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BOOK REVIEW: "Missing 411: Eastern United States" by David Paulides

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
David Paulides wrote "Missing 411: Eastern United States"
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BOOK REVIEW: Missing 411: Eastern United States / Unexplained disappearances of North Americans that have never been solved by David Paulides

Having read and reviewed David Paulides other Missing 411 book, the one covering the Western United States and Canada, I jumped on into reading his second book, covering the Eastern U.S., not realizing the cases could get any more bizarre and/or unsettling.

But they did.

Just the section on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone is worth its own, separate book. This mountainous area along the Tennessee/North Carolina border is very remote and rugged. This is where abortion-clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph managed to hide out for five years, undetected.

So, is something else living in those mountains? Something that is compelled to abduct human beings?

And while males are often victims – both young and old alike – females of all ages go missing as well. And every case is tragic, particularly when it involves young children, and the cases often do, sad to say.

Sixteen-year-old Trenny Lynn Gibson was nearing Clingman’s Dome, in the national park, while on a hiking trip with students in October 1976. A friend with Trenny said she saw her on the trail and in practically an instant, the teen girl was gone. Three hundred people would look for Trenny with no success. A psychic said the girl was “in a hollow in what might be a bear den or something.” Still, no luck. No evidence of her was ever found. Why?

And yet, when bodies are found, they are often found in drainage areas of creeks, sometimes many miles from where the person first disappeared, as in the 1970 case of Boy Scout Geoffrey Burns Hague. When he was found dead in a drainage area, socks were missing and a boot was off. Shirt on but pants are unzipped and partially removed. Why? Very similar to a case in Crater Lake, Oregon.

Another case taking place at Clingman’s Dome was nearly six years after Trenny Gibson’s disappearance. This one involved 17-year-old Mounds, Oklahoma resident Jay Toney in May 1982. Toney vanished on a hiking trip, right before a “torrential rainstorm” and was found alive, near a creek, about eight miles from where he disappeared. As Paulides notes: “Rescuers stated that Jay had an ashen-colored face, and when he was shaken, he stated, ‘I want out of the Smokies.”

Jay Toney would go on to survive his ordeal after being treated in intensive care.

Near the Great Smoky Mountains, at Table Rock State Park in South Carolina, 22-year-old Eloise Lindsay, reported that in 1989, while hiking, was “terrorized” by unseen “men” who followed her for miles. She survived.

Paulides does not that the National Park Service is fully aware that there are dangers in America’s treasured wilderness areas. One retired NPS ranger has said that they are aware of “wild men” in those mountains. Wild men?

Oklahoma plays a pretty important role in Paulides’ book. A section called “North American Missing Farmers” focuses on, well, farmers who have disappeared under strange circumstances.

One case, from June 2009, involved 51-year-old Cordell rancher named Anthony Holland. As Paulides notes, “He returned home after attending a gun show and then left to check on his ranch. He never returned.”

Holland’s truck was found, along with his keys and wallet. His cell phone was found outside the truck, not far away. So robbery seemed unlikely. Tracker dogs had no success picking up a scent. As Paulides writes: “Extensive searches were made of the area without developing any evidence of where Anthony may have gone.”

The Cordell, Oklahoma area is not heavily forested, certainly. Where is Anthony Holland?

In our state’s Kiamichi Mountains, people are known to go missing, the author states and throughout the mountainous Oklahoma-Arkansas border region. It was in this region, in October 2009, that Bobby and Sherilynn Jamison and their five-year-old daughter Madyson went missing at a rural well site in Latimer County. The case baffled investigators, as the family truck was abandoned with a dog inside (near death) as well as $32,000 in cash, ID, wallets and cell phones, as well as overcoats. What happened to the Jamison family?

Patterns do emerge in Paulides’ research. Victims are often wearing red clothing. They either disappear near or are found alive (barely, in many cases) near a berry bush of some kind. Some talk of being taken to a “house” or sleeping in or under a log. Details tend to be hazy and victims found alive seem vague or in a daze when found.

Disappearances often take place right before a heavy rain or snow storm, making search-and-rescue efforts difficult (and a way to cover tracks, as it turns out).

One of the key states where disappearances occur is the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.

In 1932, 22-year-old Else Flothmeier goes missing in a rural park, near the Delaware River. Later, her nude body is found “inside a clump of blackberry bushes” and her clothes were found on another bush 200 yards away. The authorities declined to say Else was attacked and rather, a Temple University psychologist told the local paper that Else succumbed to “Moon Madness,” if you can believe it.

The cases are bizarre. And a couple I thought of, just in Pennsylvania alone, include the 2002 case of Northumberland County hunter Todd Sees. Sees went missing, according to Linda Moulton Howe of Earthfiles.com, but his emaciated body, with a terror-filled face, was found in unusual condition. It is suggested that Sees was an unfortunate victim of an alien abduction, as noted by a UFO seen in the area where he was last seen before his disappearance.

Missing Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. He went missing in April 2005 after his abandoned car, a red Mini Cooper, was found near the Susquehanna River. It was suspected his disappearance was connected to the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case. But that was never proven. As Paulides notes, many disappearances happen near bodies of water, like creeks and rivers. Gricar was officially pronounced dead in 2011.

So, what is going on? Well, over nearly 300 pages, one is left scratching their head or speculating, certainly. Are there really “wild men” out there, abducting people. Are there more down-to-earth, rational explanations? And why are National Park Service officials so reluctant to talk about these cases or at least warn people that there are unknown dangers on those trails in America’s national parks? And what of the FBI? They normally don’t get involved in missing persons cases, but in the case of five-year-old J.R. Shoemaker, of Augusta, West Virginia, they did in that tragic 1994 case. J.R., too, was wearing a red shirt when he vanished.

Paulides’ book is readable and breezy. He asks the same questions I was asking as I read along. I would have had him do another edit. There are some mistakes – spelling, primarily – that should be corrected. But overall, this and the Western U.S. installment are informative in that there is a great mystery taking place here in North America. It’s high time something was done to solve these mysteries in an open and public fashion. Thank you to David Paulides for bringing these cases to our attention via your Missing 411 books.

For more information go to www.canammissing.com.

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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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