A grand jury has indicted James Todd Kessler in connection with the disappearance of Claudine J. Gifford. According the Lancaster Sheriff's Office, Kessler is charged with murder and concealment with malicious intent of a dead human body.
Gifford went missing on the evening of July 6th, 2014 after spending a night out at Pelican's at the Point, a beachfront tiki bar in Windmill Point in White Stone, Virginia. Later that night, according to a witness, Gifford was carried out by Kessler. He was named a person of interest in her disappearance in August. Kessler is scheduled to be arraigned in Lancaster Circuit Court on Friday March 13th.
Officials are asking that anyone with information that could help find Gifford's body to please call Crime Solves at (804) 462-7463.
UPDATE (August 4th, 2014 6pm ET):
According to a release, James T. "Todd" Kessler, 53, is now considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Claudine J. Gifford. According to a witness, Kessler carried Gifford out of a bar they were at that night.
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They are not releasing information about the specifics of the investigation that led to this update.
According to Lt. E.T. Self, the lead investigator in the case, the Sheriff's office prior interest in the "four white males" who reportedly escorted her out of the bar was based on prior information obtained from Kessler.
ORIGINAL STORY (August 4th, 2014 12pm ET):
Three weeks ago, on the evening of July 6th, 43-year-old Claudine Jaquier Gifford went to Pelican’s at the Point beachfront tiki bar at Windmill Point in Lancaster County, VA. According to the bar manager, she had a “couple of drinks,” and watched a band play.
At the end of the night, according to a witness, she had to be carried out by her male companion, Todd Kessler. He was the last person to see her before she disappeared.
Gifford, who is 5' 4" tall and weighs about 112 lbs., has wavy sandy blond/brown hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a multicolored tank top, blue jeans and sandals.
In a release, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said that they are “interested in speaking with four white males reported to have assisted Claudine J. Gifford from the Tiki Bar at Windmill Point into a silver Nissan SUV” the evening she disappeared.
These 4 males are asked to contact Lt. E.T. Self or Inv. D.S. Hogge at the sheriff’s office, 804-462-5111.
According to the sheriff’s office, on July 24th, four volunteer search and rescue canine teams, a unit from the Virginia Department of Emergency Services, and two canine teams each from K-9 East and Richmond Search and Rescue searched the surrounding area. According the sheriff’s website, no new information was developed.
“It’s amazing to see so many volunteers who spend their time and their money to help someone else,” said Sheriff Crockett in a release on July 14th. “All of these people have my thanks for coming out to help. It was hot, tiring work, and not the first complaint from any one of them.”
On August 3rd, Gifford’s daughter Gabrielle organized a candlelight vigil. On a Facebook page created called BRING Claudine HOME, she said that she wished her “mom was here and could see how many people love her.” After the vigil, they thanked attendees.
The police are asking anyone with information about Gifford’s disappearance to contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Office or call Crime Solvers at 804-46CRIME.