Shadows Over Waltham

I’ve always got my eyes open looking for interesting places to go urban exploring. I love abandoned, decaying places, as well as their history. So when I stumbled upon info about the Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham, so close to where I live, I knew I had to go.

I took the journey with my usual spooky companions (my mother and my nana) and we headed to Waltham armed with comfy sneakers and cameras. As we drove past the gated entrance on Trapelo Rd. we realized we needed to find parking, and we happened to turn onto a road with several old buildings.

1

“Is…this place abandoned too?” I raised an intrigued brow and looked to my mom, then hopped out of the car. We both walked around the building, casually trying doors and peering into windows. Then we saw the black SUV driving up…a State Police plate on the front.

We had only been exploring two minutes and already the cops had found us.

The officer stepped out, and we walked up, trying to seem nonchalant. “Oh hi! We were just driving by and saw this building…” My mother smiled sweetly. Luckily the officer seemed to be in a good mood.

“I don’t blame you.” He put his hands in his belt loops. “Do you know what this place is?”

“No.” We admitted. “Was it a school?”

“Sort of. It was called the Fernald School for the Feeble Minded. Lot of history here. You should look it up.” He shook his head gravely. “A disappearance of history…” He trailed off looking over at the brick building.

The name certainly sounded familiar. We nodded and replied “Thank you. We will”

“Alright, unfortunately this is state property and I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

We bashfully conceded and headed out, driving out of the lot as I furiously began to google.

2

The Fernald School was built in 1888, and at its peak housed over 2000 young boys. Like most mental asylums of the early 20th century, it was overcrowded and underfunded, and reports of bad conditions and abuse of the children were frequent. Though the Fernald was supposed to be a care center, a large portion of its occupants were not disabled at all, but were instead orphans or the poor/homeless. The boys there had almost no rights, and were treated as “sub human” according to reports from former ‘patients’.

In the 20’s the school became best known for leading in Eugenics research and advocation. For those not in the know, eugenics is the attempt to genetically create more “perfect” people, and was a foundation of Adolph Hitler’s beliefs.

In the 40’s the school partnered with Harvard and MIT and was funded by none other than Quaker Oats to do more experiments on children, this time by feeding them doses of radiated cereal. The children who had parents got permission slips to join a “science club” and were bribed with trips and toys.

Despite all of the this, Fernald existed and continued to house patients all the way up until 2014, with most living there for their entire lives. According to most the conditions greatly improved after the 70’s. Part of the reason for this was because Judge Joseph Tauro heard reports of the conditions, and made an unannounced trip to the institution. He described the school as being the realization of ones “worst horrors”. He found a ‘hospital’ that reeked of urine and patients covered in bugbites.

After learning all of this we were rather amazed, and I’ll admit, REALLY wanted to go back and explore more. Unfortunately the grounds were heavily patrolled by police, and each subsequent time we passed the road we could see a patrol car stationed up the road, watching. Further exploration there was simply not possible. Instead we headed onward to Metropolitan state. We parked in an old ball field and walked to the gate, past several abandoned houses we assume were part of the staff housing of the facilities, and had been abandoned around the same time as the hospital.

4.jpg3

I was shocked to notice a familiar sight…the same small white figure I had seen painted on the Clinton Tunnel in Western Mass. The coincidence was eerie, but I had to assume now that it was some kind of tag, perhaps from a fellow lover of urban exploration but with a slightly more destructive tone. Nonetheless, something about the figure gave me a positive feeling, like it was some sort of guide.

5

We weren’t sure where exactly the asylums buildings were located, or if any even still stood. As we walked up the cracked paved road we saw our little friends once again.

6

9.jpg

Though tempted to veer down the path we wanted to check the paved road first, and it snaked up the hill and let off at several other dirt paths headed toward an old water tank.

7

8

Though interesting, it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. Our break came in the form of two dogs speeding past us after a rabbit, their owners coming up behind.

We made small talk, (easy to do as dog lovers) and then I probed. “Do you come here a lot?”

“Almost every day.”

“Do you know if any of the buildings are still here?”

The woman launched into explanation, a wealth of knowledge on the area and a goldmine for us. She told us that only one building still stood, and we would have to head down Metropolitan Parkway toward the Avalon condos. She also talked to us about the old incinerator, the secret tunnels, and more. I could tell immediately we would never find the mythical tunnels, but within reach was the cemetery. She told us it was down the path through the woods we had passed earlier.

We thanked her and said farewell to her dogs, then headed for the cemetery. It was down a steep hill in the woods, but the graves were in a small clearing surrounded by a stone wall.

10

The graves were mostly stone blocks with numbers carved into them. The patients were from both Metropolitan and Fernald.

11

According to our local guide, the cemetery had closer to 350 souls buried in it, and only a few with more dignified memorials.

12

The graveyard was a humbling place, dotted with annual flowers that had been planted there in years past by loved ones of the deceased, or just those who pitied them.

On out way out we nearly stepped on one of the cemetery’s few living inhabitants; an extremely feisty snake who lunged at us.

13

We headed back to our car and drove down the road to Metropolitan Parkway.  It wasn’t long before we found what we were looking for.

Metropolitan State Hospital was built around 1927, but the only building that we could still experience, the Administration Building, had it’s cornerstone laid in 1928. We were thrilled to see it, beautiful in its decay.

