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Interesting cases, but very limited discussion of what's behind them,
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This review is from: Missing 411-North America and Beyond: Stories of people who have disappeared in remote locations of North America and five other countries. (Paperback)
David Paulides used to be a law enforcement officer in California. This is his third book about human disappearances in rural or predominantly rural settings. For brevity, I'll refer to it as 'Vol. 3'. The first two volumes - 'Missing 411: Western United States & Canada' (which I'll refer to as 'Vol. 1') and 'Missing 411: Eastern United States' (which I'll refer to as 'Vol. 2') - discuss a total of 411 cases. Vol. 3 reports scores of additional cases, so the number '411' in its title shouldn't be understood literally. The page numbers cited below all relate to Vol. 3.
Paulides appears to have devoted a great deal of time and effort to collating his interesting data, and he deserves credit for that. In many of the cases, the missing people were never found, or were found dead. Assuming that the details have been reported reasonably accurately, a good number of the disappearances were decidedly mysterious (examples are given below). In some cases, though, the information available to Paulides was patchy or contradictory, and in other instances he's presented his material in a muddled way. For example, according to Paulides, a man called Steve Litsey went hunting with a friend "in early November 2011" (pp. 45-46). However, Paulides then contradicts himself, by stating that the men decided to make "October 29" the last day of their trip!
Most of the cases in Vol. 3 are from the USA and Canada, but Paulides has also included a few from elsewhere (e.g. Australia and France). Chapters 1-4 deal with the USA and are headed, respectively: 'Western United States', 'Midwestern United States', 'Southern United States' and 'Eastern United States'. But Paulides flouts convention. For example, he discusses cases from the Midwest state of Ohio in his chapter on the eastern United States, and he includes cases from Arkansas (normally thought of as being in the south of the USA) in his chapter on the Midwest.
Paulides declares (on p. 384, for instance) that he doesn't believe in coincidences. He attributes significance to correspondences that others might ascribe to prosaic factors or chance. For example, he refers (pp. 240-242) to the disappearance of a two-year-old girl called Jacqueline Simmons in Michigan in 1949, and he sees it as very significant that this occurred only five miles south of where a three-year-old girl, Katie Flynn, disappeared. But the Flynn case, which Paulides discusses in Vol. 2, goes back to 1868.
Paulides states (p. 150) that he's read thousands of stories about disappearances. On pp. ix-x of Vol. 3, he refers to the "criteria" (CHARACTERISTICS might have been a better word) he used for including cases in Vols 1 and 2, and it seems that they also apply to Vol. 3. Evidently, though, he didn't require that all of them be present in a case for it to be included. Here are three examples of the "criteria": (1) The vast majority of the disappearances happen in the late afternoon or early evening. (2) When found, many of the missing persons can't remember, or won't say, what has occurred during their disappearance. (3) When located, many of the missing people have clothes and/or shoes missing.
It's not surprising that certain features crop up repeatedly in Paulides' collection if he deliberately selects cases that exhibit them!
If the second half of the day features more than the morning in reported or well-publicized disappearances, that may not be surprising. Someone who gets lost in the afternoon or evening will have fewer daylight hours before nightfall. If someone gets lost in the morning, but manages to get back to safety using the available daylight, the incident might go unreported.
On the matter of people not remembering or not saying what happened while they were lost, fatigue, disorientation, and emotional stress could be important factors. Also, it's worth noting that many of the disappearances mentioned by Paulides involved very young children.
'Paradoxical undressing' is known to occur in some cases of hypothermia, although Paulides seems to think that it doesn't account for the instances he mentions in which missing people were found with clothes or footwear missing. But hypothermia is, of course, a major potential hazard for people lost outdoors.
Prosaic factors of the type just mentioned may have played a major role in many of the cases. But if they've been reported accurately, a good number of the disappearances defy easy explanation. The following are some examples from Vol. 3:
In May 1891, the four- and eight-year-old daughters of a John Hammond went missing while walking home from their sister's residence in Nebraska (pp. 179-181). On the fourth full day of searching, the younger child was found, unconscious and with a swollen tongue, 15 miles from the roadway that would have taken her home. She recovered. Tragically, though, that same day, her eight-year-old sister was found dead, 75 MILES from where the girls had lost their way!
In June 1940, five-year-old Larry Lewis and his family went on a fishing trip to the south fork of the Mokelumne River in Calaveras County, California (pp. 75-76). Larry went missing, but according to an 11th June 1940 article in the 'Lodi News Sentinel', he was found alive the next day, up a mountain. Sheriff Joe Zwinge reported that Larry had climbed about 11,000 FEET above the river bed! However, from what I can gather from Internet searches, there aren't any mountains as high as 11,000 feet in the immediate vicinity of the Mokelumne River, and I doubt whether the river bed was below sea level. Also, it's perhaps unlikely that people would have been searching an area some 11,000 feet above the point where the boy went missing. Therefore, I wonder whether the sheriff or the writer of the newspaper article made a mistake, perhaps inadvertently turning 'eleven hundred feet' into '11,000 feet'.
In December 2011, 21-month-old Jason Burton went missing from his home in Cross Anchor, South Carolina (pp. 207-209). The next day, he was found, wet and cold, lying on a sandbar IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TYGER RIVER, about two miles UPSTREAM from where he'd last been seen! He was flown, by helicopter, to a hospital, but found to be in good condition.
On p. 451, Paulides indicates that he's aware of six "extremely viable hypotheses" about what's going on. Disappointingly, though, he doesn't specify what they are. It's a bit like writing a thesis on the assassination of John F. Kennedy without bothering to outline the competing theories about who carried it out!
In lieu of a concluding discussion that explicitly tackles the question of what's behind the disappearances, Paulides interweaves his presentation of cases with hints and allusions. Taken together, they suggest something along the following lines: (1) A non-human (or perhaps quasi-human) animal, entity or intelligence, which I'll call the AGENT, is behind the disappearances. (Although I'm using the singular, I don't mean to rule out the possibility that there are multiple agents.) (2) The agent is able to affect the mental processes of its victims, causing them to wander away from their intended routes; and it can induce amnesia, or render the victims unable to describe clearly what happened to them. (3) In cases where people are found, dead or alive, many miles from where they went missing, the agent may have carried them away. (4) After perpetrating abductions, the agent can make the weather turn bad, thereby hampering search efforts and endangering the victims. (5) The agent can only operate in, or prefers to operate in, rural areas (mountains, forests, swamps, deserts, etc.) or in places that are very close to the countryside.
Paulides is the only named author of the book, but he's inconsistent in referring to himself, sometimes using "I" and sometimes "we". The latter implies that he has co-researchers, but he doesn't name any.
The text of the book is unclear in parts, and there are grammatical errors and oddities of wording. For example, on p. 364, Paulides misuses 'notoriety' (which has a negative connotation) for 'fame': "[Jacques Vallee] has notoriety for mapping the landscape of Mars..." In referring to people, Paulides often uses 'that' instead of the more natural relative pronoun 'who' (e.g. "...a very, very intelligent boy THAT [my emphasis] acts much older than his three years", p. 60). And he tends to use 'city' over-inclusively. For example, on p. 138, he refers to Widstoe in Utah, stating that the population of the "city" rose to just over a thousand in the early 1900s.
On p. xv, Paulides explains that there are no state maps in the book. But I think it would have benefited from some, with dots or other marks to show where the disappearances had occurred.
In conclusion, I'd say that this book contains many interesting case reports, but it's incomplete and disappointing, given Paulides' failure to discuss theories about what's behind the disappearances.