The Cowden Family - Strange and disturbing murders in the U.S. wilderness

The Cowden Family murders Oregon

Richard Cowden (28), his wife Belinda (22), their children, David (5) and Melissa (5 months) and dog Droopy, went camping in the Siskiyou Mountains near Carberry Creek, Copper, Oregon, on August 30th to September 1, 1974, over the Labor Day weekend.

Seven months later, in April 1975, their bodies were discovered around 7 miles (11 km) from their campsite. The case remains unsolved and has been described as one of the most mysterious murder stories in American history.

The Cowden family lived in White City, Oregon and Richard worked as a logging truck driver. They travelled to the campsite in their 1956 Ford pickup truck.

The Cowdens loved to camp, but they had not planned to go camping that Labor Day weekend of 1974. Richard had planned to haul a load of gravel for his driveway and spend the weekend getting the job done. Unexpectedly, the truck broke down, so instead they decided to go up to the Siskiyou Mountains for a family trip away.

Carberry Creek, Copper, Oregon

On Sunday, September 1, Richard and David went to the Copper General Store on foot at approximately 9 am to buy some milk. They left the store and headed back to their campsite. This was the last sighting of the Cowden family.

That evening, Belinda's mother, who lived less than 1 mile from the campground, was expecting the family to come over for dinner on their way home. They failed to show and she went to the campsite to see if there was a problem.  When she arrived there was no sign of the Cowdens and the truck was parked up with the keys on a picnic table. A plastic dishpan full of cold water lay on the ground and Belinda's purse was in plain sight on the table. A diaper bag and camp stove were set up and a half-finished carton of milk was also present, which matched that bought at the store earlier in the day. Richard's expensive wristwatch and wallet were on the ground. There was also an opened pack of cigarettes, which were the brand that Belinda smoked. The truck appeared untouched and contained their clothing, with only the bathing suits missing.

Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon

Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon

After waiting for about an hour, Belinda's mother left the campground to notify the authorities after which the sheriff, troopers, and the District 3 Office of the Oregon State Police arrived at the scene. Officers searched the area until it grew so dark they couldn’t see a thing. Lieutenant Mark Kezar who headed the case would later state that the investigation had been "delayed for maybe a day" because of the lack of indication that anything violent may have occurred at the campsite. A state trooper, Officer Erickson, recalled: "That camp was spooky; even the milk was still on the table."

The following morning, on September 2, the Cowdens' pet Basset Hound, Droopy, was found scratching at the front door of the Copper General Store.

The search for the Cowdens was one of the largest in Oregon history and included state and local police, Explorer Scouts, the United States Forest Service, and the Oregon National Guard as well as hundreds of volunteers. The U.S. Forest Service searched 25 miles of roads and trails surrounding the campsite, and helicopters and planes were flown over the area equipped with infrared imaging. Despite this very large search effort, no sign was found apart from the dog. The official search of the area was suspended on September 7, but friends and relatives of the family spent many weekends and vacation time to continue looking.

The family had little debts, they were not behind on any payments and Richard made more than enough money to support his family. So it seemed unlikely they had voluntarily disappeared.  If didn't seem like robbery as the wallet, watch etc. were left behind. No bodies were found in the creek which ruled out accidental drowning. What happened to the Cowden family? Kezar and his colleagues were baffled.

Then seven months after the family vanished, on April 12, 1975, two gold prospectors were hiking through the woods near Carberry Creek when they discovered the decomposing body of an adult male tied to a tree on a steep hillside around 7 miles from the location of the Cowden's campsite. In a small cave nearby, the bodies of an adult female, a child, and an infant were discovered. The entrance of the cave was sealed with rocks to disguise it and hide the bodies. Positive identification of the bodies as those of the Cowden family was made via dental records.

Autopsies revealed that Belinda and 5 year old David had died as a result of .22 calibre gunshot wounds, baby Melissa had died from severe head trauma. Medical authorities were unable to determine the cause of Richard Cowden's death. 

