What Is Taking These People?


Several months ago I stumbled upon a Reddit thread about creepy Search and Rescue stories.

I highly recommend checking out the threads here because they are incredible: I’m an SAR for the US Forest Service…

Being on Reddit I assumed most were nothing more than creepypastas, entertaining but fabricated. However, some were just strange enough to be believable, and I kept seeing a name mentioned in the comments. David Paulides. Multiple sugestions to read his work peppered the pages, enough that my interest was piqued. I did some googling, and suddenly I got that beautiful, terrible feeling that I had stumbled upon something more profound than I had been ready for.


David Paulides used to be a Police Officer. He became known later as a man willing to do some hard science research on topics most people don’t want to touch for fear of sullying their name, and he wrote a few excellent books on bigfoot. But Paulides is not a loon, certainly no more than me at least. He’s just a smart man with a healthy curiosity and an open mind. One day while doing some work in a National Park he was secretly approached by some SAR workers who told him that there was something shady going on. Scores of people had gone (and were still going) missing in the parks and the Park Services were doing their best to sweep it under the rug. Paulides was intrigued and started to dig.

He messaged the powers that be and was informed that no one kept any kind of documentation on the people missing in the parks, and that very little follow up was ever done on missing persons. He resolved that since no one had a list, he was going to make one himself. Then things started to get even more terrifying.


Paulides’ research found that the disappearances didn’t read as random at all. People were going missing in specific “cluster zones”, the most extreme being in Yosemite Park. Furthermore, there were striking similarities between cases.

  1. Tracking Canines could not find and follow a scent, even in cases where it should have been quite easy.
  2. Severe bad weather and storms would strike an area immediately after a person went missing.
  3. If a body was eventually recovered, it was either in a place that was already thoroughly searched, or in a place it simply should not have been (ex; up a sheer cliff face the person would have no reason to climb).
  4. The bodies when recovered are nearly ALWAYS missing clothing, especially shoes.

Other uncomfortable traits in many cases included things like the presence of berry patches either where the person went missing, where they were found, or in their stomach, and things like the victim having been wearing a red jacket/shirt.

What had originally seemed to Paulides to be some kind of shady coverup began to feel like something far more sinister, something possibly even out of the realm of human understanding. Could it be wormholes? Aliens? Murderous bigfoot? Paulides doesn’t speculate, and refuses to share any opinions he may have. He only shares the facts.

After years of research Paulides has written a series of books on the subject, the Missing 411 series, which I highly recommend and can be purchased from his site Here

There is also a forthcoming documentary which I am very excited for.


However in his latest book, Paulides begins to go down a related but different road to his missing persons investigations. Paulides has found that this mystery extends out of national parks and into our own backyards. There are strange similarities in missing persons cases in cities as well, though the MO is a bit different than in parks.

City victims follow a stricter set of characteristics, namely:

  1. Victims are young, college age men.
  2. Most are very intelligent, studying subjects like engineering.
  3. The majority are out drinking and are somehow separated from friends.
  4. They are later found dead in a body of water.
  5. They are nearly ALWAYS missing clothing, especially shoes.
  6. They are found in an area previously searched or that does not make sense.

In fact, most of the stories in his latest book “Missing 411: A Sobering Coincidence” are so similar they are cookie cutter.

Of course it’s very ease to write off the stories as foolish drunk college kids getting themselves killed. But not so fast. Because these cases are not random either. They fall in cluster areas as well, often overlapping with Paulides’ other established cluster areas. The biggest cluster area encircles the entire Great Lakes region, where an inordinate amount of young men seem to be making “bad decisions”.

But I simply do not believe that is the case, and neither does Paulides, or a growing number of amateur sleuths who are no longer content with victim blaming.

I read his book and the stories of several men right in my own city of Boston who have perished under unusual circumstances in the last fifteen years, and needless to say I got a bit obsessed.

I will be dedicating an entire blogpost to my investigation on these case alone, and will link to it Here.

But just what IS taking people?

