17 year old Kristina Branum and 21 year old Christopher Mittendorf.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Hardin County Couple Still Missing After Nearly A Year

   Parents of a young Hardin County couple who went missing in Lawrence County nearly a year ago are again issuing a plea for information.

   “We just want to know if they’re dead or alive,” said the mother of 21-year-old Christopher Mittendorf  in August of Last year. Mittendorf, along with his girlfriend, seventeen-year-old Kristina Branum, has been missing since mid-July.

   Local authorities joined the search for the Hardin County couple on Tuesday, August 1, after their vehicle was found abandoned near a Lawrence County church building. The case was then picked up by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

   Officials with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department reported at that time that deputies had received a call to check the vehicle, that had apparently been abandoned off Granddaddy Road, near O.K. Baptist Church, some 40 to 50 miles from their homes.

   Inside the green Geo Prizm, which bore Hardin County license plates, deputies reported finding a cellular telephone. When they placed a call from the phone, deputies indicate they were connected to Branum’s grandfather.

   The couple had gone missing five days before, on Thursday, July 27. Authorities indicate that the couple’s disappearance occurred in the wake of a crime in Hardin County. They are continuing efforts to determine whether the two events are connected.

   Mittendorf’s mother, Cheryl Flatt, has since visited the offices of the Lawrence County Advocate in the hopes of gleaning any shred of information. “We just want to know their whereabouts,” Flatt explained. Since their disappearance, Flatt said, “We haven’t heard or seen anything of them.” This has left the families of both Mittendorf and Branum in turmoil.

   “They’re not in no trouble,” Flatt stated in August, “(Kristina) is underage, and (Christopher) is not in any trouble whatsoever. We just want them to be found – we just want to know that they’re all right.”

   Authorities are uncertain whether any harm may have come to the young couple. They feel that the pair may be in hiding, fearing they may face some type of legal repercussions.

   Flatt pointed out that when the couple’s car was discovered in Lawrence County, a witness reported seeing the duo exit the car, then get into a white car and leave the area. She implores anyone who might have information regarding Branum and Mittendorf’s well being or whereabouts to contact authorities as quickly as possible.

   Anyone with such information should contact Mike Fielder at 731-412-7909, Terry Dicus at 731-632-0296, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Department at 731-925-3377, or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.

   The parents of the missing couple issue the following message to their children. “Please let us help you. We will keep you safe and help you get out of whatever made you become missing. We love you and miss you very much. We will never stop looking or praying for your return. All it takes is one phone call!”

   William and Teresa Branum may be contacted at 731-926-1215. You may contact Dennis and Cheryl Flatt at 731-925-9109 or 731-412-7876.