16

Metropolitan State had once been a busy hospital for the mentally ill, housing thousands of patients. It was laid out like many asylums of the time using the Kirkbride  model, but it was comprised of many different buildings that gave it a colony effect.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 8.56.16 PM

For some beautiful photos of the buildings pre-demolition click here

The conditions at the hospital slowly decreased as time progressed. In 1978, a patient named Anne Marie Davee went missing. Her disappearance wasn’t formally investigated until 19 negligence complaints against the hospital had been filed and two entire years had passed. It was then that they learned that another patient, Melvin Wilson, had murdered and dismembered Anne with a hatchet and buried her body on the grounds. He had kept some of her teeth as souvenirs.

The horrific crime was likely not the only dark event in Metropolitan’s past.

Other accusations included the attempt to ‘cure’ mentally ill children by adding chemicals to their milk, resulting in multiple deaths.

For 25 years Metropolitan State’s Admin building has stood, slowly crumbling. When I found it, boards firmly covered all the windows but one, where a hole had been dug out just big enough for a person to slip through. I strongly considered it, but my mother had some objections. As we drove away I felt both complete and yet hollow, not unlike the skeletal building I had left behind.

Some More Thoughts on Zachary Marr

“Empty handed I entered the world and barefoot will I leave it”

The words were scrawled on yellow columns, one word to each, which were lining the walkway I traveled down. The graffiti seemed particularly fitting for the occasion. I was walking down a path to the place where Zachary Marr had died.

IMG_3932

The quote was a shortened, bastardization of a quote by a Japanese Monk, Kozan Ichikyo. He wrote it the day that he died in 1360. The full version is

“Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going —
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.”

The winding path sandwiched between TD Garden and the Zakim bridge was presumably the same as the one Zach had walked just a few weeks before. I tried to imagine what he was thinking or seeing on that bitterly cold February night. Had he also read the words along the posts? Or were those written sometime after he had gone into the water? The sidewalk, if one followed it, led to a wide area directly beneath the Zakim, where the Charles River’s salty water lapped quietly at the cement footings.

IMG_2451

It was an almost pleasant area by the light of day, a secret seeming place. Across the water to the right, one of the State Police buildings abutted the water, their patrol boats docked about only a few hundred feet from where Zach Marr had been that night. Despite the location, no one except the cameras attached to the bridges underbelly had seen what happened. Or at least, no one that we know of. For a reason we still cannot understand, Zack seemingly walked to this place, then along a catwalk under the bridge that runs parallel to the train tracks, separated by a fence.

IMG_2453

The catwalk ends in a dead end, while the train tracks continue across a steel beam bridge.

IMG_2455
Zach then apparently (according to reports of the cctv footage which has not been released) climbed up onto the railings by the water, and stepped off into the darkness.

I would give nearly anything to see that footage. Not for any sick pleasure or macabre entertainment; I suffered from nightmares for some time about Zach. In fact, the idea of seeing the video fills me with a sense of unrivaled dread. But something in me needs to see it, in some strange way. Maybe I feel like I will learn something I couldn’t understand before? Maybe I believe I will feel somehow vindicated? What was he wearing when he went over that railing? Was he moving clumsily, drunkenly? Or in the same surefooted, trancelike state I had seen on so many other eerie cctv videos of similar cases? Did it look like a simple accidental slip? Did it look like a resolute suicide? And even if I had these answers, what would they mean?

As I walked along the length of the catwalk I noticed the signs of homeless people’s camps; beds made of old blankets and cardboard, snack wrappers and cups, even some articles of clothing that could have been anyones. (Zach’s? Someone who was there that night? If he was somehow murdered, a suspect?)

IMG_2454

The weather was warmer now, more bearable, survivable. There was probably no one else around the night Zach was here. It had been the coldest night of the year in Boston in recent memory; hypothermia could happen in only a short time and most of the cities homeless population would have had to seek shelter in more protected places. Still, I wondered if the police had tried talking to any of the regulars around North Station. I doubted it.

For most people Zach’s death was quickly accepted as just another accident. Just another drunk college age boy who wandered off into the water. I of course have difficulty accepting that. That theory leaves too many unanswered questions, and is simply too similar to the hundreds of other cases like it. I feel in my gut that something else happened that night, that there are still more puzzle pieces that need to be collected and fitted together before we can understand what.

Did you know any of these people?

I am reaching out to the public for information on a list of people who have either gone missing or died in Massachusetts. If you knew any of them and can give me any info, even if it’s just to tell me you do not want them included in my investigations, please reach out to me. The list is comprised of people that might fit with my previous investigated cases, and most I could find very little info about.

Jerald Gelb (40) Aug. 16 2001

David W. Crockett (45) April 3 2004

Daniel Mun (20) Dec. 5 2004

John Pike (23) June 2nd 2007

Charles M. Allen Jr. (22) Oct. 13 2007

Justin Marshall (30) June 6 2010

Christopher Martin (24) Dec. 17 2011

D’Anthony Green (23) July 30th 2012

Joseph A. Gage (32) Jan. 1 2013

Shilo Morgado (36) Aug. 30 2015

If you can tell me about any of these men, or if you knew someone else that you feel might have been a victim of the Boston Drownings, please comment or message/contact me. I will keep any info you want private. Thank you.

The Mysterious Death of Kendrick Johnson

Kendrick_Johnson.jpg

On Thursday, January 10 2013, 17 year old Kendrick Johnson went to school like any other day. Kendrick was a student at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Georgia. It was the first week back after winter break for students. Kendrick was a decent athlete with a close group of friends who called him KJ.

