New search area for Punta Gorda woman missing since 1995

Authorities say a tipped location has been an area of interest from the beginning for a 24-year-old cold case, but it was never the primary search area. Search crews and cadaver dogs began the second week of their search for a missing Charlotte County woman’s remains.

Investigators shifted their focus for the Christine Flahive search to a wooded area about four miles off Indian Creek lane in Punta Gorda Monday.

“It’s always a site of interest, not specifically as much as the initial site that we went to,” said Detective Mike Vogel with Charlotte Count Sheriff’s Office. “But there were a couple areas we knew we wanted to search. This one became a little more interesting, so we’ll be back tomorrow.”

Detectives were hesitant to reveal information about the search but indicated this site could hold some answers to the big question of what happened to Flahive.

“The dogs showed some interest in some areas back there,” Vogel said. “So we want to make sure that we’ve cleared everything that needs to be cleared. And try to determine why they alerted.”

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said it can’t reveal where the new tips in the case are coming from. Detectives said it’s too soon to know if their new leads are credible.

“It’s hard to say on a lead,” Vogel said. “You gather information from whatever source you can. You try to vet as much as you can the individual that gives you the lead. It may or may not be credible. As a cold case, you have to do your due diligence. And there’s really no need you can’t follow in a cold case.”

The beginning of the reopened cold case began with a new tip just days after the anniversary of Flahive’s disappearance from Punta Gorda in 1995 when she was 42.

The search led detectives to the former home of Phillip Barr, the man accused of killing Tara Sidarovich in 2001.

Phillip Barr is serving a life sentence for the murder of Sidarovich when she was 19 years old.

WINK News asked if Barr is suspected in Flahive’s disappearance and potential murder, but detectives said they can’t reveal that information but do have persons of interest in the case.

 

Reporter:Oliver Redsten
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