Name: Zachary Bernhardt
Missing age: 8 years old
Last seen: September 11, 2000
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Zachary Bernhardt is a caucasian male with blonde hair and blue eyes, he is 4’6 tall and weighs 60lbs.
Zachary has a scar under his chin, a scar between his eyes on the bridge of his nose and on the right side of his top lip.
Zachary Bernhardt lived with his mother Leah Hackett on the 2600 block of Drew Street in Clearwater, Florida. Leah worked night shifts and a neighbour would usually watch Zachary overnight but on Sunday 10th September 2000, she had the night off.
Due to her work schedule, Leah was wide awake most of that night. At some point, she decided to go out to the pool area for a swim but before heading out she checks on Zachary who is fast asleep in her bed.
Leah told police she left the apartment unlocked as she went out for a swim around 4 AM. She told authorities she only swam from one end of the pool to the other, and she didn’t have anything with her such as a towel, bathing suit, she swam in what she was wearing. She then exits the pool and goes back upstairs into her home.
She then had a warm shower, as inside the home was cold. At 4:30 AM on September 11th, 2000, Leah walks out of the shower and Zachary is gone. Leah immediately calls 911 to report her son missing.
An extensive search and investigation immediately begin, however, the area around Zachary’s home is full of woods, wetlands and waterways. However, the searches found no sign of Zachary Bernhardt.
14 months after Zachary Bernhardt’s disappearance, on New Years Eve 2001, in the same apartment complex, three young boys are at the playground and a truck pulled up. A man came out of the truck and offered the boys ice cream. One of the boys, a 5-year-old approached the man and was kidnapped. 10 hours later, he was found alive in a dumpster, 80 miles away.
In 2001, an informant gave police a tip about a suspect named Kevin Jalbert.
Kevin had apparently been bragging about killing a boy in Clearwater and getting away with it. Kevin led an undercover officer to Zachary’s apartment complex, telling the officer he had kidnapped a boy from there. But the undercover officer says he pointed at the wrong apartment and did not describe Zachary’s clothes correctly.
Kevin was taken into questioning but denied abducting Zachary. Police found a receipt indicating that he had visited a landfill two weeks after Zachary Bernhardt’s disappearance. Searches could not find any traces of Zachary at the landfill. DNA samples from Kevin Jalbert were taken but didn’t match any of the evidence from Zachary’s case.
Kevin Jalbert was charged and sentenced to 40 years in prison for child pornography found on his computer.
If you have any information on the disappearance of Zachary Bernhardt please contact the Clearwater Police Department at 727-562-4422 or text 847411 (TIP411) to remain anonymous.
Resources and Further Information
Investigation Discovery: Disappeared – Season 8 Episode 8 “About a Boy”