Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Missing Persons

I recently picked up Missing 411, David Paulides' fascinating look into inexplicable disappearances in wilderness areas. And I really do mean inexplicable. Two and three year old kids found miles from where they were last seen, missing clothing but in perfect health. People who disappear and are later recovered, in the form of bone fragments. Weird associations with water, missing or torn clothes and missing memories. I could probably go into a full article on these, but it'd be a waste of time. What I will do is bring up a few of my own ideas on the subject.
Missing persons clusters in nat'l parks

First off, there's got to be some kind of correlation between all these cases. Dozens of people disappearing in wild areas with this much similarity between events can't be a coincidence. The level of parity between all these cases is amazing, right down to what witnesses say and where people (or bodies) are found. But according to Paulides, this entire phenomenon is being ignored by law enforcement except in some highly unusual cases, which suggests that either someone somewhere knows what's going on, or it's being purposefully ignored. Either of those is a creepy thought. The books also mention how difficult it was to get any kind of information on these cases from the National Parks Service, which reinforces the theory that someone knows what's happening.

So, if we accept that this is happening, the obvious question is who or what is behind it. That's the question that fascinates me, and that I can't even begin to theorize on. Bigfoot is definitely a candidate, but the event locations really don't fit with the classic distribution of the sasquatch. The big clusters are in and around national parks, specifically Yosemite and Great Smoky Mountains. Yosemite could definitely house a small undetected hominid population, but the Great Smoky Mountains are much too far east to be what I'd consider Bigfoot territory. The Carolinas and Tennessee both seem to have more of an affinity for the skunk ape. So where does that leave us? There's a few possibilities. One is that it's somehow human activity. This one is both the most and least likely. On one hand, humans do some strange things, and a national park would be a good place for a criminal to hide. On the other though, you've got the areas in question and the state of what remains are found. Often it's just bone fragments. No man could reduce a body to a fine enough state that only long bones, teeth and skull pieces are ever found.

Dennis Martin, age six
The strangest of these cases, and the one that most suggests something strange going on to me is the disappearance of  Dennis Martin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On June 14, 1969, Dennis Martin was playing hide-and-seek with his family in an area known as Spence Field. He was last seen hiding behind some brush. Once the Martin family realized that Dennis was missing, they immediately went to the NPS for assistance in searching for him. Despite an extensive search spanning a period of months, no sign of Martin was ever found.

The disturbing twist to this case is what was reported by the Key family in a nearby area of the park, only hours after Dennis went missing. The Keys were hiking in a region of the park called Cades Cove, approximately six miles from Spence Field. They'd gone to this area hoping to see a bear, but what they actually saw was significantly more unusual. Harold Key, the father, reports hearing a bloodcurdling scream. His son then saw movement behind a bush. Key at the time believed it to be a bear, but later said it was in fact a man, apparently carrying something slung over his shoulder.

During the course of the search, Army special forces troops arrived in the park, ostensibly to assist in the search for Martin. However, Paulides later interviewed a Mr. Dwight McCarter, author of a book concerning missing persons in the Great Smoky Mountains, who claims that the Green Berets on-site communicated very little with NPS employees and civilian searchers. In addition, they were apparently armed. What could they be expecting?

In a final, morbid twist to the Martin case, the lead FBI agent, Jim Rike, later committed suicide. His reasons for this are unknown.