The Arizona desert is a place notorious for finding bodies that are never meant to be found. With some of the remotest areas in the south, the desert contains secrets that were never meant to be uncovered by anyone, especially police.
When a young woman suddenly went missing without a trace, her boyfriend took to local TV networks and social media with heartfelt pleas for her safe return. But he may have been harboring a secret behind his tearful demeanor…
Moving to Phoenix
The relationship between Kiera Bergman and Jon Christopher Clark was a serious one by all accounts. When he moved all the way from San Diego to Phoenix to live with his girlfriend, she was as thrilled at the prospect as he was. He had made some sacrifices to move, but he felt they were worth it to be close to the girl he loved. Finding a job was going to be difficult, but that didn’t bother him at all.
Clark had moved into Bergman’s place, but before long the couple started arguing about the one thing that most couples argue about: money. Instead of breaking up, the couple decided that Clark would move into his own place nearby. They both hoped that this would stop the constant arguing and bickering. He was looking for work, or so he claimed, but money was tight.
According to Clark, on August 4, he and Bergman had another argument at his apartment. It was on that day that the teen went missing without a trace, and Clark was the last person to see her. That fact raised major concerns among law enforcement who scrambled to find the missing girl as quickly as possible. He claimed she had left his apartment abruptly and that he had no idea where she had gone.
Soon after her disappearance, Clark spoke to reporters. “When she left there was no immediate concern because we have had arguments in the past where either me or her have left for an hour or a couple at a time to go clear our head,” he said, according to Huffington Post. “I didn’t really find it unusual until she wasn’t in contact with me.”
Bergman’s folks had always had their doubts about Clark since the couple started dating. They saw that he could be volatile and they knew all about the ongoing arguments between him and their daughter. Nevertheless, the family reserved judgment, not wanting to implicate an innocent man as they helped local police locate Bergman.
When the police began suspecting that Clark may have something to do with the disappearance of the girl, her father Chris spoke to Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV. “We believed from the beginning he was involved, but without any information, we didn’t want to put him out there as a bad person without knowing some facts,” he said.
Clark spoke on a local television network called KSAZ a few days after his girlfriend went missing, pleading with her to return home. “Kiera, if you can hear me, please come back,” he said, holding back tears, or so it seemed. He also took responsibility publicly for being out of work. But there was still no sign of the missing teen.
In the same television plea, Clark said “I’m sorry. I know that me not having a job was a really big issue. I did get a job; I start on Monday,” he said. “Just come back. I’m not going to ask any questions. I’m not going to make assumptions. Just please come back, Kiera.” Clark may have assumed the statement would put him beyond the police investigation into her disappearance, but it didn’t.
Nothing but Honest
Clark also took to social media, begging Bergman to return and claiming that he loved her. “I love Kiera with all my heart and would never do anything negative to her or put her in harm’s way,” he wrote. “… I have been nothing but open and honest with investigators and Kiera’s family.”
A whole month after she disappeared into thin air, Bergman’s body was found on the side of a remote road in the Arizona desert. Nevertheless, it was unclear to investigators how long she’d been there or who had dumped her body. All fingers seemed to point in Clark’s direction, but the police needed evidence.
Clark became implicated in the murder after a police search of his car turned up forged documents and the personal information of several people. While these people were unrelated to Bergman’s case, it raised serious suspicions as to the type of person Clark was. Police charged him with aggravated identity theft and forgery, but more serious charges were also in the making.
Investigators wasted no time at all when they recommended that Clark be charged with first-degree murder, improper removal of body and evidence tampering in connection with Bergman’s murder. For Bergman’s folks it was at least some relief. Despite the lack of proof, the family was confident that Bergman’s killer would soon be brought to justice.
Bergman’s mother, Kiersten, also reached out to reporters. “In a way, I’m happy,” she told KNXV. “I pray that the situation opens up a lot of especially young women’s eyes to the dangers that are out there and that you think twice before you get involved with certain people.” But police had to prove that Clark was, in fact, the murderer. At that point, they had no real motive to go on.
For his part, Clark still denies he had anything to do with Bergman’s disappearance despite the serious charges about to be leveled against him. He was very convincing when he told reporters that he and Bergman “chilled” together on his birthday, which just happened to be the day that she went missing. He even spun a story which he thought would take detectives off the scent of their investigation.
“She’s trying to keep me in good spirits ’cause it’s my birthday, but I was kind of sad ’cause we weren’t really doing anything.” He alleged to KSAZ. “And then we just started getting into a little bickering and arguing, and then she got upset and then she left.”
Despite Clark’s claims of innocence, he was not invited to a candlelit vigil that was held over the weekend outside her Glendale apartment complex. Even though he told reporters at the time: “Since I am her boyfriend, and I was the last one to be with her … her mom mainly just really wants to blame me for everything.”
Taken for Questioning
Clark wrongly assumed that he’d done enough to prove his innocence. When he was surrounded by at least 20 officers in a parking lot near 27th Avenue and Thunderbird Road in Phoenix, he knew the game was up despite his claims of innocence. But investigators still needed to prove that he was the perpetrator of this heinous and pointless murder.
Not everyone involved in the case believes that Clark is guilty of the murder. Similarly, Clark swears blind that he loved his girlfriend and would never do anything to hurt her. “I understand everything that [Bergman’s family is] going through, that they want to find Kiera and find answers,” Clark said at the time according to the same report. “But my heart is in the same place that theirs is, and wishing and praying for Kiera to come home safe.”
At this stage, no one is sure what happened to Bergman, especially as Clark alleged that she was picked up by someone she met recently at the store where she worked. Some days before she disappeared, according to Clark, “She told me that she was picked up by someone, someone that she had met at the store a couple of days ago. This person is unknown. … nothing makes sense.”
Despite the mounting evidence, DNA samples have not yet been forthcoming meaning that investigators may not have the weight of evidence they need to convict Clark of murder. While Clark still denies any involvement in the murder of his girlfriend, the onus is now on the police to prove that he had a hand in the crime and prove that beyond a reasonable doubt in court. The case is ongoing.