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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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?)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Johnson’s Body was found like this.

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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.

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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.

Ten Disturbing Unsolved Disappearences

Hundreds of thousands of people go missing all over the world every day. Most cases are solved; the victims were lost, runaways, abductions, murders. But the cases are closed and the mysteries are solved. However this is not always the case. Some cases are so bizarre that the mystery is never solved, and some people are simply never found. But in modern times with our advanced technologies, how can people just vanish? And how can we not know what happened to them?

Over the last year I have become fascinated by stories of strange disappearances, and these are just a sampling of the hundreds I have researched. Each of these cases stuck with me for one reason or another, resonated with me in some way, and still haunt me even as I type.

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Maura Murray grew up in Hanson, MA. She was a cadet at West Point for 3 months. She did well in school and on her SATs, but at 21 the nursing student’s life was beginning to spiral out of control. In November of 2003 she got into some trouble for using a stolen credit card to buy pizzas for her UMass dorm, but her charge was to be dismissed after 3 months good behavior. In February of 2004 Maura’s father came to visit her in Amherst and stayed at a hotel. According to him he was there to help Maura buy a new car, as her old Saturn was starting to die. Later that night she borrowed his car to go to a party, but on the way home at 3:30am she crashed it into a guard rail. Despite this Maura got to go home without a sobriety test, and managed not to get into trouble while on probation. From looking at her computer records police discovered that Maura began to do research on hotels in rural Vermont and New Hampshire. On February ninth she called her work and told them she would be away for a week due to a death in the family. The death was a fabrication. But for some reason Maura wanted to get out of town, and that night she packed up a bag, took out almost all the rest of the money from her bank account ($280) and drove off in her black saturn sedan. She stopped at a liquor store and bought a fair amount of booze. Maura then headed into the mountains of New Hampshire, an area where she had gone frequently with her father on trips growing up. At around 7pm Maura crashed into a snowbank in Haverhill, NH. A passing bus driver stopped to help her, but she begged him not to call the police, and assured him that AAA was on their way. The bus driver left, but he was haunted by the troubled young girl, and called the police when he arrived home. Police arrived on the scene at 7:46pm and found the car abandoned. The snow around the car was stained with wine, and a coke bottle in her car smelled of alcohol. Maura, her black backpack, wallet, and phone were gone. There was a rag stuffed in her car’s tailpipe, a trick her father had taught her previously to stop the car from smoking. Despite the bizarre scene, Police investigated the case as a missing person, and suspected no foul play.

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A wide search for Maura began, but the 21 year old was never seen again. Her odd behavior may make sense given the clues; Maura was probably heading up to NH to clear her head and wait out the final week of her probation. She seemed to be an alcoholic, and a DUI crash (her second in a week no less) would be a violation of her probation and get her into serious trouble. She had never called AAA that night, and likely planned to hike to the nearest town and sober up before contacting assistance. But she never made it. Maura seemed to have been heading east, and recently someone claimed to have seen an abandoned black backpack, empty and frozen, in the woods near Pemigewasset Overlook, 30 miles east from Haverhill on the Kancamagus Highway. Did she end up lost in the woods on the freezing night? Was she abducted on the side of the NH highway? Police had wondered if she was trying to run away, but her cards have not been used and there have been no confirmed sightings. It seems clear Maura was fighting with many personal demons, but there is no evidence to suggest that she ran away or committed suicide. Tragically, no further traces of Maura have ever been found.

If you have any information on Maura please contact New Hampshire Cold Case Unit Tips at  coldcaseunit@dos.nh.gov or call at 603-271-2663 or 603-271-1255.

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About a hundred miles away in Montgomery Vermont and only one month later  in March of 2004, Brianna Maitland would also disappear, leaving her abandoned car behind her, in circumstances eerily similar to Maura Murray’s. 17 year old Brianna had been going through her own personal issues; she had moved out of her parent’s house after a fight, had dropped out of high school, and had recently gotten into a violent fight with a girl at a party. But Brianna seemed to be working to get her life back in order. She was working on a high school equivalency program and had a job at a restaurant. On March 19th 2004, Brianna was out shopping with her mother when she wandered off. She returned agitated and upset acting, but where she had been or what had happened are unknown. That night she went to work as usual. She was last seen leaving that night by colleagues, then was never seen again. The next day police were called to the scene of a car crashed into the back of an abandoned house. It was Brianna’s.

