A Mother’s Plea: Our Son Is Missing

Editor’s Note:

Although the Palestine Chronicle is committed to its editorial style, of analysis, commentary, news, etc, we felt morally obligated to publish this article, by a distraught mother whose son went missing during a trip to Israel early 2006. We urge our readers in Palestine, who may have some information on the whereabouts of the missing son, to consult the link provided below.

By Midge Houghtaling

On February 15, 2006, our son, Christopher Houghtaling, arrived in Tel Aviv, Israel. Far from the “typical” American tourist, Chris traveled without a cell phone, without credit cards and without a companion. He had purchased a round-trip ticket and was scheduled to leave Israel after one week. Upon landing he was questioned by immigration authorities then released without incident. He has not been seen or heard from since.

Chris was an avid Bible-reader and had an extensive knowledge of it, particularly the Old Testament. He frequently discussed the Bible with us and his siblings and often commented that it would be “really neat” to go there. He was excited about the trip which was his first opportunity to visit the land and places where historic events occurred. At the age of 28 years, Chris was fulfilling a life-long dream.

He promised to call me when he got settled, but the phone call never came. Two years later we are still living in a parent’s worst nightmare. Passport records reflex his entry into the country but there is no record of his departure.

We believe that our son is alive, but can only speculate as to what would prevent him from contacting us. He may be in a hospital or some kind of trouble; however, we are doubtful that any harm has come to him as the result of reckless living. Chris briefly engaged in a “partying” lifestyle in his teenage years, but had since abstained from any form of substance abuse.

He stands about five feet three inches, and weighs about 110 pounds. He had black hair and has worn it long. He frequently grows a beard. Chris is soft-spoken, intelligent; resourceful… he loves the outdoors.

His compassion and caring may also provide another clue to his whereabouts. More than a decade ago my husband, Tim Houghtaling, traveled to Romania with a mission team to build an orphanage. Chris told us that he would like to do something like that someday. He has carpentry skills and a high mechanical aptitude. Prior to his trip to Israel, Chris built a log cabin and a playground in our back yard for his nieces and nephews.

Chris has five brothers and a sister who are also distraught by his disappearance. Family members have posted a MySpace page on the Internet and have launched email campaigns containing his physical description and asking for help in locating him.

Last May, my husband and I flew to Israel to search for Chris. We met with contacts at the U.S. Embassy and filled out a missing person’s report in Jerusalem. We also faxed information to a police officer in Ramallah and spoke to the director of the University of Bethlehem. After traveling across the ocean, then over 1,000 miles within the country, distributing Chris’ information and making contacts with anyone who we thought might be able to help us… we returned home.

But, our search is not over. We will continue to search for Chris until we have answers, until he is safely home. Our son is missing. Please contact us if you know where he is, if you have seen him or have any information regarding his disappearance.

Additional information can be found on the National Center for Missing Adults Website.

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