It has been nearly a year since Sultan resident Christian Fafnis-Horton was gunned down while vacationing in California.
His family and his fiancée long to see his killers brought to justice, but so far, no arrests have been made.
Fafnis-Horton was visiting friends from Sultan who were living in Orangevale, Calif. at the Hazel Wood apartments when the incident occurred on Aug. 24, 2013. It is believed that an earlier altercation at the swimming pool between Fafnis-Horton’s friend and two unidentified individuals sparked the retaliatory gunfire. After the fight at the pool, the two individuals left the apartment complex briefly only to return at approximately 12:45 a.m. wearing dark clothing and carrying a weapon.
Fafnis-Horton was on the balcony outside of the apartment, texting his fiancée, Brittney Nicholas, when the men approached. As they moved toward him, one of them fired a gun, hitting Fafnis-Horton in the upper body. Fafnis-Horton’s friend, who had come outside to see what was happening, was superficially wounded by the same bullet.
Paramedics pronounced Fafnis-Horton dead at the scene.
“It has been a year since Christian was taken from us, yet it feels like he is going to come home any minute,” said Nicholas. “Christian was and always will be my best friend as well as my soul mate. The day he was taken was the day all of my dreams and future were taken.”
Exact details of the incident are murky and the suspects have never been apprehended.
“I think about him every day and pray that whoever did this to him will be caught,” continued Nicholas. “The hole in my heart will never be filled.”
Fafnis-Horton’s mom, Diana Horton, and his 18-year-old sister, Shaelynn, still find it difficult to believe that he is never coming back.
“My brother had a great spirit and the fact that this happened to him still devastates me,” said Shaelynn. “A year has gone by and it still feels like it all happened just yesterday. He deserves justice, and his family and friends deserve answers and peace.”
Fafnis-Horton originally traveled to California in hopes of hiking back on the Pacific Crest Trail, but his plans didn’t work out and he decided he wanted to return home to his fiancée. His grandmother had just purchased him a train ticket and he was scheduled to leave for Seattle on the very morning of the incident.
He was known by friends and family for his unwavering zest for life. An outdoorsman by nature, Fafnis-Horton could often be found catching critters like lizards, snakes and salmon, often with his bare hands. Known for being adventurous and kind, Fafnis-Horton was extremely close with his family. His sister considered him her best friend.
So did his mom.
“Christian was my best friend, too,” said Diana. “I was a single mom a lot of my life. It was just me and the kids. That’s just how it was and I liked it like that.”
Known for being an outgoing young man, Fafnis-Horton quickly made friends wherever he went. Diana wishes that whoever killed her son would have paused. Even just for a split second.
“If they would have just taken a second and talked to Christian, they probably would have just sat there and drank a beer,” said Diana.
Diana’s close friend, Summer Kern, described Fafnis-Horton as a one-of-a-kind individual, sharing that the young man was so charismatic that people were instantly drawn in by his dynamic personality.
“He was just so positive and his outlook on life was just phenomenal,” said Kern. “He was such a fantastic person.”
Diana had to leave both her job and the Sky Valley area after her son’s death. A long-term employee at the Monroe Correctional Complex, she found that she could no longer reconcile her work duties, which included facilitating the release of maximum security offenders. She left the Sky Valley area because everywhere she went, she would see things that reminded her of her son.
No amount of time has made it any easier for Diana to accept that he is gone. On March 4 of this year, Fafnis-Horton would have been 21 years old.
“It’s not okay; it’ll never be okay,” said Diana. “This year sucked actually. Every day.”
“I can’t not think about him,” she continued.
She wants to know what her son’s last few moments were like, even though the knowledge will be painful. To Diana, not knowing exactly what happened to her son is infinitely worse. She wishes that her son’s friend, who was there in those final moments, would be a bit more forthcoming with information.
“He was the last one to see my son breathing,” said Diana. “It’s the details… Was he scared, was he crying, was he fighting for his life? I don’t know any of that.”
Diana and Shaelynn want to keep the conversation about Fafnis-Horton alive, in hopes of generating additional information that they weren’t able to obtain at the time of his death. They are hoping that the passage of time will have at least served to loosen the lips of anyone who might have information about the identity of the killers.
They are also hoping to raise funds via a Go Fund Me page, created by Nicholas, so that they can offer a reward for information leading to an arrest, or possibly even hire a private investigator.
“I know if we come together and put in the effort, we can make a positive difference,” said Shaelynn. “One that’s worth working for. Let’s come together to show the world that these things aren’t okay and the way we can do that is by helping my brother Christian get justice.”
To donate to the “Justice for Christian Fafnis” fund, please visit: http://www.gofundme.com/cfzk9k. Anybody wishing to pass information on to Diana Horton privately may do so on her Facebook account here: https://www.facebook.com/diana.horton.188?fref=ts.
There is also a “Christian Fafnis Remembrance Page” made by his sister Shaelynn which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Fafnis-Rememberance-Page/1456418467917514.
Tips can be called in anonymously to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. at 916-874-8477, or http://www.sacsheriff.com