David Paulides & Missing 411

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
This is one aspect on which I can speak accurately (I think). These are what I recall of his positions, I make no personal comment on their validity:

Paulides believes that the NPS do have records, records that would amount in toto to a near exhaustive list, but that they claim they do not, possibly, he speculates, because they are embarrassed by the slapdash nature of the investigations and searches that they conducted 'back in the day' (and he expresses some sympathy with them on this--the past being a different country and all that).

He further believes that the cost projected by the NPS to write-up and assemble their supposedly disparate files has been deliberately inflated to $1.4 million to prevent their having to release them.
Records of what though? Does he think they have an internal missing persons list that isn't public? Or does he think there are documents relevant to various investigations that are still secret? When discussing the Stacey Arras case he claimed the NPS was hiding the truth. But he never makes a claim about what exactly he thinks they're hiding or even why he believes they're hiding something. It's like with Fox Mulder in the X-Files "the truth is out there"..... But only in the general sense of "someone knows things I don't". The whole thing comes across as a blanket claim of wrongdoing by the NPS, especially given how he characterizes the missing 411 casefiles as a "disaster"...
More recently, he claims that his requests to film a documentary in (I think) Yellowstone have been mendaciously refused: that the NPS has been exploiting the Covid-19 lockdown and is being unreasonably meticulous with the process in order to to string-out the process so that the advance planning for his project becomes impracticable. One example of this he gives is that after paying the application fee (a few thousand dollars, I think) and completing a raft of paperwork, he was advised that the areas had asked to use were out of bounds. Rather than allowing him to 'transfer' the request to cover another area of the same park, they required that all the paperwork be resubmitted with another administrative fee and months more waiting. Specifically on this subject, he states that they are refusing to allow him to film in the non-public areas in which the disappearances actually took place (on the grounds that the terrain, flora and fauna look much the same elsewhere and he doesn't need to be there), which while it obviates the costly need to visit Yellowstone at all, also stifles the attempt at authenticity for his film. He believes, I paraphrase, that their motivation here is to 'kill the story' as the public attention he has drawn to these cases (considerable, I think we'd agree) is bad for their institutional reputation.
I'd question why he wants to film on site at all. What does he think that bringing a live camera crew will accomplish?
There was also something about a conversation he or an associate had with somebody high-up in government (a former member of the administration, I think) that he believes supports his belief that such files as he wishes to view have already been assembled, but I'd have to check the details.
In one interview transcript I read, he made a vague claim that some people inside the NPS are actually supportive of his efforts even though they publicly deny it. Conveniently these people swore him to not reveal their identities.
 

Yithian

Parish Watch
Staff member
Joined
Oct 29, 2002
Messages
32,763
Reaction score
40,622
Points
309
Location
East of Suez
Records of what though? Does he think they have an internal missing persons list that isn't public? Or does he think there are documents relevant to various investigations that are still secret? When discussing the Stacey Arras case he claimed the NPS was hiding the truth. But he never makes a claim about what exactly he thinks they're hiding or even why he believes they're hiding something. It's like with Fox Mulder in the X-Files "the truth is out there"..... But only in the general sense of "someone knows things I don't". The whole thing comes across as a blanket claim of wrongdoing by the NPS, especially given how he characterizes the missing 411 casefiles as a "disaster"...
I'd question why he wants to film on site at all. What does he think that bringing a live camera crew will accomplish?
In one interview transcript I read, he made a vague claim that some people inside the NPS are actually supportive of his efforts even though they publicly deny it. Conveniently these people swore him to not reveal their identities.
I hold no brief to defend his claims, but I will defend his desire to film in the actual locations that the unfortunate individuals disappeared from.

As a viewer, I don't want to see generic woodland that represents a location, I want to see the actual location.

Imagine filming a Jack the Ripper documenatry in another part of London with similar period architecture.
 

Kondoru

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
7,495
Reaction score
2,536
Points
234
If the parks in the US are like our parks, they are short of staff, money and time.

They dont want to deal with a nut job who is only interested in giving them bad publicity.

Solving cases yes, and maybe making things safer...what is he doing to achieve that?
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
6,987
Reaction score
8,941
Points
294
Location
Midwich
I hold no brief to defend his claims, but I will defend his desire to film in the actual locations that the unfortunate individuals disappeared from...
Maybe, but I'd also defend a conservators desire to protect sensitive environments - especially if there's a chance that media exposure might encourage increased unmonitored and unregulated traffic.
 