At about 1:09 pm according to a motion activated camera in the school, Kendrick entered the older and lesser used of the school’s two gymnasiums. He may have been going to fetch a pair of sneakers that he co-owned with a friend, and stored in the gym corner to avoid locker room fees. What happened next will probably never be known for certain. But Kendrick never left that gym alive. Though other student’s came in moments later, they did not remember seeing Kendrick anywhere. Kendrick was marked absent for his next class of the day. That evening a color guard practice took place in the same gym, and still no one saw or heard anything.

n

When Kendrick did not come home that day his mother began to worry immediately. She recalled having a bad feeling in her gut. Jacquelyn Johnson called around asking about her son Kendrick, but no one had seen him. At about 11pm she got in her car and drove around desperately searching for him. Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick’s father, was out of town and could not assist or comfort her. By 12:30 am the distressed mother finally did what she had been dreading; she called the police and reported her son missing.

kendrick-and-parents

The next morning Jackie headed to the school. It was the last place anyone had recalled seeing Kendrick, and her only lead. At 8:30am she met with several member of the administration, who helped her make and print missing persons flyers. At around 10:30 am Jackie witnessed a flurry of activity around the school. She overheard a conversation she was never meant to, and words that would change her life forever: they had found a body in the gym. In the following hours a parade of police, investigators, and the county coroner Bill Watson would descend upon the school.

But Bill Watson wasn’t called to the scene until late that evening, long after the body had been found. Upon arriving he was confused about other aspects of the handling of the case as well; the crime seen was being processed incorrectly and thus contaminated. People on scene were not wearing foot coverings. Not all evidence was being bagged or even considered. And Johnson’s body had been sitting and decomposing for hours without being examined.

Screen shot 2016-07-01 at 1.19.20 PM

The scene that greeted Bill Watson was disturbing to say the last. Kendrick Johnson’s body was in the back corner of the old gym, hanging halfway out of a rolled up wrestling mat. The body was covered in blood and vomit. His face was swollen and he had clearly been dead almost 24 hours, the smell of death hanging heavy in the gym. Despite all this the Sheriff, Chris Prine, was already ready to make a statement that evening: “Foul play is not suspected.”

“I definitely would not have ruled it an accident” Watson recalled of the scene. Or perhaps at least not so soon. (Footage of that scene can be easily found online, but I will not be including a link as it is graphic.)

When questioned about the discovery, witnesses said they had been near a grouping of mats when they noticed socked feet in one of them near the center. After alerting a teacher who helped move the mats and tip the one in question over, it became very clear the student inside was deceased.

8c9616075-131106-gymmat-4a.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Johnson’s feet can just be made out in the rolled up blue mat. This image gives an idea of the set up before the mat was laid on its side.

Johnson’s body and personal affects were bagged and sent to the Valdosta Crime Lab. There they awaited positive identification by Kenneth Johnson. When Kendrick’s father arrived he recalled being concerned about the temperature in the drawer where his son’s body was stored. According to him warm air wafted from the supposedly refrigerated unit. This was to be just the first in a long list of contested facts about Kendrick Johnson’s death and the following investigation, a back and forth shouting match between dozens of Valdosta citizens about the ‘truth’, and series of seemingly endless examples of “he said” “she said”.

Barry Funck, director of the Valdosta Crime Lab, refutes Kenneth’s claims. He assured everyone that body storage is always kept to temperature, and alarms would sound if it ever got too high. This was pointed out to NAACP representative of Valdosta, Leigh Touchton, who visited Funck some time later to get a better idea and left feeling reassured.

Leigh Touchton had been the Lowndes/Valdosta NAACP president several times despite being a white woman, and initially worked with the Johnson family to get answers on the case. She would eventually side with authorities however that the death was a freak accident. But more on that later.

Johnson’s body was next transported to Medical Examiner Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft, who would preform the autopsy. However at some point along the journey, Kendrick’s clothes and other belongings went missing; all he arrived to Maryanne with was a pair of headphones clutched tightly in his hand. No one seemed to be able to explain where the clothes had gone. Funck, Maryanne, and even the driver of the transport vehicle blamed one of the others for the loss.

After the autopsy was completed, Kendrick’s body was sent next to the funeral home of Antonio Harrington, who had offered the family a free service due to their tragedy.

Police meanwhile requested the surveillance video surrounding the gym from the high school. Rather than having one of their people retrieve it, they left the school to their own devices, and received a copy of the videos five days later. The video was from 35 motion activated cameras, and after going through the hours of footage, police were satisfied that it showed no evidence of a crime.

Results of the autopsy were released on May 2nd 2013: Kendrick Johnson had died of “accidental positional asphyxia” after becoming stuck in an upside position inside the gym mat.

kendrick

Though certainly bizarre, the death made sense. Johnson would have suffocated fairly fast, and the mat and the pressure on his chest would have muffled any cries for help. The investigation was closed, perhaps not tidily, but satisfactorily for police.

Not satisfied, however, were Kendrick’s parents. They hired attorney Benjamin Crump, a high profile lawyer who had worked previously for both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown’s families. What they felt was a lack of a thorough investigation by police in a southern town with a long history of racial discrimination and lynchings was enough for them to decide to reexamine the case.

Just 15 years before a case bearing strong similarities to that of the Sandra Bland case occurred in Valdosta. Willie James Williams Sr. was a middle aged african american who died in police custody after ‘falling’ and hitting his head on the pavement. Though his cut lip was stitched, his other injuries were ignored and he had a seizure in his cell later that night.

