Left and Right: Christina circa, 1999
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: June 1, 1999
Missing From: Ozark, Franklin County, Arkansas
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: February 7, 1985
Age: 14 years old
Height and Weight: 5’6″ and 125 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Blonde hair, Green eyes
NCMEC Number: 1019619
Details of Disappearance
Christina Richart was last seen at some point during the summer of 1999. Her care takers originally told investigators that Christina had left their home voluntarily with a great aunt and a man. They headed to California and it’s possible Christina arrived at her destination about a week later. She has never been seen or heard from since 1999.
Christina was born in the DeQueen area of Arkansas. She lived in the city of Fordyce and Idabel, Oklahoma through her childhood. She lost one of her younger brothers in 1993 and her father passed away from cancer in 1996. Their mother was unable to care for them after this and as a result, Christina and her two younger brothers, Norman and Michael, were sent to live with their uncle, Charles Walter Richart and his wife, Wanda Faye Richart in 1997.
Later that year, however, Norman was removed from Wanda and Charles care after allegations of abuse came. He was removed from the home by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. It was alleged that Wanda had been abusive towards him. In May of 2000, Michael was also removed from their care after his school found signs of abuse on his body.
He was taken in by another family who subsequently adopted him. His adoptive mother, Donna Walker, asked Wanda and Charles about Christina in May of 2000 and she initially told her that the girl had left home voluntarily to live with a great aunt in Oklahoma. In July of 2001, Walker again contacted Wanda to get some necessary paper work for the adoption process involving Michael. This time, Wanda told her that Christina had gone to live with a great aunt in California.
Walker noticed that Wanda had changed her story this time but didn’t push her on the subject. Michael continuously asked about his sister and Walker began to search for her after this. She was able to file a missing child’s report about Christina through the Fordyce Police Department in early 2005. In September of 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved in looking for Christina.
Wanda and Charles were both interviewed regarding Christina’s disappearance and Wanda and him told the same story which was that Christina went to live with an aunt in California. They claimed that She called them several times and she sounded happy and descent. The calls apparently stopped in April of 2000.
Investigators noted how there were many variations in the stories told by those who were last known to be living with Christina at the time. Investigators also interviewed Joann Holdman and Richard Burton who lived in the home with the Richarts at the time. They both told the same story.
Christina’s disappearance would remain unsolved until January of 2008 when Joann Holdman told police what really happened to Christina in 1999. She told police that one day, Christina and Wanda got into an argument and at some point she said Christina needed a bath. She then forced the girl into the bathroom and closed the door.
Holdman said that the argument continued for about 10 or 15 minutes afterwards and she also heard sounds of Christina crying and splashing. She then heard a thud sound and Christina stopped making noise. When the door opened, Holdman said she saw Christina lying motionless in front of the bathtub. She said she wasn’t breathing.
Holdman testified that she felt Christina’s neck for a pulse and also felt a “mushy” spot when she put Christina’s head on her hand. She suggested that they should call an ambulance for Christina but Wanda told her “not to do anything stupid”. She also threatened Holdman’s life and the life of her unborn child, she was pregnant at the time.
Holdman said that the next morning, she went with Wanda, Charles, and Richard to bury Christina’s body in the woods of Ozark. She said that Charles dug a hole and placed her body in it. They the returned to the residence where Wanda and Charles burned all of Christina’s clothing and belongings.
Wanda told everyone that if anyone came to them with questions about Christina’s whereabouts that they should tell the story of her leaving the home voluntarily to live with a relative. Holdman said she didn’t reveal what happened to Christina because she feared Wanda who continued to threaten her even after the birth of her child.
Holdman told police she moved out of the house about a month after Christina’s death. She stated that as she was leaving, Wanda put her hand on her throat and said she could leave but she would be killed if she ever told anyone about Christina’s death. She had no further contact with Wanda after her baby was born.
It should also be noted that both Charles and Wanda continued to cash Social Security benefit checks for Christina for about a year and a half after her death. In February of 2008, authorities unsealed a federal indictment which charged both Wanda and Charles with making false statements to federal agents about Christina’s disappearance.
Charles was kept under house arrest until the trial while Wanda was incarcerated. In June of 2008, Charles was found guilty of making false statements to the FBI. He told investigators that he was not present when Christina was killed but admitted it burying her body the day after she died.
He claimed he was also unaware that Wanda had threatened Holdman and that he did not conspire with her to lie about where Christina went. He did admit to knowing that Wanda lied to Federal agents about what actually happened to her.
Wanda was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to make a false statement and one count of making a false statement. In December of 2009, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for these crimes. In January of 2010, she pleaded no contest to second degree murder and was given a 30 year sentence.
Wanda hasn’t only hurt Christina but also her younger brothers. Her claims of Christina leaving voluntarily gave her brothers dreams and hopes that they would see their sister again someday. Norman and Michael also told police that Wanda and Charles sexually abused them and Christina before her death.
Wanda will be required to participate in sex offender treatment and will be un-permitted to have any contact with minors after her release from prison.
At the time of her disappearance, Christina was described as a loving and devoted sister to her brothers and stepped in to do the best she could to be a mom to them. She was described as being brave and full of courage. She loved the color pink and loved her Barbie dolls. Her brothers and mother are still alive. Her brothers live in Arkansas and her mother lives in Nevada.
Christina’s body has never been found but foul play is suspected in her disappearance.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Fordyce Police Department (870) 352-2178