Disneyland parking lot death: Elementary school principal accused of child endangerment before death


An elementary school principal who jumped to his death from a Disneyland multi-story parking lot two days before he was due in court on child endangerment charges left a suicide note on Facebook blaming his wife for endangering his career by calling 911 when they argued in front of her daughters. 

Chris Christensen, 51, the principal of William T. Newland Elementary School in Huntington Beach, took his own life in front of Anaheim parkgoers – including children – who’d gathered to watch the annual Candlelight Ceremony. 

In a final post on Facebook, he blamed his wife, Marlena, for ‘letting her anger get the best of her’, then calling the police and landing him in jail, which prompted him to be put on administrative leave from his job. 

Christensen – the son of longtime Disney theme parks musical director Jim Christensen – was charged with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and battery and was expected to appear in court Monday. 

Christensen shared this picture, alongside his wife Marlena, in his final Facebook post

Christensen shared this picture, alongside his wife Marlena, in his final Facebook post

In a lengthy Facebook note, he wrote: ‘I think it is safe to say that Marlena truly regrets making that call, because the events of that night have completely unraveled both of our lives.’ 

He continued: ‘I need you all to know that a gentle, kind, loving and sincerely good man has been destroyed by one unfortunate night.’  

Christensen also made a veiled jab at his wife, reiterating that ‘people need to start treating each other better’ and used her ‘anger’ as a means to show his friends how rage can ‘really have extremely damaging effects on a person’s life.’

The principal was ‘on the brink’ of losing his job because of the charges – which he cited as one reason for taking his own life.  

Christensen wrote on Facebook before his death: ‘I hate when people leave this Earth with so many unanswered questions. So, I hope this provides some insight and perspective.’

In a lengthy post, he said he had never hurt his wife or their daughters during the argument, but that the ‘extremely flawed’ legal system would end up putting away an ‘innocent man.’ 

‘Unfortunately, two weeks ago she and I got into a heated argument at home in front of the girls. Tempers were flared and strong words were exchanged between us,’ the man told his friends. 

‘However, never in this exchange did I hit, slap, or hurt Marlena in any manner. Nor did I ever touch the girls (I never have and never will). I love the girls like my own and they know that, as does everyone else who truly knows me.

‘I am on the brink of losing my job, as I am out on administrative leave until my case is “resolved.”  

Christensen posted about his 'heated argument' with his wife and the fact that he was placed on administrative leave

Christensen posted about his ‘heated argument’ with his wife and the fact that he was placed on administrative leave 

In his final message, Christensen said he planned to spend his last day reaching out to loved ones to tell them how much they mean to him

In his final message, Christensen said he planned to spend his last day reaching out to loved ones to tell them how much they mean to him 

Chris Christensen, 51, died Saturday after jumping from a parking structure outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, California

Chris Christensen, 51, died Saturday after jumping from a parking structure outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, California

A statement from the school district where Christensen worked read: 'Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in FVSD for over 20 years'

A statement from the school district where Christensen worked read: ‘Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in FVSD for over 20 years’

‘So, here I am…writing my final FB post to all of you. I need you all to know that a gentle, kind, loving and sincerely good man has been destroyed by one unfortunate night.

‘It really is unfortunate! This is NOT me! This is NOT something that I ever thought would happen to me,’ he continued.

Christensen thanked his coworkers, friends, and families for his time with the district and said he loved what he did for 20-plus years. 

‘I have truly loved educating and leading thousands of students and families as a principal in FVSD for the past 21+ years,’ he said. 

‘I have made so many wonderful connections with families over the years and those who know me closely know how much I cared for my students, staff and families.’

Christensen, according to his post, also spent the day ‘reaching out to those closest’ to him before the fateful incident. 

He added: ‘This is not an ideal way to go out, but at least I get a chance to say some final words to those who I love and adore.

‘Please, please, please be kind to one another! Treat each other with kindness and grace.

‘There is too much anger in the world and people need to start treating each other better. What I’ve shared with you above is a prime example of how “anger” can really have long-lasting and extremely damaging effects on a person’s life.’ 

Christensen said it was his wife's choice to call the police during a heated argument that led to him being placed on administrative leave over charges of battery and child endangerment

Christensen said it was his wife’s choice to call the police during a heated argument that led to him being placed on administrative leave over charges of battery and child endangerment 

'Never in this exchange did I hit, slap, or hurt Marlena in any manner. Nor did I ever touch the girls (I never have and never will),' Christensen wrote in his post

‘Never in this exchange did I hit, slap, or hurt Marlena in any manner. Nor did I ever touch the girls (I never have and never will),’ Christensen wrote in his post

Christensen took his own life on Saturday night at the Mickey and Friends multi-story parking lot outside Disneyland in Anaheim while parkgoers gathered for the annual Candlelight Ceremony

Christensen took his own life on Saturday night at the Mickey and Friends multi-story parking lot outside Disneyland in Anaheim while parkgoers gathered for the annual Candlelight Ceremony

Christensen was a principal at the William T. Newland elementary school in Huntington Beach, south California

Christensen was a principal at the William T. Newland elementary school in Huntington Beach, south California

Earlier in the post, Christensen asked his friends and followers to: ‘Please remember me for all the good I brought to the world of education.’ 

The Fountain Valley School District, where Christensen worked, confirmed his death in a statement sent to families. 

‘Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in FVSD for over 20 years,’ the statement read. 

‘His contributions and connections to this community are immeasurable. He was a father, husband, brother, and friend to so many. His passing leaves us devastated and heartbroken.’

Grief counselors are being made available to students and staff, according to the district. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 



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