Since early in the 20th Century a disturbing and odd scenario of disappearances has marred the seeming placid appeal of National Parks across the US that continually escape rational explanation. In these plethora of occurrences one can quickly become overwhelmed when delving into an enigma that refuses to reveal its secrets. David Paulides who has authored 7 books now on this elusive subject attempts to make sense of all this by simply providing an objective presentation of the facts without drawing too much on speculation, yet the facts alone are maddening.
Shedding little light
During a lecture he told the story of having overheard some veteran national park special agents who are federal police tasked with investigation of these incidents sitting at a table having a conversation. David waited patiently until they were finished and then approached a special agent to ask about the disappearance phenomenon. After identifying himself as an investigator and author the national parks special agent admitted that the federal government was not releasing statistics or case files about this problem out of a lack of integrity. This man informed Paulides that his personal knowledge of corruption was definite. Citing his knowledge of Park Superintendents committing felonies that could be prosecuted with the evidence the special agent had obtained he was then ordered to stand down by his superiors. This adds another twist to the puzzle that remains unsolved. The agent encouraged Paulides to dig further.
The problem is how does one continue to effectively investigate when FOIA requests are met with government lawyers asking why the inquiry, that his works are not in enough library book shelves, and that specific case files cannot be released for Paulides inspection which are completely illegal actions on the part of these responses by government paid functionaries. Yet, David pushes on with his quest for more information at the remote chance that he may arrive at some answer, some reasonable understanding, or a plausible theory that will provide some insight as to what is happening as more people go missing.
Pieces of the puzzle
What we do know is that David Paulides has uncovered a persistent pattern of disappearances that cover great geographical distances across not only the North American continent but perhaps worldwide. In this rich environment of unsolved stories and tragic vanishings of little children, capable adults, and even former police and military veterans who can handle themselves. The inexplicable perpetuates itself with ominous regularity! Examining the backgrounds of the missing, Paulides attempts to establish some kind of yardstick of commonality that gives us some sane clue as to what is really going on.
David Paulides has come across what he calls “Cluster Disappearances” where a persistent and ongoing concentration of missing persons is centered in a close proximity over a very short period of time or perhaps even a continuation of these cases over decades while never being solved. These local areas of continued missing persons are never correlated by the National Parks however. Even though, according to David Paulides, there are monthly reports by the these National Parks, Sanctuaries, Forest Ranger units, Fishing Game and Wildlife Preserves of missing people, homicides, accidental deaths, injuries, and other suspicious activities and yet all of these areas, all of these instances, and all of these reporting entities in the federal system are not correlated or statistically analyzed for inquiry or to arrive at answers. Does this not seem odd or as an intentional refusal to arrive at some kind of explanation?
Willing to protect
David Paulides who has participated in many search and rescues, police matters, criminal investigations, and other public services is not just a self-promoter of his books for the sake of furthering his own interests. He is constantly reminding people of the importance of staying safe and taking the steps necessary to eliminate the possibility of their own disappearances. David advocates the use of a personal locator beacons and a firearm as deterrents to the prospect of becoming another statistic. According to David despite the astounding number of missing hunters (well-armed) terrain savvy individuals who still succumb to missing status still need a PLB. Also, he stresses that while the greatest number of vanishings happen at the point of separation that a partner being present is a major life saving form of prevention that might eliminate many heart breaking losses of small children by their parents.
The need to push
Let’s add the fact that in remote locations where the resources of the local jurisdiction are thin if the missing person is not immediately searched for by an organized effort chances are the search parties and limited resources will drop off quickly. David advises that an advocate like a mother, father, or relative must stay in the fight and continue to prod the local authorities on to continue the efforts or the rescue will simply fade into another cold case file. In rural areas there is little budget or personnel available for extended efforts over considerably large search perimeters. Only prolonged efforts in many cases tend to yield results and regardless of the outcome at least provide closure for grieving parents.
The perplexity does not stop there as David dedicates an entire book to missing hunters alone. That many people have disappeared even when well-armed, well acquainted with the terrain, and experienced. This is a most disturbing aspect of the paradox that continues to evade answers! How does an experienced gunman who knows how to hunt, remain well hidden, and has better than average knowledge of survival capability in the wild vanish leaving no trace? Often he is in close proximity of a hunting buddy but still separated, and simply ceases to exist. It would seem that whatever or whoever it is has capabilities that can overwhelm armed individuals quietly and with great stealth. It seems that even those very near the individual who goes missing can’t even detect the abduction of their partner while in progress!
Ominous lack of warning
This should be alarming to the general public and exactly why the National Park system refuses to make public any list of missing people, any details of their disappearance, or important facts that could lead to an analysis that might yield an explanation. Is it just the consideration of lost revenues and attendance that prevents the release of vital intelligence or is it that they know who or what is responsible, but can simply do little if anything to stop it? If this were indeed true then one might at least understand why the communicado approach to this strange legacy of missing persons in the seemingly natural beauty of the American Park System. Perhaps it is nothing more than a fertile environment for uncontrolled losses of the innocent because it cannot be prevented without great precaution all together. Which brings us back to square one again-who or what is responsible?
Proposed safety measures
Young healthy college age young men on semester break simply going for a hike on a popular trail, hunters armed with powerful rifles during the game season surrounded by familiar woods, children with their parents while on family vacations, physicists on sabbatical, all have succumbed to a mysterious paradox that seems to lay in wait to abduct the unsuspecting no matter how fit and capable these people are. David Paulides states that if the authorities would simply require the personal locator beacons and some form of personal protection along with a companion that expensive search and rescue efforts would not be needed nearly as much and the heartache of desperate parents could be largely avoided, but would this really be enough?