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BOOK REVIEW: "Missing 411: Western U.S. & Canada" by David Paulides

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"Missing 411: Western United States & Canada"
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BOOK REVIEW: Missing 411: Western United States & Canada / Unexplained disappearances of North Americans that have never been solved by David Paulides

It doesn't take long, while reading David Paulides' new book Missing 411, to realize that what the conspiracy theorists say about the government hiding the truth is all-too-true.

From the late 19th century to present day, hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of people have gone missing in the wilds of North America, particularly in our federally-funded national parks. These people disappear without a trace, in many cases, or odd bits of evidence are found. And in fewer cases the victim is found babbling incoherently and confused about the experience they just had.

And in this first book of the two-part Missing 411 series (the second book addresses those who went missing in the Eastern United States), Paulides, in an easy-to-read, conversational tone, digs deep, offering the shocking reports that National Park Service bigwigs and other loving government officials don't want you to know about.

Writes Paulides: "I have been very concerned about the attitude that the (National Park Service) expresses about missing people. There is no national database in the NPS system identifying missing people. There is no list in each park identifying the people, the circumstances, locations, dates that they disappeared. This is very disturbing. How would a large park or a regional district ever know if there was a serial killer utilizing the park as a location to abduct victims? Answer: they wouldn't."

Continuing, Paulides states: "It's hard to imagine that a giant government law enforcement agency such as the National Park Service (NPS) doesn't monitor and track these basic statistics. This is beyond inept; it borders on complete stupidity, unless this is a calculated maneuver."

After all, if you wanted to go to Yosemite National Park in California, Glacier National Park in Montana or Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, wouldn't you want to know that these parks have "clusters of missing people with highly unusual stories," as Paulides notes.

And often the NPS was shocking in their arrogance at this researcher's simple, straightforward requests for information. Paulides spent several years writing the Missing 411 series, compiling information from various periodicals' archives and via countless Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

One particular case that has haunted Paulides has been the case of 14-year-old Stacy Anne Arras who disappeared in the summer of 1981 during a horseback adventure in Yosemite. Having decided to stretch her legs and take in the view, Stacey walked up onto a large boulder "and stared in the distance and walked into the sunset." She was never seen again.

And while the NPS has begrudgingly provided Paulides with information on other cases, when he author requested the case file on Stacey Anne Arras - a case that was 30 years old at the time of his request - a hostile NPS special agent "stated that I was not going to get the case file, ever."

Arras, he noted, is not listed in any missing person database and yet the NPS is doing everything they can to deny a researcher access to the case file. As Paulides asks, "Why has this case been withheld from the public?"

The cases continue. In the mid-1970's, at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, photographer Charles McCullar went to the park to photograph the picturesque site in its winter element. He disappeared - at least until bits of his bones were found and his boots were missing and his pants were found in a position "as if he had melted into them." Another odd case where the remains are found in a remote and hard-to-reach location.

Three-year old Jaryd Atadero went missing in the Comanche Peak Wilderness in Colorado in the autumn of 1999. He was with a Christian singles group led by his father, Allyn Atadero and the playful boy had run on down the trail as boys do. Other than an alleged encounter with a fisherman where Jaryd asked "Are there bears in these woods?" no one ever saw Jaryd alive again.

Four years later, in 2003, hikers found some clothing that turned out to be Jaryd's. However, the clothing was found 550 feet up from the trail where Jaryd was last seen. A very steep and difficult area to get too, especially for A bit of a child's skull and one tooth were found.

Asks Paulides: "How did Jaryd and his clothes get up the hill if he couldn't have climbed up there himself?"

The author notes that Jaryd's case echoes the aforementioned McCullar case at Crater Lake.

And that's the thing. Over the course of his research, Paulides notes definite patterns developing. Many of the victims are males and the females that are victims tend to have shorter-length hair.

Young children, even in close proximity to their parents will vanish without a trace. Or, when they are found, bruised, scratched up and disoriented, they will be found many miles away and even at a higher elevation than they were at when they disappeared. As Paulides notes, children always go downhill when lost, not uphill.

The cases - and there are many presented here - will leave you baffled and a little uneasy. Who or what is abducting and, in some cases, killing innocent adult and child hikers and visitors into the wild? While one can speculate that it is "gorillas" as one child noted in a 1950's case, or even suggest that rogue Bigfoot-type creatures are attacking these victims, that still remains unclear. In a couple of cases, primitive lean-tos are found and children even say that they slept under logs or are found completely dry following a day of heavy rain. Where were they? Who helped them?

Again, a private individual, David Paulides, has done the job our government should be doing. This information is important as it is shocking and disturbing. Why are so many people going missing in our national parks and wilderness areas? There are more questions than answers in Missing 411: Western United States & Canada, and that's unsettling.

Paulides ends his book with some good advice when it comes to visiting our national parks and wilderness areas: "Always walk in pairs when you are hiking, and please carry a personal transponder. "

Red Dirt Report has lined up an interview with David Paulides in a week or so. We have plenty of questions to ask this inquisitive researcher. For more information go to

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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