Left and Center: Hannah circa, 1997
Right: Age Progressed to age 36
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: June 4, 1997
Missing From: McCloud, Siskiyou County, California
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: October 11, 1981
Age: 15 years old
Height and Weight: 5’5″ and 120 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Hannah has a birthmark behind her right ear near her hairline, she has a chicken pox scar near her right eye, her upper left tooth was chipped at the time of her 1997 disappearance, her ears are pierced one time each. Hannah’s hair was dyed black at the time of her 1997 disappearance
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A gray sweatshirt, a lime green/white checkered shirt or a tank top with daisy shaped buttons and a tie at the waist, a pair of blue jeans, black canvas Vans deck shoes with the letter “V” imprinted in white on the side of each shoe, Hannah was last known to be wearing a silver band type ring with designs on it
NCMEC Number: 833807
Details of Disappearance
Hannah was last seen in McCloud, California on June 4th 1997. She left the residence of her boyfriend, Danny Rice, at approximately 10:00 pm to walk back to her own home. Hannah’s house was located just a block or two away from Danny’s residence at the time of her disappearance. She never arrived home and was never seen or heard from again afterwards.
Hannah’s mother, Jennifer Zaccaglini, wasn’t initially concerned that her daughter hadn’t returned home that night. She assumed Hannah had fallen asleep at Danny’s residence. The next morning, however, Jennifer began to look for Hannah while Danny’s mother filed a missing persons report.
Investigators initially believed that Hannah left on her own accord. Her family and friends said she would never have run off from her home. She had a close relationship with her mother and she made no indications of wanting to leave on her own. Jennifer said she last saw Hannah before she left to go to Danny’s house and she promised to be back by 10:00 pm.
Hannah also stopped by a friends apartment for a cigarette and then went to Rice’s residence. Rice broke up with Hannah because he and his family were moving to Nevada. Before Hannah began walking home, she bickered with Rice over some snapshot pictures she had given him of herself. She then began towards her home.
Hannah stopped at the residence of Edward Ray “Ed” Henline and spoke with him for some time. He told investigators that Hannah and him spoke outside of his residence at the time. He stated that when he and her finished speaking, she began walking back home. Henline was reportedly the last person to see Hannah alive that night.
Investigators eventually concluded that Hannah did not leave voluntarily. Hannah did not take any personal possessions with her such as her hairbrush, pocketbook, money, her beloved bass guitar, or her well known get away bag. In late June, police sought the assistance of the FBI in Hannah’s missing persons case.
Investigators questioned all of Hannah’s friends and administered them to lie detector tests but this led to nothing. House searches were also done and the FBI questioned various town residents in relation to the case but nothing conclusive came from any of this. Jennifer and
Hannah’s family has always believed that someone in McCloud had the information that would lead to Hannah’s recovery. It was originally believed that Hannah had been abducted and was possibly being held against her will. There’s no evidence that Hannah is currently living or that she was alive after the date she went missing.
Hannah’s disappearance had a profound impact on McCloud and there hadn’t been a recorded murder since 1984 by that time. Her disappearance shocked and haunted those who lived in the area and her disappearance was the subject of much gossip by townsfolk. ￼
Investigators also questioned Hannah’s father and her friends from Southern California but none of them had heard from her since her disappearance. Ed Henline Sr. And his wife Debbie Henline acted odd in the days after Hannah’s disappearance. Just a day after Hannah’s disappearance, they asked to borrow Jennifer’s van.
They returned the van a few days later in pristine condition. They stated they cleaned it to “thank” her for allowing them to use it. This is considered odd since the Henline’s were known for not being the most cleanest of people. A few days after that, Ed Henline was observed burning a perfectly good houseboat that he had dry docked in his backyard.
Numerous search warrants were served and the Henline residence has been searched various times, even with the help of utilized cadaver dogs. None of these searches ever turned up any trace of Hannah. Investigators believe the Henline’s were involved in Hannah’s case as well as the disappearance of Karen Elizabeth Knitchel Mero.
