Opinion Editorial By: Donna Thomas, Author/Writer of True crime!
Follow Donna on twitter @msdonnathomas
On November 20, 1987 one Susan Gammill Zaharias, 23 years old and unemployed, packed up her two young children, got in her car, drove off, never to be heard from again. That was the allegation made by Susan’s husband, and the father of those children, Lisa 15 months and Christopher Zaharias,3. The father Louis Zaharias now 60, was 33 in 1987. Zaharias claimed at the time that Susan his wife of 6 years,was a drug addict, and she owed a small fortune to various drug dealers and others. When this case started to unfold in 1987 in Orange County, CA, a full fledged internet was several years away still.
Mr. Zaharias claims today that he is grief stricken at not being able to have any contact with his two children. Zaharias asserts that Susan along with her family the Gammill’s helped her abduct the couple’s children. He said he has spent a fortune looking for his children over the years. There is a Facebook page, ‘Help Find The Zaharias Children’, where there are many pictures of the children and their mother posted. There are age progression photos as well, telling viewers what the children may look like now. The page claims in the ‘About’ section that all of her family went into hiding, because Susan illegally took the children and there are warrants out for her arrest in Orange County. When this case was brought to my attention by an intern of mine, I never heard of any of these people. Granted this was 27 years ago in California. So I thought back to where I was in 1987. I was in Colorado, but I have been back and forth between Colorado and California since 1988, and I never heard of this case. This is what I do, and I never heard of the case, so that told me that the case has had no national exposure. So I felt it needed national exposure, how awful for a father to be unlawfully separated from his own children for almost three decades.
I contacted the page several times asking for an interview with Louis Zaharias. I got put off, a lot of “we have to ask Louis”, I believe it is Louis himself who runs the page, but he pretends that it’s a team of volunteers. The final message I received from ‘the page’ was “back off”. Louis is sick, Louis is going to school full time, Louis is going to work. I offered the option of a phone interview. Absolutely not I was told, he has no time for a phone interview. He is “going to school from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I found out where he is working, at a law firm in Huntington Beach, CA. I talked to him on the morning of January 5th at 9 a.m. at his job, where he is a senior law clerk. He said “I can’t talk at work about this, I just got back to work after being off for a year. This is personal, I can’t talk at work, I can call you later.” I informed him that someone from the page said they asked him for an interview and he absolutely will not do an interview. He said ” I know nothing about that, I am very willing to do an interview, I will call you back tonight after I get home from work.”
Shortly after that call ended, a post on the ‘Help Find the Zaharias Children’ page appeared, this was posted 6 minutes after I spoke with Louis Zaharias.
We have been contacted by a journalist and her researcher. Their offer to do a piece on our case was discussed at length and we declined the offer as we felt this outlet was not one we could work with as they did not come across as sympathetic to our cause and made some fairly negative comments about the children’s father on our main page. We felt that their article would do our cause more harm than good. We politely asked them not to go ahead with the article and received a hostile response back saying they planned to go ahead anyway as they believe there is ‘freedom in the press’ and they had a right to do any story they like
We have had no alternative but to block them from the page as we have learned that despite our request they have tried to contact the children’s father and by doing this showed disrespect for our campaign. ”
Of course I called the father, it’s his children that he clams are missing. He was the last one that saw them alive. Why is he so afraid to talk? What could possibly be said about him that is negative, if what he says happened really happened? This was a good thing that Louis is running scared and posted that, he posted it, but he pretends that someone else is posting it. He couldn’t have told someone that quickly that I called him, if it were someone else doing the posting, so it was him. He filed for a divorce 3 days after he claims that his wife left him. He claims that the day before she left, they got into a huge fight, and because of the fight she left. I have been trying to locate Susan’s family, Louis claims that they are all using other names and went underground, that is simply preposterous. There are traces of them all over the place, Susan’s parents Jay and Norma Jean Gammill, owned an oil company many years after “the abduction”. in Oklahoma, odd? Making contact with them thus far has been unsuccessful. Why at this point I do not know!
