Police in San Francisco have released more information about the death of Christopher Woitel, a 50-year-old computer programmer in San Francisco who was reported missing last month.
As the New York Post reports, the San Francisco Police Department shared an update on the department’s website saying that Woitel’s body was found in a crawl space “hidden from plain view” above his apartment’s bathroom. Questions have surrounded the mysterious death of the longtime San Francisco resident who was known for his generosity, and who reportedly extended support and friendship to a homeless man who was found to be in possession of Woitel’s phone after he went missing.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Woitel had not been seen alive since January 8, when he was captured on surveillance camera footage entering his apartment building in the Mission District. There is no footage showing him leaving the building again. After friends and family were unable to reach him for several days, Woitel’s mother reported him missing on either January 11 or January 13, according to conflicting reports. Police have publicly released very little about a missing persons investigation, and Woitel’s family hired a private investigator, apparently believing that the police investigation was insufficient.
The private investigator, Scott Williams, told local media outlets that he and/or police had accessed Woitel’s apartment and found his interior chain lock intact, with no signs of disturbance in the apartment unit.
Before he vanished, Woitel had reportedly become paranoid about the insurrection at the U.S. Capital on January 6, and believed that Trump supporters were next planning to target San Francisco. He also spoke of a missing cell phone in social media posts. That phone was found in the possession of a homeless man known only as “Bood,” who reportedly told Williams that Woitel had sold him the phone on January 7.
But Woitel and Bood, who lives in an encampment, reportedly had a falling out shortly before Woitel was last seen alive. The day before Woitel disappeared, which appears to be the day after surveillance camera footage indicates that Bood spend the night in Woitel’s building, Woitel reportedly sent Bood angry messages on Facebook, saying that he was cutting him off.
A friend told Mission Local that Woitel, who reportedly had a history of depression and was collecting disability insurance at the time of his disappearance, had unreturned romantic feelings for Bood. The friend, Jose Reyes, described the relationship as toxic and said he worried that Bood was taking advantage of Woitel.
“I just got this vibe from him,” Reyes said of Bood in an interview with Mission Local. “He would freak out when Chris didn’t get him what he wanted.”
The San Francisco Police Department said in a statement this week that they searched Woitel’s apartment on February 12 to look for evidence of a possible crime scene, which they did not find.
Police returned again on February 15, the day they found his body.
“Investigators searched a small, approximately three-foot-tall, crawl space above the bathroom in the home and located Mr. Woitel’s body, which was hidden from plain view. Personnel from the San Francisco Fire Department arrived and needed to cut a hole in the ceiling in order to retrieve Mr. Woitel’s remains. Investigators determined that Mr. Woitel likely accessed the crawl space from the roof of the building and not from inside his apartment.”
It is unclear what prompted police to investigate the crawl space. Police said in the statement that they do not suspect foul play, and that a medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine Woitel’s cause of death as the investigation continues.
CrimeOnline will provide further updates when more information is available.
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Author: Ellen Killoran
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