Austin Popper

Emperor of Antarctica
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,031
Reaction score
2,170
Points
154
Location
Colorado, where the gold is still elusive
I know some people who work for the NPS, a few of whom have by now worked their way up the food chain and live in the Washington DC area. I've known quite a number of people who work at other agencies, BLM, Forest Service, etc. They are generally cut from the same cloth. I have a very hard time imagining any of them thinking of someone like Paulides as anything other than a screwball who can only do them or their employers harm. They can, of course, put his name into their favorite search engine as easily as I can, and find both his flaky Bigfoot site (close association with the Ketchum shitshow, fer chrissakes!) and his claims of being a detective. I'm sure the ones who have done so were just as "impressed" as I am. It would not surprise me at all if some of those people are obstructing him either directly or through some more passive means. I can't say I blame them.

As for the out of bounds areas in the parks, I can't say much about what is there since I'm just a member of the public and not allowed there, but what I do know is it's usually not a large area of a park. Much of it is employee housing, some of it quite shabby depending on the decade, or sensitive areas as mentioned. I don't want film crews tromping around in either sort of place. The people who live in the housing areas deal with us tourons all day and have earned whatever privacy they can enjoy in their dilapidated trailer houses and other meager accommodations. A viewer's theoretical need for "authenticity" is really kind of a joke if one is discussing television productions. You ain't gonna get it, even if the NPS allowed the crew free access to every inch of the park, and even if you could, there are places no one is allowed for very good reasons.

Paulides has chosen an interesting field of study, and has done some respectable work, but he has also polluted the field with more nonsense than the typical whacked out ufologist ever manages to inflict on their chosen topic. I would like to see these cases solved, of course, but I think he has done more harm than good.

I greatly admire the people running our parks, and give them high marks for protecting the places while allowing as many people as possible to enjoy them. They have a difficult job, in no small part because of the mountain of bullshit they have to deal with from shitty politicians who have been elevated several steps beyond their level of competence. Add in hordes of fools who think they can hike down into places like the Grand Canyon without water or even decent shoes (I've seen shit you would not believe) and you have a recipe for disaster on a daily basis.
 

dr wu

Doctor Prog
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
2,368
Reaction score
1,843
Points
184
Location
Indiana
A 52 minute talk by Paulides on you tube Feb 2020....he talks about some very weird things related to missing people, and it's pretty clear he thinks the weird cases are either time and space portals, aliens, or supernatural cryptids.....at least that's how I interpret his comments.
He even uses the word Fortean at one point.
 

stu neville

Commissioner.
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2002
Messages
12,605
Reaction score
6,720
Points
309
Imagine filming a Jack the Ripper documenatry in another part of London with similar period architecture.
Or, in the case of the Michael Caine movie version, a street near my own (a whole hundred and some miles away.) Landmarks and scale aside, Bristol and London are largely interchangeable in that respect, and it depends on whether you want authentic-looking environs or cartographic accuracy. I do take the point that a documentary and a drama are different, obviously, but a lot will also depend on how accessible the area is, which leads onto..
As for the out of bounds areas in the parks, I can't say much about what is there since I'm just a member of the public and not allowed there, but what I do know is it's usually not a large area of a park.
For quite a lot of cases in which we're interested generally their remoteness plays a large part - Tunguska, Dyatlov.. Bigfoot-wise the area in which Ron Morehead recorded the Sierra Sounds is only reachable by two days on horseback (or four days hiking.) It could be in terms of sheer logistics that it's not worth getting a crew there, especially if a long-ish time has elapsed. Bluff Creek now looks very little like Bluff Creek when the PG film was shot: trees grow, trees fall, which affects the topography, the light, everything. It may be geographically the same point but in all other respects it's a different environment altogether - Fortean investigation in non-curated landscapes is a different beast from the inhabited or utilised.
 

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
For quite a lot of cases in which we're interested generally their remoteness plays a large part - Tunguska, Dyatlov.. Bigfoot-wise the area in which Ron Morehead recorded the Sierra Sounds is only reachable by two days on horseback (or four days hiking.) It could be in terms of sheer logistics that it's not worth getting a crew there, especially if a long-ish time has elapsed. Bluff Creek now looks very little like Bluff Creek when the PG film was shot: trees grow, trees fall, which affects the topography, the light, everything. It may be geographically the same point but in all other respects it's a different environment altogether - Fortean investigation in non-curated landscapes is a different beast from the inhabited or utilised.
Which gets back to the question of "why bother?" What's the goal behind filming the site? Is he planning to attempt to retrace the steps of the individuals in the case files? I can't think of anything else that would be a valid reason to go to the actual sites years after the fact. CSI is unlikely to produce new evidence in a site that's already been investigated years ago. Also the locations look drastically different now. Then there's how some of them are locations so rugged the initial group of searches failed to find their target despite being mere yards from the corpse. Which in turn makes me wonder which cases he's going for...
 

