There seems to be something very eerie happening in American National parks. The United States currently has 59 national parks in operation. These scenic locales are the perfect place to take in all of the breathtaking beauty that the country has to offer. However, is something more sinister happening in US national parks? Every year, more people are added to the already expansive list of missing persons who have disappeared from national parks. What is happening to these innocent hikers? Below, read about 10 of the most baffling cold cases in the national parks’ database.
10. Randy Rascoe
People go missing every day, but it isn’t that often that someone goes missing twice. However, that’s exactly what happened to Randy Rascoe. In May 2015, Rascoe’s family discovered that he had quit his job, removed everything from his apartment, and disappeared. He was found the following month in another state, stating that he had wanted to be alone for a while.
The case seemed to be closed until November of 2015 when Rascoe’s car was spotted in the parking lot of the Mammoth Cave Visitors Center. According to officials, the car was there for around 2 weeks before someone noticed that something was amiss. Rascoe was a frequent visitor of national parks; he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and hiking, so it wasn’t unusual for him to take a trip to Mammoth Cave. However, it was unusual for him to head into a park and not surface again for weeks.
Volunteers and park officials spent days searching the park for any sign of Rascoe, but never found a single clue as to his whereabouts.
9. Glen and Bessie Hyde
Glen and Bessie Hyde were regular hikers in America’s national parks. There was nothing they loved more than to spend time sailing down one of the country’s many beautiful rivers. However, in October 1928, they began their final trip downriver.
The couple set out on a river running trip for their honeymoon, seeking to set the record for the fastest trip through the Grand Canyon. Had they made it, Bessie also would have been the first woman to complete the trip. They were last seen hiking out of the canyon on Bright Angel Trail to get supplies.
On December 19, their boat was spotted floating adrift in the river. It was floating upright and was fully intact. There was no evidence on the boat to explain what had happened to the Hydes.
Numerous theories sprung up: that Bessie had stabbed her husband and run off or that Emery Kolb, the last person to see them alive, had murdered them. However, no one really knows what happened to the river-running newlyweds.
8. Paula Jean Welden
When someone goes missing with no explanation, people will often wildly speculate about what may have happened. That has never been truer than in the case of Paula Jean Welden.
Welden disappeared in 1946 when she went for a hike in Vermont’s Long Trail hiking area. She took no extra clothing, so it seems that she only intended to hike for a few hours. She hitchhiked to the trail and was spotted there by a group of hikers. She spoke to them briefly and continued on. That was the last time anyone saw her.
The most interesting part of this case is what came after searches turned up nothing. People were fascinated by the case and invented wild stories about Welden’s disappearance: that she had run off to start a new life, had fallen and come down with amnesia, had run away with a secret lover, or had committed suicide in the park. However, the case went cold and no one really knows what happened to her.
7. John Devine
In 1997, avid hiker John Devine was supposed to meet a group of other hikers to scale Mount Baldy in Olympic National Forest. However, he never arrived at the designated meeting spot. His family speculated that some tragedy befell him en route to the base of the mountain.
Like the Welden disappearance, Devine’s case gets truly interesting when the search begins. Authorities decided to use a helicopter to scour the park in search of the missing hiker. However, tragedy struck again when the helicopter crashed almost immediately after taking off. The crash killed three people and injured an additional five.
The search for Devine was called off shortly after when the temperatures in the area began to drop, making it less likely that he would be found alive. Yet, after the helicopter crash, many speculated that something, or someone, didn’t want Devine to be found.
6. Dennis Martin
Mysterious disappearances become infinitely more tragic when children are the victims. These cases are even more dreadful when no one can explain what might have happened.
In 1969, 6-year-old Dennis Martin was hiking with several family members in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His brother spotted him going to hide behind a nearby bush, intending to jump out and startle his father. Five minutes later, when he hadn’t emerged, the family began to worry. They searched the area but were unable to find the child.