Thinking of the possibility that Richard could have murdered his own family, detectives searched the area for a gun or other weapon. If Richard was indeed responsible for the death’s of his family and his own suicide, then some sort of weapon would still be around. No gun or weapon were ever found, not even the smallest clue to give police a lead.

Lt. Mark Kezar said afterwards that "The whole nature of the thing smacks of a weirdo," adding that the police know a lot they didn't feel free to discuss at that point.

The authorities believed that Richard and David returned to the camp after their trip to the store and the family went swimming in adjacent Carberry Creek later that morning. A short time later, probably before noon, the family was abducted at gunpoint, and most likely by someone they did not know. Kezar hypothesized that they were probably driven some distance away, forced up the steep slope where they were found, and at least three of them were shot.

One family from Los Angeles, California had arrived at the campground at 5 pm on September 1 and whilst walking in the park that evening, they witnessed two men and a woman parking nearby in a pickup truck. They said, "they acted like they were waiting for us to leave, and frankly, they made us nervous, so we moved on."

Based on the location of Belinda and the children's bodies inside the cave, Lieutenant Kezar suspected that the person responsible was a local resident who knew the area and was aware of the cave's location. After the family's remains were recovered, a resident of Grants Pass who had volunteered in the search told police that he had searched the cave where Belinda and the children's bodies were found in September 1974 and that they were not there at that time. To confirm the story, police had the man take them to the cave he had searched; it was the same cave where the bodies had been discovered.

Dwain Lee Little

Dwain Lee Little

Dwain Lee Little, has been implicated but never charged with the murders.  Little had been paroled from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem on May 24, 1974, three months prior to the Cowdens' disappearances. On November 2, 1964, he had raped and murdered teenager Orla Fay Fipps, then aged only 15 years of age. State police were able to determine that Little had been in Copper over the Labor Day weekend at the approximate time the Cowden family were killed.

Little's girlfriend told law enforcement that she had seen him with a .22 caliber gun during Christmas 1974 and on January 12, 1975, his parole was revoked after she informed police. Little was paroled again on April 26, 1977 and on June 2, 1980, he picked up a pregnant twenty-three-year-old named Margie Hunter, whose car had broken down near Portland, Oregon. He sexually assaulted and beat her but she survived. and Little was charged and convicted of attempted homicide and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. He was never cooperative with mental health treatment and refused to discuss any of the murders he is accused of.

Police believed that the two men and woman in a truck reported by the Los Angeles family at the campground were in fact Little and his parents, as their truck matched the description provided by the family. Little and his parents denied any knowledge of the Cowdens' disappearances; however, a miner who owned a cabin nearby claimed that Little and his parents had stopped by on Monday, September 2, 1974, and signed a guestbook he kept for visitors.

Floyd Forsberg, an inmate who at one time shared a cell with Little, would later claim that Little confessed to the Cowdens' murders. 

Richard Cowden's father committed suicide a few months after the bodies were discovered but he was cleared of any involvement.

Over four decades on, the facts behind the Cowdens' murders remains unknown. Foul play for certain but was it Dwain Little or someone else. A brutal murder in America's wilderness.






Anna Schmidt - Disturbing deaths in U.S. wilderness

Anna "Annie" Schmidt, Munra Point, Bonneville Dam, Oregon

Annie Schmidt Bonneville dam

Sometimes things just go wrong when venturing into the outdoors. Search and rescue teams try their best, but often need to give up within a few days, because of weather or resources. It can be up to amateur volunteers to help track down these missing people or bring the bodies home for grieving relatives. Like the story of the discovery in 2009 of the remains of the German Tourists in Death Valley by Tom Mahood after days of searching in the desert. They originally went missing in 1996.

Here is another amazing another story of a lady called Lydia McGranahan who wouldn't give up searching for a fellow hiker in Oregon despite the slim chances of success. The disappearance and death of Anna Schmidt came up on the radar after researching the story of Alissa McCrann who disappeared in the nearby Multnomah falls area in December 2015.