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Her wallet and most possessions were still in the locked car, and a few things were scattered on the ground outside. But Brianna was nowhere to be seen. One of Brianna’s friends would later imply that the teen owed money to some bad people. But to this day no trace of Brianna has been found.

If you have any information on Brianna please contact police at 802-524-5993 or at the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at 802-241-5355. Anonymous tips can be submitted at www.vtips.info.

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Iraena Asher may have been a beautiful New Zealand model, but she struggled with internal demons. The 25 year old was a known sufferer of bipolar disorder, and without medication was prone to having ‘episodes’ where she would become paranoid and manic. But the day before she went missing, October 10th 2004, Iraena’s loved ones said she seemed completely fine. Despite her appearances, at 9pm that night Iraena made a frantic call to Auckland police, expressing concerns for her safety. She was at a new boyfriends’ house, and was feeling “pressured” into sex, among other things. Rather than send an officer out however, police inexplicably sent a cab to pick her up. A cab which subsequently got lost and could not find Iraena. Shortly after her call Iraena was found walking down a street by two people, wearing only a sweatshirt and underwear. The people thought she might have been on drugs and took the scared woman to their home where they calmed her down and gave her some food and a nightgown. Iraena begged them not to call the police, and the guardians decided to wait until morning to decide what to do. However after being tucked into a bed for the night, Iraena slipped out of the house and into the night once more at about 1:10am, leaving her nightgown on the ground behind her. She was last seen at about 1:30am by a couple who claimed the woman was naked and talking to a streetlamp, before she frolicked off onto Piha beach.

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Iraena was never found, not a trace of her, but a Coroner theorized she likely drowned. He could not be sure whether her bizarre behavior was a due to her bipolar, or some kind of drug.

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Brandon Swanson was living in Marshall Minnesota, and attending a technical college for wind turbine engineering in Canby about 30 miles away. He knew the area like the back of his hand…a fact that would make his subsequent disappearance that much more bizarre. On May 14th 2008, 19 year old Brandon was celebrating his last day of classes with friends in Canby. He headed home, but one way or another his car ended up in a ditch. He called his parent’s around 1am and asked if they could come pick him up. Brandon’s parents told everyone later that Brandon sounded sober and clearheaded. He had said he was in Lynd, a town southwest of Marshall, and seemed to know precisely where he was. His parents made the drive, but saw no sign of Brandon’s car. Brandon flashed his headlights to try to signal them, and they did the same back, but they couldn’t see each other on the dark country road. Frustrated, Brandon told his parents to pick him up at the nearest obvious landmark; he could see the lights of the town of Lynd ahead, so he headed for it. He stayed on the phone with his parents to be safe, talking to them. He mentioned that he was cutting through a field sometime after 2am, when suddenly he yelped out “Oh shit!-” and the call abruptly ended. Brandon’s parents searched for hours, then called police. The next day Brandon’s car was located in a ditch just as he had described…but on Lyon Lincoln Rd. in Taunton MN, over 20 miles from where he had claimed to be the previous night.

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Brandon seemed to have been heading toward Porter when he vanished, possibly having mistook it for Lynd, and indeed tracking dogs brought SAR northwest by the the Yellow Medicine River before the trail went cold. But how could he have been so disorientated in an area he travelled every day? To this day no trace of Brandon has ever been found, despite intense recovery efforts and the wide use of cadaver dogs.

If you have any information regarding Brandon, please contact either the Lincoln County Sheriff at 507-694-1664 or the Lyon County Sheriff at 507-537-7666.