The Johnson family had come by a picture taken after Kendrick’s first autopsy that they felt proved their son had actually been beaten to death. The gruesome photo (again, easy to find but which I will not share here out of respect for Kendrick and his loved ones) showed Kendrick’s face swollen and disfigured. However the picture was not indicative of how Johnson had actually looked at the time of his death. It was taken long after he had been dead, and the skin of his head pulled back for autopsy. So while horrific, it proves very little.

The family and their attorney got Kendrick’s body exhumed for a second autopsy in June. Medical Examiner William Anderson came to a very different conclusion about Kendrick’s death; the boy had died of heart attack brought on by blunt force trauma to his carotid artery near the back of his neck. The proof, he felt, was in a small 3cm bruise to the area. Further proof would be difficult to come by however, as Anderson also revealed that all of Kendrick Johnson’s organs were missing, and his body stuffed instead with newspapers.

When questioned, Antonio Harrington at first balked. He claimed that he had never received the organs at all, and that they must have been thrown away by the medical examiner. Sherry Lang, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) denied the accusation, assuring that the organs were most definitely in the body before being sent to the funeral home. Finally Harrington changed his story. Yes they had received the organs, but they had been too decomposed to salvage and had been thrown away. As for the newspaper, it had been a practical, albeit insensitive, way to fill the cavities the organs left behind. Many funeral homes use similar methods but with sawdust. Ultimately Harrington’s methods were called inappropriate, but totally legal.

Next Crump wanted a second look at the school surveillance video. An analysis of the videos revealed bizarre facts. There was a period of time between 11-1:30 in which multiple cameras around the gym recorded nothing at all, a blackout period. This was despite other footage showing that several students entered the gym in that time and should have activated the motion cameras. This means that there were other student’s in the gym when Kendrick went into the mat. Yet no one saw anything. Or at least, no one was talking.

In fact, some students had been literally barred from talking. Two such students were the Bell brothers, who had been commanded by their FBI agent father Rick Bell not to make any statements. Perhaps Rick was nervous about how an altercation that had happened in 2011 between Kendrick Johnson and his son Brian would look to the media. The boys had been football teammates and were on a bus at the time. His fears were well founded. Once the story broke suspicions immediately fell on the brothers, who were now being accused of murder. It was up to them to pull together some irrefutable alibis.

A teacher and a classroom full of students confirmed that Brian Bell was in a class on the other side of the school during the time Kendrick was seen entering the gym. Multiple students and Wrestling Coach Spencer Graybeal confirmed that Branden Bell was on a bus trip halfway to Macon for a wrestling meet. It seemed that both brothers could be accounted for during the time period that Kendrick went into the mat. Despite their names being cleared legally of suspicion, the family has not managed to avoid crushing speculation and online threats. Brian even had a football scholarship to Florida State University revoked after Twitter users contacted the school calling him a racist murderer. The Bell family believes they have become scapegoats and were unfairly targeted.

But other Valdosta students and friends of Kendrick’s have suggested that a bullying death, even if not by the Bell’s, is not out of the question. Solomon Arrington, Kendrick’s cousin and friend, reported that he received threatening messages on facebook the day Kendrick was found, implying he would be the next to end up in a body bag. Valdosta Lt. Sheriff Stryde Jones assured the media that the messages were investigated and determined not to to be threats. The names of the senders were never released. But Arrington felt a change in the air after that day. He felt he and other friends of Kendrick’s were outsiders, shunned by the school. He said was disheartened when only three Lowndes High School teachers (one a substitute) attended Kendrick’s funeral.

Other voices have risen up to refute Arrington’s claim. According to them, dozens of Kendrick’s teachers were present, and one of his former coaches even gave a eulogy. (If any of my readers were there and can share their own side to the story I would love to hear.)

20 year old Dalton Ray Chauncey was brought before police after claiming that he had overheard a conversation in which two students were telling a third that they had killed Kendrick Johnson.The students he had spoken of, whom he only knew by first name, could not be located by police. After hours of questioning, Dalton changed his story. He ‘admitted’ he had made up the entire thing, including the students themselves, for attention. His mother doesn’t believe it. She believes her son, who is bipolar, was taken advantage of and coerced by police. He is now being indicted on a felony charge for making “false statements” to investigators.

Meanwhile, some questions were arising about the crime scene itself. Certain aspects of the evidence gathering process were not adding up. One was a rather large spattering of blood on the wall of the gym near the mats.

oldbloodstain

According to police the drips were “too old” to have been relative to the case, although how this was determined was not mentioned. The blood was also confirmed not to be Kendrick’s, but testing all 3000 of the Lowndes High students was out of the question.

A shoe was also found nearby which from pictures some theorized had blood on it. However the red was actually just paint. Regardless the shoe was also not bagged as evidence. Kendrick’s own shoes were another issue. Supposedly Kendrick had gone into the mat to reach for a shoe at the bottom, then had died. Over the course of the next 20-ish hours, blood and other fluids had leaked from his body onto the floor beneath him. But somehow his shoe remained pristine, sitting in the pool as if placed there.

article-0-1918D30100000578-449_634x370

Johnson’s Body was found like this.

johnson-body

As you can see, the shoes he was wearing that day are kicked off and in the mat beside him. If Kendrick died of suffocation, he was likely thrashing and struggling to get out of the mat, which could explain his kicked off shoes and the socks slipping from his feet. But why during his panic would he bother to continue clutching a pair of headphones? Why wouldn’t he be pushing up on the ground and mat with his arms? And how, if he was struggling so much, could none of the other students that had to have been in the gym at that time have seen him?

In October of 2013 U.S. Attorney Michael Moore ordered a federal review of Kendrick Johnson’s death.

