the conversation about Farni go away.

"I just always want to keep it alive because I truly believe some day we will know," Hughes said. "No child should be forgotten, ever."

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