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British student Myles Robinson loved to go skiing with his family in Switzerland. The 23 year old was with his family in the remote resort village of Wengen for the holidays in 2009. They loved the seclusion; Wengen has no cars on its streets and one must take a train in. On December 21st 2009, Myles spent time with friends at bars in the village, having a good time. He had recently gotten a business degree and his future looked promising. His girlfriend was coming to Wengen soon for New Years and he was excited to be with her. He walked his friend to her hotel after 2am and was caught on CCTV, the last time he would ever be seen alive. The next day a search began, and a tracking dog led teams down a small path, in the opposite direction Myles should have been heading to return to his hotel. The path led a mile outside of town to an area known as Mönchsblick Point, a lookout at the top of a steep 300 foot high cliff. But the path was difficult in summer, let alone winter, and at this time of year the cliff was incredibly dangerous. So dangerous that authorities withheld their discovery, not wanting anyone to search the area until it was safer and no rocks and ice were falling from the cliff face.

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But despite the danger, members of his family ended up searching at the bottom of the cliff regardless, and that was where they found Myles’ body. His injuries were consistent with the 300 foot fall through trees, and he had lost his shoes on the way down. One was never recovered. The coroner concluded that Myles had been intoxicated, though his friends say that he was coherent and didn’t seem too bad off. The toxicology report revealed traces of other drugs in his system as well, and some believe it is possible his drink was spiked. Why Myles wandered to the edge of a cliff 20 minutes through the woods away from his hotel, alone, on a winter night, is still unknown.

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Emma Fillipof had always been a free spirit. The 26 year old vegan had set off to live on her own in Victoria, Vancouver BC after becoming depressed and stressed by her parents divorce. She worked at a seaside restaurant and spent a lot of her time writing poetry. But in the weeks leading up to her disappearance she began to struggle with her new life. She journaled about her loneliness, and expressed unease that someone might be stalking her. She had to stay at a women’s shelter several times, and finally on November 26th 2012, she called her mother and begged to come home. Emma’s mother made plans to fly out to Victoria to get her immediately. On November 28th Emma went into a 7 Eleven and bought a pre-paid cell phone. Surveillance video indicated that she seemed anxious to return outside, as if avoiding someone. She then tried to take a taxi to an airport, but was ejected after not having adequate fare. She returned to the women’s shelter for a time, then went back to the 7 Eleven and bought a pre-paid credit card. The next time Emma was seen, she was walking barefoot in front of the Empress Hotel, seeming disoriented. An acquaintance recognized her and called the police, who arrived and spoke with her for 45 minutes. Apparently convinced Emma was alright and having no reason to take her, they left her at about 7:45pm. That was the last time Emma was ever seen. Her cellphone was never activated, and her credit card was found by an alcoholic man who used it to buy cigarettes and could not remember where he had found it (he was ruled out as a suspect). The rest of Emma’s possessions were found locked in her van, indicating she did not run away. Her mother arrived in Victoria just three hours after Emma had last been seen. Though a search began and a reward was offered, nothing could be found of Emma. In May of 2014 a man walked into a Gastown Vancouver convenience store and ripped a poster of Emma off the wall, crumpling it. When the concerned employees questioned him, the ‘creepy’ man reportedly said “It’s one of those missing persons posters, except she’s not missing, she’s my girlfriend and she ran away ‘cause she hates her parents.” The man was caught on CCTV and police were called, but he has yet to be identified, and it is unknown if he actually knows Emma.

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If you have any information on Emma’s whereabouts, or you have information on the man in the Gastown CCTV video image, please call 911 or contact the Vancouver or Victoria Police. The family is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads investigators to her whereabouts.

