Washburn would survive become famous as a photographer and cartographer, and to pioneer the popular West Buttress route to the summit of Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak, but his story could easily have turned out different. A resilience equal to the worst thing that can happen. Good Samaritan Gerald DeBerry disappeared in the foothills of the White Mountains while helping for a search for a missing woman in the fall of 2011. Human remains found in 1996 in Central, an Interior community of under 100 northeast of Fairbanks, were put into storage. They found his truck someplace at a pull off on Tunragain did they ever find him? We decided that with the information discovered during the investigation that it is reasonable to believe the human remains are that of Richard Bennett, he wrote in an official report on March 28. Leon, Jane, and Leroy reported Richard missing to the Alaska State Troopers, noting that they hadnt found any of Richards camping gearhis tent, sleeping bag, and mess kiton the property, and that some of his guns were missing too. Richard was most comfortable in the wilderness. He lives today on the edge of the park in eastern Alaska. The first year was particularly hard on Dolly; she essentially stopped eating, and by the time I met her shed dwindled to about 100 pounds. But probably the best known missing person case in wild Alaska involves 66-year-old Michael LeMaitre of Anchorage who went up Mount Marathon on July 4, 2012 and never came down. But the lab warned that the test could take up to 18 months, and the Bennetts wanted to bury their son. No sign of Wipert, or the horses, were ever found. Schoch's body did, however, eventually make it home. In June 2014, soon after the discovery of the Funny River bones, Shuey asked for a list of people in the area whod gone missing in recent years. If youre not prepared for the weather or the harshness of the environment, a twisted ankle can put you into an emergency situation.. Sprawling east from Alaska's Richardson Highway across big river valleys, brushy hillsides and the desolate Nutzotin Mountains all the way to the U.S. border with Canada, the district covers 5 million acres, an area almost twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. Either he died in the Alaska wilderness or he ran away -- or both. The missing woman was found. . It was just as the psychic had predicted. Harper was in an area so remote that it is believed no one will ever stumble on his remains. The results came back months later--and in the interim Topkok passed away, never knowing that the results matched up with the body of her brother found near Central 23 years earlier. Park officials later confirmed they were those of the missing man. I suspect he didnt realize that the pile of rocks just ahead of time was the turn-around point and instead saw the goat trail and followed THAT until.??? Why hadnt the police told them about the bones? The Guard detected no warm bodies on the mountain. A big search followed. Why is Frank McCourt really pushing it? The Hillses and Bennetts hadnt known of each others existence, but now their lives were inextricably linked, the peace of one family coming at the expense of the others. "What's left now is the feeling that we'll never see him again.". No scrap of clothing. The Alaska missing person's bulletin refers questions on Griffis's "Sept. 20, 2006" disappearance to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Beaver Creek. At that point, one would think hed realize Something is wrong here. and then turn around and head back to the area where he came up. Valerie Sifsof , 43, from Anchorage walked away from the Granite Creek Campground along the Seward Higwhay in the summer of 2013 and simply vanished. There have been random searches for Michael almost ever since by people who come to the mountain with their own guesses as to where he might have gone. Eric Miller wrestles with opposing theories about his brothers disappearance. Jenna Miller. Richards closest neighbors, Frank and Nancy Kufel, retirees who lived down the road, appeared to be the last people whod had contact with him. His voice as gravelly as ever, he told me he was frustrated. If theres anything we can do, or if you just want to talk, call us, Dolly said. They drop a long pole with a big hook in the water, and the boat goes back and forth. In Alaska, the majority of cases involve young runaways who eventually turn up alive, said investigator Bill Hughes, who manages the state police Missing Persons Clearinghouse. A jogger vanishes from the top of Mt. He was presumed drowned, but his body was never recovered. But still.no sign of a bear attack no blood, shredded clothes, shoe(s), race bib. Itd be hard living. Searchers were on Marathon where the race took place within hours once his wife alerted race officials hed yet to come down long after he was expected to do so. They never saw anything. In 2018, Oquilluks sister Alice Topkok took a DNA test at the urging of the Alaska State