Louis Zaharias has done no media at all before cameras still or moving in 27 years. He did a few interviews right when he claims she disappeared, but none recently or 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 26 years ago. Who knows how many other people have tried to interview him? Were told no and just moved on?? This is starting to remind me of another case I was involved with. Scott Peterson did some media right when Laci Peterson disappeared on December 24th, 2002, but as soon as he felt the tides turning on him he stopped cold. Louis moved to Arizona shortly after this incident, he became a teacher in the Phoenix area, he already had a law degree that he earned in 1981, Louis knows the law. Other missing person advocates that have seen this case or are now looking at it, feel that it’s a suspicious case. There is some mention on the Zaharias page, that Louis has been thoroughly checked out in order to be a teacher, he had a clearance by the FBI. Well Scott Peterson didn’t even have a parking ticket, when he strangled his very pregnant wife Laci with his bare hands. He “didn’t want to be in it anymore, so he killed her.” He said to me, in a cell in San Quentin on Death Row, while he was eating a turkey sandwich mind you. Bill Cosby currently has no criminal record either, neither did Ted Bundy, or the BTK killer or countless others.
I only have a few questions to ask him; What was the fight about? There were custody issues, they were both living in the home, why is that? How come you never offered a reward for information leading to a reunion? What are some of the names of the private investigators you hired to help find your family as you assert? You got a law degree in 1981, but never worked in the legal field until 2010, why? There are no warrants open for your now ex- wife’s arrest, can you explain that? Isn’t it true Louis that there is not a statute of limitations on murder? So it would be prudent for people to believe that she’s alive and the children are alive right, and you’re naturally looking for them? Life insurance was there any?
There are 3 possible scenarios in this case. The first one being the version that Louis puts out. That Susan Gammill Zaharias, was a drug addict, a horrible despicable person, who only cared about herself, took the two children on a dime and left 27 years ago, took them away, they probably don’t know their real names, and have been “kept” from their father, and they haven’t been seen or heard from ever since. Louis was a great husband and wonderful father who did nothing wrong. I don’t know who else has asked him for an interview, but if this scenario is the real one, Louis and I would be speaking about it right now. He’s never called me back all night, I’ve been sitting all night waiting for Louis to call, he didn’t, imagine that? Like Ed Smart or Mark Klass and many others spoke out non stop, Louis would also be speaking not hiding. Klass and Smart and the others that can’t speak out enough are 100% innocent. I do not believe this version of events.
The second scenario is that Louis was sexually and or physically abusing one, two or all three of them, and Susan went into hiding to get herself and her children away from the abuse. There is a statute of limitations on that type of crime, it’s been 27 years, Louis at this point would not be facing any criminal charges now in 2015 if this were the real version. He would have quietly went away, he wouldn’t be hiding behind
Facebook pages, putting up age progression photos, he wouldn’t want them found if he was sexually abusing them prior to them leaving, he would just be quiet, not have pages up. If they are alive, he can never be brought up on charges if they are now alive. I do not believe this is the scenario either.
The third one is, Louis and Susan got into a fight, and he snapped and killed her, and killed the children. In this scenario there may or may not be others that were harmed as well. There is no statute of limitation on murder, he would be arrested and prosecuted if it is believed that they are dead. He is putting up age progression photos on Facebook and some other missing person sites. Well if they are dead, no one will be seeing them walking around. No one has seen them, not in 27 years, his Facebook pages has been shared thousands of times. Because in my opinion they are not alive and haven’t been for almost 30 years. Louis wants people to believe he still desperately wants to find his children, people must think he’s the victim here. Louis knows all of this, he knows the law, and he is very savvy that way. Ted Bundy knew the law too, he was in law school when he was arrested.
This is an open invitation to anyone in the Gammill family to just verify that Susan and the children are alive or were alive well after Louis claims he last saw them. It’s also an invitation for Louis Zaharias to sit down in person, SKYPE, or have a phone interview with me regarding the whereabouts of his now adult children. I can be contacted via twitter @msdonnathomas, Louis Zaharias has my number……story developing……….