Search For Teen Continues Despite Lack of Amber Alert

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Jean Marie Berlinghoff

The father of missing Redding teenager Jean Marie Berlinghoff said he considers his daughter to be in grave danger despite the fact that an Amber Alert wasn’t issued after her disappearance; the case didn’t meet the criteria of the system, officials said.

At a press conference today, Sheriff Tom Bosenko said the case failed to meet the requirements of the Amber Alert system because Jean Berlinghoff didn’t appear to be taken by force. The Sheriff’s Department also doesn’t “have information that places her in imminent danger,” Bosenko said.

Jean Berlinghoff, a sophomore at Enterprise High School, has been missing since Wednesday afternoon and is believed to be with her uncle, Charles Berlinghoff, 44, of Los Angeles. Jean’s Father, Jake Berlinghoff, 33, said he’s upset about the failure to issue an Amber Alert because his brother has a prior history of sexual misconduct.


Charles Berlinghoff

“I don’t think anyone would believe it’s OK for a 15-year-old girl to run off with her 44-year-old uncle who has a sexual offender’s history,” said Jake Berlinghoff on Monday following the press conference. “It’s not in her personality to be out of touch with friends of family or somebody. I’m sure she’s tried (to contact someone) and I’m sure he’s kept her from doing it if she’s still alive.”

Despite the lack of an Amber Alert, Bosenko said an endangered missing advisory (EMA) has been issued state and nationwide. The advisory is a step below an Amber Alert and provides information about the case to other law enforcement agencies. In addition, Bosenko said, the Sheriff’s Department has diligently followed leads about the case, has notified officials at U.S. border crossings and has contacted media throughout the state.


Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko holds up a flier about the case during a Monday press conference.

“We’re using our full effort to locate this young lady,” Bosenko said. “Our initial information was that she was not taken by force. During the course of the investigation, we don’t have information that places her in imminent danger.”

In 1993, Charles Berlinghoff pleaded no contest to misdemeanor indecent exposure and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, according to electronic records from the Shasta County Superior Court. The sentence was stayed for six months under the condition that Charles Berlinghoff attend counseling for six months with a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Bosenko refused to comment about any criminal history related to Charles Berlinghoff.

At the press conference, California Highway Patrol captain Jerry Flavin reiterated that the case didn’t meet the specific guidelines for the Amber Alert, which has been in use since 2002.

“If we overuse the Amber Alert system, we’re going to lose the system,” he said.

Jake Berlinghoff said his daughter turned up missing last Wednesday at a time when Charles Berlinghoff had been in the area visiting family. Charles Berlinghoff plays in a heavy metal band in Los Angeles and has subsequently missed a concert that his group was supposed to perform in, Jake Berlinghoff said.

From what the father can gather, a relationship between Jean and Charles started about a month ago through cell phone conversations, Jake Berlinghoff said. In mid-October, Charles was in the area and family members noticed a “weird closeness” between the girl and her uncle, he said.

Though the two disappeared on Wednesday afternoon, Jean wasn’t reported missing for several more hours because Charles Berlinghoff had left his luggage out as if he was returning to get it before returning to Los Angeles, Jake Berlinghoff said.

Law enforcement officials believe the two may be traveling in a gray 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts should call the Sheriff’s Office at 245-6540.

The girl’s father says he hasn’t slept much since Jean disappeared and he’s “kicking” himself that he could have done something to prevent her disappearance.

Jean’s mother, Heather Vega, was also present at the press conference. The windows of Vega’s car have writing on them that tell of Jean Berlinghoff’s disappearance and provide a contact phone number. Jean Berlinghoff has two brothers and two sisters.

Friends and family of the missing teen handed out hundreds of fliers about the case on Saturday outside Redding City Hall. The flier has been posted at businesses throughout the city.

Charles Berlinghoff has been in and out of contact with the family over the years, including a 10-year period when he was completely absent, Jake Berlinghoff said.

Jake Berlinghoff has made films in the horror and comedy genre under the name Jake Daniels. In recent years, he was gathering information for a film he wanted to do on the disappearance of Tera Smith, a former Central Valley High School student who was 16 when she vanished on Aug. 22, 1998 and was never found.