Anna Schmidt, known as Annie, went for a hike near the Bonneville Dam in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

The 21-year-old moved from  Salt Lake City in Utah to Portland in July 2016 and her father, Jon Schmidt, was a pianist and songwriter in the four-member music group, The Piano Guys, who after gaining a big following through YouTube, signed with Sony Music.

Annie, 5'4" and weighing 125 pounds, was described by friends and family as an avid hiker, a musically gifted young woman. 

She was last seen on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 by her room mate, Anne Snyder, and she sent a Snapchat message to her father that she planned to go for a hike at the Tooth Rock trailhead. Annie’s family noticed that she didn't post on social media at all on Monday which they found to be unusual as she usually posts daily, and grew increasingly worried the next day when she did not reply to any of their calls, texts or messages and had not been active on social media. Annie’s mother, Michelle, tried to text her with no response. On October 19th she flew into Portland to go on a pre-planned camping trip with Annie, but her daughter failed to pick her up at the airport as they had agreed. Michelle rented a car and went to Annie’s apartment where she found Annie’s roommate, who said she thought she had already left to go camping because she had not seen Annie since October 16th. At that point, they both realized something was badly wrong.

Annie was reported missing on Wednesday, October 19th, by her mother and her car was found on Thursday, October 20th,  off exit 40 on I-84 EB near the Bonneville Dam. The car had been broken into and ransacked, but her cellphone was found inside.  According to her mother, the phone, was old and the battery died quickly. Some sleeping bags were found in the vehicle but nothing else which gave a clue.

Annie’s roommate, Anne Snyder, spoke of the  the very last conversation she had with her "She didn't say anything. She wasn't like ‘I'm going hiking today.' She didn't say anything like that. She just said, ‘Do you want to hang out?' I said I couldn't,". Snyder also said that Annie did not have her gear or tent and that the tent she had ordered “had not shipped yet”. She said it was not unusual for her to go hiking alone, but she didn't bring any gear this time. "She didn't bring anything -- her tennis shoes are at home, her beanies, her backpack that she calls her adventure backpack -- she didn't take it. It's weird".

Annie Schmidt's last Twitter post

Annie Schmidt's last Twitter post

The search for Annie Schmidt

ToothRock Trail Head Oregon

Annie's last cellphone ping came from the Tooth Rock trailhead area, which is where searchers began with more than 150 volunteers on October 21st, 2016, five days after she was last seen. Tooth Rock is located between the more popular Eagle Creek trail to the east and Waclella Falls to the west. A maze of trails originate in the vicinity taking hikers to waterfalls, lakes and stunning vistas of the gorge. There are multiple routes just from the Tooth Rock parking lot and searchers had fanned out on all the different trails, unsure of which one Annie took.

On the second day of searching, nearly 200 volunteers and 50 search and rescue crews were deployed, followed by the use of a fixed-wing plane and drones. By October 23rd, search and rescue crews covered 150 miles of the Columbia Gorge trail system with the assistance of dog teams and that evening the search for Annie was suspended with no evidence found. Crews from the Clatsop County Sheriff's Office and Portland Mountain Rescue with ropes and other climbing equipment had searched the cliffs and waterfalls.

Annie's family continued the search on their own over the following few days. She was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in Lake Oswego and the church has been leading the volunteer search efforts. "We just walked up the creeks. We're going chest deep. Wading, walking, looking to see if she's fallen in the creek, trapped under a rock or wedged behind a log,"

Police said they didn't suspect foul play but they were concerned she may have gotten lost or injured while hiking in the Gorge. 