Yithian

Parish Watch
Staff member
Joined
Oct 29, 2002
Messages
32,763
Reaction score
40,622
Points
309
Location
East of Suez
Which gets back to the question of "why bother?" What's the goal behind filming the site? Is he planning to attempt to retrace the steps of the individuals in the case files? I can't think of anything else that would be a valid reason to go to the actual sites years after the fact. CSI is unlikely to produce new evidence in a site that's already been investigated years ago. Also the locations look drastically different now. Then there's how some of them are locations so rugged the initial group of searches failed to find their target despite being mere yards from the corpse. Which in turn makes me wonder which cases he's going for...
Having read and listened to some of his output, I would say that he places quite a lot of emphasis on the precise details of the exact spots at which the missing individuals were last seen (when this is clear). He often mentions things like the density of fauna, the depth or speed of flowing water, the gradients of slopes and the quality of trails to argue that certain eventualities are more plausible than others.

Similary, part of his logic for the disappearances being remarkable is that they often took place in areas where you might imagine it is hard to elude the sight of observers, areas from which it is hard to have strayed into the relative wilderness in which they were discovered unintentionally.

I've done a good amount of mountain hiking and am not personally very convinced by this (it's suprising, for example, how greatly sound can be masked and muffled over comparatively short distances), but it would explain why he believes that the authentic locations are essential for him to tell the story / make the case as he sees it.
 

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
Having read and listened to some of his output, I would say that he places quite a lot of emphasis on the precise details of the exact spots at which the missing individuals were last seen (when this is clear). He often mentions things like the density of fauna, the depth or speed of flowing water, the gradients of slopes and the quality of trails to argue that certain eventualities are more plausible than others.

Similarly, part of his logic for the disappearances being remarkable is that they often took place in areas where you might imagine it is hard to elude the sight of observers, areas from which it is hard to have strayed into the relative wilderness in which they were discovered unintentionally.

I've done a good amount of mountain hiking and am not personally very convinced by this (it's surprising, for example, how greatly sound can be masked and muffled over comparatively short distances), but it would explain why he believes that the authentic locations are essential for him to tell the story / make the case as he sees it.
Some of them are such remote locations finding pictures is nearly impossible. So it makes sense to want to acquire pictures. But... how many years has it been? How much have the sites changed?
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
21,794
Reaction score
31,175
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
But... how many years has it been? How much have the sites changed?
An excellent point ... The time lapse - combined with the attention to sometimes large 'areas' rather than specific sites - makes it difficult to understand why Paulides seems confident there's anything to be gained or learned. This makes the basis for his complaints about access seem as shaky as some aspects of his theories.
 

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
I suspect that we would all question anyone who tried to tie deaths in car crashes, or from alcoholism - or, for that matter anything from mountaineering accidents to meth lab explosions - to some sort of external paranormal interference; certainly if the individual involved seemed to be using the majority of the sample to back up their claim.

But, to my mind, this is precisely what Paulides is doing: taking a particular type of environment, completely sidelining the fundamental and omnipresent hazards involved, and applying an external cause. (Example: This person died, not because they weren't wearing a seatbelt and they were thrown through the vehicle window after hitting a wall at 70 mph - but because aliens used a big hoover to suck them out of the car. In some cases - many in fact - it's as utterly dense as that.)

Absolutely without question there certainly are some very mysterious incidents - you don't need to have even seen any of the 411 stuff to know that - but, in Paulides case, he seems determined to bury the mystery under mountains and mountains of chaff.
This reminded me of something else that he says that's strange... He acts like it's unusual for search parties to get called off due to inclement weather. Sure, you can make an argument that bad weather increase the importance of finding the person. But what's the point if multiple searchers get hurt or worse? Also you're LESS likely to find the victim in bad weather.

He even talks about cases where search and rescue workers were harmed by searching, but acts like it's weird for searches to get interrupted by inclement weather? Jaryd Atadero is one such case. The search failed when a helicopter that was being used to look on top of ridges and cliffs crashed and the crew nearly died. It crashed due to sudden high winds. But the location that Jaryd's remains were found is a location that was planned to search via helicopter since it was too rough to search on foot. If the chopper hadn't crashed Jaryd would probably have been found.
 
