Family asks public's help in finding missing man's body

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SPANAWAY, Wash. - More than a year has passed since a 19-year-old man disappeared without a trace, and now his family is asking the public’s help in finding his body.

When Chris Virdell disappeared, authorities told his family that he was probably just another runaway, but they never believed it.

Now the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office is also convinced the Spanaway man was killed.

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Deborah Horne spoke with Virdell’s father, Paul Virdell, about his son’s disappearance.

“I knew something happened to him, because we were in contact with him four or five times a day,” said Paul Virdell.

Paul Virdell said when his son did not return home from his job at Safeway in February 2012, he sensed something was wrong.

“I just felt it in my heart,” Paul Virdell said. “He’s got three bank accounts that were never touched. His cellphone dropped off. Went cold.”

Chris Virdell was free, if he wanted, to run away. And his father said that Pierce County detectives initially believed.

“Yeah, it took them three months to believe me that he wasn’t a runaway,” said Paul Virdell. “When they got his phone records back, that’s when they considered it suspicious, foul play.”

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Detective Ed Troyer said detectives have searched hard for Chris Virdell, tracking down more than 135 tips.

“We’ve also believed from the beginning that he came into foul play,” Troyer said. “We have used cadaver dogs. We’ve done full-day search and rescue -- operations with hundreds of volunteers with multiple locations -- and nothing has provided us with any evidence.”

Paul Virdell doesn’t know why his son was killed, but he said he needs volunteers to help find his body.

“There’s no crime scene. There’s no, there’s no body,” said Paul Virdell. “I need to search. I just want to give him a proper burial.”

Paul Virdell insisted his son was not in a gang and had no enemies.

Anyone with information about Chris Virdell’s disappearance is urged to call the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.