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Search For Teen Continues Despite Lack of Amber Alert

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 jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com .

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 anewscafe.com .