But after a full review of the case himself, Benjamin Crump resigned as the Johnson Family attorney.William Anderson’s autopsy findings were under new scrutiny; he was later fired from other positions for “unethical actions” in other cases. His autopsy results are still contested. The Johnson families’ supporters soon began to drop like flies. Leigh Touchton, who had once worked alongside the Johnson’s, agreed with the findings of Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft, that Kendrick’s death was simply a freak accident. Even Reverend Floyd Rose, once the leader of raising funds for the Johnson’s case (and a man who had even put up his home as collateral to bail out on the Johnson’s after their arrest for protesting outside a courthouse), was now singing a different tune. “You won’t find a person of any reputation in this town who says that boy was murdered.”

In the years since Kendrick Johnson’s death, both Michael Moore and his replacement Steven Dettlebach, have resigned their positions as US Attorney’s overseeing the Johnson case. As of June 2016, no charges have been filed due to insufficient evidence.

But what changed? According to most people the problems lay with the Johnson family themselves. They fought for justice for their son, but at times it verged on irrational. They posted images of his swollen face across social media and on signs at protests, maintaining their baby had been beaten to death; but the evidence just wasn’t there. Even Anderson admitted that Kendrick’s body showed no signs of having been beaten.

The Johnson’s also accused a hefty list of people as being involved in the murder and subsequent coverup, including the police and many school officials. But the amount of people involved in the theoretical conspiracy seems far too large to be sustainable or possible. After a conference call between the family, their attorney, and members of the NAACP, Leigh Touchton resigned. She felt that the family was milking their tragedy for donation money and telling outright lies to gain support.

Wrestling Mat Death

The Johnson family denies that they are doing anything except seeking justice for their son. They are still working with a new attorney, Chevenne King Jr., and say they will not rest until they are satisfied they know the truth.

Unfortunately, in a case filled with mishandling of evidence, uncertain witnesses, and red herrings, it’s a truth that might never be known.

As for what I believe happened, there are many possibilities. Bullying or hazing gone wrong could have lead to some students pushing Kendrick into the mat as a prank, thinking he could get out on his own. Perhaps students did see him fall in, but thought it was funny and left without helping. Afraid they could get in trouble, they never came forward with what they saw. But whatever happened, it seems a vast conspiracy to cover up a murder are the most unlikely. Either way, I hope Kendrick and his family can find peace somehow.Regardless of how he died, he shouldn’t have, and the fact that his case was handled so poorly and lightheartedly by authorities must be troubling for his loved ones.

Boston’s Mysterious Vanishing Men (Follow Up)

12771731_10207107926675062_4642887711430492134_o

I want to start off by thanking everyone for the immense amount of interest and support that they have shown in the days since publishing my Boston’s Mysterious Vanishing Men blog post. I never expected it to go so viral, and the response has been surreal.

I have been contacted in various ways by friends and family of some of the men who’s stories were shared in that post, which was incredibly humbling. That being said, I want to reach out to those loved ones to tell them that if there is anything I have written that they wish me to change or omit, please contact me to do so. I have already been asked to do so and readily obliged. The last thing I want to do is cause more pain for those loved ones. I have NEVER stopped viewing these men as people. They are not just cases or statistics to me. They are individuals with stories, and in researching them for so many hours I have grown attached to them.

I have also been sent hundreds of stories of similar cases from across America, some even begging me to investigate. Unfortunately, I am all too aware of these other cases. The reason I chose to focus on Boston was because it is my home, and the place I am familiar with. But I also stuck to Boston because looking into the rest of the cases across the U.S. would probably consume the rest of my life. If you know of similar cases in your hometowns, I urge you to try to make your city safer in ways similar to my plans, which I will discuss shortly.

I have been asked a couple of times now what my goals or motives for this investigation are. All I have ever wanted to do is highlight cases that I have found interesting, to call them into question in case justice still needs to be sought, and to stop similar events from occurring in the future. I wanted to raise awareness to keep others safe. But I also want to try to relieve the stigma surrounding young men drinking and dying. For the cases in which that may apply, I want to remind people that everyone makes mistakes in their life. But these men should not have died, and their deaths were preventable.

Which leads to my next point: Where do we go from here?

My next goal is a multi-step plan to make the city safer. I am working with Someone who is drafting a letter for local bars along the water, asking them for safer and more conscientious business practices when serving alcohol. I will also be contacting several people in power asking for improvements to safety along the harbor. As it stands, the area near Long Wharf where several of the men went missing or were found dead is considerably unsafe. I want the installation of better guardrails, better lighting, more surveillance cameras, and hopefully even the hiring of several night guards trained in water rescue and CPR.

If these cases truly come down to men falling in the water, why shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to prevent it?

Now, there is the chance that these are not merely coincidences. As many of my readers have postulated, there is a chance that some of these men were killed. I have been overwhelmed by the eagerness to try to get to the bottom of the mystery (encouraging curiosity into the unknown was my intention of this blog!) and by the sleuthing taking place in the comments! I wanted to foster a place where people could discuss freely, so I tried to publish as many of the comments as possible. However, there have been a few which I have not felt comfortable allowing, mostly ones which speculate on personal facts on the individual men. I do not think that such unfounded speculation is helpful at this juncture, and furthermore I don’t want to offend loved ones of these men. The second kind of comment I have not been allowing are ones which try to create a profile of the ‘killer’.