“This reeks of Tera Smith,” Jake Berlinghoff said Monday. “(Jean) has been forced or tricked, obviously manipulated into doing something. It’s been five days and she would have contacted somebody. Right now I’m trying to set up my own Amber Alert.”

Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at .

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of .

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at
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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Ladybug says:

    Nice reporting job, Jim. You offered some details that other media have not reported.

  2. Avatar Ned says:

    Only reporter left in NorCal? Thank you for caring about this missing kid. No matter what the facts, she is a missing child. Can't help but think car wreck with everything left behind.

  3. Avatar Care says:

    Thank you for reporting…everyone needs to be on the look out for this car….It could be anywhere by now. Can not imagine how Jerry Flavin with the CHP can sleep at night..Other media has only blamed the CHP, now we have a name to associate with the unwillingness to find Jean.

  4. Avatar Carla Jackson says:

    I'm glad you're on this, Jim.

  5. Avatar Bontadellibunch says:

    1st of all great job on your article 🙂 Jean! your family loves misses and is very worried about you! Even if to just say "Dad, I'm ok, but I don't want to come home"….that would be SOMETHING and instead there is nothing, and this Uncle disconnected his own phone as well and didn't show up for his Concert…Things don't sound right to me…Too much room for speculations. What the CHP seems to be missing is….She is a MINOR….The fact of willingly or not…it's been over 24 hours…almost a week actually. Just because someone leaves willingly, doesn't mean Bad things or worse can't happen! Jake has been on the radios & newsstations. There are texts and Facebook flyers out there everywhere! I pray this family gets some good news soon.

    CHARLES turn yourself in!

  6. Avatar Steve says:

    What kinda drugs are people in Cali on? Here in the Midwest if a child goes missing by force or not an Amber Alert is issued. You can never over use a system. If you don't use it enough you will lose it. Cause all it does is cost money to just sit there if not used enough.I don't know all the details, but from the article that young lady is in immediate danger by being with the uncle. With his history, sad to say this, anything is possible. I just hope she is found soon otherwise alot of people are going to bear the load of NOT USING THE AMBER ALERT and alot of people will have to live with the fact of what happens. I feel it's time to make a plea for help and go over the CHP and get something done. In closing, I would like to say, Cali ain't the greatest place. Keep up the good work Arnold, Cali sucks

    • Avatar vinegrafted says:

      Steve, exactly! You can NEVER overuse a system when it comes to something like this! Cali doesn't suck but there are sucky things that happen – everywhere, unfortunately.

    • Avatar Erica says:

      I think they should issue and Amber alert the first day. The person does not come home! Who cares what the age is. If the person goes missing and that is rare to the family than obviously something is wrong.

      I agree, Some states do do Amber alerts till the forth day. Some longer. I have heard that age does matter! but I think age should not matter. everyone should be taken into consideration

  7. Avatar CoachBob says:

    Unfortunately, if the girl is a 'runaway' there's nothing the Amber Alert can do. This simply may not be an abduction. Girls run away. And boys. Doesn't rise to the level of "Amber". Just a horrible deal for the family at this point until there's some sort of "proof".

    • Avatar Worried says:

      I don't know about you but I don't know a 15 year old girl anywhere who, is she were going to 'runaway' would leave her purse, phone, makeup, clothes; not even taking a jacket. I know Jeannie and this girl in particular would NOT leave those things. The real problem is, the people in charge made their own judgments about the seriousness of the situation and now it's been almost a week. IF there were any more leads to follow, they would be cold as ice now. I feel pretty discouraged that the only movement forward in this case has been because the family/friends of Jeannie are pushing. How pathetic is it that we have to resort to Facebook and Myspace in the case of a missing child? And at 15, SHE IS STILL A CHILD. CHP would do well to remember that.

      • Avatar CoachBob says:

        Well, let's hope this all works out well. One thing we all know for sure is: we don't know anything.

        I re-read the article by Dyar and didn't notice any reference to her leaving purse or anything else behind.

