Missing person

Christoper Jason Cardonia

• Age: 33

• White

• 5-foot-6

• 170 pounds

• Hazel eyes, brown hair

• Multiple tattoos on arms and shoulders

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Cardonia can call Jefferson County Sheriff’s Detective Josh Roth at 541-280-4490.

Chris Cardonia was acting nervous on the night of March 18.

He asked his mother to hold onto his birth certificate and a few other personal items. He said he “had to do something,” and he might not be back.

She told him, “Don’t do anything stupid, Christopher.”

He said he wouldn’t. He told his mom he loved her.

That was the last time Linda Slagle saw her son.

Christopher Jason Cardonia, 33, hasn’t been heard from since the early hours of March 19. His family has heard numerous wild rumors about what happened to him. Some just sound like “tweaker stories” to Slagle, but they still hurt to hear.

“I just want my son back,” Slagle said. “How does somebody disappear without a trace?”

Cardonia grew up primarily in La Pine. He has one brother, though he was closer with his two sisters, especially his younger sister. She’s taken his loss hardest of all, Slagle said.

Cardonia has a son, Corbin, but at the time of his disappearance, Cardonia didn’t have visitation rights.

Cardonia went to prison for attempted murder soon after he turned 18. He’d fired a gun at a car full of people following a drug-related altercation. Cardonia always claimed he’d been shot at first.

Cardonia was released after seven years but was never able to adjust to adult life, according to relatives.

He dreamed of moving to Hawaii to work on boats, but he wasn’t allowed to leave the state under his parole. Instead, he fell back in with the “wrong people,” according to his father, Rick Cardonia, which led to more trips to jail and more court supervision.

Things changed briefly when Cardonia was hired at a manufacturer of high-end lamps. The owner took a shine to him, and his mother saw something in her son she hadn’t seen in years: pride. But the company’s landlord found out about Cardonia’s criminal record and said he had to go.

“He tried to open a door but had the door slammed in his face,” Slagle said.

Cardonia is listed in court documents as a transient. He didn’t have a car or a phone. Some nights, he stayed at his mother’s house in Madras. Others, he stayed with friends. Sometimes he hung around the Portland area. When he went missing, he’d recently visited a young woman in Washington. Slagle has reached out to her unsuccessfully, hoping to learn more.

Court documents show that by early April, the Central Oregon Major Crime Team, as well as the Tri-County Major Crime Team west of the Cascades, exhausted every available lead and resource.

“There’s a lot of far-fetched stories,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins, whose office has looked into possibilities including that Cardonia was thrown off a cliff or burned alive outside Terrebonne.

There are 12 Jefferson County cases on the Oregon State Police index of child and adult missing-person cases, but Cardonia’s is the most recent and the only one considered “active.”

Adkins said he’s ruling nothing out.

“We’re kind of stumped with the whole thing,” Adkins said. “Some people say they’ve heard he’s alive, or they’ve heard he’s dead. But nobody has firsthand. We’re leaving all the options open, because he just flat-out disappeared.”

In August, deputies in Lane County thought they might have broken the case open when a letter containing an alarming claim was sent from a Lane County jail inmate to his wife. The inmate, Marcus Lynn Bolds, said he knew who killed Chris Cardonia and where his body was buried. He even knew “a way to get a hold of the video where the dude was being killed,” according to a search warrant affidavit.

Bolds was still in jail for violating his probation when OSP detective Mitchell Meyer met with him for an interview. He told Meyer that before coming to Lane County, he’d served time in Deschutes, where an inmate named Aries Gaber had tried to impress Bolds, under the mistaken impression that Bolds was in a gang. Gaber claimed to have been present when a group of people stabbed Cardonia in the back “four or five times” and buried him in a grave alongside “a girl reported missing in a separate incident.”

“I believe he was referring to Sara Gomez,” Meyer wrote.

Gomez, of Bend, was reported missing in February and her body was found almost three months later approximately 20 miles east of Bend. She was discovered alone, and police believe her ex-boyfriend, Bryan Penner, was responsible for her death.

Gaber’s phone was searched in August when he was arrested in Deschutes County on robbery and drug charges, but Adkins said nothing came from the lead.

Cardonia’s parents say they haven’t been updated on the case by law enforcement in months.

Slagle has instead heard “horror stories.” One night, at about 10, a man she’d never met showed up at her door. He was breathless, and adamant.

“He kept saying, ‘I had nothing to do with your son’s murder,’” Slagle said.

The man’s name was John and had belonged to a white-power prison gang. With no more communication with police, Slagle hears from “street people” that there’s a video floating around depicting her son’s murder. Some think he’s living in a different part of the country.

Rick Cardonia believes his son is probably dead.

“Number one: He didn’t call me on my birthday,” he said. “He didn’t call his mother on Mother’s Day. He didn’t call me on Father’s Day. His birthday was Aug. 10 and nobody’s heard from him. Nobody.”

On Aug. 10, Cardonia’s mother and sisters released balloons in honor of his 33rd birthday.

Slagle still uses the present tense when talking about her son. She says she just wants closure.

“I’m devastated. This is my son. I don’t care what he’s done,” she said. “I’ve tried to help him. I told him, ‘I’m getting older. It’s your turn to take care of me now.’”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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