Troopers Missing Persons Clearinghouse. Winds light and variable.. Showers early, then partly cloudy overnight. "Finding his body would be a relief at this point," he said. In the two weeks immediately after his disappearance, a small army of people scoured the rain-forest-covered mountainsides around the resort of community of Girdwood, but they found nothing. His car was found about three weeks later in the parking lot of Resurrection Pass Trail, a popular hiking route in the Chugach National Forest south of Anchorage. in St. Paul, MN. Because of senility, he might have set out on foot, only to encounter a bear or fall into the nearby Nushagak River. But probably the best known missing person case in wild Alaska involves 66-year-old Michael LeMaitre of Anchorage who went up Mount Marathon on July 4, 2012 and never came down. Shuey said that the letter had been filed away by a clerk who no longer works for the Alaska State Troopers, and that the agency hadnt adopted electronic filing until 2012facts that she acknowledges are no excuse and no consolation to the families. They proceeded slowly, scanning their eyes over everything. Leon Bennett believes his son may have wanted to leave his life. See Photos. They called the medical examiners office several times, asking when the remains could be released. His ramblings ended when he journeyed north to test his invention, a wilderness "survival cocoon,'' never to be heard from again. Even most of those in the steadily shrinking pool of people who remember Uemura have pretty much given up hope that any sign of him will ever be found. In going through police reports, Dolly and Heidi counted 17 different troopers whod had a hand in their sons case over the years. It brings every thing forward. On June 23, 2006, the family held a memorial in Anchorage. So it wasnt until crew members found a human skull that they stopped to consider that the pieces might go together. Soldotna, a fishing town of about 4,000 people, sits along the Kenai River in the western lowlands. The partial jawbone in. The psychic seemed to intuit aspects of Ricks disappearance that matched what police had told Dolly and Heidi. Troopers noticed a blue. But intensive searches turned up no sign of the experienced outdoorsman other than unconfirmed sightings. The weather can sneak right up on you, Mallard said. The body found in 2005 and released to the Bennett family in 2006 was not Richard Bennett. Theres a possibility, Leon told me, speaking in a faint voice, as if not wanting to hear himself say it. Somewhere in the northeastern corner of this vast, unoccupied region are believed to be the bones of Richard Lyman Griffis from Spokane, Washington, by way of Oregon, California, New York and Florida. His name was Richard too. But, she said, sometimes I think they forget how big Alaska is. Between the westernmost tip of the Aleutian Islands and the eastern edge of the Alaska Panhandlea span roughly equal to the distance from California to Floridaa total of 1,332 law-enforcement officers keep the peace. I was working on a story about the phenomenon in Alaska of ordinary people disappearing while doing ordinary things. They thought he looked fine. They learned that no one had seen Richard in several months and that just before Memorial Day weekend, hed withdrawn his last $10 from an ATM in Soldotna. Out there, it can go from clear one hour to zero visibility the next, said Peter Atchak, Search and Rescue leader. Search dogs lost his scent, as if Rick had been plucked from the snow and lifted straight into the air. After almost four hours, Jane entered a meadow and peered into a small, shaded clearing. The boy is grinning from ear to ear. There was no message, only a link to a story from the previous days Alaska Dispatch News. Theres Maryellen McMillin, who disappeared from her Fairbanks home with her green Subaru station wagon in November 1998. LeMaitre disappeared into the rain and cold and swirling clouds. But it was aided by the fact Schoch died in one of the few areas of Wrangell-St. Elias accessible enough to attract people. Volunteers were flown in to comb the area on foot. And we never found his camping stuff. Richards friend Hap Pierce told me he wouldnt be surprised if Richard one day knocked on his door. He remains missing. It was like he was planning on coming back.. Dolly was 53, petite and gregarious, with short black hair, glasses, and an angular face. They told us there was no one else missing in the area, Leon said. How to reverse Diabetes Belly fat: The removal of Diabetes Crime log: Woman's date overstays welcome, refuses to leave, Crime log: Harassment complaints made by township residents, Explore newly opened 334-acre park in Saginaw with virtual tour, http://www.dps.state.ak.us/ast/cib/Missing.htm. Rick Hillss skull hasnt been found. Amazingly enough, a few are found eventually. Advocacy groups track missing children's cases, but no one keeps state-by-state statistics of all missing persons. White and orange indicate a good