Vanished from Oroville
Chico man missing two weeks
I t’s been more than two weeks since 24-year-old Chicoan Neal King vanished from an Oroville neighborhood, and details about the circumstances of his disappearance are being guarded tightly by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.
“This case is like a puzzle, and we’re not sure if we have the right pieces,” said Undersheriff Kory Honea. “So until we’re sure, we have to be very careful about what we reveal.”
However, new details revealed in a Tuesday (April 9) press release indicate that King was “meeting a person there for a business transaction involving marijuana.”
The BCSO press release goes on to say, “Based on information gathered, it is believed that foul play is involved with Neal King’s disappearance.” Investigators believe he was last seen alive in the Berry Creek area.
Loved ones last heard from him on March 26. According to the Chico Police Department media log, King phoned his live-in girlfriend that morning and told her that he was on his way to a “business meeting” at a friend’s house on the 4000 block of Hildale Avenue in Oroville. Honea would not disclose whose home it was, or who else may have been there.
An April 1 article in the Chico Enterprise-Record quoted King’s sister, Juliana King, of Texas, as saying, “it’s never happened that he’s not talked to his girlfriend every day, they live together… he’s never gone on vacation without her, or visited family without her. They do everything together,”
King’s girlfriend did not hear from him for three days after he went to Oroville, according to the incident report. She said she tried calling him, but to no avail, and eventually drove to the Oroville friend’s rural home, where she saw King’s black 2002 Ford Explorer parked.
However, the missing man’s friend reportedly told her that King had never arrived at the house. The girlfriend found that King had no activity on his cell phone or his credit cards during those three preceding days, and reported him missing to Chico police. His vehicle was still parked at the location when police arrived, and was eventually towed.
Since King’s car was found in Oroville, the case was transferred to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our detectives have been working very hard since we got the missing-person report,” Honea said. “We’ve interviewed several people and served search warrants on a few different places.”
He would not say who the subjects of the search warrants were or what investigators were looking for.
As to why King’s girlfriend waited three days to report him missing, Honea said he would not question the length of time or her motives. He also said he is sympathetic to the public’s frustration about the lack of information about the investigation.
“I understand the community’s need for details in such a sensitive case,” Honea said, “but we feel the best approach is to limit the information we disclose in order to best allow us to follow up on our leads.”
King’s brother has created a Facebook page for him called “Missing: NEAL KING.” Dozens of people have posted prayers and good wishes, and an entry made on April 9 says that several volunteers would soon be posting fliers in the area.
Honea said there are no suspects or persons of interest they can name at this point. “We do have a number of people we’ve interviewed who we hope will be able to shed light on what happened,” he said.
A new media release may be issued in the next few days based on a number of leads they are following up on, Honea said.
King is 5-foot-11 and weighs about 120 pounds. He has short, red hair and was last seen wearing a light-green, long-sleeved T-shirt, jeans and hiking boots. A picture of him wearing these clothes is posted on the Facebook page. Information has also been posted at the nonprofit missing-person website Cort Jones Project at www.cortjones.org.
“Obviously the fact that King didn’t return from his business trip causes a great deal of concern,” Honea said.