Missing 411: Hundreds of Strange Disappearances in our National Parks

Each year hundreds of people go missing in United State Parks and National Forests. Most investigations are eventually solved through reasonable causes: foul play, drowning, suicide or an animal attack. Others aren’t quite so easy to dismiss. Many of them are not merely perplexing but outright disturbing. The Missing 411 books take a deeper look into these specific situations which seem to defy all logic.

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Author of the series, David Paulides, is a private investigator who served as a Los Angeles police officer for over twenty years. One day he stumbled upon some shocking information from a park ranger. They informed  Paulides about a series of bizarre missing persons cases happening within the National Parks. According to this source, these individuals go missing under very unusual circumstances. Law enforcement officials and park service management were doing everything in their power to keep these events concealed from the general public.

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Author of the Missing 411 book series, David Paulides.

When Paulides attempted to obtain a list of missing people in Yosemite National Park he hit the first of many roadblocks. He was told that there is no such document because the Department of Interior does not keep any record of missing people within their park systems. To obtain this information would cost him $34,000. A list missing persons for the entire United States park systems was a staggering $1.4 million. Paulides did not oblige and instead filed hundreds of Freedom Information Acts. Some were accepted while others were denied for unknown reasons.

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As the investigation progressed the more mysterious it became. One of the first things that was discovered were the presence of “clusters” throughout the country. These locations are hotspots where individuals disappear at surprisingly high numbers. Concentrated areas are present in many states including California, Colorado, Washington, Georgia, Michigan and Arkansas. Fifty-two clearly defined geographic regions have been identified.

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A map showing the disappearances in the United States. 52 geological clusters have been identified.

After meticulously researching thousands of cases, odd similarities and patterns emerged. Certain baffling parallels were seen repeatedly despite the incidents transpiring thousands of miles from each other. Some of the common links are difficult to rationalize and not easily dismissed. These perplexing characteristics leave far more questions than answers.

  • Search dogs behave strangely. Oftentimes these canines cannot pick up a scent, or simply don’t want to. In other instances they begin tracking only to lay down and stop searching as if the person had vanished into thin air. Cadaver dogs are unable to locate a corpse.
  • The body is found in an area that has searched before. In many instances the missing appears in a location that has been thoroughly searched dozens, if not hundreds, of times. It is not uncommon for the deceased to surface on a main trail that is utilized by hikers on a daily basis.
  • Travel uphill instead of downhill. The missing is often found at high levels of elevation, such as mountain peaks. Frequently the victim will travel an astounding amount of miles through treacherous terrain in a time period which seems humanly impossible.
  • Weather-related phenomenon. Shortly after the individual goes missing the forecast takes a drastic turn. Torrential rain, lightning, fog, sand storms or blizzards occur which delay search parties.
  • Missing clothing. Shoes, pants, shirts and jackets are often removed, even by children who are too young do so themselves. Paradoxical undressing cannot explain why a person would do this in a temperate environment. Clothing that is found is sometimes neatly folded.
  • High amounts of plane crashes. Search planes and helicopters seem to crash at abnormally high rates during these specific cases.
  • Extreme ends of the intellectual scale. On one side there are well educated people such doctors, psychiatrists and physicists. Others have disabilities such as autism or Down Syndrome.
  • German ancestry. Those with German heritage appear to go missing at much higher rates.
  • Boulder fields and granite. A high number of men and women vanish in boulder fields or areas with huge quantities of granite. Yosemite National Park is the largest of all clusters and also happens to be the biggest source of granite on Earth.
  • The victim is retrieved near a body of water. Another common factor is the presence of water. Bodies are often discovered near oceans, lakes, rivers, streams or swamps.
  • Berry picking. Strangely, this is a reoccurring theme shared amongst several cases. Those who are picking berries seem to go missing at higher rates.
  • Not feeling well or being tired. Prior to the disappearance, friends and family state the victim had informed them that they were not feeling well or tired.
  • Being last in line. One of the most recurrent of all traits are those in a group who happen to be the last in line. Others who were with the missing report seeing them mere seconds before and suddenly they had vanished without a trace. No one ever reports hearing any sounds such as a gasp, scream or an animal.

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The NPS employs over 20,000 Americans and brings in an annual revenue $92 billion. If patrons knew what was really happening within the park systems it could have devastating financial consequences. Paulides has never stated who (or what) he believes is responsible for these incidents and merely presents the facts. Readers are left to derive their own conclusions based on the information presented. Theories as to what is taking these park-goers include Bigfoot attacks, alien abduction, thunderbirds, secret underground government bases or cannibalistic wild men. Whatever the source may be, it’s probably best to avoid being last in line the next time you visit a National Park.

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The Bermuda Triangle: Centuries of Strange Occurrences

Planet Earth’s 123 billion acres are home to a number of enigmatic locations: Easter Island, the Great Pyramids and Area 51. Despite our modern technological advancements, the world remains filled with mystery. The Bermuda Triangle is one such example. Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, it refers to the 50,000 miles of ocean encompassing Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico. Throughout the centuries dozens of airplanes and ships have vanished in this area under unusual circumstances. 


Reports of strange anomalies can be traced back to the late 1400s when Christopher Columbus and his crew made their first voyage to the New World. Throughout the journey the vessel compass produced erratic readings. In his log he described a great ball of fire which flew through the sky before crashing into the murky abyss. Weeks later unknown lights appeared in the distance which did not match any known stars. In Columbus’ journal he wrote that the “very laws of nature were changing as we advanced, and that we were entering another world, subject to unknown influences.”

