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Latest Missing Person Video for zachary-michael-cole-bernhardt
Latest Missing Person Photos for
Missing Zachary Michael-Cole Bernhardt
Zachary, circa 2000; Age progression forensics photo to age 23 (circa 2014)
Missing Since 09/11/2000
Classification Endangered Missing
Date of Birth Used 12/18/1991 (29)
Age 8 years old
Height and Weight 4'6, 60 pounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description Boxer shorts.
Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Blond hair, blue eyes. Zachary has scars under his chin, between on his eyes on the bridge of his nose, and on the right side of his upper lip. His nickname is Zach (it may be spelled "Zack"). Some agencies may refer to him as "Zachary Michael Bernhardt."
Details of Disappearance Zachary was living with his mother, Leah Hackett, in the 2600 block of Drew Street in Clearwater, Florida at the time of his disappearance. Hackett told authorities she had insomnia during the early morning hours of September 11, 2000. She stated that she left the apartment she shared with her son in Clearwater, Florida at approximately 2:00 a.m. and took a short swim and a walk around the area.
Zachary was asleep when she left. Hackett said that he had disappeared from their residence by the time she returned home. He has never been seen again. Accounts as to when Hackett discovered him missing differ; some state that she was out of their apartment only fifteen minutes, others that she was gone as long as two hours.
Early on in the investigation, authorities stated they thought Hackett knew more about her son's disappearance than she had disclosed. She frequently changed residences and was facing eviction from her apartment at the time of Zachary's disappearance. Hackett maintained her innocence in her son's case. She now lives in Hawaii and has changed her last name to Hanson. Zachary's father was never involved in his life and has not been called a suspect in his disappearance.
An extensive search of the area produced no evidence as to Zachary's whereabouts. Authorities believe he disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Kevin Jalbert, who resides near Zachary's home, told an acquaintance that he was a child murderer and was prepared to find another victim in early 2001.
Jalbert claims he has abducted and raped 1,000 children and killed five. His sister said he is a chronic liar and exaggerates to receive attention. He led the undercover police officer to Zachary's apartment building and said he had kidnapped a child from there, but he pointed out the wrong apartment and also described Zachary's clothing incorrectly. DNA samples from Jalbert also did not match available evidence in Zachary's case. Jalbert denied having abducted the boy, but then he failed a polygraph about his possible involvement in the case.
Investigators looked into the possibility that the 2002 kidnapping and the Bernhardt case were connected, but they found no evidence to support this. The 2002 kidnapping remains unsolved.
Zachary is described as an intelligent and cheerful child who excelled in school, where he was a third-grader. His disappearance remains unsolved.
Investigating Agency / Department