Crater Lake Oregon

Sammy Boehlke - Strange disappearances from US National Parks

Sammy Boehlke, Disappeared October 14th, 2006, Cleetwood Cove, Crate Lake National Park, Oregon.

Sammy Boehlke disappearance, Crater Lake

Sammy Boehlke, an 8 year old boy,  was last seen by his father, Kenneth, on October 14th of 2006 at around 4pm near the Cleetwood Cove area at Crater Lake. Crater Lake has a spectacular caldera, which is a crater filled by water formed by the explosion of a Cascades Range volcano about 7,000 years ago. The terrain around the lake varies from nearly flat to gently rolling, with large blocks of lava and small precipices scattered about. The woods are lodgepole pines and other conifers.

Sammy had a passionate personality, bordering on stubborn. He had a mild form of autism, which manifested itself in a fear of loud noises and bright lights. That complicated the work of the more than 200 search-and-rescue workers who arrived at Crater Lake after Sammy's disappearance on October 14 which meant they couldn't use air horns or whistles.

The boy and his father had stopped to play tag (hide and seek) on a cinder slope where Sammy saw some yellow he hoped might be gold. As darkness approached and his dad walked a short distance to the car so the two could return to their rented cabin near Diamond Lake, Sammy stayed on the slope, refusing to come down.

Kenneth Boehlke chased up after him, he said, but Sammy, likely thinking it was a game, stayed 50 feet ahead."I never caught up with him, and at that point he disappeared over the top somewhere and I lost him," said Boehlke, 48.

The search force quickly increased to more than 200 people combing an area of about 6 square miles, or 4,000 acres. For a week, searchers scoured the area with dogs, helicopters and heat-sensing cameras, but no trace of the boy was ever found. Intermittent searching continued after this despite heavy snowfalls in the area. The park, at 7,000 feet, averages more than 500 inches of snow a year. Technical crews searched the slopes leading from the rim of the caldera down to the water, a drop of 700 to 1,000 feet, even though it was unlikely Sammy would have fallen into the lake because of obstacles on the slope.

Crater Lake Oregon

The boy had camping experience but given his age he had no formal training in wilderness survival and he was wearing a winter coat, long-sleeved T-shirt, cargo pants and light shoes when he went missing. Officials said they found no clues to his whereabouts after the first day even though a helicopter crew spotted some tracks, but they turned out to be from wildlife.

It is a little strange that a boy of Sammy's age who was just "slightly autistic" would just run off into the woods for no reason, and keep going further and further. Given it would be cold, his basic human instinct would be to turn around and come back to his father, especially if he was calling for him. even if he was hiding from him for a 1/2 hour or so. This leads some to speculate he was actually running or hiding FROM his father, perhaps his father was angry or threatening to punish him.  It seems unlikely that f you were leaving a park you would stop the car by the woods and play hide and seek with darkness approaching. There seems to be more to the story than meets the eye, but apparently,  there was a passing motorist close by who spotted Sammy also disappearing into the woods which confirms the father's story to some extent.

Charles McCullar - Strange disappearances from US National Parks

Charles McCullar, disappeared January 1975, body found October 13th, 1976, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Charles McCullar Crater Lake disappearance and death

In 1974, 19-year-old Charles or Chuck McCullar left his home state of Virginia for an extended photography and hiking trip, leaving his  Volkswagen camper van at home. Charles was a keen photographer.

In late January of 1975, McCullar was in Eugene, Oregon, staying for a few weeks with a friend and he subsequently left on a short hitchhiking trip to Crater Lake National Park to take winter photos, planning to come back to the friend’s house two days later. Several people remember seeing him in the Diamond Lake area, but that is the last time anyone sees or hears from him.

Crater Lake Oregon

It seems that he planned to hike to Crater Lake along The North Road. A heavy snowfall during the previous two weeks dropped over five feet of fresh snow. Cross-country skiers report that the snow was so soft and powdery, that even with skis, they were sinking up to their waists.

On hearing the news, Charles’ father dropped everything and flew to Oregon. An extensive air and ground search of the northern section of the Park is started, but no clues as to McCuller’s disappearance are uncovered. His father spent the whole summer camped at Crater Lake, searching for his son but with no trace.

A year later on October 13th, 1976, at the end of the season, two hikers from Texas took a wrong turn and ended up in remote canyon along a little used trail in the Sphagnum Bog area of the Park. The two Texans had been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when they mistakenly took the abandoned spur trail into the bog.They stumbled upon an old dirty ripped backpack.

The hikers called in the park rangers and on October 14th, Rangers Larry Smith and Marion Jack mount a horse patrol, to search the area where the backpack had been found. At 1:30 p.m. the radio call came that McCullar’s remains had been found, scattered over and down a steep bank of the Bybee Creek drainage, four miles from Lightning Springs and around 12 miles from the trail head.  They quickly discover a Volkswagen key in a zippered side pocket. The same distinct key to McCullar’s Volkswagen back in Virginia after comparing with a Xerox copy of a VW key from the Charles McCullar file. The FBI is called in to complete the investigation.

On the day Chuck disappeared there were seven and a half feet of new snow on the ground, given that he didn't have skis or snowshoes how did he travel so much distance?  In 2.6 metres of snow (102 inches) of fresh powder it would be impossible for even a snowmobile to get through. One theory is that McCullar may have followed snowmobile tracks, but the machines are not allowed into remote areas of the Park and secondly, the new snow was so fresh and deep, it would have been impossible for snowmobiles to have travelled the distance.

The skeletal remains were also bizarre. There were foot bones in the socks, but Charles’s jeans were empty except for the broken-off ends of his shin-bones sticking up. The jeans were unbuttoned and the belt left undone. And the rest of him was gone, as if melted away. The crown of his skull was found about 12 feet away but nothing else including no shirt, coat, boots. Just an empty pair of pants sitting on a log, with socks and foot-bones inside! Also, his camera equipment was nowhere to be seen as well and no money in the pack or on the remains.

Some have postulated it was because McCullar was hypothermic and even when people are freezing cold, they believe they’re too hot, and strip off clothing or maybe even pull off their boots. 

The fact that only his feet were there isn’t too surprising. Food is rare in the high Cascades in wintertime. Charles probably fed a whole family of foxes through the winter. But the two really unusual things here are the location, and the missing clothes and boots.

So the potential explanation is that a weirdo backwoodsman attacked Charles in the Crater Lake National Park and stole his camera and cash. Then in the dead of Winter he hauled his body into the remotest part of Crater Lake, took his shirt and boots off and set him up on a log and left him, figuring the animals would destroy the evidence by spring. But 12 miles through 2.6 metres of fresh snow?

So, just how McCullar was able to get into the Bybee Creek drainage remains a mystery, as does his exact cause of death. The family remains convinced that Chuck McCullar was a victim of foul play because none of his expensive camera equipment was ever found.

In July 2016, Charles' brother Steven wrote on the blog Offbeatoregon.com, "This article was about my brother, Chuck McCullar. Some other details...just prior to his disappearance, he visited a nearby store. The clerk remembered him as upset about something and he bought a needle and thread to repair a tear in his coat. There was no snowmobile involved, he was on foot. The sinister conclusion is the correct one and the idea that he died of natural causes is not plausible. He was two years older than me. Our father never wanted to talk about it and mostly accepted the official explanation. Our mother did not accept the explanation and neither do I."

This is one of the strangest stories StrangeOutdoors.com has come across.

Sources

http://offbeatoregon.com/1309e-skeletons-of-crater-lake.html

http://www.craterlakeinstitute.com/cultural-history/smith-brothers-chronology/b-deaths.htm