Missing or murdered: Parents want answers about couple's whereabouts

By Justin Hanson - bio | email

SAVANNAH, TN (WMC-TV) - A young couple from a small town in West Tennessee hasn't been seen or heard from in four years.

Years after their disappearance, their mothers are wondering whether they're missing or murdered.

Savannah is a quiet town on the banks of the Tennessee River - too quiet for two mothers still wanting answers as to what happened.

"Two kids just don't disappear off the face of the earth without somebody seeing them," said Paulette Harris.

The mothers of 21-year-old Christopher Mittendorf and 17-year-old Kristina Branum say they're kids were engaged to be married before they mysteriously disappeared in July of 2006.

"It's like not getting up and knowing where you're going day to day, where you're going, what you're gonna do," said Christopher's mother, Cheryl Flatt.

"All I want is closure, help to find them, we don't get help down here," adds Kristina's mother Paulette Harris.

What they do get...are rumors...about what happened to their children. Both mothers believe their kids were caught up with the wrong people, a drug "mafia" they call it, with members they believe were capable of the unthinkable.

"They raped Kristina and beat her; they killed Chris right off and then took them to a barn, cut them up in pieces, and fed them to a pig, fed 'em to pigs.  People have told me Kristina was in a motel room in Parsons, tied up, their hands behind their backs, they were on their knees, blindfolded," continues Harris.

"I hear a rumor that he was beat with a baseball bat and she was knocked in the head with a rock," Flatt said.

Another rumor suggests the couple was taken just outside Savannah, near a popular teenage hang-out called Gator Rock, where they were killed and dumped in a well.

"I don't know what to think anymore," Flatt said. "I want to think in my heart they're still alive but in reality, they're probably gone. I would just like to have their remains."

But investigators say there is no evidence the couple is dead - or alive.

Their car was discovered in nearby Lawrence County one week after they were reported missing.  Other than that, there has been very little concrete evidence to go on.

"We have no closure whatsoever," Flatt said. "Every day is a new day. I sit by the phone, I've got a cell phone on 24 hours a day, and if it rings I'm on it."

"All we want is our kids," Harris continued. "We don't care about their drugs or their habits. We want our kids - that's all we want."

The Hardin County Sheriff's Department and TBI are still actively involved in this missing persons case. If you have any information that could help authorities, call toll free 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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