Connie Johnson, Disappeared October 5th 2018, Fog Mountain, Big Rock, Idaho
Connie Johnson, 76, was an experienced outdoorswoman. In October 2018, she was working as a camp cook for Richie Outfitters (Salmon, Idaho) in the area around Fog Mountain near Big Rock in Idaho. An area with no roads and only accessible by horse or on foot.
She had previously worked as a U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger at the Moose Creek Ranger Station, was a member of the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation, and she frequently led young people and other groups on tours of the backcountry in the area. Her friends said she was very well experienced with the back country and knew how to survive even if something went wrong.
She was last seen October 2nd 2018, when the hunters left the camp. According to County Sheriff Doug Giddings, the next day the hunters had radio contact with Connie but they were unable to understand what she was saying. When they returned to the camp on October 5th, Johnson and her dog, Ace, were gone.
A large search with searchers on foot and tracking canines was quickly deployed and involved aircraft deploying FLIR heat technology from the U.S. Air Force, the Idaho National Guard, the Clearwater County Backcountry Helicopter Rescue team.
Chris Adkins, a former colleague says "It's reconcilable. You know, what everyone is dealing with, with this, because like you said, this isn't like some pilgrim's first rodeo. This is a woman who spent literally the last 25 years of her life, most of them, on foot in the wilderness, alone, doing her wilderness range work, and if there's anybody that has a skill set that positions them to beat this, it's Connie."
But no trace of Johnson was found and the search was ended on October 16th.
Three weeks later, the dog, Ace, turned up at the Moose Creek ranger station, around 15 miles from the camp, but without Connie. The dog was examined, fed and then taken out to search for Connie but to no avail.
In an oral history Johnson recorded for the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation she talked about her experience in the backcountry after relocating from Iowa years before:
“I don’t remember really being afraid of anything. I’m a spiritual and faithful person and I kind of gave over my life to, you know, there’s God taking care of me and I know that but I did learn to, and I don’t remember being fearful. There were lightening storms and there were creek crossings and there were lots of challenging things physically, but I’m naturally an impatient person and this taught me, since I was by myself, to be very careful about where you put your feet. You know, Connie, if you get hurt here there’s no way anybody’s going to help you; you’re on your own. So it taught me to plan ahead about how I would negotiate this or that or how I would deal with the water supply or bee stings and that kind of thing. I just love being in that place so much. It just took care of me, you know. It’s a pretty overpowering feeling to look up into those hills and especially being a flatlander like I was. I still am in awe of the power of those mountains and the power of the weather and the creeks and just the sheer hugeness of it and the fact that we’re not in control of anything.”
Her daughter said she can only speculate about what happened to her mother, but did not believe her disappearance was intentional. “I think that she was enjoying the outdoors, which she loves, and something happened. The weather came up; she fell … I don’t know, but I think that she got surprised. Given the temperature, given the lack of time, given the lack of signs of her and the fact that Ace is not with her, all points to …”
By coincidence, Terrence Woods, 27, was reported missing around 5.30 p.m on the same day in the Orogrande area of Idaho in mysterious circumstances. He was a production assistant from Maryland helping film a documentary on penman mine for a British TV show called Whitewater.
At some point he ran off into the woods for some reason and has never been found. Terrence's father said, "they [production crew] thought he fell off a cliff, but by the time he got over there, my son was 15 feet down the cliff, running like a hare. So I said what do you mean running like a hare. He said he run so fast I ain't never seen nobody run that fast. You can't get lost out there because if you get lost out there, you're going to run into a road or houses. So he didn't just poof, vanish and disappear. No, he made it to that road, someone picked him up."
Despite an extensive search, no leads were obtained from the previous seven days of searching, and no signs of Terence were located in the search area or the expanded search area.
What happened to Connie and Terrence in October 2018? Given Connie’s experience in the outdoors she was well equipped for survival. Did she fall ill or have an accident or did something else happen that day? What caused Terrence to run off into the woods and never return?