As time goes by and nothing new develops in the missing person case of Kristi Cornwell, one has to ask a question that does not seem to have been asked: Was Kristi Cornwell abducted or did she stage an abduction? This question is not asked to belittle or denigrate or smear the character of Kristi Cornwell, but a serious inquiry into a scenario that seems to have been overlooked or is being purposely ignored. So, could Kristi Cornwell, this church-attending, college-matriculating 38-year-old mother of a 15-year-old have staged her own abduction? And if so, why?
Kristi Cornwell disappeared from the side of the road on an evening walk in Blairsville, Georgia, a dozen days ago. Her missing person case was featured in a segment on “America’s Most Wanted” Saturday, but authorities are remaining mute on the subject and no new information has been made public on Kristi Cornwell’s case in the last few days. Law enforcement agencies are treating Cornwell’s case as an abduction but as yet have no suspects.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) scaled back their search efforts on Thursday, calling off all ground searches. Cooperating with nearly 20 different agencies in the investigation and search, budgetary cuts have hampered continued search efforts, even though the FBI arrived Tuesday to lend a hand.
Kristi Cornwell’s family appeared on various talk shows throughout the week and her boyfriend, minister Douglas Davis, appeared on the “Today Show” Thursday to keep Kristi Cornwell’s story fresh in the public’s mind.
But what if the 38-year-old doesn’t want to be found? What if she planned to leave, concocting an elaborate abduction scheme to simply get away from her current life, disappear, start anew somewhere else? Is this even a remote possibility?
Starting from what is known: Kristi Cornwell is 38 years old. She has been married three times. She has a 15-year-old son. Her boyfriend, Douglas Davis, is a minister. She is a student at Dalton State College, working on a degree in medical technology. She once worked as a parole officer. Active community member and churchgoer. Kept separate apartment in Dalton where she went to school but lived with parents in Blairsville.
According to ABC News, on Tuesday evening, while walking down Jones Creek Road in Blairsville, Kristi Cornwell talked with her boyfriend, Douglas Davis, who was in Atlanta. While talking she became agitated when an approaching vehicle slowed and stopped near her. Douglas Davis described sounds of a struggle and a shouted, “Don’t take me.” Then nothing. He called Kristi Cornwell’s mother to call 911 to notify police.
At the scene, police found signs of a struggle and some items identified as belonging to Kristi Cornwell. A few days later, Cornwell’s cell phone was found along Route 325 by a man mowing his lawn. Extensive searches have been conducted, including those using helicopters and dive teams. Two unfamiliar vehicles, a large-style white SUV and a tan or gold subcompact car, possibly a Toyota or Nissan, are still being sought in connection to the alleged abduction.
Over 180 registered sex offenders have been interviewed. The boyfriend has been all but eliminated as a suspect (no one is ever 100% ruled out as a possible suspect). All three ex-husbands have been ruled out as well. And although tips are reportedly streaming in, especially after the segment was shown on “America’s Most Wanted,” authorities have virtually been stymied in their investigation.
It is also known that Kristi Cornwell was trained in various methods of self-defense. She was active on the internet. Even her father cautioned people on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to be careful with whom they communicated with on the internet.
Is it possible that Kristi Cornwell was abducted by someone she met in a chat room? Or is it just as possible that Kristi Cornwell set up an abduction scenario?
The first question usually asked when staged events occur is: Why? What could possibly be the motive?
Kristi Cornwell seems to have had a nice life, a normal life. Nice bucolic setting. Going through a career change. So why would she want to jeopardize her situation? Perhaps, as has happened with some, she was overcome with the sameness of her everyday life. At the age of 38, she may have been entering another developmental stage in her lifespan. As humans get older, they generally go through phases of development — adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood — where various psychosocial mechanisms are at work. According to some theories of developmental psychology, there is a period of experimental growth, usually occurring after adolescence, where the young adult experiences various psychological and social adjustments — being on one’s own for the first time, college, various jobs and searching for a vocation or pursuing a passion. This stage is usually followed by a stage of responsibility, where the individual becomes more socially involved and becomes concerned with affecting their environment. It is in the latter stage that many experience what is known as a “midlife crisis.”
Midlife crises usually denotes an individual that suddenly starts acting in ways not normal to their usual mannerisms. People that experience such “crises” are generally over the age of 35 and have lived what most observers would call a responsible lifestyle. It usually occurs because of a mental pushback that individuals experience after doing all the right things for years — getting married, raising a family, going to work on time, etc. — and suddenly find themselves with the opportunity to experience something different. This can come with the feeling that one is in limbo (career change), after one has become successful, after the children have grown or left the home, or simply feeling the pressures of always being accountable and responsible.
Perhaps this is where Kristi Cornwell found herself. Going to school, in transition between the regimented job of a parole officer and the demanding responsibility of medical technology, her son nearly at the age of majority, a person known for her community involvement, a regular churchgoer… Perhaps Kristi Cornwell met someone online and was swept off her feet. Perhaps Kristi Cornwell had grown bored of her responsible life and wanted a change. Perhaps she wanted — needed — adventure in her life. Perhaps even a new life. A new name.
Being well versed in the nuances of criminal investigation, Kristi Cornwell could easily disappear and reappear elsewhere after a complete makeover.
And there is that last bit of conversation that Douglas Davis, Kristi’s boyfriend, had with her the night she went missing. “Don’t take me!” she is said to have yelled. Some have pointed to this strange phrasing and stated that Douglas Davis must have misheard or even made the phrase up. It doesn’t sound natural, they say. More natural would have been a “No!” or a “Stop!” or “Help!” or even “Leave me alone!” Many believe “Don’t take me” is contrived and therefore cast a suspicious glance at the boyfriend. But if he is telling the truth about her last words to him…
Perhaps Kristi Cornwell allowed herself to be abducted.
But this would be a complete break from the normal Kristi Cornwell, the Kristi that Blairsville residents and that her family and friends knew. It would be unbelievable to many that she would even think along those lines, let alone attempt to make them happen and actualize them.
But the papers, the internet, and the evening news are full of strange stories of people pretending to be someone they are not, people disappearing only to reappear months or years later, some with a fantastic story (some which are even true) and some without. Kristi Cornwell’s story may be just such a disappearance.
But it is only a possibility, one among many. At present, the GBI, the FBI, and local law enforcement are working on the supposition that Kristi Cornwell was abducted. They are also working under the assumption that her abductor or abductors could have been complete strangers.
The family has set up a fund for a reward for information. A reward of up to $50,000 is currently being offered for information regarding the whereabouts of Kristi Cornwell or for information leading to arrest of individuals that may have had something to do with her disappearance.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Union County Sheriff’s office at (706) 439-6038, or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation at (800) 597-8477.
“Good Morning America,” ABC Television
“America’s Most Wanted,” Fox Television