Christina Lynn Carter went missing on September 17, 1973. If she is still alive in 2021, she would be 51-years-old, and if so, she may not even know her true identity. Carter went missing at 3-years-old and is believed to have been abducted, and perhaps raised under a new identity, or murdered, and returned to nature.
Several newspapers that covered Christina Lynn Carter's disappearance described her mother, Janet Gail Carter, as troubled. At 24, Janet was on her second divorce and in a bitter ongoing battle with her ex-husband of two months over the custody of her only daughter Christina.
At the time, Janet was employed in Birmingham, Alabama, for a low-paying insurance agency. Janet was also in a romantic and secretive relationship with a married man, whose true identity never surfaced, but died a few years after Christina's disappearance of unrelated causes.
Janet Carter did not want to give up her only child of her ex-husband of 5 years, but knew that the court would side with her ex-husband. By September 1973, the pressure from the lawyers began mounting and Janet Lynn Carter saw no other choice but to take her daughter into hiding.
Luckily for her, the married man she was secretly rendezvousing with knew of a small cabin in the Great Smokey Mountains that she and her daughter could stay.
On October 7, local fishers found a duffle bag 50 feet from Clingsman Dome Road in Bryson, North Carolina, and they were immediately suspicious. The city of Bryson, known as the gateway to the Great Smokey Mountain, receives plenty of yearly campers, hikers, and families seeking fresh mountain air. The fishers who found the duffle bag guessed it was camping equipment, but unsure why anyone would leave their items poorly hidden in the forest.
Inside the duffle bag was not camping equipment like they suspected, but the nude and dead body of 24-year-old Janet Gail Carter.
Janet's hands were taped across her chest and the medical examiner ruled she died by asphyxiation within the last three days of being discovered. The problem the Bryson Police Department, and soon the Federal Bureau of Investigation, faced after the body was found, was identifying the remains.
There were no identifiable marks on Janet. Her purse, driver's license, or other belongings were not in the bag with her. No active missing person report fit the woman's features. All authorities could do was wait until a family member came forward to identify Janet's body.
Mrs. Lucille Coker of Winston Salem, Janet's mother, identified her daughter. Lucille usually had at-least weekly contact with her daughter, but after nearly of no letters, phone calls, or general responses, she contacted the Great Smoky police station.
Mrs. Coker provided her daughters x-rays and dental records for full identification. Identifying Janet Lynn Carter as the victim was a relief to authorities, but now they faced a larger and more-serious problem.
What happened to Janet's 3-year-old daughter, Christina Lynn Carter?
Wallace Estill, an agent with the F.B.I., was quoted by news sources saying,
"we believe [Janet] was alive and in the park during the early morning hours of Oct. 7th, but sometime during those early hours of that Sunday morning she was murdered."
The first task the authorities needed to complete was to interview the married man who Janet was romantically involved with. A user by the name of MartiLee on a popular true crime forum, Websleuths, who claims to the Christy's cousin (father's side) states that Janet's family all believe the married man killed her.
The reasoning that they didn't investigate her disappearance sooner, according to MartiLee, was, "lots of details I can't go into, but at the time we all assumed they [were in hiding and went]
to the Smokies."
Police positively placed the married man in the same general area as Janet when she was murdered, but could never bring charges against him His wife, who was also with him in the Great Smoky Mountains, provided an alibi for her husband.
Was the wife simply covering up for the cheating husband?
Perhaps she was also involved in Janet's murder?
The Kingsport Times newspaper put it perfectly when they asked, "Was the child murdered also? Or had the mother left the blue-eyed and lively little blonde with someone for safekeeping?"
It is possible that she is still alive today, even though she wouldn't know her true identity.
Christina Lynn Carter would be 51-years-old today in 2021. Look closely at the age progressed photo. Does it resemble you, reader?