Why are brand new vehicles full of personal belongings found parked at trailhead entrances, the owner never to be seen again? Why are new tents stocked with provisions and survival gear left unattended just off the hiking paths of our state and national parks, the owner vanished forever despite massive rescue searches gone as if stepping off the planet? These are typical baffling incidents that characterize the 411 legend of missing persons.
David Paulides talks of one of his earliest experiences before writing the first of 7 of his compelling books. While staying at a cabin in a California National Forest a knock on his door revealed two plain clothes former park rangers. They had gotten wind of what Paulides was doing and had some interesting insights to share. They both admitted they had never suspected anything strange was afoot. Both men had witnessed several disappearances and hadn't given it much thought until being relocated to several different parks and then noticing that this was a common and pervasive problem with dozens of people gone missing from numerous parks. Rarely were the people found. They attributed this phenomenon to a lack of integrity by the park officials, but it seemd to them something was being hidden. For some reason the subject was being shuffled beneath efforts to stonewall inquirers like David Paulides.
These two retired park rangers urged David to delve further into the mystery as they believed their employers were not being forthcoming for some very distrurbing reasons. As opposed to the typical federal agency that keeps relevant records and statistics for some reason this does not apply to National Parks, Forests, or wilderness regions managed by the federal and state governments. As dozens of hikers, hunters, vacationers, and local visitors disappear each and every year the cover up is becoming alarmingly obvious. As clothing may be found as the only evidence left of the vanished people. Often Paulides has noted the corpse of some of these people will be found in a body of water, yet the cause of death cannot be determined by a coroner, and it was not drowning!
Brief press coverage
According to David Paulides the publicity surrounding these disappearances is all on the front end of the incident with a brief mention on local TV or the newspapers, a thorough effort by rescue experts and volunteers for perhaps a couple of weeks and then the continued search drops off and the case quickly turns cold. Cluster disappearances that may occur over decades in the same area can include small children with as many as 3 kids vanishing in as little as 5 months! Other cluster disappearance areas seem to involve one highly educated scientist or educator each and every time! Another reoccurence can be athletic runners of all ages, first responders off duty on a hike, and even law enforcement personnel out to enjoy nature.
Capability no guarantee
In one particular incident Paulides reports that an experienced moutnain climber who was a specialist in the Mount Rainier region was practically a legend and knew the slopes very well. On one routine occasion he was climbing with a colleague. While just below his climbing buddy connected by rope his climbing companion noticed something strange. The rope that had been under the tight pull of the climber's weight just below suddenly went slack as though the climber had fallen off, but they were practicing safe techniques to prevent accidents. The climber who was just above searched downward and called to his buddy but to no avail. He lowered himself down the slopes and attempted to locate his partner giving up the planned climb, but someone or something apparently had swallowed a well known mountain climber who knew the Mt. Rainier slopes like the back of his hand, and he was never found by rescuers!
According to David Paulides, at times, cluster areas may include the mentally challenged children such as those with the autism, deaf, or simply cannot vocalize. Strangely, on the rare occasion that the child or adult are found by searchers alive they either are unable to articulate what hair raising experience they suffered, cannot remember at all, do not wish to reveal what happened, or have been so traumatized they cannot even bear to think about it any further! This raises the question once again about who or what could be causing these vanishings and what can be so frightening that these people are left emotionally scarred forever in the aftermath!
How they disappear
Some people make extended plans to hike out into well trafficked paths along camping sites and even notify friends and family when they expect to return only to vanish without a trace! Some individuals aren't careful at all. They take off only a trek to enjoy nature without even letting family or their friends know what their intentions are. In one case, a well experienced survivalist wanted to blend into the wilderness for a while and test his skills at being self sufficient. Authorities determined that although he want missing in July of 2017 his disappearance was not reported to park officals until August of 2018. He was never found lost in millions of acres of remote countryside. Often under these circumstances the skeletal remains will turn up completely by accident when campers happen upon the corpse if at all.
Baffling reports by experienced hikers, ranch hands, or local nature enthusiasts are lost while traveling in familiar surroundings they have known for years when suddenly they become confused unable to recognize where they are! Their surroundings, once familiar, are now becoming totally unknown. They are now no more capable then a babe lost in the woods panicking. They can't understand why places they have been through a thousand times suddenly seem alien and never used before! Others report that at that wierd point in time they are being watched! One particular individual reported that he was so sure of being aware that someone or something was watching him that he was also in danger so he finally hid from beneath a tree and the brush around it waiting for hours until he felt the threat had passed. After following a creek he claimed that finally the terrain began to appear familiar again. Thankfully, he survived but said in all his many years of outings he had never experienced anything so disturbing.
Well known rabbit hole
Crater Lake Park is no stranger to the frequent disappearances of visitors and campers. In one incident, a family had gone horseback riding to some cabins deep in the territory after a few hours of casual riding. As the ranch hands took the horses one teenager with a camera wanted to take some photos of the lake. She was only 200 yards from her folks and an elderly member accompanied her to within 70 yards of the lake shore where she walked over to begin photographing. Within minutes she went missing! After an hour of searching the family notofied authorities who launched a massive rescue effort even using a helicopter that flew over the entire area. The only thing they ever found of the young woman was the lens cap to her camera.
Fine tuning the cases
David Paulides readily filters out such occurrences as suicides, animal attacks, fatal falls, drownings, or even foul play as all such incidents have signature forensic clues that eliminate such unfortunate circumstances. This allows himself to concentrate on the truly mysterious disappearances that seem impossible to solve. In the few cases where missing children are involved and are found strangely many will be discovered in swamps where the going is very difficult even for adults and experienced searchers much less toddlers or young kids. Why does a child turn up miles away from where they disappeared from their parents a day or two afterward in difficult terrain? In order for them to get their they would have to have made it through rugged countryside, steep hillsides, or running rivers. The only other question to ask is who or what picked up the child and moved them up to 30 miles away from their original whereabouts?
Often their clothing such as their pants may be shredded. Their shoes may be missing. In some cases it has been determined that the child was even hiding for some reason from rescuers who are scouring the area or perhaps the child is so far outside the original parameters of the search that it amkes no sense! Why would a child be hiding from the attempts of volunteers and rescuers to find them? Could they have been so frightened that they consider the search teams as a possible threat? Apparently. Still the question arises who or what is abducting these children within a few feet of their parents or siblings just playing or walking along with their family. Paulides says that just like the behavior of a predator, the child at the end of a single file group will get grabbed. He also warns against wearing red colored or brightly colored clothing as this, for some unknown reason, tends to attract the mysterious occurrence of vanishings.
After 7 books, David Paulides says that with a ten foot tall stack of cases that have not been solved by the FBI or Special Agents from the National Park system still there is a wealth of uninvestigated material. Why does one Special Agent refuse to give David Paulides a case file for a girl that lived in the next town from his residence in San Jose, California in a popular park? Why does the National Forest and Park system resist FOIA requests which have legal priority and are supposed to be obeyed by auhtorities when these information requests are made? Why would a lawyer for the National Park system call Paulides and tell him they will not provide a list of the missing persons reported in the areas of their jurisdiction making excuses or even telling him that if they do provide a list it could cost more than a million dollars to comply? Obviously, a dangerous situation exists that could drive away National Forest visitation by the public.