A filmmaker’s obsessive search for a 21-year-old mother who disappeared almost 12 years ago is the subject of a new documentary about true crime.
In Discovery+’s six-part series merciless, director Christina Fontana explores the baseless theories surrounding Christina Whittaker’s mysterious disappearance in the small town of Hannibal, Mississippi, where nothing is as it seems.
“What I find so intriguing about this case is that at first glance it really looked like there was a girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Fontana said. Fox news. “But once I started scratching under that surface and uncovering these layers in Christina’s life, there was so much more to the story.”
Vanished: The mysterious disappearance of Christina Whittaker, a 21-year-old mother from Hannibal, Mississippi, in 2009 is the subject of the new true crime series Relentless
The filmmaker was filming a separate documentary about families of missing persons when she met Whittaker’s parents in 2010. They were so passionate about finding their daughter that she shifted the focus of her original project to just their business.
Fontana has more than 400 hours of footage from her 11-year investigation, which remains unsolved. She said there are allegations against”almost everyone in Christina’s life,” including members of her family and the police.
Whittaker disappeared on November 13, 2009, after going out with friends. There were eyewitness accounts of the young mother getting drunk and arguing with someone at the bar, leading to her being kicked out.
She was separated from her friends and went to two other nearby bars, reportedly begging to drive home on the way. She was last seen leaving one of the bars nearby 1 am
Obsessed: Filmmaker Christina Fontana began investigating the case in 2010 after meeting Whittaker’s parents, who were desperate for her
Mystery: Whittaker disappeared on November 13, 2009, after going out with friends. She left behind her six-month-old daughter
“She’d come alone, visibly upset, and she was on the phone with someone,” Fontana said. The bartender had asked her, ‘Do you need anything? Would you like a ride home?’ And she said, “No, I’m fine.” And walked out the back door. The next morning, her phone was found on the floor. That was the last time anyone saw her.’
Whittaker left behind her six-month-old daughter, and her sudden disappearance has sparked hundreds of theories about what happened to her.
Her mother, Cindy Young, is convinced that she was taken to Peoria, Illinois against her will and ended up in the sex trade. She thinks her daughter has been brainwashed into thinking she can’t go home.
Young shared her theory with local news channel ABC 7 KHQA on the 10th anniversary of Whittaker’s disappearance in 2019.
Theory: Whittaker’s mother, Cindy Young, is convinced she was taken to Peoria, Illinois against her will and put into the sex trade
Difficult to handle: There are theories that Whittaker was murdered or died in a hit-and-run, but there is no evidence to back up any of the claims, and the case remains unsolved
“Christina, if you see this, dear, please contact me,” she said, hoping her daughter was watching. ‘Please give me a call. No one will make you do something you don’t want to do. We all need you. We need you back home.
“You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but at least call me and let me know you’re okay,” she added. “I need to hear your voice. I just want you to know that I love you with all my heart. You are my little hero, little survivor. I am so proud of you. You have nothing to be ashamed of.’
The Hannibal Police Department told KHQA that it interviewed more than 200 people during the investigation and worked with 45 agencies from across the country to get clues.
Lt. Jennifer Grote said the FBI came to Hannibal for two months to investigate the case, and the department also interviewed inmates behind bars who had been convicted of other crimes.
Missing: Whittaker was last seen leaving a bar around 1am, according to Fontana, and her cell phone was later found on the floor outside
Rumors: “This is not just another story about a missing girl,” explains the director in the trailer for the series. ‘This is also a story of a small town full of dark secrets’
Fontana explored a number of theories while filming the documentary. A popular belief is that Whittaker has been living in Peoria of his own accord the whole time.
Another suggests that she was murdered and her body was taken to a pig farm. There was even a theory that she was killed in a hit-and-run, but neither Fontana nor any of the private investigators working on the case have been able to find evidence that proves any of these suspicions.
however, the information they discover doesn’t match what Cindy and her husband Alex Young, Whittaker’s stepfather, told them.
In 2012, one of the family’s cousins came into possession of a cell phone with a text message about the removal of Whittaker’s body, Decision maker reported.
The way they arrived at the text seems improbable, and when Fontana showed it to the researcher the Youngs hired, she was told the message may have been forged to prevent her from discovering the truth.
Confusing: Fontana was told that Whittaker had a drug problem and her disappearance may be related to a drug-related debt, but her family denied that she used narcotics
Conflict: During her 11-year investigation, Fontana was faced with the possibility that the Youngs didn’t come up with her about Whittaker’s case
The investigator also said Whittaker had a drug problem and her family knows her disappearance was related to drug-related guilt, despite their denials that she had abused narcotics.
“This isn’t just a story about a missing girl,” the director explains in the trailer for the series. “This is also a story about a small town full of dark secrets.”
Fontana told Fox News that there are “a lot of what-ifs flying around” that add to the mystery of the case.
“Maybe because of certain things she wanted out of the house. Maybe people wanted to harm her because of certain activities in her life that we discover in the show,” she said.
‘This is a very small town with about 17,000 inhabitants. When you hang out with the locals, they all have one thing in common: there are a lot of rumors in Hannibal. And nothing is what it seems.’