Leads gone cold in Zamora disappearance investigation


Cristian Antonio Zamora has not been seen since Dec. 31, according to Champaign Police Department Detective Sergeant Dennis Baltzell.

By Charlotte Collins

There has been no further evidence in for the search for former University student Cristian Antonio Zamora, who has not been seen since Dec. 31, according to Champaign Police Department Detective Sergeant Dennis Baltzell.

Zamora, who graduated from the University in May 2014, was last seen on surveillance footage, Baltzell said.

However, the footage does no provide any information to police on where Zamora was that night.

Baltzell said Detective Patrick Funkhouser is working on subpoenaing more footage from local businesses to help find Zamora on tape. Zamora was last seen in the 500 block of West University Avenue, north of the Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Dunkin’ Donuts, around 8:05 p.m.

His cell phone was picked up by a cell phone tower in Urbana, but has not been traceable since.

The police department has conducted several searches in surrounding areas, including Crystal Lake Park, Busey Woods, the County Fairgrounds and a saline branch drainage ditch, but has not been able to obtain any new information on Zamora, Baltzell said.

“However, (Crystal Lake is) frozen over right now, so we hope to, once it thaws, put in a boat that has side-scanning sonar and take a look at the lake again once the weather improves,” he said. “Talking to members of the search-and-rescue team that are trained in those types of searches, a lot of times people are found around bodies of water.”

Zamora’s mother, Sandra Carrion, said her son had big plans for his life after graduation. She can not imagine any reason why her son would leave on his own accord and not tell anyone.

“He just disappeared,” Carrion said. “He just said he was going to get something to eat, he started walking, he went to get his food and never came back. (His friends) were expecting him back, and he never showed up.”

Zamora had plans to write a book and was working with one of his former economics professors at the University, Carrion said.

She said Zamora was also waiting to hear back from a job opportunity in Chicago, his hometown. She believed her son had plans for coming back home to visit around the New Year, as well.

Law enforcement and Zamora’s family are both urging anyone with information to come forward with whatever details they may have.

“Every little piece of information helps us in putting his timeline together and determining where he was last, or who may have talked to him and what his mental state was at the time, or what his intentions were,” Baltzell said.

Carrion has enlisted the help of LostnMissing, an organization that aims to help raise awareness to find missing persons. The organization also worked on raising awareness for the disappearance of University student Vicente Mundo, whose body was recovered by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office last week.

Carrion said the family is offering a $5,000 reward for Zamora’s return.

“He’s a great person, and I need him back. I need him back,” Carrion said. “He’s got a future planned, and I need him to go through it.”

Charlotte can be reached at [email protected]