Yosemite National Park

Maximillian "Max" L. Schweitzer - Strange disappearances in U.S. national parks

Maximillian "Max" L. Schweitzer, disappeared Jan 1-3, 2018, Yosemite National Park, California.

Maximillian "Max" L. Schweitzer yosemite

The disappearance of Max Schweitzer in Yosemite National Park in January 2018 is an interesting case because of the background of the man involved, of German extraction, in common with many cases. His LinkedIn profile claiming he was an Clandestine Analyst at the U.S. Department of Homeland security looks potentially suspect and he had various incidents with Police and the FBI reported.

Was this a classic disappearance caused by national causes, foul play or misadventure or did he intend to disappear?

Maximillian "Max" L. Schweitzer, 41 is believed to have gone to Yosemite National park around Jan 1-3, 2018.

camp 4 yosemite national park

His rental car was found at Camp 4 parking on January 5th after it was reported overdue by the rental company. Friends or family did not report him missing. 

He was last seen wearing a light-colored long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt, light-colored shorts, and a dark-colored backpack.

Maximillian "Max" L. Schweitzer missing poster
Cafeteria in the Yosemite Lodge posted by NPS

Cafeteria in the Yosemite Lodge posted by NPS

Background to Max  Schweitzer

Max appears to have had several run-ins with the law over the years. Was he suffering from mental illness? There are reports he may have been homeless, but he didn't appear that way in the CCTV image captured near Camp 4 at Yosemite. 

In 2005 it was reported by SFGATE that a  31-year-old man was facing federal charges for allegedly trashing the FBI lobby in San Francisco by throwing a potted plant against a wall, breaking legs off chairs and damaging glass display cases.

Maximillian Lee Schweitzer of San Francisco insisted that he had to see FBI agents, then allegedly caused an estimated $7,491 in damage Wednesday at the Federal Building, Inspector John Tanabe of the Federal Protective Service wrote in an affidavit.

Then in 2016 there is a record of Threats of Violence etc. in Sacramento with an arrest date of 16th June 2016.

Maximillian Schweitzer arrest

Max's LinkedIn profile claims he was a Clandestine Analyst at the US Department of Homeland Security.

max schweiter San fran linked in

A reference to the minutes from June 2004 of the San Francisco Civil Service Commission shows his employment was terminated as a Transit Planner. 

Civil Service Commission  Minutes June 2004

Civil Service Commission Minutes June 2004

Sources

https://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?361536-CA-Maximillian-Max-Schweitzer-41-Yosemite-National-Park-4-Jan-2018

https://www.linkedin.com/in/max-schweitzer-06b90855/

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/SAN-FRANCISCO-Man-accused-of-vandalizing-FBI-2568014.php

https://www.facebook.com/YosemiteNPS/photos/a.156902234358067.26538.138795446168746/1552961941418749/?type=3

https://www.facebook.com/YosemiteNPS/photos/pcb.1557981460916797/1557974487584161/?type=3&theater

George Penca - Strange disappearances from U.S. National Parks

George Penca, disappeared June 17th 2011, top of Upper Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California

George Penca, Yosemite Falls disappearance

On Friday June 17th, 2011, George Penca, 30, went hiking at the Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park. George was from Hawthorne in California and was visiting the National Park with his church group of 80 people of which around 20 people were walking the Upper Yosemite Fall trail that day. 

The group separated at the top, with the hikers going back down at their own pace. George likely fell behind the main group. Penca's friends assumed he'd hiked back to the Yosemite Valley floor earlier and didn't report him missing until 9pm. George has vanished off the trail.

George Penca disappearance Yosemite falls

He was  5’ 10” tall, weighed 240 pounds, and had dark brown hair, blue eyes, a stocky build. He was last seen wearing grey sweatpants with white stripes, a black t-shirt that says “D&B” across the chest, or a black tank top, and grey/blue running shoes.  He was carrying a blue cloth bag and some limited food and water.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 15.50.07.png
View of Upper Yosemite Fall and Half Dome from Yosemite Falls Trail

View of Upper Yosemite Fall and Half Dome from Yosemite Falls Trail

The NPS website describes it as follows :"One of Yosemite's oldest historic trails (built 1873 to 1877), the Yosemite Falls Trail leads to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet (739 m) above the Valley floor. This trail starts near Camp 4, along the Valley Loop Trail, and immediately begins its climb, switchback after switchback, through oak woodland. You will begin to climb above some trees and into exposed plateaus that offer you a glimpse of what's to come: great views of Yosemite Valley and its many iconic landforms. Do not stray off of the maintained path, as you will find steep drops adjacent to the trail. The upper half of the trail is steep and rocky, but the arduous climb is well worth the amazing views you will be rewarded with at the top."