trail. Any number of climbers are missing from the missing list, though they have never officially been declared dead. But in the back of my mind, there were still questions.. For Leon, Bette, and Richards two sisters, the ceremony marked the end of a nightmarish year. Heidi worked at a coffee shop; Dolly helped her husband, an electrician, run his business. Wipert's body is still out there somewhere along with that of Griffis. Investigators from the medical examiners office tracked down the X-rays at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage and gave them to two forensic anthropologists. Many were runaways who eventually returned home, but some were people who will never be seen again. . "They arrived at the Donjek River to find it uncrossable, a raging torrent rushing with glacial meltwater from upstream. Families ask, How come you cant find our son? He disappeared into the northern edge of the Wrangell park. But the search for Griffis was especially difficult. He spent a lot of time in these woods, Dolly said. Blue signifies thin ice or open water, and green a nearby shelter. For a long time, he never took them off, Leon told me. Could ancient stories of the Thunderbird be true? We have to tell them, The remains you received in 2006 were not your son, and we dont know where your son is., The letter Lieutenant Shuey read to Leon Bennett in Lake Havasu City ended exactly like the one Captain Greenstreet read aloud to Dolly and Tom Hills and Heidi Metteer in Soldotna: I understand that there is nothing that I can say that can ever repair the devastation that your family is experiencing. A $300-million (minimum) gondola to Dodger Stadium? Over the years, the poisons that might have killed him have changed, but the myth of the search for the meaning of life in the wilds of Alaska has endured, though life in the wilderness comes with some simple precepts. A retired contractor in his early 70s, Leon is a compact, sturdily built man, naturally reserved but with a lot on his mind. They never found any sign of Wipert or the animals. They told me a body had been found, and that its DNA had been tested. Griffis's disappearance never made the news. But you cant ignore that theres a possibility. The Alaskan bush would suit his sons temperament and skills. They told him to go to the top of the mountain, make the turn and follow them down. But we may never get to know what happened to him.. Before taking off, he told friends in the southern U.S. that he "might winter over'' in Alaska, Sewell said. Richard wouldnt do that. Race officials told her to be patient, but to notify them if Michael hadn't shown by 8 p.m. By 9 p.m. the first of several searches were being organized. MISSING IN ALASKA Clip - Killer Mermaids? Richard had fractured his shin and calf bones in a 1980 motorcycle accident. Mounties found where Griffis paid for a bus ticket north. She called Tom and Heidi and told them to come to the house. It's possible that Gilbert wandered off and got lost in the woods. Alaska's 586,000 square miles afford countless ways to get lost, by fate or design. They found nothing. Jenna Miller. Id be pissed, he said, but I wouldnt be surprised.. A few were marked for Jane, with whom Richard had always been close. One man didnt want to be found, Hughes said. He was 35 years old. At the top of the list were Rick Hills and Richard Bennett, whose last known locations were close together and only about three miles from the Funny River site. What he doesn't know is whether his brother wanted it that way. "We were go able to go back to that year and track him,'' Sewell said. That same month, the body of Dr. Liam Walsh was found in Hatcher Pass, about 50 miles north of the states largest city. Except for a few unconfirmed sightings, searchers had no leads. But what if he left it to find a different life? Until 1 a.m., the date claimed that he searched for her. Vast as the peninsula is, it can still seem like a small world. Their stories are represented by color-coded flags dotted across an Alaska map in Hughes' office. People on foot scoured all likely routes down the east side of Mount Marathon. '', still active missing person's bulletin from the Alaska State Troopers, Sue Nott, 36, and Karen McNeill, 37, went missing on 17,400-foot Mount Foraker, Good Samaritan Gerald DeBerry disappeared in the foothills of the White Mountains, it has been 30 years since Japanese national hero Naomi Uemera went missing. Investigators finally tracked him to a lodge along the White River in the Yukon Territory, Canada, where hed left some gear and told the proprietor he planned to travel upriver through the Wrangells to the Alaska community of McCarthy on the south side of the park. "Water conditions are colder here and body gases don't develop at the same speed as in the Lower 48, so bodies tend to sink.". By the end of my visit, I came to believe that whatever had happened to Rick couldnt have involved more prolonged suffering than what Dolly and Heidi were going through. "Richard