Michelle and Jon Schmidt

Michelle and Jon Schmidt

Michelle Schmidt quickly said "I don't think she's still alive. I don't think she's survived. Honestly, that brings me comfort knowing she is with her Heavenly Father, that she's not hurting, that she's not suffering. But we do want to find her body.". What made Michelle so confident that Annie was dead on October 23rd is unclear, but the weather conditions around the time of her disappearance were poor with rain and high winds. In fact, very bad hiking weather which makes it strange that Annie decided to go walking that particular day. 

Annie Schmidt

Lydia McGranahan and the last search for Annie Schmidt

Lydia McGranahan, 40, lives in the small town of Keizer, Oregon, just north of Salem. Like so many others, McGranahan saw the news of a missing hiker.

On October 23rd,  Lydia joined the massive volunteer effort to search for Annie, saying, “It happens to be about an hour and a half from where I live. I’m an avid hiker and know the area quite well.”

When the rest of the group left that day “I didn’t want to go home, it wasn’t dark yet,” she said. “So I thought, ‘I’m going to stand where Annie’s car was, and try to think like her.’ ”

So Lydia just began hiking, all the while trying to imagine where Annie might have gone. “I started walking down one trail, and then onto another trail,” she said.

McGranahan ended at the unmaintained Munra Point, which OregonHikers.org describes as “an exposed basalt knob at the junction of three spiny ridges … (offering) a spectacular and exposed 360-degree view up and down the Columbia River Gorge.” The website says it is “safest in dry weather.” It had rained heavily the morning Annie had gone hiking.

When Lydia got to Munra Point, she says, “It seemed like the place Annie would want to go; I felt like we should search there.”That night, she had an intense dream. She felt herself falling, and as she fell, she saw Annie's face — as if she were somehow inside her. “I felt strongly, when I woke up from that, that Annie had fallen. And that she was at Munra Point.”

Munra Point Trail Columbia River gorge oregon

Lydia would spend seven full days searching for Annie and on October 26, she’d originally planned on going to McKenzie River to hike on her 40th birthday. “That’s what I set out to do, but then the night before, I found out the family was spending one more day searching for Annie and I thought, I can’t do my own thing, not as long as she is missing.”

That day, at the staging area, Lydia told the search team about her dream and shared a few other clues that led her to believe Annie was near Munra Point. But the group had already searched that area, and had made plans for searching elsewhere. She decided to go along with the group.

But midway through that search, one of the men in the group told Lydia “She’s not here." So he, Lydia and one other man decided to leave the others  and search at Munra Point. They looked at potential areas where Annie could have fallen.

Lydia said “After that, I felt such a strong pull, I’d come home, I couldn’t sleep. People were posting ‘It’s like finding a needle in a haystack,’ and I’m, like, ‘No it’s not.’ It’s not. I had this serious drive and intuition to find her.”

The Schmidt family brought in eight search and rescue dog teams, led by Eden resident Joe Jennings, president of Great Basin K9 Search & Rescue. The plan was to search several high-probability areas, but when Lydia was assigned to help in an area away from Munra Point, she asked to be moved “They’d asked me to go to a different place and I was, like, ‘No, I want to go to Munra.’ and she was teamed with Jennings and his 9 year old golden retriever, Gunny, to search the area below the point. “There was one large area I felt strongly about, knowing Annie liked to take shortcuts,” she said. “Joe was assigned that part, so I led him up there.”

The going was slow with steep, thick vegetation, a lot of bushwhacking, difficult terrain to walk on once you get off-trail.  Then at last,  “Joe’s dog popped up his head. I saw it immediately in Gunny, the attitude, nose up, whole body changed, faced uphill. I knew we were onto something.”

They worked their way up under the cliff, then Gunny seemed to lose the scent.“The wind was swirling; Joe said Gunny was trying to figure it out,” Eventually, unable to pinpoint the scent, the team needed to head back down to the trailhead. “Joe’s dog sat at the cliff edge, head up, barking,” McGranahan recalls. “Gunny was frustrated. He did not want to go, he knew Annie was close.”