To understand the gravity of the situation you really have to understand the cases. A casual perusal of the facts is nowhere near enough to understand. Paulides has already written five books on the subject, filled with bizarre cases that cannot be easily explained, and even the cases which may seem tame enough must be viewed from a lens accounting for the sheer enormity of all the cases together. A few people disappearing is an unfortunate tragedy. A hundred people disappearing is an uncomfortable coincidence. But over 1,400 people and counting disappearing is something else altogether. The words used by Paulides and others reflect the eerie nature of the disappearances; a “culling”, a “harvest”.

There are many, many people convinced that at least some of the cases are the work of an organization of serial killers known as the Smiley Face Killers. I’m not saying its not possible, and the work of great men like Detective Kevin Gannon and Dr. Lee Gilbertson, authors of “Case Studies in Drowning Forensics” proves that some of the cases could have been murders. But it simply doesn’t account for the sheer numbers, and some of the more bizarre cases.

Some of Paulides fans initially assumed he was making a connection to his previous Bigfoot investigations, however Paulides has made it somewhat clear this is not his intention or belief.

Other have suggested alien abduction, a more compelling suggestion certainly, but no easier to prove. Furthermore, alien abduction stories seem to sit in a category all their own, with a separate set of parameters and traits.


Many of the disappearances involve characteristics that seem to suggest cross dimensional travel, which is difficult to grasp for anyone not familiar with Quantum Physics. Essentially, there is a belief that it is possible that there are innumerable other dimensions sitting beside or even on top of ours. One possible explanation for cases where people seem to vanish in seconds into thin air, are found in a place previously searched, etc. is the theory that they somehow slipped into another dimension. Or were taken there. Further instances that back this seemingly outlandish theory up are cases like Brandon Swanson and Cullen Finnerty. Both stated on phonecalls to others where they were, but when the others arrived to the location the men were not there. In Finnerty’s case, his cellphone was pinged and the results were shiver inducing. His phone seemed to be bouncing wildly between several points in a four mile radius, a phenomenon that simply doesn’t happen or make any sense.

But what if these men were in another dimension, adjacent to ours?

It would also explain the vast number of cases in which victims are found a significant time later dead in the water, but forensics show they have only been dead or in the water a short time. Then where were they?

The trouble is, not all cases seem to be explained by a misstep into another realm. Some simply reek of an “abduction”. In many cases, the victim begins to act strangely, feel ill, do things uncharacteristic of them, and manage to separate themselves from anyone they are with. It seems as though the victims are being influenced, controlled, or even poisoned. Some are found with high amounts of GHB (the date rape drug) or other strange chemicals in their systems. Some are even found exsanguinated. In a high number of cases coroners cannot even establish the cause of death.

So something seems to be taking people, possibly out of this dimension, then returning them dead. But what? And why?

It certainly sounds like aliens. But there are other possibilities as well. In fact, what if I told you that nearly every culture on earth has a creature that fits this description?

First lets set up the MO of this creature or creatures.

  1. It has never really been “seen”. In the instances where is has possibly been seen it has been described as dark, humanoid in shape, and “blurry” or “fuzzy”.
  2. It preys on people that are alone. Some it seems to “lead” away or off paths, luring them like a fishing line.
  3. It seems to have a connection to weather. Can possibly bring or control storms? There have also been several instances of phonecalls from the missing in which all that can be heard is “rushing wind”.
  4. It confounds tracking dogs.
  5. They seem to have preferences in type of victim, as often similar types (age ranges, gender) will disappear in a cluster. Is a cluster a territory?)
  6. It has the ability to poison or drug an intended victim while hunting them.
  7. It chooses its victims in advance, possibly following them for days before making a move (based on unusual victim behavior leading up to disappearance, and cases like Cullen Finnerty who felt has was being followed days before he went missing).
  8. It does something or takes something from its victim that kills the person without leaving any marks or obvious cause of death.
  9. It removes some or all of the victims clothing, especially shoes, scattering them.
  10. And finally, it has a strong connection to water.

So what does all of this point to for me?

For starters, I don’t believe these things are a thing we are fully capable of understanding right now.

A Reddit User had this to say on the original SAR thread, and I found it incredibly interesting.

If you ever take word of caution, take this like your life depends on it: Don’t go into the wild alone. Don’t stray from your camp at night. Don’t answer or seek out anything that calls you mysteriously in the night. DO NOT believe everything you see with your own eyes.

