Our Take on the ‘Missing 411’ Cases

On Mount Fuji, Japan, there's a sprawling 13.5-square mile forest called Aokigahara. The forest is so thick with foliage that it's known as the Sea of Trees, and more notoriously known as the Suicide Forest. PHOTO: via Mental Floss

The topic known as the “Missing 411” is based on a series of books written by former police detective David Paulides. The book series is important work and is worth examining, because it involves vanishings and disappearances that happen with surprising frequency deep inside national parks and wildernesses. Large clusters of people have vanished from certain areas.

I wish to offer some thoughts on what may actually be going on in these cases but, to preface, we are skeptics when it comes to paranormal and UFO explanations, as regular readers know.

For further reading:

In my youth, I spent about 10 summers at a camp in the high Rocky Mountains. This included hiking above the tree line. I also lived near and hiked for many years in dense forests and mountain trails around Washington State, Oregon and Hawaii. The dark, gloomy Cascades mountain range in Oregon especially are infamous for lost people.

Even though I know the experience of conservative wilderness hiking better than most, one can still get into risky situations. Mostly, this is from using poor trails or going off trail. Experienced hikers and hunters will sometimes push the off-trail envelope and get complacent. It’s best to curb the macho instincts or ego in the wilderness. Overestimating physical abilities is a common feature.

Paulides goes into some detail on one case in Vail, Colorado, of an extreme athlete and physician inexplicably getting in over his head and falling to his death.

This recklessness could be happening with some frequency, and these folks in turn disappear. Admittedly, many Missing 411 cases are mysterious but, as his body was found, this one is worth examining as an abject lesson for anyone inclined to extreme sports or challenges.

Disorientation happened to my son and I six years ago (pre my serious knee injury) in Germany’s Teutoburg Forest. We were lost for better part of an afternoon in spring after foolishly diving into the thick forest. This dense forest is where three Roman Legions were massacred by Germanic tribes in 9 A.D. It’s easy to visualize how this happened when you wander into them — and, yes, we were trying to get a sense of it. Background on this battle.

Essentially, when you’re in dense trees, you get a form of vertigo and spatial confusion. There’s a tendency to walk in circles. Reference points start to blur. This is especially true in foggy or low cloud or rainy weather. This can develop in late afternoons and approaching dusk. This lack of reference points and of a workable horizon can cloud thinking and create panic. We needed all our sobriety in Germany. (In the hunter 411 Missing mysteries, I wonder if some “Southern Comfort” was involved.)

Incidentally, there are references to 50-yard spacing in the 411 cases involving hunters and in one of the cases below. That’s too far in Teutoburg forest. We would have ended up separated and in deeper trouble. When we finally traversed the dirt road we came in on, we were only 200 meters from the car. I really don’t think we went too deep into the forest, but what a maze it was.

This is a northern latitude where seasonal dusk still sets in early in spring. We were almost stuck out there, and not well clothed for a cold night.

The following photo of Teutoburg illustrates it somewhat. This thick growth can go on for miles with little opening. And the trees are higher than shown here, blocking out any and all reference points. You can’t get the correct return track. Even in the middle of the day, if it’s overcast, a thick gloom or darkness sets in, you’ll lose visual clarity.

I doubt if a plane or helicopter search would’ve spotted us.

Older people, small children, urban dwellers and out-of-shape people can get exhausted and dehydrated quite easily. A fair percentage of children in the Missing 411 series were special-need. In the following video, we get details on the perplexing disappearance of an 84-year-old man just 50 yards off of a dirt road in Colorado. Again he was separated by 50 yards with his friend. There was another case of a one-eyed 82-year-old hunter who completely vanished. Could have been a variation of Teutoburg Forest but he had more physical handicaps.

A high percentage of the children lost are very young boys. Young boys, especially those ages 3 to 5 years, can be super active and mobile. I can recall falling asleep once while sitting with my 3-year-old son and, when I woke up, the front door was open and he was a block away, motoring down the street at a fast pace. In the wilderness, precocious boys will be curious and active, and in dense woods or vegetation can get separated and disoriented. I used to love crawling into or hiding behind bushes at the age of 4.

They are then unlikely just to sit still and, if they cover even less than a mile off-trail, will be hard to find. So I disagree with those who say young boys can’t quickly go long distances. They can also be abducted.

