Geno Ranelli and Christopher Freeman

This is an odd and under the radar case that I found a while ago on the Charley Project. The two men owned a shop together on the East Side of St. Paul that sold redwood products, which they had closed earlier in 1977.

In June 1975, Freeman, originally from Hastings, MN, and a friend moved to Arizona and worked while waiting to enter Bell and Howell School (a manufacturer of motion picture projectors that apparently held courses). Before he started school, Freeman met Ranelli.

Ranelli, however, was a St. Paul native and graduated from Johnson High School in 1969. According to his yearbook, he planned to attend Bemidji State University. I can’t find confirmation that he actually did. He also had a twin brother.

Freeman ended up not going to school and returned to Minnesota with Ranelli to start a the redwood business.

On May 8, 1977, Freeman made a phone call to his parents to wish his mother a Happy Mother’s Day and let her know that he would not make that day’s family celebration. His family didn’t hear from him again.

Freeman, 20, was last heard from family on May 8, 1977, presumably from St. Paul, Minnesota. His family was unsure if he was living in St. Paul or Red Wing. Just twelve days later, Ranelli, 26, also went missing on May 20, 1977 from St. Paul.

When he disappeared, Freeman left behind some belongings in storage, including a car, some collectible coins and some of the items from his shop.

The only possible information about their disappearances comes from Ranelli’s sister. According to her, Freeman and Ranelli left for Philadelphia on May 20, 1977. There was also information that they may have ultimately been headed for Miami.


One of the  theories that I have read about online (and trust me, there is not much information on Freeman and Ranelli) is that they were a secret couple, and they ran off together.

Especially with Freeman’s belongings in storage and the call to his family, it’s hard not to feel that this is a case of voluntary missing persons. However, there are some odd things about the case that I would like to point out.

Why didn’t Freeman tell his parents he was moving? It was apparently known that he had lived in Arizona, why not tell them he was planning to live somewhere else? He seemed semi-estranged from them, but he did occasionally have contact.

Another issue with this theory: This is 2017, and the country has come a long way since 1977. Wouldn’t they feel free to come out now? And why couldn’t they let police know that they are fine, but not to give out their information? (Such as Tim Carney)

And why did Freeman leave items in storage if he wasn’t planning to come back or have them shipped?

I am leaning towards the theory they were met with foul play: one of them, both of them, either in St. Paul or on their way to Philadelphia.


One of the biggest pieces of information missing is their money– did they close bank accounts? Stop using them? Did they leave untouched money anywhere? If they both closed their bank accounts before they disappeared, this would be a pretty good indicator that they are voluntarily missing.

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