We continue this story of high strangeness from “Strange Disappearances in US National Parks, Part 1/2” by this writer.
Deep within the forests of the United States National Park System (NPS), hundreds of people have gone missing with no trace. Oddly, the NPS seems to have no interest in finding out what is happening to people who have not been victims of animal attacks.
Former police officer David Paulides has published six books in a series called “Missing 411.” More than 1,000 people have disappeared from United States national parks.
After presenting his findings at the 2012 NASAR (National Association for Search and Rescue) conference in South Lake Tahoe, dozens of professionals affirmed what Paulides believes true:
“it is staggering the number of people that simply vanish in the wilds of North America.”
Paulides visited a library near Yosemite National Park to see what he could find out in the local news. One of the first cases he came across was from Sarasota, California. On July 17, 1981, 14-year-old Stacey Arras disappeared inside Yosemite. She was with her dad and a group of eight other people on a horseback pack trip at high altitude (8000-9000 feet) in a very remote area.
The group dismounted at some cabins and Stacey freshened up before walking down a trail with her camera, accompanied by a 71-year-old man in the party. The elderly man sat down to rest about 100 feet down the trail in full view of everybody.
Stacey told him she was going to walk a couple hundred feet further along into a small valley with a lake surrounded by heavy trees to take some pictures. As the rest of the group watched, she walked over the knoll – never to be seen again.
Weeks of massive searching for the missing teen were to no avail. The only evidence found was a lens cap to her camera lying in the middle of the trail at the treeline.
Strangely, the NPS of Yosemite refused to give Paulides’ the case file – even though these events happened 30 years ago. According to Stacy’s family, she has never been found.
Paulides discovered that people have gone missing from Yosemite for quite a long time. For example, on July 20, 1954, 26-year-old Walter Gordon, a graduate student from U.C. Berkeley, told friends he was going to take a short hike to Glacier Point and would be back in a couple of hours. He never came back.
Three months later, on October 9, 1954, Orver von Wass also disappeared from the base of Yosemite after telling his family he was going to take a short walk.
The families of the two youths found each other and compared notes, finding many similarities. They collaborated to write a letter to President Eisenhower and asked for “special warfare troops” to search for their children. The families were convinced that their sons had been abducted rather than lost or hurt in a wilderness area.
Paulides found this to be a common theme of these missing persons cases: 80 percent of the families he encountered believed their relatives had been criminally abducted, would then write a letter to some official organization for help, and all had been refused.
A reasonable question would be, were these people attacked by animals and dragged off? A dog brought in to track scents to the bodies of these missing people typically either walks in circles or lies down, not wanting to track. “The canine is essentially useless in almost every one of these cases.”
There have been far too many cases to describe in this article, but some of the creepier aspects include children who vanish from behind a tree while their parents are looking, only to be found dead, weeks later, at a much higher altitude. The official cause of death is usually given as “exposure.”
Sometimes, young children are found who tell strange stories about where they had been. One case mentioned by Thought Catalog concerned a 6-year-old girl named Lillian from Maine who went missing August 1897 and was found 46 hours later 2-3 miles from where her parents last saw her. She said, “the sun shined all the time while I was in the woods.”
People have reported missing time, reappearing in different clothes, and in different locations.
Often, the deceased are found wearing only one shoe – or only socks. In one case, the belongings of a youthful hunter were discovered on a boulder in the middle of a creek. His backpack had been opened and emptied, the contents stacked neatly on the rock. The hunter was never found.
In a particularly grisly case, a search and rescue team climbed up over a large fallen tree only to discover the gruesome remains of the missing young man: the only thing left of him were his feet and legs up to the shins. His boots were gone, but socks still on. His trousers had dropped down around his ankles. Tiny bone fragments littered the immediate area. The searchers were freaked out and the story died a natural death, unlike the unfortunate park visitor.
While these cases are both morbid and disturbing, the real mystery here is why Paulides and other legitimate, conscientious investigators are getting stone-walled by the National Park Service.
Is the bottom line here which explains the uncooperative NPS the “real” bottom line: park visitor revenue?
Paulides himself has reached no conclusion. However, he and his organization continue to find the solution to this puzzling situation.