Lydia led a second team up that afternoon, but again, they were unsuccessful. The next morning, McGranahan headed back to the same area with Wyoming-based Liz Hall and her dog, Reu.

Lydia McGranahan, Liz Hall, Reu the dog

Lydia McGranahan, Liz Hall, Reu the dog

Reu led Liz and Lydia to a place not far from where fellow dog Gunny had taken them. It was there they found the remains of a body and some belongings and clothing which belonged to Annie at around 11am. She was at the bottom of a very steep cliff around 300 feet high.

Joe Jennings said when they abandoned the search the day before the body was found, they’d assumed she’d landed on one of the many ledges and overhangs on the cliffs above. “If we’d just gone around the corner, we would have run into her,” he said.

 The following day, Annie’s father, Jon Schmidt, posted in the group Find Annie Schmidt to say a medical examiner had informed them they have positively identified the human remains found as being Annie. Officials believed Annie had accidentally slipped and fell from the cliffs above and died on impact.

“Fall was happening,” McGranahan said.“When Annie went missing, the leaves were still on the trees. By the time we found her, all the leaves were off the trees. The trails, the evidence on the ground, even some of Annie’s stuff, they were covered with leaves.” This highlights the need for trained search dogs like Gunny and Reu, according to Jennings. “A lot of the human searchers didn’t, or couldn’t, get off the trails, he said. “In that terrain, you could walk a few feet from her and never know she was there.”

Due to work of Lydia, Liz and Reu the mystery of Annie's whereabouts was solved. But why on earth was Annie hiking alone on Munra Point in mid-October with rain, dangerous cliffs and wind? Was it just coincidence that her car was ransacked and that she had left the cellphone behind (though it wasn't taken by the vandals)? Perhaps the battery on the phone had just given out on her. Its unclear whether she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or whether she had suicidal thoughts. 











Alissa Marie McCrann - Strange disappearances from the U.S. wilderness

Alissa Marie McCrann, disappeared December 19th, 2015, Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Alissa Marie McCrann Multnomah falls disappearance

Alissa Marie McCrann, 37, from Portland in Oregon disappeared whilst on a run near the Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge on Saturday, December 19th, 2015. The attraction is around a 30 minute drive from Portland.

The authorities were informed on Monday December 21st, when Alissa didn't turn up for work at Sunshine Dairy. Her cellphone was last used at around 10am on December 19th to make a Facebook post but after that calls went to voice mail. The phone last pinged on Cascade Ave in Tigard, around a 45 minute drive to the Falls. 

Her 2011 Mazda CX7 was found parked at the Multnomah Falls parking lot on December 22nd after Alissa left her home located in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood. She lived with her Korean parents and her 13-year-old son and had no known medical or mental health issues. 

Multnomah Falls Oregon

A couple reported a possible sighting of Alissa on the Saturday afternoon at around 3pm near Franklin ridge. She was wearing running clothes and shoes but had no food or water with her and was not wearing gear suitable for cold weather. Searchers scoured trails with no luck. They said they have spoken to Alissa and advised her to head back to her car but she had run off down the trail in an apparent bid to stay warm.

According to Outdoorproject.com, "The Franklin Ridge Loop hike is a great option for hikers looking to link up the heavily trafficked, well-known waterfalls along Multnomah and Oneonta Creek with several peaceful miles of solitude. It is also a good transition from from the area's easier day hikes into the more strenuous hikes."

Over 100 Searchers scoured over 150 miles of trails in the gorge focusing on around Franklin Ridge, but found nothing, hampered by over a foot of fresh snow at higher elevations. Sniffer dogs were deployed but failed to pick up a scent. Crews say they had a plane fly over the area but the pilot found no signs of McCrann anywhere. 

The search was suspended on Thursday, December 24th due to the dangerous weather conditions. The sheriff's office consulted with a wilderness doctor from OHSU Hospital, and the Portland Police Bureau's missing persons unit before deciding to suspend search efforts.

