New Leads Prove Useless as FBI Searches for Missing 16-Year-Old Karlie Gusé

Karlie Gusé was just a regular teen smoking weed with her friends. But later that fateful night, she seemed to vanish.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jul. 5 2024, Published 9:29 a.m. ET

Everyone can remember what it was like to be a teenager. Forced to study and follow the rules, many of us had an overwhelming urge to rebel against our parents, our teachers, and society in general.

Some of us just went to homecoming dances while others were invited to parentless hangouts where we had our first drinks, often lying to our parents about the details. Karlie Gusé was just a regular 16-year-old when she went missing after one of those hangouts.

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Karlie told her parents she was going to a football game at her high school when she instead went to a get-together with her boyfriend, where she allegedly smoked weed.

But after a night full of strange and inexplicable events, Karlie mysteriously went missing in the wee hours of the morning. So what happened to Karlie Gusé?

Karlie Lain Gusé at 16 years old
Source: FBI
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What happened to Karlie Gusé? She went missing on the morning of Oct. 13, 2018.

On the evening of Oct. 12, 2018, Karlie told her father and stepmother, Zachary and Melissa, that she’d be going to a football game at her high school in Bishop, Calif. Fox News reported that classmates described her as “sweet and quiet,” and that she was relatively well-liked by her peers.

So it’s no surprise that she’d have an in to the high school parties that would inspire her to lie to her parents.

But we all lied to our parents at that age, whether about where we were going, who we were with, or exactly what we’d be doing.

In fact, Karlie's jig was up when she had a bad reaction to some weed she smoked at the party. Leading up to the fateful night, friends said that Karlie had had a few adverse reactions to weed previously and that she was already starting to act paranoid, afraid that she was being “tracked” through her phone.

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When she once again felt paranoid, Karlie called her stepmother to come pick her up. However, she had already run off and Melissa found Karlie about a mile from the party. After getting her into the car, Karlie was still acting strangely, so Melissa brought her home to calm her down.

According to Melissa, she sat in Karlie's bedroom with her and accidentally fell asleep. When she awoke around 7 a.m., Karlie was gone.

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There are many theories about what exactly happened to Karlie Gusé, but she still hasn’t been found, dead or alive.

Many missing person cases can sadly turn into homicide investigations, but Karlie hasn’t been found dead or alive. After Karlie's parents searched for her for two hours, they called Karlie's birth mother and the FBI to continue the search.

A few eyewitnesses who knew Karlie said they saw her walking down a road that would take her to Highway 6. Cadaver dogs corroborated this, able to track her scent right up until Highway 6.

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Because of this, police ruled out any foul play possibilities by Zachary and Melissa, despite theories that they were involved. Karlie's mother, Lindsey, went on Dr. Phil, to allege that Karlie died of an overdose and that her father and stepmother covered it up.

This seems unlikely based on the cadaver dog and eyewitness evidence, in addition to polygraph tests that both Zachary and Melissa passed.

In 2023, however, there was a break in the case. Someone matching Karlie's description was seen in a small town called Tonopah in Nye County, about 100 miles from Karlie's home. The authorities even located a vehicle that may have driven Karlie from Highway 6 to Tonopah, but no futher details about the vehicle, the party, or DNA testing have been found.

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Many believe that Karlie lived in a loving home and simply suffered from drug-induced delusions. While that is rare with marijuana, it’s definitely possible for people with a potential undiagnosed mental illness. At 16 years old, Karlie's brain was still developing and she could be dealing with an underlying condition she didn’t yet know about.

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Others believe that the marijuana may have been laced with PCP or even meth, while some think she took LSD instead of weed. Alternatively, some think she didn’t have the best home life and that she wanted to escape.

Melissa’s appeal to Facebook Live coupled with a now-removed domestic violence charge against Zachary, along with the fact that they did not take her to the hospital, seem to point theories in this direction.

Regardless, there’s no way of knowing exactly what happened until she’s found. So if anyone has any tips, the FBI can be reached online at and by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI.

If you or someone you know needs help, use SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find support for mental health and substance use disorders in your area or call 1-800-662-4357 for 24-hour assistance.

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