Many people go missing each day and have done so for centuries. When looking into the disappearance and circumstances surrounding some of these occurrences within National Parks in the USA, ex-police officer David Paulides created the CanAm Missing project. Dubbed as the Missing 411, he is dedicated to understanding the complexity and issues of searching, rescuing and investigating people missing in the wilds throughout the world with some unusual theories along the way.
After leaving the police force, David Paulides began researching and writing about the existence of the famous cryptid Bigfoot. During his investigations and research which obviously centred around National Parks, Paulides was approached by an off-duty park ranger in the USA who claimed there were a lot of inconsistencies and unusual circumstances surrounding disappearances within the parks. He asked Paulides to research it further. Paulides claims he found evidence of negligence and coverups and that many of the disappearances in question defied logical and conventional explanations. The Missing 411 was born.
Image Source: Amazon Prime
Sadly disappearances in National Parks is something that has become common over the years. A person can easily become lost, disorientated, or stranded and some are even led out there for more sinister reasons. So what is it about these cases that has everyone talking about the Missing 411? With over 10 books and countless documentaries doing the rounds, the Missing 411 has become a prominent figure in paranormal circles and conspiracy theorists who believe the National Park Service is covering up something. Paulides gathered a group of retired police officers, search and rescue experts as well as other professionals on scene investigation to set up the CanAm Missing project. It studies missing people who have vanished in the wild under highly unusual circumstances as well as keeping a database of all missing persons.
One such disappearance that often gains attention is that of Dr Marice Dametz who disappeared under extremely strange circumstances..
Our first curious case is the rather strange vanishing of an 84-year-old theology professor by the name of Dr. Maurice Dametz. In 1981, he was mostly known for his fire and brimstone religious rhetoric and his many writings of how he believed the literal Antichrist was going to appear in our lifetime, but he was soon to become even more well-known for his odd disappearance. When he wasn’t expounding upon how the Devil was coming, Dr. Dametz liked to engage in his pastime of collecting rocks, and on this day he was out in Pike National Forest, in Douglas County, Colorado, along with his friend David McSherry to go hunting for topaz. Dametz was 84 years old at the time, with a range of health problems that caused him to rely on McSherry to get him around, his bad knees making him unable to get very far on his own. In other words, he wasn’t some spry young devil who could just run off at a moment’s notice. They spent the day digging around for the rocks, and they had sort of a system wherein McSherry would drop Dametz off at a spot and then go off on his own nearby, after which he would pick the Dr. up and they would move onto a new location. On this day everything was going smoothly, and they had spent hours digging at different spots. McSherry would typically not be too far away, and would check on the ailing Dr. regularly every 15 minutes or so.
At one spot he was only about 100 yards away from Dametz and went to check on him just 10 minutes after he last saw the Dr., but this time the man was nowhere at all to be seen. McSherry called out to Dametz and received no reply, and it was all very odd as his knees were so bad it would have been impossible for him to get very far so fast on his own. A sweep of the surroundings turned up nothing, and not only was Dametz gone, but all of his tools were as well, and McSherry thought he had maybe tried to hobble back to their car, but the Dr. wasn’t there either. Indeed, a complete search of the area turned up no trace of him, and not long after this the authorities were notified, who after a 5-day intensive search could find not a trace of Dametz or his missing tools, and no blood or sign that he had been attacked by an animal or the victim of foul play. Dametz was just there one minute and gone the next, and no one has seen him or any remains of him since.
Countless other stories consistent with the above are reported as a part of the Missing 411 phenomena. While Paulides is very careful not to offer an explanation as such for the disappearances and more asks questions of what it could be, people have all sorts of theories, some that get many within the paranormal community talking. One of the more popular theories involves portals.
A portal/vortex is considered to be an invisible space almost like a type of wormhole that spirits or beings can travel between our world as we know it through to their dimension, planet or reality – depending on what you believe. Some people believe that there is a connection between ley lines and portals/vortex’s. A ley line is said to be an alignment of landforms usually of places that have ancient spiritual significance – connecting them. It is thought to be a line of energy that often flows right underneath these locations and joins them to each other. At the points where these lines ‘meet’ the energy is thought to be at its strongest and that is where a vortex will form, feeding off the surrounding energy. If you think of a whirlpool in water. The more the water swirls around, it pulls more and more into it. A vortex can be explained to work in the same way. There is actually a lot of spiritual significance to the shape of a spiral and the term spiral out and spiral in, but that is for another time.
When we go back to some of the strange disappearance and stories you come across in the National Parks, in a lot of the stories where people are found, they are often found hours or days later, confused, disorientated with no recollection of any time being passed. They are often found far from where they disappeared with absolutely no knowledge of how they got there and in many cases, they are missing their shoes. Quite a lot of these disappearances are apparently not publicised because they are not sure of the circumstances. One theory is that a person may be unknowingly wandering into an invisible portal.
When reading through a lot of the accounts of the missing, people tend to focus on the stranger aspects like people having no shoes or even removing their clothes. In this case, it can be explained by what is called paradoxical undressing. It is where a person in the throws of hypothermia will start to feel hot and begin to remove their clothing. Of course, wild animals are out there and can very easily surprise someone and leave no remains. It also must be noted that in many of the cases, Paulides in his team have said the families believe there has been kidnapping involved, something which the media tends to not publicise. When looking at the numbers associated with the people going missing, studies have indicated that it is not any higher than what would be expected and the National Park service in the USA is said to be drastically understaffed. It is like comparing the numbers to the Bermuda Triangle. When you look at the figures properly, the number of planes or ships that would go missing was actually no higher than what would be expected, and the same is said to apply here. It is more a case in that you have someone highlighting the strange nature of some of the cases. Whether or not there is something paranormal involved is of course up for debate, but there is one last consideration that needs to be taken into account here, something that sadly often gets forgotten about in the pursuit of paranormal research. Ethics.
An interesting take I came across when looking into this was a paper I read by Madilyn Oster. She asked if by classing these disappearances as a part of the phenomena, are we taking something away from the people who are impacted? Are there ethics here to be considered because let's not forget these are real people with families grieving their loss?
The article is a compilation of data and research taking a critical eye on both National Parks and the U.S. National Parks Service, as well as David Paulides, and how the mishandling of the Missing 411 phenomenon has a negative impact on the cases of those still missing- either taking advantage of them, or seemingly ignoring them altogether.
Oster, Madilyn. (2021). The Mishandling of the Missing 411 Phenomenon.
We all love to hear about the weird and wonderful. I spend a lot of my spare time reading and researching about it. There is something about human nature that finds this to be fascinating. I guess we have to remember that what we are reading and researching is not fiction and that very real people are involved. I am often brought back to an article I wrote after watching the Cecil hotel documentary on Netflix that dealt with the topic of web sleuthing and comparing it to paranormal research. You can read the article here:
While we can debate over what is causing these disappearances and if there is anything paranormal or just normal about them, we must remember that these are very real people involved and the fact that there is at least a registry trying to understand what has happened to them is a good thing. I believe the research behind the Missing 411 to be quite genuine. Some of the theories that have originated from it are a result I guess of the web sleuthing culture the internet has become.
So with that being said, what do you think about the Missing 411? Paranormal or just very normal? Do you have a story to tell? Submit it in the comments below!
Oster, Madilyn. (2021). The Mishandling of the Missing 411 Phenomenon.
Cover Photo by Lukas Kloeppel: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-canyon-545964/
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