disconnected from us after his struggle with cancer,'' she said. The three of us would wind up having regular phone conversations, trying to make sense of what had happened. There were, to borrow one troopers phrase, a great number of equally plausible alternative inferences.. If he succumbed to hypothermia, of course, that wouldnt help the situation. He couldnt just drop everything and go off to the Kenai. The Earth opened up and swallowed him? When someone goes missing in Alaska, search areas can be as large as entire states in the Lower 48, and considerably more treacherous. Now we have to go down there and take it away from them. When he returned, Erin Marie Gilbert had vanished. Robert Hunter, the lead investigator on the case, received the anthropologists findings in March 2006 and discussed them with a superior. Even in shock, Leon Bennett knew right away that he would never tell his wife about the troopers visit. Once in a while, the dead return. Almost exactly a year later, the four-wheeler the 53-year-old DeBerry was riding when he went missing was discovered, but there were no remains or trace of the rider. Reporting for this story was supported by a grant from the nonprofit organization Images & Voices of Hope. You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times. In Bettes final weeks, Leon muffled his sobs and strained to hide his devastation. Devoted as he was to his kids, he had a wild streak. When he did interact with people, he was soft-spoken and kind, especially to his young nieces and nephews; at family get-togethers they would listen in rapt silence as he read childrens books aloudthe only time many of them heard him speak at length. Your current subscription does not provide access to this content. He could have tumbled down one of several steep embankments nearby and broken his neck. I spent two days with them, going over the investigation, discussing theories, and retracing Ricks last known movements. Bette had been so distraught when the skeleton was discovered in 2005, and so relievedmore than anyone else in the familywhen theyd laid the remains to rest on the mountainside. Heidi was 33, tall and robust and dressed for the outdoors, but with a soft manner that seemed to belong inside. Alaska State Troopers were notified. He was lightly dressed and moving slowly, but they judged him to be doing fine. He has not been seen since. He was relatively new to his post, and hadnt been involved in the investigation. Griffis was last seen in the area of the White River on the Alaska Highway.". He posted a note at the seasonal hunting operation, saying he'd gone to check on an unnamed cabin. Witnesses offer conflicting accounts, Mars Voltas lead singer broke with Scientology and reunited with the band. Missing in Alaska: With Ken Gerhard, Jax Menez Atwell, Tommy Joseph, Matthew Evan Paine. Alaskas 586,000 square miles afford countless ways to get lost, whether by fate or design. Water conditions are colder here and body gases dont develop at the same speed as in the Lower 48, so bodies tend to sink.. Her husband reported her missing in 1965, and police learned that she hadnt been seen in almost four years. They built a makeshift 75-foot "rope" out of pack cord knotted together and fought the current, half-slipping, half-swimming, falling into the icy waters past their heads.". thanks, Michele. Thats how people in these parts dispose of garbage, but this seemed far more than the usual amount. I felt for them, he told me later. The missing woman was found. Shuey spent 14 years as a trooper in the field. My brother Patrick chambers was listed in your missing article. A 27-year-old climber from Salt Lake City, he was attempting a solo ascent of 16,237-foot Mount Sanford when he disappeared. im sorry for your loss, Pauline. Dolly seemed to rely on Heidi for steadiness, Heidi on Dolly for uplift. They felt bound to him by circumstance, and by their shared experience of a grief few others could understand. If a truck came along and ran me over, I wouldnt care, she said under her breath. We cant wait that long.. See Photos. They told him to make the turn and follow them down. Its one reason that Eric Miller will always wonder about his brothers fate. There are cases like this all over the state. Spread across almost 38,000 square miles of mountaintops, glacier ice, forests and slopes thick with brush, the Kluane/Wrangell-St. Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek World Heritage Site is larger than the state of Maine and far wilder. It made him happy to see the kids so tickled, Dolly said. Landslides, avalanches, fissuring glaciers, overflowing rivers, and collapsing riverbanks all make travel unpredictable at best. Among a hodgepodge of field reports, lab results, correspondence, handwritten notes, and transcribed witness accounts dating back to 2004 was a two-page letter from the director of the Alaska State Troopers, Colonel James Cockrell, dated August 28, 2014.
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