A friend Eric Ledecky describes her an an upbeat, friendly person."She'd do anything for you. She's the first one at your party. During birthdays, she gets you things. She'd help others out without asking for things in return. She's a good person. Everyone should have a friend like her."

On Saturday, January 23, 2016, the search for Alissa was resumed, which police classified as a recovery mission. 60 volunteers took part but again no luck. The Facebook page dedicated to finding her posted an update after the weekend search ended. "Even though we did not find her, it felt wonderful to know the community has not forgotten Alissa. Such an amazing outpouring of love and support. Again, all my love and respect goes out to the teams that helped orchestrate this latest search. They had a lot of manpower above the falls today and hopefully the next search is the one that brings her home. We really miss her."

Over two years after Alissa disappeared, no trace has been found of her remains. It is strange that she was seen running so late in the day in December when darkness would soon fall, especially for an experienced runner in Oregon. Did hypothermia cause her to run off trail for some reason and seek shelter which has made it more difficult to locate her body? Despite her 13 year old son, did she plan to intentionally disappear?








Gerren Kirk - Strange disappearances from U.S. National Forests

Gerren Kirk, disappeared December 3rd, 2014, Frog Lake Campground, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon.

Gerren Kirk, Mount Hood disappearance

Gerren Kirk, 31, was an experienced outdoorsman and often took solo trips in the woods. He left home on December 3rd, 2014, to hike in the Mount Hood National Forest, with plans to return December 6th. However, on this occasion, he didn't leave family members with any details. Kirk’s sister Whitney Kirk Altman filed a missing persons report on Sunday, December 7, but the search was delayed until Monday because search and rescue crews couldn't be dispatched until the vehicle was located to establish a starting point.

Kirk grew up in the Milwaukie area and graduated from Portland Public Schools' Vocational Village High School. He lived for a number of years in Arizona, working in admissions for the University of Phoenix. After returning to Milwaukie, he enrolled in Portland Community College, studying business. He had recently transferred his credits and completed his first term of online courses with National University. He planned to complete his bachelor's degree and then go on for a master's.

Kirk was married for several years, but he and his wife Kristin were divorced, shared joint custody of their daughter, five year old Gabriella.

Gerren's gold Pontiac Grand Am was found in the parking lot at Frog Lake Campground off U.S. 26, by a family member on Monday, December 8th, focusing the search on the heavily wooded areas nearby.

Gerren Kirk's gold Pontiac Grand Am was located Monday at the Frog Lake Campground near Mount Hood.

Police also were able to ping his cell phone and locate it east of Frog Lake heading in a SW direction. That route would have brought him from Clackamas County into Wasco County, so jurisdiction for the search switched over to the Wasco County Sheriff's Office.

Gerren Kerk disappearance Mount Hood

An estimated 170 volunteers from across Oregon joined in the search around Frog and Twin Lakes, which lasted for around nine days and was co-ordinated by the Wasco County Sheriff's Office. Sniffer dogs and surveillance aircraft with heat detecting infrared also participated. The weather on the mountain was mostly damp over the period of the search and slightly above freezing, with unusually low snow levels for December.

Mount Hood from Frog Lake

Mount Hood from Frog Lake

Frog Lake Trail Mount Hood National Forest

Frog Lake Trail Mount Hood National Forest

Searchers included Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, Mountain Wave Emergency Communications, Clackamas County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Multnomah County Search and Rescue, Klickitat County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Search and Rescue, Wallowa County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, Clatsop County Sheriff's Office, Salvation Army, Trauma Intervention Program, businesses in Government Camp, Zigzag, Welches and Sandy, Bud's Towing of Oregon City, Milwaukie Presbyterian Church.

Mount hood national forest Frog Lake

Despite the search efforts, no trace of Gerren has been found. It was strange that his cellphone was pinging to the South West of Frog Lake, in the direction of Clear Lake, but search efforts seem to have focused on the area to the north east, in the area of Twin Lakes, unless the media misreported the location.