This next video describes the case of one such lost 3-year-old child. It also offers good counsel for taking young children on wilderness trails. Incredibly, the child walked by alone and talked with two zombie fisherman well up the trail, and they just ignored him. There is a major anomaly in that the boy’s remains were found 550 feet above the trail. Did an animal drag him up there? Did the zombie flying-monkey fishermen call up their crew to take him up there?

People sometimes enter these forests with insufficient water. Weather can change rapidly, and exposure is a risk. It doesn’t take long to become incapacitated or killed.

Falls and injuries, like twisted ankles, occur often even on good trails. If I had my ruptured quad tendon injury alone in the wrong remote spot I would have been finished. Ditto heart attacks and strokes. The average age in the US and Europe is steadily increasing.

People camp out with poor preparations. It’s very easy for most modern people to find themselves completely out of their element and unprepared.

Paradoxical undressing is a factor when bodies are found. That’s happens when people die from hypothermia. It’s known as terminal burrowing, or hide-and-die-syndrome. Researchers described it as “obviously an autonomous process of the brain stem, which is triggered in the final state of hypothermia and produces a primitive and burrowing-like behavior of protection, as seen in hibernating animals.”

Hidden crevasses, sinkholes, old wells, shafts and other terrain features could definitely come into play. Who can forget the intense, based-on-real-life story of “127 Hours.:

“Liberation” from “127 Hours.” Fitting music for today’s topic. I hummed this in Teutoburg as dark humor.

A typical case where a woman hiker fell in an obscured spot and fractured her leg. She was luckily seen by other hikers and rescued. Had she died, her body would have been carrion for scavengers.

The factor of dog tracking has come up in Missing 411 cases. However, tracking dogs come in all kinds of abilities and with challenges. Many dogs are excitable and too fast.

If you perished in the middle of a forest or mountain range, any number of things can happen to your remains. A badger might bury your body. Cougars could drag your remains up into trees, where they’re never seen. Remains or parts of remains can be dragged long distances even by small animals, which explains some of the inconceivable locations of bones and remains at unusual locations. In fact, I submit this is the fate of the majority of Missing 411 cases.

According to Paulides’ research, actual animal predation is not that common. Scavenging would be an entirely different story, however.

Finally, people commit suicide in the wilderness. In Japan, there’s a dense suicide forest called Aokigahara that’s used for that purpose.

Could Something More Sinister be Afoot?

The majority of these cases can be explained as mentioned. But others are much more difficult to explain. The other element that is not appreciated and that is underestimated is the twisted discordianism running amok in society. This would include abductions, human trafficking and murders.

There have been a number of known crimes and murders in these parks, and they are perfect for disappearances. National parks and trails are used as a hunting and dumping grounds for victims. It’s no mystery why these secluded locations can be perfect crimes.

More and more, the creepiest and scariest thing you can meet in the woods is another human, or stumbling across criminal activity, like meth-head labs, illegal grows, etc. Bizarre “Deliverance” types and dangerous people can also be found living in remote, off-the-grid locations. And in a country as deeply sick and satanic as the USA, how many unapprehended Leonard Lake and Charles Ng types are out in these remote lairs?

Israel Keyes used a similar M.O. of targeting victims in forests, such as the extremely dense Olympic Forest. One of the most organized serial killers of all time, he may be responsible for a slew of these wilderness killings. Again, body disposal is relatively easy as cited above. Keyes hinted that he used deep Lake Crescent for his wilderness ambush body dumps.

Read “Vicious Serial Killer Israel Keyes and the Insane Clown Posse”

In many of the cases we’ve looked at, parents and relatives of the victims believe a kidnapping had occurred. Law enforcement and the media usually do not publicize concerns of kidnapping or abduction.

There are cases of people just ending up in water a la Smiley Face Killers. Is that an aspect here as well? Some Missing 411 cases have the same covert sinister traits as Smiley Face. This would signal an organized cell or ring that hunts people in wilderness areas.

The Smiley Face Killers: Hundreds of Maliciously Drugged Young Men Found Dead from ‘Accidental Drowning’

We’ve been holding that a bad element exists in law enforcement. Strangely, we run into the incompetence Hanlon’s Razor theory again. This razor is a red flag for us that malice or something rancid is afoot — and not just laziness.

Lending credence to this is that there is no legal requirement that federal records be kept of the circumstances surrounding a person’s disappearance, whether or not remains or belongings are recovered, or if a person is located alive and well. This should all be a matter of public record, but it is not. Thus, the numbers involved are unknown.

