April Beth Pitzer: What Happened to Her? Is She Dead or Alive?

In 2004, April Beth Pitzer resided in Newberry Springs, California. She intended to go back to Arkansas and reunite with her family, including her ex-husband and daughters. According to her friend, he supposedly took her to a bus station, but she never reached Arkansas. Concerned about her well-being, her mother, after waiting and consulting with friends and acquaintances, eventually filed a missing person report. The episode ‘Disappeared: Mojave Mystery’ delves into the investigation surrounding her disappearance, exploring potential suspects that emerge in the course of the inquiry.

April Pitzer Was on Her Way Home When She Went Missing

In 1974, Gloria Denton became a mother at the young age of 19 when April Pitzer was born in Clarksville, Arkansas. April spent her early years with relatives, and it was only at the age of 17 that she moved in with her mother. At 22, she reportedly faced legal issues after being pulled over for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and her companions in the car were found with methamphetamine. Recognizing the severity of the situation, she formed a deal with law enforcement — in exchange for dropping charges, she agreed to become a drug informant for the police.

Afterward, April relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, where she crossed paths with Chase Pitzer, and their connection quickly blossomed into love. They tied the knot and started a family, welcoming a daughter. However, during her second pregnancy, she was reportedly summoned back to Arkansas by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to testify as a federal witness. Despite providing crucial testimony that led to several individuals being incarcerated, the personal toll on her was profound. April became acutely aware that her identity had been compromised, and a sense of paranoia set in as she found herself constantly looking over her shoulder.

Feeling that her life was in jeopardy, April was diagnosed with paranoia and bipolar disorder amidst the intense turmoil. The strain on her mental health took a toll on her marriage, leading to its collapse, and she subsequently lost custody of her daughters due to her mental health conditions. Seeking support, she resided with Gloria for a period and entered into a relationship with a man named John Lopez. After a few months of dating, Lopez informed her of his plans to move to Newberry Springs in Southern California, situated in the Mojave Desert. To embark on a fresh start, she decided to relocate with him.

While April told Gloria that she was doing well and working as a waitress, the reality was starkly different. She had ended her relationship with Lopez, found herself homeless and relied on the goodwill of individuals she had encountered in the area. The community she became entangled with consisted of ex-convicts and individuals involved in the drug trade. At a party in June 2004, she encountered a woman who happened to be the wife of one of the men incarcerated due to her testimony in Arkansas.

According to a friend of April’s, she began apologizing profusely to the woman, inadvertently revealing her past as a DEA informant, and word quickly spread. She found employment as a caregiver for an elderly woman named Barbara Killibrew, and their relationship developed into a friendship. Barbara, concerned for her, encouraged her to reconnect with her mother. Acting on Barbara’s advice, she reached out to Gloria while living with a man named Chuck Hollister. Through regular conversations, she shared the challenges she faced. Worried about her daughter, Gloria convinced her to return home.

On June 27, 2004, April visited Barbara and disclosed her decision to leave. The next day, on June 28, Chuck asserted that he had dropped her off at the bus station in the 30000 block of Caspian Way in Newberry Springs. June 28 marked the last known sighting of April. Despite her intention to return to Arkansas, she never reached her destination. Concerned for her daughter’s well-being, Gloria diligently contacted all the friends she had mentioned. However, no one had any information about her whereabouts or recent activities. Gloria officially filed a missing person report with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department on July 16, 2004.

April Pitzer’s Belongings Were Found a Year After Her Disappearance

The initial investigation into April Beth Pitzer’s disappearance yielded no immediate results. Chuck Hollister consistently maintained that the last time he saw her was at the bus stop, vehemently denying any involvement in foul play. However, a significant development occurred on September 7, 2004, when an employee from Love’s Truck Stop in Roseburg, Oregon, contacted the police. The employee reported something written in a bathroom stall that seemed potentially relevant. Upon investigation, law enforcement discovered a scribbled message on the wall: “Want to find a missing girl from Arkansas? I-15, 3 miles east of Barstow.”

Another clue emerged when a woman on a bus in Barstow reported overhearing information suggesting that April had been killed and her body was placed in a mineshaft. This led the police to intensify their focus on Chuck. During their investigation, they discovered that one of Hollister’s friends, named Dan Dansbury, owned the Red Dog Mine in Ludlow, California. Authorities began scrutinizing CCTV footage from the truck stop and delved into the operations of the Red Dog Mine. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, there was no trace of April.

In December 2005, Gloria visited the Red Dog mine, where the police had discovered scattered pieces of clothing. Gloria was able to identify the clothes as belonging to April. Among the findings were a white suitcase that also belonged to the latter and a mattress stained with blood. Unfortunately, due to the passage of time and weather conditions, no viable forensic evidence could be recovered. The police questioned Dan, but he denied any involvement in her disappearance. In September 2006, Chuck succumbed to cancer, and in November 2009, Dan Dansbury was also on his deathbed.

Gloria seized the opportunity to meet him, engaging in an hour-long conversation. However, Dan maintained that April was a wonderful girl, expressing no knowledge of what had transpired. Allegedly, just before his passing, Dan hinted that the Red Dog Mine was indeed the right place to search for her, but he suggested the police needed to look a little deeper. April Pitzer’s disappearance continues to be shrouded in mystery, with suspicions of foul play. On August 27, 2012, she was legally declared dead. Despite efforts by law enforcement and the information gathered over the years, the case remains unsolved.

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