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Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers were best friends studying in beautiful Panama. The Dutch girls decided to go on a day hike on the Pianista Trail north of Boquete on April 1st 2013. They packed a bag with only a few items; swim tops, sunglasses, a camera. They didn’t expect to be gone long, and certainly never imagined that they would never come back out of the Panama jungle. Lisanne and Kris documented their adventure with photos, posing in front of beautiful lookouts and waterfalls. But at around 4:30pm something went wrong. A call to the Panama emergency number was logged on Kris’ iphone, but it did not go through. 20 minutes later, a call to 112 (the emergency number in the Netherlands) logged on Lisanne’s phone, but it also failed to go through. The next morning Lisanne’s phone attempted to call several emergency numbers over the course of several hours, but none went through. The phone was then powered off to conserve battery. Over the next several days the phones would periodically be turned on, distress calls made without answer, then desperately turned off once more to conserve battery. On April 5th Lisanne’s phone finally died. On April 6th Kris’ phone was turned on once more, but no calls were made. The phone was activated for the final time ten days after the girls went missing. The fact that the girls were missing eventually became clear and a search began. On April 5th trail guides walked the trail and rivers, searching for the girls. On the 8th a helicopter searched from the sky and a larger rescue team scoured the jungle, sending signals for the girls to see. But not a trace of them was found. Ten weeks later, locals would find the girls’ back pack with items still inside, including both cellphones, and a camera that seemed to have documented some of the last moments of their lives. Miles away, an even more grim discovery would be made…Kris’ shoe, with her foot still inside, and a piece of Lisanne’s pelvic bone.

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The girls’ camera had over 90 photos taken about seven days after they first went missing, between 1-4am. Most were black, as if the lens cap was on. But there were three that were taken that had some puzzling clues.

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One photo showed a nondescript area of the jungle in the darkness, an area of light around its taker created by the flash. The picture doesn’t seem to be focused on anything, and was instead likely used to create a light source.

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The next photo was similar, though this one included a further clue; A stick with bits of a red plastic bag tied to it. Had the stick been an attempt to signal for possible help from above through the trees?

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The final image was never formally released, but was visible on a Dutch television program. It seems to be a close up of Kris’ hair.

All the photos were taken one week after the girls first ran into whatever trouble befell them. Some theorize that they girls were trying to see in the dark, or scare off the sounds of approaching predators. Others believe that they could hear or see rescue parties in the distance but couldn’t move due to injury or fatigue, and were trying to use the flash to signal them. This theory falls in line with the dates of rescue parties; the girls could have heard the helicopters and tried to signal it by waving the stick with the bright bag attached.

And what trouble had caused the girls to become lost or trapped in the jungle? A cougar or large predator is unlikely, and though Panama has several venomous snakes, the odds of being bit by one are akin to being struck by lightning. The most likely scenario was a slip and fall from one of the cliffs along the trail, some with drops as high as 100 feet, perhaps while posing for a photo. The fall could have severely disoriented or injured one or both girls. Off the trail and injured, without phone service, at the bottom of a cliff, the girls could do nothing but sit and wait. Flooding and scavenging animals would explain the distance between the bag and the few remains found. Unfortunately this is just speculation, and we will likely never know what really transpired in those final ten days.

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30 year old Cullen Finnerty had football in his blood. He came from a family lineage of tough football playing men, and was considered to be one of the best college level quarterbacks of his time. He was on the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos for brief periods of time. He was a good friend, husband, and father, and at 6’2″ and 240 pounds he seemed invincible. But there had been times when Cullen’s life was filled with paranoia. Two years before his death he had voiced concerns that he was being followed and was in danger. Days before his death, Cullen had complained of aches and was taking pain medication for a football injury. A known nap taker, Cullen had slept little for the past few nights. On May 26th 2013 Cullen headed off with his brother -in-law and father-in-law for a Memorial day weekend fishing trip, a trip he must have hoped would lead to an ease of his anxiety and some rest and relaxation. Cullen travelled to the Baldwin River in Michigan with his pontoon boat and set off. But later that evening his wife received a frantic phonecall; Cullen was distressed, saying once again he felt he was being followed by two men. He told her he was abandoning his boat to escape into the woods. She heard rustling and questioned him, and he mentioned a bizarre statement about taking off his clothes. Though she tried to console him, he soon hung up. Meanwhile, Cullen’s brother and father-in-law were concerned when Cullen was not at the predetermined meetup spot. They began to drive around searching for him. Cullen’s brother-in-law called him and asked him where he was. Cullen gave GPS coordinates, but although  they went to the location, Cullen was not there. Though his loved ones frantically tried to find him as his panic rose, eventually all he could say was “I don’t know where I am.” And soon he stopped answering the phone. Cullen’s family called police almost immediately, and they pinged Cullen’s phone, but it only led to more questions than answers. Cullen’s phone pinged in multiple locations, miles apart, something that made no sense and shouldn’t have been possible. Over the next couple of days, searchers would scour the swamps of Michigan searching for Cullen. On May 28th, Cullen’s body was found by his friend and former coach, laying face down in the woods, only 100 yards from a road. His cause of death was far from obvious, and a coroner would later conclude an unlikely cause. Cullen had died of Pneumonia. The coroner theorized that in his disorientated and panicked state, he had vomited and then aspirated. Over the course of the night pneumonia formed. The coroner also determined that Cullen had a common condition suffered by football players, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Though not advanced enough in Cullen to have obvious effects, it was possible it had contributed to his confusion, or have possibly mixed adversely with his prescribed painkillers. Though Cullen was sure he was being followed, police disagreed; they found no signs of foul play or any other people in the area that night.