Karen was 27 years old when she disappeared from the same area as Hannah on February 15th 1997. Her parents stated they last saw her at the Henline residence during that month. They stated they began to feel concerned in May of 1997 when she hadn’t contacted them and her 28th birthday passed.
Karen’s parents attempted to file a missing persons report for her but were told that she was an adult and could leave whenever she please. Karen also had a warrant out for her arrest so it was assumed she had gone into hiding. Investigators finally accepted a report on October 16th 1997.
Karen had gotten a liver transplant in 1994 and required anti-rejection medications. She has not refilled her medication since her disappearance. In November of 1997, authorities cancelled Mero’s medical disability money but she still hasn’t contacted anyone. Investigators believe she is deceased because without her medication, she wouldn’t be able to survive for long. She was allegedly dating Ed Henline Jr. at the time of her disappearance. He was the son of Ed Sr. and Debbie.
Investigators considered the Henline’s possible suspects in both cases and still do. They have been the main focus of the investigation due to their strange behavior in both cases. It should be noted that they have been uncooperative in the investigation into both disappearances. In 1998, both Ed and Debbie were arrested for welfare fraud. They evidently were continuing to cash Karen’s disability checks for months after her disappearance in February.
They were both ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and serve three years probation. No developments were made after this break and Hannah’s missing persons case became cold. On June 23rd 2012, the sheriffs office reopened the investigation into Hannah’s disappearance. They now believe that Hannah was murdered on the night of her disappearance. On November 15th 2012, Ed Henline Sr. was arrested and charged with Hannah’s presumed murder.
Then on November 17th 2012, Ed Henline Jr. was also arrested and charged with conspiracy and accessory to commit a crime. It’s believed that both men were involved in Hannah’s presumed death. Ed Sr. was charged with first degree murder and accessory to commit a crime. Investigators felt they had finally cracked the case and would be able to have the responsible convicted for killing Hannah.
In May of 2013, however, the county’s district attorney dropped the charges related to Hannah’s murder due to lack of evidence. They stated that without Hannah’s body, they had little to no evidence against Ed Sr. and Ed Jr. Investigators have stated that they will never stop searching for both Hannah and Karen. They believe there are other people in McCloud who know what happened to Hannah and Karen but aren’t talking.
There is currently a $2,500 – $5,000 reward for any information that leads to a conviction in either Hannah or Karen’s cases. At the time of her disappearance, Hannah was a student at McCloud High School and the school year was near ending. Those close to her have stated she would never leave on her own. Hannah’s parents were divorced and Hannah had moved with her mother and two siblings from Los Angeles back to McCloud in 1996.
Hannah and her family lived in a two bedroom house which was just a few houses away from Jennifer’s parents house and across the street from McCloud Elementary School. Hannah was one of 100 teenagers who attended the high school and her friends recalled she would joke about being elected sophomore homecoming princess because the few other girls in her class refused the crown.
Hannah learned to play bass guitar in the school rock ‘n’ roll band in the winter. Her mother worked as a waitress and cook at the Briarpatch restaurant but they had lost most of their house utilities by the time Hannah disappeared. Hannah played Santana and Beatles tunes on bass in a school concert just the night before her disappearance. She was looking forward to a gig at the Siskiyou Golden Fair State Grounds in Yreka. Hannah was also a school cheerleader and an aspiring model in 1997.
Hannah’s disappearance remains unsolved and foul play is suspected in the case. Her family continues to search for answers in her case. Karen Mero’s mother is also still alive and hopes to find out what happened to her daughter. Authorities have openly stated that murder charges can be brought against both Henline’s again if evidence is found. Jennifer has stated the police were prejudiced against her and initially didn’t investigate the case as thoroughly as they should’ve.
Image: Karen Elizabeth Knetchel Mero, circa 1997
Image: Ed Henline Sr., circa 2012
Image: Ed Henline Jr., circa 2012
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office 530-841-2900
Federal Bureau of Investigation 530-223-6473
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
California Department of Justice
Where is Hannah? – Missing Since June 4, 1997 – McCloud, California
Elko Daily Free Press 11/20/1997