To this day, Brian and Annette Kirk, and siblings keep his memory alive at the FB page Inlovingmemoryofgerrenkirk







Robert Bobo - Strange disappearances in National Forests

Robert bobo disappearance Rogue River National forest

Robert Michael Bobo, disappeared October 2, 1998, Rogue River National Forest, Oregon.

Robert "Bob" Michael Bobo, 36,  was camping in a remote, heavily wooded area in the Rogue River National Forest between Prospect and Union Creek, Oregon, in October 1998. The area is to the west of Crater Lake National Park, where there have been several mysterious disappearances.

Hunters in the area saw a female dropping him off at his campsite in the Woodruff Meadows area near 700 Road on October 2, 1998, at around 9pm. He was a part-time woodcutter and had been living alone at Woodruff Meadow for a few weeks.

The Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest is a United States National Forest in the U.S. states of Oregon and California. The formerly separate Rogue River and Siskiyou National Forests were administratively combined in 2004. Now, the Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest ranges from the crest of the Cascade Range west into the Siskiyou Mountains, covering almost 1.8 million acres (7,300 km2).

On October 3rd, one of Bobo's friends arrived at his camp to pick him up for the opening of the hunting season and found no sign of him, even though he had no vehicle of his own. He contacted National Forest Rangers to report Bob missing.

What worried friends and family are that Bob left everything behind, including his favourite black Pape Cat cap, two rifles and all his clothes and all his camping gear. He knew the area too well to get lost, and he had no money to leave on his own.

Numerous searches were conducted in the area around Bobo's campsite, but no evidence was uncovered. Authorities stated there were no indications of foul play, but they do not believe Bob left of his own accord. 

Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest

Robert Bobo was one of three Rogue Valley men who had disappeared into the area’s forests around 1998. 

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies investigated the case. “It’s just suspicious. We don’t know what happened", said Detective Dan Hobbs, who suggested Bobo could have left the campsite and suffered an injury or medical emergency,

Robert's brother, Dennis travelled to the Prospect area to search for skeletal remains at least once a month looking for clothing, pieces of fabric or bones but managed to find nothing saying “We’ve played a million scenarios through our heads. We’re reasonably sure he’s not going to show up.” According to Dennis that fact that he left behind his baseball cap is all the proof that somebody killed his brother. When he woke up in the morning before he even went to the bathroom, he put his hat on, Dennis Bobo says of his brother. He was self-conscious about his receding hairline, and he never went anywhere without his cap.

Dennis Bobo says his brother was too familiar with the territory to get lost. Moreover, he doubts his brother would have wandered very far if he had suffered some kind of major medical problem and even if he wanted to leave, he was too broke. On the night he was last seen alive, Bob cadged dinner and drinks from friends in Prospect before bumming a ride to the campsite. To be that broke and then to be dropped off 14 miles outside of Prospect at the campsite would be consistent with someone planning on going deer hunting in the morning, not leaving.

Given the circumstances, Dennis Bobo said he was 99 percent sure his brother was a victim of foul play and was unhappy with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. "There’s no evidence of foul play as they consider it, but put two and two together: Where is he if there’s no foul play?"

Sheriff’s Detective Dan Hobbs, said "Good question. At this point we have nothing to indicate foul play, Needless to say, it is suspicious in nature that he would up and disappear like that. Basically, we’ve done all we can do, he says. I sympathise with the family, not knowing, but we’re just grasping at straws here."

Hobbs says he checked out a number of leads, but none panned out. Bob ran with a sketchy crowd, and Hobbs says rumours about his disappearance flourished in Prospect.

The fact that Bob Bobo left behind all his gear at the camp including valuables like his firearms is highly suspicious. Was he attacked in his camp that night in October 1998 by someone or something? To this day, Bobo's body hasn't turned up and there is a complete lack of evidence of an animal attack. Another weird Oregon disappearance. 