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30 year old Kayelyn Louder had led a relatively normal life until September of 2014. She had been a social worker at a boys school, but had recently been let go. She lived in a Murray, Salt Lake City Utah condo with a friend and her beloved dog who she scarcely left home without. On the night of September 26 2014, Kayelyn began to act strangely. She placed an anxious call to 911, claiming there was a fight outside her condo which involved firearms. Police arrived and found no fight…only a peaceful wedding reception next door. The next day, Kayelyn called 911 once more. She was convinced that someone had broken into her apartment. She claimed she believed there was more than one intruder, as she had heard someone say something akin to “check in there”. While on the phone, Kayelyn’s friend had awoken and and walked in, trying to calm her, assuring her that their door was locked and there was no one in the house. Kayelyn eventually calmed, but later that evening she walked out of her home into the rain outside, barefoot and with none of her possessions, and was never seen alive again. Over nine weeks later. Kayelyn’s body was found in the Jordan River, about six miles from her condo. A coroner could not establish a definitive cause of death, and labeled in “undetermined due to water exposure”. Regardless, police did not believe that foul play was involved. It seemed to most that Kayelyn had suffered a psychotic break that lead to her death. However she had never shown signs of mental illness before, and how she had walked six miles barefoot and wearing clothes obviously unfit for the weather, to the river, without being seen remains unclear. Police released a surveillance tape from the day she disappeared showing her taking her dog out to go the bathroom. They claimed Kayelyn can be seen behaving strangely and talking to herself, but to me she just seems to be talking to her dog. In fact, police seemed to focus strongly on Kayelyn’s perceived mental state while investigating her disappearance.

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Henry McCabe was a Minnesota Revenue Department employee. On September 6th 2015, 32 year old Henry was out at a club with some friends. During the course of the evening Henry had several drinks, and a friend took his wallet from him to cut him off. Later, Henry and a different friend were heading home when Henry supposedly convinced his friend to let him off at a Fridley gas station at around 2am (though no CCTV footage was found of Henry at any area gas station to confirm this). That was the last time he would be seen alive. At about 2:30am a voicemail from Henry was left on his wife’s phone. Henry could be heard screaming in terror and groaning in pain, and a guttural growling and a voice saying “stop it” were also audible. Some of the call can be heard here.

A subsequent search for Henry would reveal nothing until 2 months later, when a kayaker found his body in Rush Lake, about 7 miles from Fridley and consistent with the location of his last cell phone ping. His cause of death was ruled to be “probable drowning” despite the bizarre voicemail. There were no signs of trauma to his body. How he got 7 miles away while severely intoxicated to ultimately drown in a lake was never considered.

Henry had survived years of Civil War in his home country of Liberia, and some wondered if his death was somehow connected. To this day the voicemail and other bizarre facets of the case cannot be explained.

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So those were just some of the cases of missing people that have haunted me most. Many are cases I reference when discussing other cases as well. Hopefully by sharing I can once again shine some light onto a few cold cases, as well as convince others to be safer in the future. We may live in a small, technologically advanced world, but every day people still simply vanish into the ether.

 

 

Boston’s Mysterious Vanishing Men (Follow Up)

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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.

-Elias Jaeger (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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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Zachary Marr (UPDATED) grew up in Leominster (not Harvard, as is often reported) 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

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

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.