5. Alfred Beilhartz
Alfred Beilhartz is another tragic case of a child gone missing from a national park. In 1938, he was 4 years old. He went hiking with his family at Estes Park. He fell behind the other hikers, and by the time anyone noticed, he was gone.
Unlike many of the other cases of missing persons in national parks, this case turned up some unusual clues. Another group of hikers saw a young child that may have been Beilhartz in a completely different section of the park, but the child disappeared before authorities reached him. Searchers also found a bandage in an abandoned cabin similar to one worn my Beilhartz when he disappeared. Finally, five months after the disappearance, the child’s parents received a ransom note, but it was determined to be a hoax.
The case went cold, and Beilhartz’s whereabouts are still unknown.
4. Samuel Boehlke
Samuel Boehlke, another child who became a victim of America’s national parks, is a particularly troubling case. The 8-year-old boy, who went hiking with his father at Crater Lake in 2006, had a mild form of autism.
While hiking, Boehlke spotted something yellow on a cinder slope. He ran up, hoping it was gold and refused to come down. He ran from his father, thinking it was a game. Boehlke disappeared over a hill, and his father was unable to locate him.
The fact that Boehlke was on the autism spectrum complicated the search: he was sensitive to bright lights and loud noises, which limited the use of flashlights and whistles. Although Boehlke’s father was no more than 50 feet away when he disappeared, officials were never able to find a trace of the missing boy.
3. Bill Ewasko
In 2010, Bill Ewasko set out to hike on the Juniper Flats Trailhead in Joshua Tree National Park. He never returned.
A massive search was mounted in the park, but the searchers failed to turn up any clues. However, three days after he disappeared, authorities received a baffling clue. Ewasko’s cell phone pinged Verizon’s Serin Tower in Yucca Valley, miles away from where he had disappeared.
While it is slightly unusual that a signal would have turned up so far from where he went missing, there is another question that plagues authorities: why didn’t the phone ping any of the towers between that location and where Ewasko disappeared? This is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered.
2. Jared Negrete
The only thing more frustrating than a person going missing without a trace is a person going missing and leaving behind a clue that only makes the case more puzzling.
In 1991, 12-year-old Jared Negrete went on a hike with his Boy Scout troop in San Bernardino National Forest. Someone eventually noticed that Negrete was missing; no one knows how he got separated from the rest of the group.
A search was mounted, and eventually found a camera that was believed to have belonged to Negrete. The film was developed, providing officials with 12 baffling snapshots that appeared to be close-ups of parts of Negrete’s face. No one could explain the photos: were they clues to his disappearance, or just evidence of a young boy playing around with his camera? No one can answer this question.
1. Marlon Lowe
The Lowe family of Lawndale, Illinois has one of the wildest abduction stories that many people have ever heard. Many people use their tale as evidence in any case of a child going missing in one of Illinois’ many national parks. Though this story has a happy ending, not everyone is so lucky.
The Lowe family lived in close proximity to many parks. One day, while lounging near their home, they reported that a large bird swooped down and attempted to carry away young Marlon Lowe. Luckily, his mother was able to stop the abduction, but many believe that other children who have gone missing in national parks in the area were less fortunate victims of mysterious “Thunderbirds” that supposedly hunt in the area.
Thunderbirds are enormous creatures from native American folklore. Legends say these giant birds had a wingspan of nearly 4-5 metres (13-16 ft) and were indeed capable of carrying large prey off into the sky. While the Thunderbird exists purely in the realm of mythology, there were giant birds of prey known as teratorns that coexisted with early man some 12,000 years ago.
Marlon Lowe weighed approximately 56 pounds when the thwarted abduction occurred, making it next to impossible for any normal bird to lift him from the ground. So, what was the mysterious creature that attempted to take him away?