Jake Dutton - Strange disappearances from the U.S. wilderness

James Jacob Dutton (Jake Dutton), disappeared June 15, 2012, Body found August 24, 2016, French Pete Trail, south of Cougar Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon.

jake dutton french pete trail death

Update: Dutton’s skeleton was found August 24, 2016, by a hiker about 100 feet off the French Pete Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness, about 4 miles from the trailhead. The discovery was made over four years after he disappeared. He was found near his backpack and two cans of bear spray in the steep, heavily forested area. His pants were still on, but his torso was bare. With no evidence of trauma or gunshot wounds, authorities suspect Dutton died of hypothermia. RIP Jake.

Hypothermia in June? Does this discovery raise more questions than answers? Paradoxical undressing caused by freezing temperature and hypothermia in the winter or spring but during the summer months even in Oregon? The French Pete Creek close to the trail is only at 4823 ft and the trail itself climbs around 1000 feet during its length. The average temperature in the Three Sisters Wilderness is a high of 21 degrees centigrade (70 degrees F) and low of 5 degrees centigrade (41 degrees F) in June. Link 

jake dutton french pete trail death

James Jacob Dutton (Jake Dutton), aged 32, lived in Eugene, Oregon, and was a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and had completed studying alternative medical services for pain relief through physical therapy. He was an experienced hiker and camper.

Jake left for a hike on the French Pete Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon June 15th, 2012. The French Pete Trail and drainage are surrounded by massive Douglas-Firs and Western Red-cedars. There are numerous rocks, steep slopes and the terrain is generally rugged and dangerous. He was eventually reported missing, but a search didn't begin for nearly 6 weeks as he failed to leave any sort of itinerary with friends or relatives. The fact that he wasn't working and was single also delayed the missing persons reports.

Jake Dutton Disappearance June 2012
French pete trail map Oregon

He was last seen at this apartment on June 3rd, 2012. On Friday, June 15, Jake completed a U.S. Forest Service permit slip to use the trail, which indicated when he started and when he planned to end his hike.  He indicated would return by June 18th.

French Pete Trail, Three sisters wilderness, Oregon

His 1998, Blue, Nissan Frontier pickup truck was found on July 30, 2012 near McKenzie Pass on forest road 19 near the trailhead for French Pete, off Aufderheide Memorial Drive. Jake's backpack, inflatable boat and hiking boots were not in the truck and found in his apartment. 

French Pete Creek Trail, three sisters wilderness, oregon

The family were frustrated that Forest Service officials didn’t use the permit to figure out that he had not returned from his hike and that his pickup was still at the trailhead. He had planned to take his 13-year-old nephew, CJ, camping later in June, after a family reunion in Seaside and it is believed that he went to the trail to scout campsites.

Jake had his cell phone with him, but there was no coverage in the French Pete area of the forest.

His mother, Cynthia Boucher, began to worry about her son in mid-June, when she called to remind him about his older brother Christopher’s upcoming birthday, and she could not reach him on his cell phone. On June 28, Jake had agreed to pick up his nephew at the Portland International Airport but failed to do so. Jake's brother subsequently went to the apartment and found no sign of him and informed the authorities and on July 9th a missing persons report was filed with the Eugene Police Department. Three weeks later, the report, which contained the description and license plate number of the pick up, caused the U.S. Forest Service to find the vehicle on July 30 at the French Pete trailhead.

Two searches, involving law enforcement personnel, volunteers and search and rescue dogs, took place on July 31 and August 5th. No signs of Jake were found on these searches.

Daming Xu disappearance

Like Jake Dutton, Daming Xu, disappeared in the same area on November 4th, 2007, after summiting the nearby Mount Ollalie. His guidebook was found near the French Pete Creek, but his body or belongings were never recovered.

It is never recommended to go hiking in the wilderness alone, and certainly not in the French Pete Trail area of Oregon without leaving a detailed itinerary behind with friends or family.