Yosemite Falls Trail Yosemite National Park

Initial search efforts began on Friday night after he was reported missing and a  full-scale search and rescue operation was initiated on Saturday morning, June 18th. Around 105 Search and Rescue personnel from around the state were deployed, helicopters and six search dogs including Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue, Inyo County, Mono County, Mariposa County, Marin County, Fresno County, Tuolumne County, China Lake, Los Angeles County, Nevada County, Sierra Madre, Yosemite Search and Rescue Dog Teams, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and California Explorer Search and Rescue.

Weather conditions over the weekend were mild with overnight temperatures in the upper 40s.

On June 23, search efforts transitioned to a limited continuous search. After nearly one week of extensive searching, Park Rangers did not find any clues as to George's whereabouts. 

In the last six and a half years no trace of George Penca has been found. His bag, clothes or bones have never been located. A very strange disappearance!

Sources

https://www.nps.gov/yose/upload/penca.pdf

https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/news/pencasar3.htm

http://www.uniondemocrat.com/localnews/3789118-151/hiker-still-missing-in-yosemite

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/yosemitefallstrail.htm

Michael Ficery - Strange disappearances from U.S. National Parks

Michael Allen Ficery, disappeared 15th June 2005, TilTill mountain area, Yosemite National Park, California

Michael Ficery disappearance Yosemite

On June 15, 2005, Michael Allen Ficery, 51, an avid, experienced hiker and backpacker visited the north side of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park for a solo hike. He had planned this hike to take him to Rancheria Falls, Tiltill Mountain, Lake Vernon and then through Beehive before returning back to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. At some point during the day, he decided to begin walking to the north up to the Pacific Crest Trail towards TilTill Mountain. This would be the last time anyone would see him.

His family became concerned when he did not return by June 19th, four days after Mike went on his hike and when his wilderness permit expired. On June 21, they called the park service and an intensive search of the area around the reservoir and Pacific Crest Trail was launched. However, all that was found was a backpack near Tiltill Mountain just off the trail, containing a topographical map, a camera and a bottle of water (note some reports say that the pack was missing the map and the water but how would the rescuers know?).

The search and rescue operation involved personnel from five counties with aircraft and tracker dogs. Apart from the pack, nothing else was found and to this day, 12 years on, Mike remains missing and on the NPS cold cases list

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir california

The NPS said that Yosemite accounted for one-quarter of all SAR dollars spent in 2005 - $1.2 million out of the $4.99 million.  The park service spent $452,000 looking for Mike Ficery which shows how extensive the effort was.
 

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 14.33.39.png

On April 5th, 2012, National Parks Traveler showed the following comment "Michael Ficery, the hiker mentioned above who disappeared in Yosemite in 2005, was my brother.  While Michael was never reliant upon technology (he never owned a cell phone or computer), I firmly believe he was not adequately prepared for his hike in terms of the equipment he did carry. I'm sure he did not carry a simple signal mirror or whistle, for example. He also apparently deviated from his planned route, which made the search much more difficult.  I strongly recommend to all hikers to consult any variety of "pack lists" found on the internet, focusing on the "ten essentials."  And please make sure to leave a planned itinerary with at least one responsible adult (and stick to it).  More excellent tips can be found on websites like REI, Scouts, Backpacker Magazine, and the "Science Drop" page of my own site at www.pack6.biz, among others. Please, if only for the sake of those who are waiting for you at home, do not attempt even a day hike without being adequately prepared. "

It seems strange that Michael Ficery disappeared that day in June 2005 given he was an experienced back country hiker and had spent over 30 years hiking in wilderness areas. What caused him to leave his backpack behind that day and vanish? Despite the NPS spending close to $0.5 million on the search, Mike's body was never located and no evidence of bones, equipment or clothing.

Sources

http://charleyproject.org/case/michael-allen-ficery

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2009/04/national-park-service-hoping-better-informed-visitors-are-safer-visitors

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2010/08/you-cant-always-or-fairly-blame-technology-visitor-woes-national-parks6467

Evelyn Consuela Rosemann - Disturbing deaths in U.S. National Parks

Evelyn Consuela Rosemann, Died October 19, 1968, Nevada Fall, Yosemite National Park, California.

The body of Evelyn Consuela Rosemann, 24, was found by three hikers on the 19th October 1968, 200 feet from the base of the 594 foot high Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park. Evelyn, whose hometown was San Francisco, worked as a masseuse in the park and had set out on a solo hike three days earlier.

According to investigators, she had somehow "been launched" from the fall or cliff and hadn't jumped and had been found partially undressed. In October, the creek leading to the fall is at a very low water level and would not have been swept away. She had a pair of badly torn, corduroy pants that were pulled down near her ankles and her sweater had been pulled up over her head. Another of Evelyn’s sweaters was lying on a rock near her feet.