        I did read reference to some kind of 'kinship' between the uncle and the girl. This makes me think "runaway". Also, he left things behind.

        Yeah, it's strange. But like the Sheriff said (and he's right) it doesn't reach the bar for Amber Alert.

        Just hope it all works out and no one is hurt.

        PS: And before everyone gets all in a bunch over the arrest for "indecent exposure" this guy had…remember, all you gotta do to achieve that is

        need to use a bathroom when nature calls and instead you go find a tree and someone sees you. All it takes.

        • Avatar Worried says:

          I understand that there is only so much information in one particular story. I also understand that there are many stories being written/told about this case. I'm getting my information from Jeannie's parents (who are friends of mine) so it's the information I choose to believe. I think that most of the people reporting on this are trying to get accurate information but I do that that there are things that have "slipped thru the cracks" so to speak. I have known Jeannie for some time and I do not believe she ran away nor do I believe that if she had chosen to, she would have done so in this manner. My real problem in this situation is that because there is speculation about their 'relationship', law enforcement assumed that she left willingly. So what happens if it's determined that she didn't? How many hours/day/weeks need to be lost because of assumptions? Will it take her body being found for everyone to say, "Whoops; guess it was an abduction. Sorry…"? I hope and pray that I'm wrong and that she walks thru the door with a sheepish grin. Believe me, I'd be quick in line to thump her in the head and say, "What were you THINKING?". My gut tells me that's not the case, however. Regardless of what's happened to this point, what we need to do right now is focus on finding her. It's my belief that if we focus on her as a runaway, things won't get done in her case. As soooo many people have stated on these forum chats…there are millions of runaways and who has the resources for that.

    • Avatar Ophelia says:

      Coach Bob,

      Is there something that you know that we dont? What information do you have the solidly and 100% confirms she is a runaway? My 15 year old niece was thought to be one too. Now, she is no longer with us. This was just before the Amber Alert was instated.

      If she is a runaway, bless her little heart that she will live another day to look back at the mistakes of her youth as most of us can. If not, no chances can be taken! never!


      • Avatar CoachBob says:

        Ophelia, Ophelia, Ophelia:

        These posts are frustrating for lots of different reasons. Not the least of which is we're dealing with an emotional subject. Not nearly enough level headed thought process (no offense is meant). And, it's sad to hear of your neice.

        You asked me if there was something that I knew that "we" didn't now. Well, who is "we"? That's one.

        Two, "what info do I have" that "solidly and 100%" confirms……" ! My god. Please! Can you "solidly and 100% confirm" that she isn't a runaway? Of course not. Nowhere in my post did you read that I claimed she "WAS" a runaway. The word I used was "IF". If, if, if….. ! I didn't use a Philidelphia lawyers jargon to try and trick anyone into thinking I was implying she WAS a runaway. Merely throwing out the possibility that it could happen.

        Let's all hope she's a runaway and calls home soon. That would be a great ending to a scary story. In the meantime…as stated prior…this doesn't rise to the level of "AmberAlert". The CHP are correct. Too much time went by; No break-in or stranger abduction is in evidence…etc. Amber Alerts are very specific. They must be in order to function. And they DO function well as can be witnessed by the success rate.

        If the CHP (or whomever) yells Amber Alert on every single case where there's worried parents (and who wouldn't be worried), we'd have 100's of them in this state. You know how many "runaways" or unexplained missing persons we have at this moment? While I'm typing this?

        Here's my hope: (this will tork some of you off)…instead of -IMO- holding silly, yes you read that right…silly, caldlelight vigils why not try something pro-active? Like every single person, instead of holding that candle, get on the phone and start a call center and phone every single friend in LA, San Jose, Trinity Center…wherever, and make every attempt to contact every known friend of the Uncle, or his fellow workers wherever he's from, and try and come up with our own Amber Alert. Holding a candle has never brought anyone back from anywhere. If this were my child I'd have friends heading south to take pics of each of them to his hangouts, work, etc. Someone will bump into him. People are creatures of major habit.

        Use Facebook (I think this is being done), and cell pics of the girl sent to each and every "contact' in the phone.

