Case 215

The One-Man Crime Wave

*** Content Warning: serial rapist, sexual assault, child victims, child abuse, suicide ***

On May 26 1978, four-year-old Eric Christgen suddenly disappeared while playing in a park in St Joseph, Missouri. The next day, his body was discovered near the Missouri River, sparking a manhunt like the small town had never seen before. It wasn’t long before a prime suspect emerged – 25-year-old Melvin Lee Reynolds – but some authorities weren’t convinced of his involvement.

Just over a year later, the body of 11-year-old Michelle Steele was found in St Joseph under similar circumstances, and a man named Charles Ray Hatcher became a person of interest. What unravelled was a horrific tale of sexual assault, murder, deceit and false identities.



Casefile Presents



Research & writing – Jessica Forsayeth

Creative direction – Milly Raso

Narration – Anonymous Host



‘Flatline intro’ and ‘Come play with me’ intro and outro –

Audio production – Mike Migas 

Scoring – Mike Migas and Andrew Joslyn



Logo and website design – Paulina Szymanska



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City searched for boy, 4 – St. Joseph News-Press

Body of boy is found after St. Joseph search – The Kansas City Star

Body of Christgen boy found on bluff – St. Joseph News-Press 

Videotape may hold murder clues – The Kansas City Star

Mayor lauds public response to search for missing boy – St. Joseph News-Press

Hunt for boy’s slayer continues – St. Joseph News-Press

Complete alibi was given for Harry Fox – St. Joseph News-Press

No drugs found in body of Chrisgen boy – St. Joseph News-Press

Murder suspect charged – St. Joseph Gazette

Suspect may have helped look for boy – Associated Press

Jury finds Reynolds guilty of murder – St. Joseph News-Press

Body of girl is found on river bank – St. Joseph News-Press

Murder suspect still refusing to cooperate – St. Joseph News-Press

Mystery deepens in boy’s death – Contra Costa Times

Vanished boy’s body identified – Oakland Tribune

Boy’s death mysterious – Concord Transcript

Mystery still surrounds death of Antioch boy, 12 – Oakland Tribune

Freeman mystery enters third week – Contra Costa Times

The violent trail of Charles Hatcher (4 part series) – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Charlie Hatcher’s trail of death – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Charge filed in murder of girl, 11 – Associated Press

Hatcher hangs self in prison – St. Joseph News-Press

Authorities blame confession for 4 lost years – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Saw suspect mile away – St. Joseph News-Press

Child-killer discovered dead in cell – St. Louis Post-Dispatch



Innocent Blood: a true story of terror and justice – Terry Ganey



State v. Reynolds 619 S.W.2d 741 (1981), Supreme Court of Missouri

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