While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I do not think this should be attempted by anyone but professionals, nor do I think we have enough info at this time to create a successful profile. My greatest fear is that this will turn into a witch hunt. I do not want to cause a hysteria that will result in hurting innocent people. So please refrain from trying to pin blame on a certain kind of person (uber drivers, truckers, etc.).

What needs to happen instead is everyone coming together to make Boston, or their own cities, safer! Everyone needs to use the buddy system. No one should drink to excess. If you feel uneasy, trust your gut. If you see something, say something! If you notice an intoxicated person, get them help! If we maintain vigilance, whatever is happening to these men will stop, one way or another.

In the coming weeks there may be petitions to sign and letters to write, so I hope that all of you that have shown such passion for these cases will be there then as well. It is only by working together that we can invoke change, and thanks to all of your sharing and raising awareness, that is now a very real possibility!

So thank you again everyone for helping me share these men’s stories.

-Elise Soper (CryptidAntiquarian)

Boston’s Mysterious Vanishing Men

To read Part 2 Click Here

To view an interactive map of all cases Click Here

If you were to hear of a young man disappearing after a night of partying and ending up dead in a river, you might be quick to call it a tragic accident. You might think it was common almost, for young foolish drunk men to die in this manner. But why would you think that? One possibility is that you have heard of the sheer number of cases that seem to indicate this scenario. But what if this isn’t what is occurring at all? What if something far more sinister is taking place?

The trouble with these cases, the thing that got my attention, is also the very thing that seems to make them so dismissible. They are incredibly predictable. In fact in many cases they are practically cookie cutter. But some are so similar that they seem to go far beyond coincidence.

After my obsession with unexplained missing persons cases was sparked by David Paulides (as chronicled in my last post) I couldn’t help but begin to notice them more, and then Dennis Njoroge went missing. I saw flyers posted all around Boston, his eyes following me daily, and my heart fell. I had a bad feeling in my gut as I began to connect him to other cases. I remember telling friends gravely that if the precedent was correct, he would be found dead in the Charles River.

One month after he went missing, Dennis was found in the Charles. The Police did not suspect foul play, but very little information has ever been made public (and not for lack of trying let me tell you).

I don’t know what happened to Dennis, and maybe the police and his family do. Maybe he was a troubled boy who met a tragic but self inflicted end that cold December night. The fact is I might never know the truth due to the privacy of the family, but regardless, Dennis sparked in me the desire to go back and examine other similar cases in my city. Other cases where the truth seems hard to come by.

I decided to begin my own investigation of sorts, and I’m going to use this page to track my findings and hopefully bounce ideas off of others who are interested.

Here are the cases I have found so far, showing name, age, and month/year missing.

John Daverio (49)  3/2003

Dustin Willis (26) 3/2007

William Hurley (24) 10/2009

Eugene Losik (26) 2/2010

David Mark (24) 2/2011

Franco Garcia (21) 2/2012

Jonathan Dailey (23) 10/2012

Eric Munsell (24) 2/2014

Josue Quispe (18) 10/2015

Dennis Njoroge (21) 11/2015

Zachary Marr (22) 2/2016

And now I will take a closer look at each of the cases.

johndaverio

John Daverio was a beloved 49 year old teacher at Boston University. He was born in Philadelphia, and moved to Boston to get a PhD from BU. He later became the Chairman of the Department of Musicology there in 1987, a position he held until his death. He was considered one of the world’s leading experts on German Romanticism and Robert Schumann, whom he wrote several books about. (Ironically Schumann once attempted suicide by throwing himself into the Rhine river.) John was considered a happy man by all who knew him, and was lovingly caring for his elderly parents, indicating that suicide was unlikely.

Daverio was last seen on CCTV leaving the BU campus on the evening of March 16, 2003 at around 8:30pm, wearing a red jacket. He had left his wallet and briefcase behind in the classroom, but was carrying a white bag which was never found. After being missing nearly a month, his body was found in the Charles River on April 14, 2003, near the Cambridge Boathouse. Police did not suspect foul play, but his death has never been explained. Those close to him refused to believe he would commit suicide.

Dustin Willis11270_1

Dustin ‘Dusty’ Willis was from Hatteras, North Carolina. He became a PO3/E4 petty officer and Engineer in the Navy and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, as a crewman aboard the S.S. Donald Cook. Dustin was a musician, and was married but seperated, with a five year old son.

When Dustin was 26 the Donald Cook docked in Boston for Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. On the night of March 16th 2007 there were blizzard conditions in Boston. Dustin was out with his shipmate friends at the Black Rose Pub near Quincy Market. On their way out at around 11pm, Dustin’s shipmates lost sight of him in the storm. Friends state that he was sober at the time. He had spoken with his girlfriend several times that evening, and she confirmed this. When she called his phone the final time that evening a person that was not Dustin answered, and told her that they had found his phone. Dustin’s phone was found at about 1am on the ground near Long Wharf, but there was no sign of Dustin.

On March 21st Dustin’s body was found in 22 feet of water off Long Wharf, steps away from where his phone was found. Police surmised that he had simply become disorientated by the blizzard and slipped into the harbor.

imageScreen shot 2016-07-31 at 2.12.22 PM

William Hurley was a Navy sailor from North Carolina. He was stationed in Florida. On a stop in Boston in 2007 he met his girlfriend, and the two began dating. (Ironically he was in Boston the very same night that Dustin Willis went missing.) That December he moved from Florida to Quincy to live with her. William was invited by his friend Brendan Venti to attend a Bruins game at the TD Garden on October 8th 2009. However after only the first period and a couple of beers, he claimed he was tired from work, and was going to have his girlfriend pick him up. William stepped outside and called her, and she headed to pick him up. When she was close by she asked where he was. William asked a passerby who answered “99 Nashua Street”, and warned his girlfriend his phone was about to die. She told him she would be there in a moment and was just around the corner, then William’s phone died. When she got to the location, William wasn’t there. She drove around looking for him and asking people if they had seen him, but it was as if he had vanished into thin air. The search for William Hurley began but little leads were found. At some point his cellphone was found smashed, but Police released few details.