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Christopher Columbus reported seeing strange lights in the sky and compass malfunctions.

During the 20th century the Bermuda Triangle entered mainstream attention after the events of the USS Cyclops. In March of 1918 a massive Naval fuel carrier disappeared while en route to its final destination. Lieutenant George Worley, the ship commander, was a Naval Auxiliary Service Master. Despite having the necessary equipment on board not a single SOS call was ever made. When the Cyclops failed to turn up in Baltimore an extensive search ensued. Every Naval boat from Cuba to Puerto Rico was enlisted to look for debris. Despite these efforts, no wreckage was ever found. Three hundred and nine men tragically lost their lives. Interestingly, in 1941 two of the Cyclops’ sister ships mysteriously vanished while on the same route.

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The USS Cyclops, a 541’ Naval fuel vessel that mysteriously vanished at sea.

Flight 19 occurred just a few decades later on December 5th,1945. Five three-seater Avenger torpedo bombers departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fourteen airmen received orders to perform testing bomb runs. The leader of the mission was Lieutenant Charles C. Taylor, an experienced pilot and combat veteran who served in WWII. When Taylor encountered compass malfunctions the group became extremely lost. All five plans flew aimlessly until they eventually began to run out of fuel. A plan was formed to make an emergency landing in the ocean and the group’s coordinates were radioed in. Later that day a rescue plane flew out with their thirteen-man crew. Just like the Flight 19 covey, they also disappeared. A five-day-long search ensued yet no remnants of either crash were ever discovered. “It’s as if they flew off to Mars,” was a statement in the in the official Navy report of the incident.

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The crew of the infamous Flight 19.

Fast forward to the evening of December 22, 1967. A 23’ luxury cabin cruiser called Witchcraft left the Miami marina captained by Daniel Burrack. He intended to show his friend, an Irish Catholic priest, the impressive collection of Christmas lights along the shoreline. They had planned to go less than a mile out and stop at buoy #7, turn off the engine and enjoy the view. Not long into the pair’s short expedition the U.S. Coast Guard received a call from Burrack. It was not an SOS and the captain sounded calm as he explained that they seemed to have hit something. Burrack said that it was not an emergency and there was no visible damage to his boat. He requested to have his boat towed back to shore.

Within twenty minutes the Coast Guard arrived at their last known position. There were no signs of Witchcraft or that any boat had recently been there. Friends and family of Burrack were perplexed since he was an extremely cautious yachtsman as well as an esteemed veteran. Aside from the boat being equipped with life jackets and cushions it had also been built using a special floatation device. Essentially this design installation made the vessel unsinkable. A thorough search of 25,000 square miles yielded no results. According to investigative officials it was as if some unknown force picked up the ship and left nothing behind.

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Daniel Burrack’s Witchcraft in 1967.

In December of 1970 a pilot by the name of Bruce Gernon took off from the runway of Andros Town Airport. He was accompanied by his father and his business associate in a brand new Beechcraft Bonanza A36. Although Gernon was in his early twenties he was very familiar with both Floridian and Bohemian airspace. In only three years he had accumulated over 600 miles of flying time and made dozens of trips to Andros Island. As they flew over the Triangle area the three men could see a strange cloud in the distance. None of them were too concerned until it had completely engulfed the plane. For ten minutes they traveled through the formation before finally escaping into clear skies.

Bruce Gernon

Shortly after another bizarre vaporous development appeared which seemed to radiate from the ground below. Suddenly everything became pitch black and accompanied by frequent flashes of bright light. As Gernon traveled forward the blinding bursts became more intense. Despite trying to free his craft he was unable to escape. After about fifteen minutes a “U” shaped opening appeared. As the Bonanza entered this portal a tunnel formed directly in their path. Swirling white haze seemed to be shrinking and closing in on the occupants. After twenty-seconds the three men once again exited and noticed they all shared a weightless feeling. Behind them the tunnel could be seen rapidly collapsing.

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Many believe time warps responsible for some of the unexplained events that occur.

During this time all the electronic equipment malfunctioned and Gernon’s compass was spinning uncontrollably. When Air Traffic Control was contacted they stated that the plane was not present on radar. By now the clear blue sky had turned foggy and gray. Whilst they continued flying the fog began to break up into slits as if it had an electric charge. These pieces of mist all joined together in a radiating fashion. Once again the sky was a welcoming shade of blue. Now the Bonanza had returned on the map. However, nowhere near where it was supposed to be. Somehow the group had moved thirty minutes in time and one hundred miles in space. A trip that normally takes at least 75 minutes has been completed in less than 47. For this feat to be possible the aircraft would need to travel 2,000 miler per hour in a mere three minutes. Tops speeds for a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 are capped at 200 miles per hour.

Beechcraft Bonanza

To this day sailors and pilots continue to seemingly drop off the face of the planet. Only last year a Mitsubishi MU02B-40 vanished from all maps with its four passengers during clear weather conditions. Some scientists blame these events on waterspouts, methane gas or magnetic shifts. Others speculate that the source responsible is something much stranger: time warps, aliens, dimensional openings and sea monsters. Whatever the source may be it’s hard to deny there are some strange occurrences in the Bermuda Triangle.

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The Bermuda Triangle covers 50,000 square miles of ocean.

What do you think is happening off the coast of Florida? I’d love to hear your thoughts.