Christina Williams took her dog out for a walk and never came back home. Months later, her parents received the most devastating news a parent can get. Their daughter was dead. The family was plunged into sorrow. It was years before the case came to a close, and the man behind Christina’s dreadful death was convicted. Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case with Paula Zahn’ covers the story of this baffling murder in an episode titled ‘Christina’s Story’ (now available on discovery+). Let us find out all we can about the case and the convict.
How Did Christina Marie Williams Die?
Christina Marie Williams was born in 1985 to a Filipino mother and an American father in Japan. Her father, Michael Williams, was a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. The Williams family resided at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan before moving to the United States, the first time in the States for the family. After shifting to the States, Christina attended Fitch Middle School in Seaside, California. Christina was described to be slim and shy, and it was taking her a while longer to adjust to her new life. In June 1998, Christina spent the first week of summer vacations at her home in Fort Ord Military Reserve, California. On June 12, she spent the entire day making Filipino rice cakes with her mother, Alice, and playing with her dog Greg whom she had picked out from the pound less than two months ago.
In the evening, at about 7:30 p.m., Christina told her mother she was taking Greg out for a walk. Christina would usually take no more than 20 minutes to walk her dog around. Around half an hour after Christina had gone out, her mother stepped out of the house to look for her. She came across Greg two houses down, unharmed and still with his leash. But Christina was gone and thus began a harrowing search for the 13-year-old girl who seemed to have vanished into thin air. Given her issues with adjusting to their shift to the States, authorities initially believed she might have run away. However, her father knew her too well to confirm that theory. With the help of a K-9 unit search, a Bureau of Land Management ranger was able to locate the spot from which Christina might have disappeared. The idea formed from this by the officers was that Christina had been abducted by someone in a car.
A few days later, a witness came forward claiming she had seen a frightened child, she believed was Christina Marie Williams, sitting in a car with two men on June 12, 1998. A witness, a female jogger, had previously also talked about two men in a vehicle who had reportedly verbally accosted her and supposedly said that she was not what they were looking for. The search for Christina continued, and after seven months, it came to a heart-wrenching halt. The officers were informed about a decomposed body found in a wooded area near Fort Ord in January 1999. The skeletal remains had been discovered by a property surveyor examining a spot just a few miles from the Williams residence. There had been false alarms in the past, including the body of an older woman, and therefore this time, the officers were more cautious.
Unfortunately, Alice and Michael’s worst fears came true with the examination of the remains. The confirmation came from using Christina’s dental records to see if they matched the ones found in the remains. The cause of death, however, could not be determined given the level of decomposition the body had gone through. The investigation did not stop there since the FBI was bent on finding out the culprit.
Who Killed Christina Marie Williams?
The investigators were initially unable to trace the culprit who had caused the demise of Christina Marie Williams. However, they had named a suspect, Charles Holifield. Holifield had had multiple sexual offense charges against him, and he had been seen trespassing twice on restricted areas of Fort Ord in 1997. He was a convicted rapist and kidnapper. In 2011, Holifield’s ex-girlfriend recanted an alibi she had created for him in 1998, claiming that she had been threatened by Holifield to create the false alibi. On August 6, 2016, a criminologist with the California Department of Justice took up the evidence again and conducted a re-examination on them. The criminologist tested Christina’s underwear to detect if there was any foreign DNA present. The results showed a match with a Charles Holifield. Holifield was already in prison for sex offenses when DNA testing was conducted.
Finally, the police decided they had enough evidence to take Holifield to court. He was convicted of Christina’s kidnap, sexual assault, and murder in March 2020 and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, thereby drawing the unsettling case to a close.
Read More: Where Is Charles Holifield Now?