What could have happened in the short time that Martin was out of his family’s sight? Some suggest that he was abducted or became the victim of a wild animal. However, wouldn’t his family have noticed another person or vicious animal nearby? The details of this case were truly baffling to the officials tasked with searching for the child, and no clues were ever found.
5. Alfred Beilhartz
Alfred Beilhartz is another tragic case of a child gone missing from a national park. In 1938, he was 4 years old. He went hiking with his family at Estes Park. He fell behind the other hikers, and by the time anyone noticed, he was gone.
Unlike many of the other cases of missing persons in national parks, this case turned up some unusual clues. Another group of hikers saw a young child that may have been Beilhartz in a completely different section of the park, but the child disappeared before authorities reached him. Searchers also found a bandage in an abandoned cabin similar to one worn my Beilhartz when he disappeared. Finally, five months after the disappearance, the child’s parents received a ransom note, but it was determined to be a hoax.
The case went cold, and Beilhartz’s whereabouts are still unknown.
4. Samuel Boehlke
Samuel Boehlke, another child who became a victim of America’s national parks, is a particularly troubling case. The 8-year-old boy, who went hiking with his father at Crater Lake in 2006, had a mild form of autism.
While hiking, Boehlke spotted something yellow on a cinder slope. He ran up, hoping it was gold and refused to come down. He ran from his father, thinking it was a game. Boehlke disappeared over a hill, and his father was unable to locate him.
The fact that Boehlke was on the autism spectrum complicated the search: he was sensitive to bright lights and loud noises, which limited the use of flashlights and whistles. Although Boehlke’s father was no more than 50 feet away when he disappeared, officials were never able to find a trace of the missing boy.
3. Bill Ewasko
In 2010, Bill Ewasko set out to hike on the Juniper Flats Trailhead in Joshua Tree National Park. He never returned.
A massive search was mounted in the park, but the searchers failed to turn up any clues. However, three days after he disappeared, authorities received a baffling clue. Ewasko’s cell phone pinged Verizon’s Serin Tower in Yucca Valley, miles away from where he had disappeared.
While it is slightly unusual that a signal would have turned up so far from where he went missing, there is another question that plagues authorities: why didn’t the phone ping any of the towers between that location and where Ewasko disappeared? This is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered.
2. Jared Negrete
The only thing more frustrating than a person going missing without a trace is a person going missing and leaving behind a clue that only makes the case more puzzling.
In 1978, 12-year-old Jared Negrete went on a hike with his Boy Scout troop in San Bernardino National Forest. Someone eventually noticed that Negrete was missing; no one knows how he got separated from the rest of the group.
A search was mounted, and eventually found a camera that was believed to have belonged to Negrete. The film was developed, providing officials with 12 baffling snapshots that appeared to be close-ups of parts of Negrete’s face. No one could explain the photos: were they clues to his disappearance, or just evidence of a young boy playing around with his camera? No one can answer this question.
1. Marlon Lowe
The Logan family of Lawndale, Illinois has one of the wildest abduction stories that many people have ever heard. Many people use their tale as evidence in any case of a child going missing in one of Illinois’ many national parks. Though this story has a happy ending, not everyone is so lucky.
The Lowe family lived in close proximity to many parks. One day, while lounging near their home, they reported that a large bird swooped down and attempted to carry away young Marlon Lowe. Luckily, his mother was able to stop the abduction, but many believe that other children who have gone missing in national parks in the area were less fortunate victims of mysterious “Thunderbirds” that supposedly hunt in the area.
Thunderbirds are enormous creatures from native American folklore. Legends say these giant birds had a wingspan of nearly 4-5 metres (13-16 ft) and were indeed capable of carrying large prey off into the sky. While the Thunderbird exists purely in the realm of mythology, there were giant birds of prey known as teratorns that coexisted with early man some 12,000 years ago.
Marlon Lowe weighed approximately 56 pounds when the thwarted abduction occurred, making it next to impossible for any normal bird to lift him from the ground. So, what was the mysterious creature that attempted to take him away?