The autopsy found the cause of death appeared to be a massive head injury sustained in the fall. Parts of her brain were found on a rock fifty feet from her body. The pathologist discovered she had been sexually assaulted either pre or postmortem with indications of bloodless vaginal lacerations. 

Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park

Unfortunately because this is 1968 there is little information on Evelyn's case. How did she end up so far from the base of the cliff? Was she running from someone at the top of the falls, fell over and then her body was dragged to another point at the Fall's base? Clearly a case of foul play given the vaginal lacerations and it is unfortunate that the National Park Service kept Evelyn's death low profile given the disturbing details and probably they were worried about park visitors being scared away by publicity about a potential serial killer in the area. 

Timothy Nolan - Strange Deaths in U.S. national parks

Timothy Nolan Yosemite

Timothy Nolan, disappeared September 9th 2015, Body Found September 15th, Yosemite National Park

Tim Nolan, 36, had a wilderness permit to backpack from Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows from September 1-4, 2015 in the Yosemite National Park. According to his mother, he had planned on hiking a loop: Happy Isles-Little Yosemite Valley-Sunrise Lakes-Tuolumne Meadows-Lyell Canyon-Rafferty Creek-Vogelsang-Merced Lake-Little Yosemite Valley-Happy Isles, ending September 9.

Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite

But Nolan failed to show up and after extensive searches by park rangers, utilising ground teams, dog teams, and the park’s helicopter. Visitors to the park later spotted Nolan’s body in the afternoon of September 15th.

It had been quite a month of disappearances in Yosemite National Park in September 2015.

On September 1, the National Parks Service announced it found the body of James Michael Millet, Jr., who had been missing for three weeks. Millet, 39, had gone missing during a planned hike to Upper Yosemite Falls. Then, on September 6, 24-year-old graduate student Matthew Baldwin, studying at University of Nevada, Reno, was found deceased near the El Capitan Gully. He was last seen Aug. 25.

Despite a request to the Yosemite National Park in February 2016 for a Freedom of Information Act request for a law enforcement report on Tim Nolan, the Department of the Interior refused to grant authority on the grounds of privacy. Why was the DOI so reluctant to put information in the public domain?  What happened to Tom and the other dead hikers in the summer of 2015? There was little media attention relating to the circumstances behind the death and particularly the cause of death on that fateful hike.

Timothy nolan, freedom of information request denied

Matthew Greene - Strange disappearances from U.S. national parks

Matthew Greene, disappeared Mammoth Lakes, California, July 16 2013

Matthew greene disappearance Yosemite

Matthew Greene, 39, was a  high school mathematics teacher in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and lived in Bethlehem. He was a very experienced hiker and outdoorsman. For example, he was in Papua New Guinea for three years (while serving in the Peace Corps).

Greene arrived in the area of the Eastern Sierra Mountains on June 27, 2013 to climb with friends, but when his Suburau car broke down they continued on while he stayed behind at a campground near Mammoth Lakes to wait for repairs called Shady Rest. 

matthew greene disappearance poster

The last contact was on July 16 when he called his parents and the car repair shop to check on progress and exchanged text messages with friends. 

His friends returned to the camp site on July 17 and he was nowhere to be seen. They then discovered that his car had been repaired but he never picked it up and he hadn't returned to the Shady Rest Campground for over a week. The Mammoth Lake Police Department was informed.

At the camp site authorities found some of his gear missing and a guide book with pages torn out of it. Friends said he often tore out the pages for hikes he wanted to go on, and when he completed them he would but them back in his book. In this case the pages were from the Minerat area, including Mt Ritter and Mt Banner but Greene didn't sign his name on either summit's log. 

Mammoth lakes, california
Mammoth lakes, california

Greene was first reported missing July 29 to the Mammoth Lakes Police Department. He was last known to have been camping at the Shady Rest Camp Ground while his was waiting for his car to be repaired.

Several of Greene's friends flew to California and canvassed bus drivers, store owners, librarians and others in Mammoth Lakes, posted fliers at trailheads, checked summit registers and spent several days in the back country looking for clues. The search has gone airborne, too, with a helicopter flying over the rugged terrain and one of Greene's friends shooting high-resolution video from a private plane. California search-and-rescue personnel have also volunteered their time.

Despite this extensive search, no trace of Matthew was found. There were theories he had been kidnapped on the way to the Minerat area whilst hitch hiking or had a run-in with the owners of his car's repair shop. Given he was such an experienced outdoorsman, it seems strange that he could have disappeared as a result of natural causes.