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‘Somebody out there knows something’: 20 years since Zachary Bernhardt’s disappearance in Clearwater

Pinellas County

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s been two decades since a Clearwater boy vanished from his home with no trace.

Police and family members still want answers, where is Zachary Bernhardt?

At 8 years old, he vanished from his apartment then-called Savannah Trace, now called The Standard Apartment Homes in Clearwater.

“Kids disappear, kids runaway, but kids don’t just disappear at 4:47 a.m. when their mom or parent is out doing something else. This case is pretty….deep,” said Lieutenant Michael Walek with the Clearwater Police Department.

Police say Zachary disappeared from his apartment in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2000.

They said at the time Zach’s mother, Leah, told police she went out for a 15-minute walk around 4 a.m. and when she returned, Zach was gone from his bed without a trace.

Police say Leah has seldom made a public statement about the case in the 20 years since Zach vanished.

“There is some family contact, not as much as we would hope for but there is some family contact out there. We do actively investigate every tip or lead that comes in,” Walek said.

“Somebody out there knows something, someone out there has guilt. Someone out there knows something that happened that night, this is an unsolved missing person case, but out there somebody knows,” Walek said.

The then-8-year-old third-grader that vanished would now be 28-years-old. Police have released age progression photos over the years in hopes of showing what Zachary might look like.

Clearwater police say over the past two decades they have amassed more than 30 volumes of leads, still no answer.

Even though 20 years have passed, police believe it’s not too late to solve this mystery.

“If anyone out there knows anything, I ask for closure for the family, closure for everybody out there. Somebody out there knows something, somebody out there is guilty,” Walek said.

Police said if you know where Zachery might be or have any information pertaining to the investigation, you can call 911, or 411, and even remain anonymous.

Police say one right lead can help them solve this 20-year-old case.


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