Last edited:

Austin Popper

Emperor of Antarctica
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,031
Reaction score
2,170
Points
154
Location
Colorado, where the gold is still elusive
Those are tough calls for the people in charge of search and rescue operations. Unfortunately, the responsibility for those things often falls to local sheriffs, who have limited budgets, limited staff, and who are not experts in the highly specialized field. Many of the people who do the hard work in miserable weather are volunteers, and their safety is as important as anything else.

The way the laws are written in the US, responsibility for S&R usually defaults to county sheriffs. In Colorado where I live, that's often someone who has a vast area to patrol with a handful of people. That means important business can go unattended even on a good day. Coordinating an effective search can be a huge job, especially in the sort of terrain where people tend to go missing out here. Help is available, but the practical reality of it is often a patchwork of bureaus and agencies doing their best to work efficiently in difficult circumstances. There has been talk of making the job a state responsibility by default, something that makes a hell of a lot of sense in a place like this. There are many state level efforts at promoting the tourist industry here. There does not seem to be a shortage of money or resources for that.

Having a small staff of specialists trained in S&R, ready to go out and coordinate such efforts would be a huge help. They would be working at building and maintaining relationships with local authorities when not actively carrying out searches, which would be most of the time. You'd have outreach, education, recruitment of volunteers at the local level, people with knowledge of who to call for what and where, with contact information in their phones. Such things exist at the state level in all sorts of other areas where many different people and agencies need to work together. Wildfire management is one obvious example. Search and rescue is just an area that has been neglected.

An example of the sort of problems that should not exist is the fire department and ambulance situation in a nearby town. There is the incorporated town, and a huge subdivision next to it. Each has a fire department and ambulance crew. As one might guess, many of the firefighters and EMTs are members of two or more such agencies. That means they have to deal with many bureaucracies, from town government to the sheriff's deparmtent and so on. Each agency has its own paper work, payment system, and equipment requirements. All of those volunteers have to spend time dealing with all of that stuff instead of going out for practice, or just having some time off. There was an effort some years ago to combine all of that in one emergency services district or some such entity. There were two ballot measures established, one to create the district and one to fund it with a tax mill levy. As often happens here in Murricah, the creation of the district passed easily, but the funding was voted down. Officials were then put in a very awkward, no-win situation where they were legally required to set up the entity but didn't get a penny with which to do it. To their credit, they managed to cobble together a workable solution, but it was pretty much the opposite of an improvement in efficiency.
 

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
Yeah, here's one thing I'll never forget... because it physically scarred me for life.

Back when Tropical Storm Isabel made landfall I was living in one of the areas affected by it. I didn't have anything specific to do, so I decided to be helpful and walked around outside for a bit clearing fallen tree branches from roads.

Guess how I got scarred for life? I slipped on a patch of loose mud on a hillside. Not rough terrain, someone's YARD, but the heavy rain made it slippery enough for me to lose my footing.... and I just happened to fall so that my right shin broke the tree branch I was dragging. Snapped the branch clean in half and unknown to me made a rather deep gouge. It was dark because of a power outage so I didn't take a close look.. and by morning it didn't hurt and had scabbed over. I didn't go to the doctor until it started to ooze puss. Then it needed minor surgery to clean out.... didn't really do anything but make a scar though.

At any rate... that happened while doing yard work in city limits. Imagine if I was doing something actually dangerous on rough terrain? a mishap like that might have killed me. :/ And... well... reading search and rescue reports tells me that it's something they worry about a lot :/
 

Kondoru

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
7,495
Reaction score
2,536
Points
234
Ouch.

How many people have died doing S&R?
 

Austin Popper

Emperor of Antarctica
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,031
Reaction score
2,170
Points
154
Location
Colorado, where the gold is still elusive
Ouch.

How many people have died doing S&R?
That's a good question. I don't recall hearing of any. I've read about some who needed rescue themselves, some near misses, some injuries. Of course losing a searcher is a nightmare scenario for any official, so they tend to be cautious. I know I would be. Some searches balloon to hundreds of people out poking around in the bush, which is hazardous even if they are experienced in back country travel. It has to cause a lot of lost sleep for those in charge.
 

Austin Popper

Emperor of Antarctica
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
1,031
Reaction score
2,170
Points
154
Location
Colorado, where the gold is still elusive
Ah yes. I had not been thinking in terms of aircraft disappearances or crashes, but people in the woods or desert searching for missing people. I would be surprised if there weren't some of those too, but I can't think of any right off hand.
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
6,987
Reaction score
8,941
Points
294
Location
Midwich
This reminded me of something else that he says that's strange... He acts like it's unusual for search parties to get called off due to inclement weather. Sure, you can make an argument that bad weather increase the importance of finding the person. But what's the point if multiple searchers get hurt or worse? Also you're LESS likely to find the victim in bad weather...
That's nuts - for precisely the reasons you state - and as an ex police Paulides must know that's nuts, surely?

