Disappearance at Tahoe
Whitecaps were forming along the Kings Beach shoreline when the Bordenkircher family pulled up to their Beaver Street cabin high above Lake Tahoe on June 12, 1965.After the three boys and one girl piled out of the family car, 2-year-old, blond-haired Jamie Bordenkircher walked to the wooden-seated swing in the front yard.Jamies brother Mike, 18 at the time, ducked inside the cabin for just a moment.When he came back outside, the swing was empty, still swaying gently in the wind. Jamie Bordenkircher had vanished. He was never seen again.In the days that followed, bloodhounds paced the area, helicopters crisscrossed the sky and divers scoured the lake bottom. Searchers found no trace of the missing toddler.
More than four decades after his brothers mysterious disappearance, Jay Bordenkircher flicked on the TV to Americas Most Wanted in his Yuba City home. The episode on missing children brought back a flood of questions and set him on a mission to re-examine the inexplicable disappearance of his brother. Along the way he began asking questions his family had buried following the tragedy.We kind of put it behind us, said Mike Bordenkircher, Jamies older brother.Today, Jay firmly believes his brother was abducted.The search may be a long shot, Jay concedes, but so is the theory that his 2-year-old sibling walked more than half a mile over rough terrain, crossed a major highway and drowned in Lake Tahoe.
Precisely 42 years after Jamies disappearance, the remaining Bordenkirchers are at the Kings Beach cabin where it all took place.Its more than a remembrance of their lost family member. There is a glint of hope to the reunion. Jay has recently entered Jamies profile into the Missing and Exploited Children databank, and it will soon be available worldwide to be viewed by anyone who might have information on the case.With the profile is a surprisingly sharp set of age-progression images formed from a childhood photo and composites of Jamies parents. In the photo, Jamie Bordenkircher is age 44, blonde-haired and mustachioed.Standing near the cabin, after walking from the building to the lake to calculate the distance it would have taken Jamie to meet his end in Lake Tahoe, the family members are in agreement that something else happened.Helen Bordenkircher, Jamies mom, is now 81 years old. She speaks with a measured, clear and calm voice. The visit has rekindled old, buried emotions, and Helen cant bring herself to enter the cabin.But she has changed her mind about that day 42 years ago. After believing that bloodhounds had tracked Jamies trail to Lake Tahoe in 1965, she now is assured he never drowned.If the dogs went down that trail, they were wrong, Helen reflected after walking all the way to the lake.That opinion reaffirms the nagging doubts she has replayed in her mind since the day he vanished.I could follow him in my mind so far, but I could never follow him to the lake, said Helen.
In the days following Jamies disappearance, searchers swarmed the hillsides around Tahoe. The news of the toddler who vanished in Tahoe made front-page news in Tahoe and hit newspapers in Sacramento and other locations.The Tahoe World reported that over 1,000 people, including the FBI, searched the area thoroughly.Completely baffled after four and a half days of intensive search, authorities directing the hunt for 2-year-old James Bordenkircher yesterday temporarily suspended activities, the Tahoe World reported.But the search was called off only after officials searched tirelessly in every possible location.Empty houses were inspected refrigerators and freezers were checked men crawled under houses where there was crawl space, sometimes disturbing occupants who were unaware of the search and the FBI was called into the case, the World reported.That night someone said all they could see was flashlights and people yelling Jamie, recalled Mike Bordenkircher.
After 40 years working law enforcement in North Tahoe, Max Bennett retired to the Yuba City area.At 71, even after working hundreds of cases, he could never get the Jamie Bordenkircher disappearance out of his mind.This is the only case in my career that kept sticking in my craw and bothering me, said Bennett.At the time, Bennett was 29 and had just been promoted to lieutenant. He supervised much of the search.We had 1,000 people looking for him miles up into the hills, said Bennett.When the search ended with no evidence, officials and relatives came to their own separate conclusions. Some believed Jamie drowned in Lake Tahoe, although no body was ever recovered. Others believed he was lost in the mountains.Bennett has his own belief, one formed as one of the closest officials to the case and during hundreds of times replaying the clues in his head.Hes not in the lake. Hes not up on the mountain, said Bennett. I think hes alive somewhere and doesnt know who he is.Bennett believes he was picked up by a couple who kept him and raised him as their own child.Bennett is happy to see the family re-examining the case. But until the case is solved, the mystery of Jamie Bordenkircher still crosses his mind frequently.I just hope to God he does get found, said Bennett.
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