When researchers or family members request records that are sometimes kept, administrators have stymied requests, claiming it would cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce such records due to manpower issues and the cost of making copies. This is in spite of Freedom of Information Act guarantees that federal records are open to the public. Cases are even classified, which is truly inexplicable.

And here is a case that raises a red flag. In Taos, New Mexico, 61-year-old Walter Scheib parked his Subaru at the Yerba Buena Trailhead off State Route 150 near the Taos ski area. His cell phone indicates he probably made the summit of Lobo Peak at 12,115. His family realized he never returned and called authorities. Bad weather immediately inundated the search area and caused delays.

He was found 25 yards from the trail submerged in a drainage ditch. He died of drowning. Walter was the White House chef from 1994-2005 for George W. Bush and the Clintons.

At best, these cover ups and downplays are asset-protection methods given the financial value of national park admissions as a business. At worst, there are organized covert murders and people hunts in play.

If covert or organized murder is afoot, then the paranormal discussion is part of a misdirection and distraction.

11 Comments on Our Take on the ‘Missing 411’ Cases

  1. In retrospect, the scariest thing that happened to me in the woods occurred one night at about 12:30 am in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. There were 3 of us, each in our own tent, camped at least 100 yards off the trail, and at least 3 miles away from the only other people we’d seen that day (Forest Service Rangers). One friend went to sleep around 8:30 pm and didn’t emerge until the morning. The other friend and I stayed up and talked by the fire until a little after midnight. Just after I got comfortable in my sleeping bag, I saw a flickering light through my eyelids. I opened my eyes and sat up, and it looked like someone was walking with a headlamp. Just as I decided this was my buddy getting up to relieve himself, he called my name from his tent. Immediately, the light switched off and there was complete silence for the rest of the night. I saw a light, my friend heard footsteps, and no one opened their tent to see what was going on.
    At the time we didn’t think much of it, but that night was the source of some pretty terrible nightmares in the proceeding months. This incident still gives me the creeps, and I consider it even scarier than the time I nearly broke my ankle being chased out of the forest by an exploding wildfire.

  2. People go missing a lot out by the Lost Dutchman area that’s East of Phoenix, it’s not a forest obviously but difficult terrain, miles of rocky hills and valleys that look identical and can create similar confusion as a dense forest does. Of course the local pajama people just love the paranormal explanation because it’s woven into the story of the area, but I feel it’s pretty obvious most of the people that go missing were unprepared, i.e. they went hiking in the summer heat with a liter of water, or were out of shape and biting off more than they could chew, etc. That being said, it’s a remote area that could be another dumping ground for the psychos… I’ve known a retired homicide detective for years, I asked him about bad cops… He said cops are people, and like any group of people, there will be bad ones… Obviously an oversimplification. For the record I believe the bad guys are very organized, and the Achilles heel of our world is that we’re not willing to acknowledge that psychopaths and sociopaths have a competitive advantage because they are not restricted by a moral compass like normal people. Obviously the power structure is infested with these vermin- I offer one Michael Aquino, who enjoyed a decorated army career while diddling who knows how many kids, as an example.

  3. I’ve always preferred hiking above treeline for the very simple reason that one can see one’s surroundings. It seems to me that thick forests confuse the innate magnetic-field sensitivity that gives some people a very strong sense of direction (and that birds use to navigate – or did, before we filled the atmosphere with unnatural frequencies).

    Anyway, here’s a bit of advice i read in case anyone gets lost in a confusing landscape: always sight on 2 trees/rocks/other in the distance, one a ways behind the other. When you get to the first, use your arms to define a straight line from where you started, to the further tree/r/o, and sight on something beyond it to give you another roughly straight line to pursue. This greatly reduces the risk of going in circles, though it obviously doesn’t tell you the direction of your travel.

    Happy hiking!

  4. Having been lost in the woods around Bear Mountain in lower NY State at the age of…well, younger than 10, and I’m a female…. I will say this if you are hiking in an area you are not familiar with…NEVER hike alone! And don’t think carrying a cell phone will save you in an area without wi-fi. Mountain lions (aka cougars) have been known to attack and kill hikers in the Big Bend region…and bears as well. And then you have illegals….

  5. I’m sorry but you don’t understand what Hanlon’s Razor is really about. You don’t, and it’s embarrassing.

    It’s a logical statement comprising a combination of a negation and a conditional.

