10 Cases of Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks
According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), thousands of people go missing every day in the US. Of these disappearances, many are known to occur in the country’s numerous national parks. Although these national parks are quite safe for visitors, they have a darker side to them that many people do not realize. Sadly, this often results in people going missing inside them either due to weather conditions or accidents. So, here is a list of ten such cases of mysterious disappearances in national parks.
1 Alfred Beilhartz
On 3 July 1938, a young boy named Alfred Edwin Beilhartz mysteriously disappeared from the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. He had been on vacation with his family and while hiking with his parents, he fell behind on the trail and vanished. Eighty-three years later, the authorities are no closer to knowing exactly what happened to him.
The mysterious disappearance of Alfred Edwin Beilhartz continues to baffle the authorities even today. In 1938, Beilhartz was 4 years old and vacationing with his family at the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. At the time of his disappearance, the Beilhartz family had been camping near the Fall River Lodge inside the park.
On 3 July, Alfred Beilhartz’s father, Willian Beilhartz, woke up early to wash up at a stream nearby and Alfred followed him. They were then accompanied by two friends of the family who were camping nearby and Alfred ran back to greet them.
However, when these two people returned, they realized that Alfred was no longer with them. The authorities then sent out an extensive search party to look for the boy in the stream, believing that he may have drowned. They also based their search on tips from other campers who thought they had seen him, all to no avail. (1, 2, 3)
2 Glen and Bessie Hyde
Glen and Bessie Hyde were two newlyweds who had gone to the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona to spend their honeymoon river running. Had the couple been successful, it would have been the fastest river run ever attempted and Bessie Hyde would have been the first woman to do so. Sadly, shortly after they commenced their adventure, the couple went missing without a trace.
In November 1928, a young newlywed couple named Glen and Bessie Hyde went missing at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona while on their honeymoon. They had decided to make history by attempting a new speed record in the rapids and had they succeeded, Bessie Hyde would have been the first woman to do so.
The couple was last seen alive boating below Hermit Rapids in a wooden sweep scow that Mr. Hyde had built himself. Days later, their boat was found intact and still carrying all their supplies but the couple was nowhere to be seen.
Since then, the Hydes disappearance has been a major cause of intrigue for many. But only one river guide, Brad Dimock, has even come close to finding an explanation. According to him, a boat like the one the Hydes had used would have been difficult to control on the rapids and may have caused their accidental drowning. (1, 2)
3 Rachel Lakoduk
In 2019, a woman named Rachel Lakoduk went missing while hiking in the North Cascades National Park, Washington. She had embarked on this adventure to celebrate her birthday but unfortunately, never made it off the mountain. In 2021, two years after her disappearance, her remains were found in the national park by a large search party.
Rachel Lakoduk was a 28-year-old woman who went missing while hiking alone in the North Cascades National Park, Washington. On 17 October 2019, she had planned to hike up the Hidden Lake Trail and meet a friend at a popular lookout cabin in Skagit County. However, she failed to show up at the cabin and her family reported her missing.
In the following weeks, park officials sent out search parties to look for her. However, the search was impeded by heavy snowfall, and by the time they reached the lookout cabin, there was no trace of Ms. Lakoduk.
Two years later, in 2021, her remains were finally found in the park by a private search and rescue group, giving her family some closure. It is believed that Ms. Lakoduk may have gotten stuck in the terrible weather and was unable to get off the mountains. (1, 2)
4 Derek J. Lueking
Derek J. Lueking is a northern Virginia resident who went missing at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee in 2012. He was last seen leaving the Microtel Inn and Suites nearby carrying just a day backpack. Sadly, despite conducting an extensive search in the area, this case still remains unresolved.
On 17 March 2012, a 24-year-old man named Derek Lueking was reported missing two days after he failed to show up to work. His roommate, Ryan Moulden, alerted his family and they traveled all the way to Tennessee from Virginia to look for the man. Upon checking Mr. Lueking’s computer, it was found that he had searched for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, and made a reservation at a hotel.
The man was last spotted by surveillance cameras at the Microtel Inn and Suites near the park, confirming that this is indeed where he had gone missing. Although a search for him quickly turned up his car in a parking lot nearby, there was still no trace of him.
Inside the car, authorities also found some unused survival gear and a note that said “Don’t try to follow me,” adding more intrigue to the case. However, there is still no concrete clue to his whereabouts. (1, 2)
5 Kieran Burke
On 5 April 2000, an Irish tourist named Kieran Burke decided to go for a day hike in the Yosemite National Park, California. A day later, when he failed to check out from his lodgings, the park staff notified the authorities that he was likely missing. Soon, a search party set out looking for him assisted by his brother but failed to locate any evidence.
Twenty years ago, on 5 April 2000, an Irish tourist named Kieran Burke went missing from the Yosemite National Park in California. According to his family, he was an experienced hiker and had decided to go on a day-hike on the day of his disappearance.
However, he was not noticed missing until the next day when park officials realized that he had not yet checked out from his lodgings.
For weeks following Burke’s disappearance, search and rescue parties combed the area looking for him. Even his brother, Lorcan Burke, flew into San Francisco to look for the man but was unsuccessful.
Authorities then quickly sought the help of the public, citing that the Yosemite National Park has hundreds of trails running through it and would be impossible to search through by themselves. However, to this day, no one has come forward with any details on Burke, and he remains missing. (1, 2)
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