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Man Found After Five Days

The record producer, missing since Sunday, will be examined and taken for psychiatric evaluation. 'He was very delusional,' officials say.

August 27, 2005|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

A Topanga record producer who disappeared five days ago after he telephoned to say he was being chased down a creek by dogs was discovered in apparently good physical condition Friday at a canyon stream not far from where he vanished, authorities said.

Christian Julian Irwin, 48, was seen by a Topanga Canyon resident as he stood naked in a stream and washed a pair of pants, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy said. The resident, who at first thought the man was a transient, later recognized him as the missing producer and flagged down a passing police cruiser.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, who had been searching for Irwin for days in sweltering heat, found him apparently suffering mental problems, Peavy said.

"He was very delusional," Peavy said. "He obviously suffered some mental setbacks."

Irwin was taken to a local hospital for observation. If his physical health checked out, he was to be taken to another hospital and given a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday September 01, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 68 words Type of Material: Correction
Record producer -- An article in Saturday's California section about the discovery of missing record producer and engineer Christian Julian Irwin said Irwin had been nominated for three Grammys and had produced recordings for Queen Latifah, De La Soul, Carly Simon, David Bowie and Vanessa Williams. Irwin, who identifies himself as Chris Julian, has not been nominated for any Grammys and has not produced recordings by those artists.

Irwin had been missing since Sunday, when he used his cellphone to call a friend just before 4 a.m. to say he thought he was being pursued by Nigerian scam artists. He reportedly left his house in a panic and stumbled down a canyon stream barefoot and lost his glasses.

When authorities encountered him Friday, Irwin was "very upset and ranting and raving," Peavy said. "He was still afraid that the Nigerians were there."

Peavy said Irwin demanded that his sister and brother-in-law be brought to him and insisted that he didn't trust the police. His sister was brought to him, but when he failed to calm down he was taken into custody, Peavy said.

Friends and family told authorities that Irwin had recently become involved in an apparent Internet scam in which he was offered money to help transfer money from Nigeria to the U.S. They said Irwin panicked when he received a check for $50,000 -- a sum much greater than what was promised him -- and the scam artists demanded repayment.

Family and acquaintances said they put stock in the scam theory of Irwin's disappearance because he had never showed signs of mental illness or used drugs. Sheriff's investigators downplayed the scam theory.

The search, which involved dogs and divers who searched deep canyon pools for Irwin's body, consumed roughly 1,000 man-hours, Peavy said.

"Our hope was to find him alive, and we did that," Peavy said.

Irwin was found about a quarter-mile from the propane station from where he called his friend Sunday. He had survived the five days without food drinking water from a stream. "He was very hungry," Peavy said.

Irwin, who has been nominated for three Grammys, has produced recordings for Queen Latifah, De La Soul, Carly Simon, David Bowie and Vanessa Williams.


Associated Press contributed to this report.

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