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‘Someone knows something’

Farnhamville man has been missing for a year

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Michelle Balke, of Rockwell City, holds a photo of her son, Christian Balke-Thompson, and his sons, Braxton and James. Balke reported her son missing on May 3, 2020, and he still hasn't been found.

FARNHAMVILLE — It’s been an entire year since Michelle Balke has heard her oldest son’s voice, but every day still feels like that first day she reported him missing to the Rockwell City Police Department.

Christian Daniel Balke-Thompson, of Farnhamville, now 27, is a white male. He stands 6 feet, 1 inch tall, 180 pounds, with light brown hair, hazel eyes and wears eyeglasses. Balke-Thompson has several tattoos, including bats on his right arm, a bullet on the side of his neck and his mother’s name on his left forearm. He also goes by “B-T.”

The last time Balke saw her oldest son was on April 29, 2020, at Balke-Thompson’s son’s birthday party.

“He wanted to talk to me, we didn’t get to talk that night,” Balke told The Messenger shortly after her son first went missing. “Then on Saturday, when I tried to call and text him, his phone was off, so I just thought it was off or dead and didn’t think much of it.”

Then her son’s silence started to eat at her and she decided to report him missing. A year later, she’s still searching for answers.

“I feel like I’m in the same spot I was the day I reported him missing,” Balke said. “It just feels like nothing has happened.”

For months, she tried to act as a private investigator, searching for any information about her son.

“I think I’ve slammed and picked and poked and prodded at every person I could possibly,” Balke said.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is the lead investigator in Balke-Thompson’s case. In May 2020, DCI Special Agent Ray Fiedler said not much is known about what led to the man’s disappearance, including if he left on his own or if foul play was involved.

Fiedler said the DCI can’t give out much information on whether Balke-Thompson is believed to have any personal items or a vehicle with him, as it could hinder the investigation.

“There are certain things that we’re looking at, but I don’t want to give that out because only certain people would know that,” he said.

The Messenger reached out to the DCI for any updates on the Balke-Thompson case but was told there has been no new information.

Balke said the DCI has been keeping in touch with the family over the past year, but they haven’t received any new information either.

Balke-Thompson leaves behind two young sons, 5-year-old James and 4-year-old Braxton. It’s been hard trying to explain “missing” to the boys, Balke said. It’s a concept hard for children to grasp as they ask for their father.

“We told the boys that he was gone because we had no other choice,” Balke said. “We told them that he was in heaven.”

She said the family makes sure to talk about Balke-Thompson frequently and have the boys talk about their memories with their father so they can keep his memory close.

Balke also admitted that she doesn’t think it’s likely that her son is still alive.

“There’s no way he’d be away that long without–he just couldn’t,” she said. “He was such a mama’s boy.”

She said there’s no way he would have gone through two Mother’s Day holidays without calling her.

Balke remembers her son as someone with a great sense of humor, helpful, generous and stubborn.

“He’d give you his pair of shoes and walk off,” she said.

Balke-Thompson also liked to skateboard and spend time with his sons.

“James, the oldest, is a carbon copy of Christian,” Balke said with a teary smile.

With more than a year since she’s seen her oldest son, Balke just wants answers.

“That’s all I want to know, what happened, because then he’s not missing, he’s not missing,” she said. “Somebody knows something.”

She said Balke-Thompson had a lot of friends and knew a lot of people and she’s sure that someone is – knowingly or unknowingly – holding vital information back.

“I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t step forward,” she said. “I just want to know what happened, even if he’s gone, so we can all let it go.”

Balke doesn’t have any ideas or theories about what might have led to her son’s disappearance.

“Maybe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, something stupid like that,” she said. “He just wouldn’t leave the boys and everything else.”

Anyone with information about Balke-Thompson’s whereabouts are encouraged to call the Missing Person Information Clearinghouse of the Iowa DCI at 1-800-346-5507.

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