I'm sure that different search and rescue agencies grade these things in different ways, and that there will be some circumstances where searches will carry on overnight and in bad weather – but a very basic calculation in any such action will be focused on balancing the resources needed to carry out a process, against the likely attrition of those resources during that process. In these cases, breaking off and holding back would be part of a strategy, not the suspension of one - and I’d be willing to bet a big bag of sweeties that goes for other none rescue related forms of police search actions too.

Those are tough calls for the people in charge of search and rescue operations. Unfortunately, the responsibility for those things often falls to local sheriffs, who have limited budgets, limited staff, and who are not experts in the highly specialized field. Many of the people who do the hard work in miserable weather are volunteers, and their safety is as important as anything else...
Even at a fairly local level – where you might assume that people would know their environment, the logistics involved in negotiating it, and the local facilities for doing so - I think there often exists what one might call a resource fallacy, which is probably based largely on simple assumption, and movies. When real world logistics don’t live up to movie-land expectations people assume that something has gone wrong – rather than that they’ve just come face to face with the nuts and bolts of reality.

(Not being US based, I think I only really became aware of just how big the latter issues are when reading Donald Harstad's crime fiction back in the early 2000s. Harstad is a retired Iowa deputy sheriff, and his knowledge of the constraints that economics and limited facilities and manpower force on rural sheriffs departments is clear in his writing - I seem to recall one episode where even the budgetary consequences of using too much hazard tape got a mention. Harstad also wrote the best non-supernatural vampire novel I've read - although that's clearly a different matter entirely, and, to be fair, I haven't read any other non-supernatural vampire novels.)
 
Last edited:

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
That's a good question. I don't recall hearing of any. I've read about some who needed rescue themselves, some near misses, some injuries. Of course losing a searcher is a nightmare scenario for any official, so they tend to be cautious. I know I would be. Some searches balloon to hundreds of people out poking around in the bush, which is hazardous even if they are experienced in back country travel. It has to cause a lot of lost sleep for those in charge.
The Jaryd Atadero case had a helicopter with a crew of 4 go down due to heavy winds. The chopper was totaled and the flight team needed rescued. Some of them were badly hurt. the report I read suggested one of them was too badly hurt to walk and another had a severe head injury. I guess this would be a near miss, but a close call indeed. Unlike the movies the fuel tank didn't explode on impact. Instead.... the helicopter engine somehow got disconnected from the fight controls and couldn't be shut off, so people let it keep running until it emptied the fuel tank.... yeah... I guess the fuel tank wasn't even leaking? If the chopper had gone down in flames the crew would probably have died.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
21,794
Reaction score
31,175
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Last edited:

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
A search crew of 13 disappeared with their flying boat searching for Flight 19.
One report suggests that the seaplane searching for flight 19 had a structure failure mid-flight and exploded in mid air when the fuel tank ruptured. Obviously the entire crew died and the explosion was far enough out to sea that people didn't even properly locate the wreckage. :/ It was a plane that was old and probably needed a LOT of work to be fully up to safety specs. One thing that's been mentioned is that it was known to stink of jet fuel on a regular basis :/ There was a log entry made by one of the other flights looking for Flight 19 that they saw what they believed to be a fireball mid-air in the distance at some point during the search and the time recorded is after the last time anyone talked to the crew of that seaplane.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
21,794
Reaction score
31,175
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Yes, I know ... I just wanted to mention it as an example of searchers being jeopardized themselves when looking for someone who's gone missing.
 

marhawkman

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
530
Reaction score
498
Points
64
Yes, I know ... I just wanted to mention it as an example of searchers being jeopardized themselves when looking for someone who's gone missing.
Yeah some of what I've read made it sound like that particular plane was reasonably describable as a flying death trap. Flying it meant risking your life.
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
6,987
Reaction score
8,941
Points
294
Location
Midwich
I can't help thinking that the question regarding death and serious injury to searchers is a bit of a red herring.

I have friends who volunteer in the UK based Mountain Rescue services - even the most obtuse of people would surely accept that they work in hazardous conditions at the best of times, let alone when bad weather sets in. The fact that they don't tend to die on the job or suffer serious injury is a reflection on the way they do their jobs, not the potential lethality of their environment.

When you think about it, doesn't the fact that search and rescue operatives don't go missing more often kind of undermine the 'there's something out there' theory?
 
Last edited:
Top