On October 14th William’s body was found at about 2:30am in the Charles River near 200 Nashua Street, 25 feet from shore. Police ruled out a mugging gone wrong as he had no injuries and his wallet and keys were still on him. Suffolk District Attorney Spokesman Jake Wark was quoted as saying the body had been in the water “a couple of days”. Perhaps it was a simple mistake, but William had been missing for six days, not a couple.

imageScreen shot 2016-07-31 at 2.15.14 PM

Eugene ‘Gene’ Losik was born in Belarus, and moved to the US when he was 7. He was an engineering grad of UMass Amherst, and a black belt in karate. He was 25 years old, living in Lawrence with his girlfriend and working for a company called Raytheon. On February 20th 2010 Gene was in the city celebrating a friend’s birthday. The group was staying at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel. After a night of partying, Gene was caught on CCTV at 2:24am leaving out the back entrance of the hotel without a jacket. He was heading into Christopher Columbus park, and friends say he was relatively sober and may have been stepping out for a cigarette. When friends awoke the next day they realized Gene was gone, and began to search. Police were led down to the docks by various scent dogs, and the water was searched by divers, but Gene was not found.

Nearly nine months later, on November 8th, Gene’s body was found near Rowes Wharf in the Boston Harbor. His cause of death is still unknown. Also unknown is why his body wasn’t found for six months, as drowning forensics indicate that it should have surfaced sooner. Some say it could have been weighted down, but the truth may never be known.

a9ab17b4217b57c5c5d0bad76944c388BostonBaseballTrip2008012.jpg

David Mark grew up in New York and had a Masters in Geography from the University of Albany. David had Type 1 Diabetes and was insulin dependent, and also had Aspergers. He was 24 when he went missing. On March 2nd 2011 David left the home where he lived with his parents in Albany and drove to Boston, where his sister lived in the Chestnut Hill area. David went and ate at Boston Beer Works near Fenway and had a few drinks. Employees said he was in good spirits. David never showed up at his sister’s house, and never returned home to Albany. The search for him was underway fast, as his parents knew he could Get sick without his insulin. His car was found several days later in Chestnut Hill, at 10 Middlesex Rd. but there was no sign of David. His phone was last pinged at around 6:40 in Boston, near the Charleston Naval Yard.

On March 8th a Boston fishing company found David’s body in the Chelsea River, downstream from the Andrew McArdle Bridge, 15 feet from shore. Police said there was no signs of trauma. His cause of death was not made public, but police say it was not foul play.

1334324759944maryanns

Franco Garcia grew up in West Newton with his Peruvian parents. He was attending a Boston College night school and studying chemistry, hoping to eventually go on to medical school. He worked full time at a CVS pharmacy in Waltham, and was musically gifted. On February 21st 2012 Franco was out with friends at Mary Ann’s Bar in Cleveland Circle. He was 21 at the time. He had made plans to spend the night with his friend Katherine Corteselli, though he flitted between several friend groups over the course of the evening. At 11:27pm he texted her a reminder: “Don’t leave without me”. Sometime after 12:15am friends lost sight of Franco, though his keys and jacket were still in the bar. At 12:18am Franco was caught on CCTV passing by an atm and heading toward Chestnut Hill Reservoir, and the area where his car was parked. He was not staggering, and friends described him as drunk but not smashed. His phone was last pinged about an hour later in the same area, but his car was left untouched. A huge search for Franco began, and his story was even shared by Bruce Springsteen. Police focused their search on the reservoir almost immediately, and searched it thoroughly, but nothing was found.

On April 11th at around 8am, Franco’s body was spotted in the weeds about 18 feet offshore in the reservoir. His wallet was still on him, and he had no injuries. Police described his death as being “consistent with an accidental fall into the water” but failed to elaborate on what that meant or why he wasn’t found before.

12661748_10208996069724053_7035494590759036316_n

Jonathan Dailey (FB)

Jonathan Dailey grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and played violin and piano. He studied architectural technology at Appalachian State University, and later moved to Massachusetts with friend and roommate Miles Smith. Jonathan was 23 and attending a grad program at Boston Architectural College, but was taking a semester off for financial reasons. The night of October 2nd 2012, he and Miles hung out and had pizza until Miles went to bed around 9. The next morning Jonathan was gone. He had left behind everything but his phone. Though attempts were made to reach him he never answered, and his phone was soon shut off.

On October 9th at about 7:30am, a rowing instructor near Boston University (about a mile from Jonathan’s Allston apartment) made a startling discovery in the in the Charles River. Jonathan’s body was tied with chains to a cinderblock at the bottom of the river. Police assured the public that there was no threat to safety, and implied that Jonathan had committed suicide. He had no history of mental illness.

ericm1-e1398373768551554e66c9ce48a0.59948876-vpp_large

Eric Munsell was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He went to Boston University and got a degree in aerospace engineering. He was working as an aviation engineer at General Electric, and was pursuing a Masters in mechanical engineering via the Edison Engineering Program. On February 8th 2014, Eric was celebrating his 24th birthday at the Market Lounge. He was escorted out by a bouncer at about 11:30pm for causing a disturbance on his way to the restroom. It was only 18 degrees out, but according to the bouncer Eric claimed not to have a jacket. A half hour later his phone was pinged heading toward the Harbor and not his North End apartment. He was caught on CCTV near the Marriott Long Wharf.