        There. I've stated my gripe and I've stated a possible solution.

        Solid, 100% pro-active. Probably the best we can do. But if you feel the heartfelt need to burn a candle…do it next to your phone/computer and make contacts.

        Thanks for reading this far.


  8. Avatar Alicia (Alley) says:

    McBrayer, Vega and Berlinghoff families:

    I want you to know I am praying for Jean's return. I still love her so much and I am heartbroken to hear this. Heather, give Ian a big hug….I am sure this is hard on everyone. If she's with that Charles guy, fine, I just hope she's OK and comes home soon. God Bless….we'll be praying!

  9. Avatar Ophelia says:

    My heart goes out to this family. I have been in this situation personally where the outcome was the worst imaginable. Let me say a few things:

    Sheriff Bosenko. You do have the ability and the responsibility to post an Amber Alert. My niece left all her belongings behind too (purse, phone, money, etc.,) so she was not a priority either. She was only 15. Jean is a minor and has not been heard from for 6 days. If you dont feel she is in "imminent" danger, if she is in only a "little bit" of danger or "somewhat" in danger does this make you feel an Amber alert is warranted? No agency in their right mind will remove the Amber Alert system from us because you needed to or at least feel compeled to save this little girl. Do it.

    Hopefully more appropriate steps have been taken like the FBI notified (which really gets the ball rolling) and a call to a missing childrens organization will provide wonderful supoortive and necessary assistance. Trust me, this is from experience.

    Good luck to the family, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  10. Avatar Ophelia says:

    FBI Sacramento

    4500 Orange Grove Avenue

    Sacramento, CA 95841-4205

    (916) 481-9110

    After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) on our toll-free telephone number: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Or you can use our Live Hotline to talk to NCMEC through our web site.

    Child Quest International

    Contact Information

    Phone (408) 287-HOPE

    (408) 287-4673


  11. Avatar Richard Douse says:

    I thought the whole idea of having an "Amber Alert" was speed. Getting important information to the public fast so they can help rescue a child ASAP!
    Yes, We don't want to overuse this system. But that isn't happening. The system is in place to help find this child. To have it sit idle is just plain wrong.

  12. Avatar Carinne V Montgomery says:

    A child missing, is a child missing… Every alert known should of been posted to find her! My heart & prayers go to the family & I pray she is found soon & unharmed…

  13. Avatar Charlie says:

    I cannot even imagine what her family is going through right now. I have 4 children aroudn her age and I know that none of them would leave without their wallet/purse and my daughter would not leave without clothes at the very least. I am praying daily for her safe return.

  14. Avatar Hilde Barbro says:

    My heart goes out to her family.I know what they are going throu.I have been in the situation myself when my son went missing when he was at her age.Fortunality he came back home. Do not give up! I am prayng for her safe return and that it will happen soon.

  15. Avatar Laura says:

    I just wanted to let the family know we'll be keeping an eye out for her and his car, and you are definitely in our prayers. I'm hoping she calls you soon even if just to let you know she is ok. I'm thinking he's probably just running scared now but he can't run forever. Stay strong..

  16. Avatar eric says:

    This is a tragic situation for sure, but has anyone been looking into Jacob Daniels Berlinghoff's history? If I were an investigator I would want to bring Jake in for some questioning. I know him from his so called movie making, and everything he said back then turned out to be lies. He has a very loose definition of what is real and whats imaginary.
    I'm sure Jake is loving all this attention. My guess is Jake has orchestrated this disappearance in some way. I wouldn't be shocked in the least to find out this was all a hoax.
    I think that its a little coincidental that someone as obsessed with the Tara Smith disappearance would have such a similar thing happen him. He even mentions her in the article. ( “This reeks of Tera Smith,” Jake Berlinghoff said Monday. “(Jean) has been forced or tricked, obviously manipulated into doing something.") I think that statement is pretty telling.
    He even planned on making a Tera Smith movie
    Could Jake be trying to pull off some kind of 'balloon boy' hoax, or is this a real tragedy? I know of only one person who knows for sure…