    Basically it means this: when you see evil, assume at first that it is due to incompetence. Now, if you RULE OUT incompetence, then it means that malice is definitely at play.

    Again, Hanlon’s Razor says that your initial assumption should be stupidity or imbecility when you encounter an evil act. If imbecility does not explain it, then move on to malice.

    It does NOT mean that malice is not an explanation for evil acts. That’s what you don’t understand. It simply means that malice should not be your initial assumption.

    You interpret Hanlon’s Razor, incorrectly and embarrassingly, as meaning that only stupidity should be considered, and not malice, in the face of evil.

    • You may disagree but you miss my whole point. I am saying the accurate razor should instead be “never attribute to incompetence that which can be explained by malice.” I don’t accept Hanlon’s razor as valid. The burden of proof is off kilter. Malice IS my initial assumption. Incompetence is usually an excuse.

      • You’re absolutely correct Russ! One of the oldest tricks in the book used by the politicians and their elite overlords is to play stupid. That way when they get caught in an illegal act they can play dumb, then resign, then get replaced by another operative. If the powers that be were truly stupid every now and then they would do something to benefit us, just by accident, but that rarely happens. Instead, all their actions seem to do harm, which proves they do it on purpose. I get furious whenever I hear someone call a politician “stupid.” You will not rise to the top of politics in any nation unless you are intelligent and cunning!

        Regarding wilderness survival, this article is also spot on. In addition to bears, cougars and two legged critters coyotes can also be dangerous to. Most will avoid humans but there are some aggressive ones especially on the East Coast and in Canada which sadly killed the Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell. She foolishly went into a forest alone. As a man I would not go into a forest alone; any woman who does it is absolutely nuts:


  6. However sensationalized, Paulides was a homicide detective. I think after making a career of it, he’d know the difference between just another missing persons report, an abduction, serial killer/s, murder/murder for hire, suicide or someone simply wanting to go off grid?

    Agreed most are incredibly ill prepared for the challenges of nature and probably explains most cases. But David also described more than one instance where an entire group of campers/hikers went missing. Simultaneously.

    A cougar may well be capable of dragging a carcass into a tree, but discovering personally identifiable items BACK in plain sight in areas that had already been thoroughly searched years prior, doesn’t seem as likely? In certain cases I believe they have found sneakers, backpacks etc. neatly displayed in an almost reverent ( or taunting ) fashion.

    I’m w/ Russ and tend to discount “alien abductions”/UFO involvement out of hand, but there are elements to these incidents that defy casual dismissal. In the interim I’ll be at the bar! Where I’m unlikely to venture further than the adjacent alley ( or die from dehydration… )

  7. Having read most of Dave’s books, the one recurring theme in many cases is that the body of the missing often is found in an area previously searched, and the body shows signs of having been placed or dropped there.
    Some are never found. Some are found many miles from their original location inexplicably (2 year olds, etc) and often at higher elevations than their original location. ,
    There’s a good video Dave made where he takes a documented case of a child who was found at quite a distance away in a known time frame from his disappearance. He asked Les Stroud to make the journey in the said amount of time, and Les couldn’t do it.
    Dave always lets the reader/viewer arrive at their own conclusions.

    • While not necessarily empirical ( children have completely different statures and can access places adults couldn’t dream of ) it still sheds a good deal of light. The child in this particular instance may have opted for an entirely alternate path than Les.

      The elephant in the room, is David’s choice of post career direction. In the 80’s and early 90’s Hollywood couldn’t get enough true crime pulp churned out. Detectives like Mark Furman became overnight celebrities as script writers and actors alike were pleading w/ LAPD for ride-along’s to get as much realism into their “gang related” shockers and to the screen first. Has gang-sploitation become its own category on IMDB yet?

      Fast forward to circa 2010 and.., nobody cares! We’ve all seen every manner possible criminals and gang members can torture, murder and create brazen acts of violence. What’s a retired to cop to DO..? However, WERE nefarious actors to abduct individuals, what would be the better/best environment? Busy intersections in broad daylight, or secluded areas where cellphone reception is spotty or nonexistent and first discovery could be weeks, months or possibly never?

      Given Miles W. Mathis has ( to my satisfaction ) debunked the majority of “serial killers” and abductors as fairly sloppily fabricated psyops, we may have to look at Mr. P more closely. IMHO.

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