Update October 3, 2o18
Search crews found the body of Mitzie Sue "Susan" Clements approximately two miles west of the Clingmans Dome parking area and three-fourths of a mile south of the Appalachian Trail on the afternoon of October 2nd. Why did she walk away from the parking lot when she separated from her daughter and then what happened? Authorities have dismissed foul play.
Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements, disappeared September 25th, 2018, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North carolina/TENNESSEE
Mitzie Sue “Susan” Clements, 53, was hiking with her 20 year old daughter on Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 near Clingmans Dome in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains, when she mysteriously vanished after they lost sight of each other.
Susan, a mother of three, disappeared around 5pm in an area close to the parking lot, about 1/4 mile from Andrews Bald, on the Forney Ridge Trail in the National Park after her daughter decided to hike ahead a short distance with the intention for her to turn around and meet up. Susan’s daughter wanted to climb up to the Clingmans Dome Observation Tower (6,643 feet in elevation), and because she was hiking faster, she told her mother she would go ahead and then meet her back at the parking lot. They weren’t separated for very long but when when she arrived back at the lot, she couldn’t find Susan. She waited a short while, walked around, retraced some of her steps and then contacted the park authorities when her mother failed to arrive some hours later. The two of them intended to do a day hike only so were not carrying supplies or heavyweight clothing.
Clements is white with light brown hair and blue eyes, 5'6" and 125 pounds. She was last seen wearing a green zip-up sweater, black workout pants over black leggings, a clear rain poncho and gray Nike running shoes with light green soles.
Susan from Cincinnati was on vacation in North Carolina when she disappeared. The Great Smoky Mountains lies on the North Carolina-Tennessee state line, and Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park
125 trained searchers with drones, sniffer dogs and helicopters from 30 “search and rescue agencies” helped park staff in a large-scale search of the area but nothing was found including clothing or other clues. The weather was poor with rain, fog, wind and low temperatures in the 40s which hampered search efforts due to limited visibility. Clingmans Dome Road was closed to accommodate the infrastructure needed to manage and expedite the search. The area also has poor cellphone service so Verizon set up a portable cell tower. In a news release, officials said the cell booster is “providing the critical cell and data coverage needed to effectively manage and support the search effort in this remote location.”
As of October 1st, searchers had hiked more than 500 miles on trails and conducted intensive off-trail “grid-searches” of approximately 10 square miles in the steep, rugged terrain that straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border. The searchers were left frustrated by lack of evidence given the resources deployed in the area where Susan disappeared.
Susan Clements disappearance is in the same area as that of Trenny Lynn Gibson who also vanished from the Forney Ridge Trail in 1976 and was never seen again and was believed to have been abducted.
Susan’s disappearance from the trail is strange given the limited time she was away from her daughter and proximity to the parking area. Maybe she was bundled into a car and driven away or left the Forney Ridge Trail for some reason and was lost in the wind and rain? Another disturbing story from the Great Smoky Mountains.