Episode 045 - The Disappearance of Zachary Bernhardt
For the One Year Anniversary Episode of Trace Evidence: On September 10th, 2000, Leah Hackett put her eight year old son, Zachary Bernhardt, to sleep in her bed at 11pm. Over the course of the next five hours, she watched television, chatted online and went for a walk and swim. After taking a shower, she discovered that Zachary was no longer in her bed, and he was missing. A frantic 911 call led to the Clearwater Police Department responding with multiple units and within hours a massive grid search was being executed, but Zachary was nowhere to be found.
Over the years, Leah has become the subject of a great deal of speculation. A local pedophile would take credit for the crime, and then later deny it, and a yet unidentified man would abduct another child from the same apartment complex. A year after Zachary's disappearance, a photo was discovered near Boulder, Colorado, some 1800 miles away, depicting a young, blond haired boy bound at his wrists and ankles with duct tape. The similarity to Zachary was difficult to dismiss, though ultimately this photo cannot be verified.
What happened to Zachary Bernhardt? Did he wander out of the apartment that night, looking for his mother, and become lost? Was he abducted by a stranger, or possibly someone he knew and trusted? Or does his mother, Leah, know exactly what happened to her son? Join host Steven Pacheco as he examines this tragic and heartbreaking case.