On April 23 at about 12:30pm Eric’s body was found in the water at the end of Long Wharf. Police did not find his death suspicious. Why he supposedly walked to Long Wharf then proceeded to fall into the water and drown is unexplained.

Screen shot 2016-02-19 at 4.41.21 PM

r1C-0Dpf

Josue Quispe-Almendro was a runner, a photographer, and a religious young man. He lived in Malden with his tight knit family and was just 18 when he went missing. Josue was out running errands with his brother on October 17th 2015. He dropped his sibling off at a Bed Bath and Beyond in Somerville at about 4:30pm. He failed to return home or answer his phone. His car was found then next day at 10pm in Quincy.

Josue’s body was found washed up on Saquish Beach in Plymouth on November 12th. The cause of death was not released but police said foul play was not suspected. How Josue got all the way to Plymouth is unknown.

Screen shot 2016-02-19 at 5.01.18 PM

admin-ajax

Dennis Njoroge was born in Kenya, and moved with his mother to Worcester MA. He was attending Northeastern University and was an aspiring filmmaker who loved Quentin Tarantino and playing basketball. Dennis was excited to soon start a co-op job at a Boston News Station. He was 21 years old. On November 29th friends saw Dennis playing basketball at the Marino Center on Northeastern’s campus. This was verified by his keycard swipes. The next day he spoke to his mother on the phone, a conversation that she felt was perfectly normal. After that Dennis did not show up for classes, and did not respond to his mother. His phone was last pinged at around 2am on the MIT Campus in Cambridge.

On December 31st at 10am Dennis’ body was found by a jogger in the Charles River on the Boston side, near the esplanade and Arthur Fiedler Footbridge. The location is directly across from the MIT campus. There was no signs of trauma, and police were investigating the death as a “non-homicide”.

20160217_111141_marr_200bellhand

Zachary Marr (UPDATED) grew up in Harvard MA. He was celebrating his 22nd birthday with his cousins at the Bell in Hand Tavern on February 13th 2016. At about 1:30 he went outside for a cigarette, leaving his coat behind. At 1:40 he sent a snapchat to his cousin Amanda Marr that said “They won’t let me back in, lets leave”. She agreed to come out. However when they got outside Zach was gone. According to CCTV and bouncer statements, Zach never asked to come back inside. He was caught on CCTV at 1:44 walking past Boston Public Market, heading in the direction of TD Garden and Zakim Bridge. Police later found CCTV footage of Zachary “entering” the water under the Zakim (this footage has not been released). It is unclear what that meant precisely, but teams immediately began to search the water in the area. Nothing was found, possibly due to extremely low visibility. Several more searches were conducted with similar results in that area of the Charles River. On March 15th 2016 at about 5:45pm passerby’s noticed a body in the water by the Museum of Science Boston and (ironically) the Leverett Circle State Police Barracks. It was Zachary. His body was found in a location consistent with previous searches. Why he left the Bell in Hand and walked about a mile to the Charles is still unknown.

Some more thoughts on Zach Marr

********

I made a visualization of where the victims were last seen vs where their bodies were found.

Screen shot 2016-02-19 at 11.02.41 PM

I think its particularly beneficial to take a closer look in the financial district.

Screen shot 2016-02-19 at 11.18.57 PM

The proximities of these establishments is incredible.

Furthermore, many of the the victims are related in other ways.

  • William Hurley, Dustin Willis, and Jonathan Dailey were all from North Carolina.
  • Willis and Hurley were both in the Navy.
  • Willis, Gene Losik, and Eric Munsell were all engineers. Franco Garcia was studying chemistry.
  • Garcia, Willis, Dailey, and John Daverio were all musically talented. Josue Quispe was a photographer and Dennis Njoroge was a filmmaker.

Furthermore some cases seem bizarrely linked.

Dustin Willis was a NC native who joined the Navy and was in Boston March 16 2007. William Hurley was a NC born Navy man who was in Boston that same night, and would disappear two years after Willis. Both were talking on the phone to their girlfriends seconds before vanishing. Both men’s phones were later found.

Eric Munsell was removed from a bar on his birthday without his coat, possibly told a bouncer that he didn’t have one, and vanished into the night. Zachary Marr walked out of a bar without a coat two years later on his birthday, and told his friends that he wasn’t being allowed back inside. Both were later caught on CCTV.

I can’t claim to know just now what any of this might mean. all I can do is present the puzzle pieces that we currently have, but I know we are still missing far too many.

What I am certain of is that something terrible is happening to people all over the country, maybe the world, and the Boston cases are only a small sampling of it. I hope that someday this mystery can be solved to prevent future deaths, and pain for their families. Until then I urge everyone to make sure that YOU are not the next victim. Do not go out alone. Do not go near the water alone. And if possible, avoid wearing the color red. It’s a color that shows up often in David Paulides’ missing persons cases, and William Hurley and John Daverio were both wearing it when they vanished.

More On Zachary Marr

Part 2

 

What Is Taking These People?

yosemite-3

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.

4024787552_ba41806ce0_b

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.

chets_038

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.

photo-original

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.

ghost-in-forest

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.

Shadowhunter_Springborg_Beast02

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.

c0dc0b5b7b380f8adfcba12fc7be14ae

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.