First, Christmas came early Saturday afternoon for the family and friends of Jean Berlinghoff, the 15-year-old Redding teen who’d been missing for a month, when she was found safe and alive in San Francisco. The break came when one of Jean’s cousins, who lives in the Bay Area, spotted Jean walking in San Francisco with Charles Berlinghoff, the girl’s uncle; the focus of an intense manhunt since last month.
Bay Area police arrested Charles Berlinghoff on two felony warrants related to Jean’s disappearance from her Redding home Nov. 10. Since then, law enforcement, family and the public had conducted a tireless search for the pair. The most recent major lead came a few weeks ago after Berlinghoff’s car was found abandoned in Dunsmuir on Nov. 27.
Second came a welcome gift to Shasta County law enforcement Saturday night when Shasta County Superior Court Judge Stephen H. Baker set Charles Berlinghoff’s bail at $1 million.
Baker signed the papers authorizing the bail Saturday evening, following a Shasta County Sheriff’s department press conference that gave details about the arrest of Charles Berlinghoff in San Francisco, where he and Jean Berlinghoff were spotted earlier in the afternoon by Jean’s cousin, Jennifer Berlinghoff, at a retail store.
Shasta County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Hubbard said that Jennifer Berlinghoff was shopping with her boyfriend in downtown San Francisco when she saw some familiar faces. He said Jennifer said, “That looks like Charles and Jean,” then she called 911.
Hubbard said Bay Area law enforcement responded to Jennifer’s call, and Charles Berlinghoff was arrested “without incident” after giving a false name. Hubbard said that nevertheless, Charles Berlinghoff was ultimately identified through tattoos and other evidence.
Jean Berlinghoff was then taken into protective custody, Hubbard said, though he couldn’t speak to the girl’s condition, or her reaction during her uncle’s arrest, or other details regarding this incident.
“I’m as anxious to hear as anyone,” he said.
Most likely he won’t need to wait long, because three Shasta County Sheriff Department detectives were already en route to San Francisco, one by plane; the other two sped there via California Highway Patrol, to conduct interviews.
Regarding Charles Berlinghoff’s bail, Hubbard said the Sheriff’s Department requested the enhanced bail, which they deemed justified, considering the circumstances.
“We believe Charles Berlinghoff is a flight risk,” Hubbard said. “And he’s obviously eluded us for 30 days.”
Hubbard gave special credit to law enforcement, his office, media and citizens for work done to find the Berlinghoff pair. He sighed heavily when he spoke about Jean Berlinghoff, the Enterprise High School teen who’d been missing for a month, now found safe and alive.
“Thank God, thank God,” Hubbard said. “This is just a huge, huge relief for everyone. This is Christmas. What a gift.”
Jean Berlinghoff’s family agrees with that sentiment.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic to find that Jean is OK,” said Jake Berlinghoff, Jean’s father, who said he was in the mountains searching for his daughter when he got the news that she’d been located.
Right now, Jake Berlinghoff said that his family’s most pressing goal is to be there to help and support Jean in every way.
“Over the last few days I was very uncertain if Jean would be found alive,” he said. “I’m so happy my little girl is on her way home.”
Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007, Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.
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.