I need to repeat that, Like your life depends on it: Do not believe things, especially ‘out of place’ ‘people’, voices, or suspicious things that you see, even with your own eyes, especially when your gut & instincts are warning you.

There’s something out there, something that scares grown men even like me, something we won’t talk about but it’s real, has no consistent form, and it lures you.

If you are a wild thing & a hunter of human beings, there’s no better hunting ground than our busiest national & state parks. Note I said busisest. If you are a hunter of opportunity, then there’s no better prey than the young, the weak, the old, the alone.

There’s something out there, so old, so skilled, so clever & cunning, not just a being but a species, that has or have developed a specialized survival skill: luring & preying on lost or solitary humans.

Can a predator in the natural world lure, trap, summon or even hypnotize their prey? A quick google search should yield you hundreds of examples of such species in the animal, fish, bird, and insect kingdoms.

What I submit, if exist [sic] such a species, old as man, who’s success depended on the successful hunting of humans, not only would it be very clever and good at it by now, but we’d have no record or memory of it in our history, just as no insect has probably ever survived an encounter with a trapdoor spider.

I submit their hunting approach is case by case. They’re[sic] lure different depending on their human prey’s age, strength and size, but what I submit is that our oldest natural predator, an undiscovered predator, is still opperating due to it’s skill of being able to read us like a book, hit us with lure (a lure I’ve distinctly recognized several times, particularly at night, just beyond the glow of the campfire) lead us into a trap, to never be seen or heard from again.

People I submit a thing exists, something’s out there, a species, that’s not too unlike Stephen King’s “It”.

I’ve felt the lure, tasted it, smelled it. It’s the smell of food when you’re hungry, company when you’re lonely, music where there should be none, beauty where there’s danger. Nothing can explain the sensations, but deep down you’ll feel it, in your gut. Something’s not right. Something’s waiting. Something’s watching. Ask any man who’s survived long enough alone in the wild. There’s a Siren like hunter out there. It’ll own you dead to rights, if you don’t listen to your gut.

Much like this Reddit user, I believe that the things that are taking people are an IT that we have no real name for.

They do bare striking similarities with things we do have names for however.


Art by Jonas Springbord

When I first began my research I was struck by the similarities to the Native American (specifically the Algonquian, Cree and Inuit) legends of the Wendigo. The Wendigo is a creature symbolizing the frozen north, starvation, and cannibalism. It was said to be created when a human resorted to cannibalism, and was linked to winter storms. When praying on humans, some legends said that it would fly down and rip a person right out of their shoes…

In Phillipine mythology there is a creature called a Tiyanak. It lures people by mimicking a baby crying, something that few humans could ignore. Supposedly one of the only ways to escape a Tiyanak was to take off your clothes and turn them inside out…

In some South American folklore, there is the story of the Patasola, a monster that lures people by taking the form of a beautiful woman or a loved one. She is also known for her ability to confuse and evade dogs.


And these are only a tiny sampling of the vast list of creatures that bare strange resemblance to the missing person cases.

If there is a Thing out there, It could easily lure an unknowing person to itself by acting like a woman or child in distress, and what reason would a strong adult male have to fear such a lure? If it can take many forms or mimic many sounds, perhaps it could even look or sound like someone we trust.

But now we have entered the realm of pure speculation. Unfortunately, this It has left very few survivors, and those who have, such as Cullen Fortney of La Crosse Wisconsin, cannot remember anything about their ordeal.

The point of all this is that whether or not there is a terrifying creature out there, many many people are dying and yet the general masses are not seeing it. Most of these deaths could be prevented by not traveling alone into national parks, or by using the buddy system in the city. In areas near harbors like Boston, better guardrails and night security could prevent men from simply drunkenly falling into the water, if that is truly what is happening.

But instead of doing something productive or finding a solution to this problem, most people, such as the police, are more willing to victim blame. All humans want to believe “It could never happen to me” or “they had it coming”. But this selfish attitude doesn’t do anyone any good, and in fact has been disproven in many instances of upstanding and kind citizens meeting their ends after mysterious disappearances.

So I hope that even if you find this all a bit farfetched, it might sit in your head for a while, roll around, make you think. I hope that it might make you a little more cautious, a little more curious, and hopefully, a little more safe.