National Park Missing

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


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.

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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!


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.

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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, 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.


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. 


Christina Calayca - strange disappearances from Canadian Parks

Christina Calayca, disappeared August 6th, 2007, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada


Christina Calayca disappearance Ontario

On Monday August 6, 2007, at around 6:30 am, Christina Calayca, 20,  went for a jog with a friend in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. When the two decided to split up to run seperate routes, Christina was never seen again.

The provincial park is located on Highway 17 (Trans-Canada Highway) between Screiber and Rossport, Ontario in Canada and on the north shore of Lake Superior. 

Christina was last seen wearing a blue ‘hoodie’ sweatshirt, a maroon/purple striped shirt, black pants, and white running shoes. She was in the area with her female cousin and two male friends from a Christian youth group called "Youth for Christ" based in Toronto. All of them were inexperienced in the wilderness.

Friends and family described Calayca as a mature, religious woman. She had obtained a degree in early childhood education from George Brown College and was working at a Catholic daycare before she disappeared. She told her mother the week before she disappeared that she wanted to do missionary work in the Philippines, before returning university and becoming a teacher.

The group arrived at around noon on Sunday, August 5th to set up their camp and then decided to take a short nap. However, they failed to set their alarm and didn’t wake up until 10:30 pm. After that they enjoyed more food and talked around the fire until around 6am when they finally went to sleep. 

By 6:30 am on Monday, August 6th, Christina and Eddy Migue, one of the friends from her church group, were wide awake. They decided to go for a run together but later she split up with Eddy running on the road whilst Christina used the park trails.

At about 7.30am Eddy returned to camp, but there was no sign of Christina. The friends began a frantic search for Christina before reporting her missing to the authorities after seven hours or so.

Rainbow falls provincial park Ontario

The OPP Northwest Region Emergency Response Team used four canine units, three helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft and a float plane to try to locate her. Approximately 100 police officers and specially-trained civilians searched the area for 17 days. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) believed that Christina had been killed by a bear but there was no evidence of blood, clothing or bones in the park during the search. They were convinced no foul play was involved.

After the search by the OPP found no sign of Christina her family financed as many as six private searches, costing $20,000 each, paid for from their own pockets, with help from money raised by the Find Christina Calayca Foundation. Volunteer search groups and cadaver dogs searched the rugged, heavily wooded parkland and hiking paths but with no luck. A year later in early June 2008, Officers went back in for a week-long search with a high-angle team scaling cliff sides for Christina's body. The family pulled together a team of American and Canadian volunteers and dogs trained to detect human remains. It went into the park on June 13, 2008. The Minnesota-based Jon Francis Foundation, a non-profit group that supports searches for lost hikers, helped the family plan what was supposed to be a 10-day, 30-man effort. The foundation thought the search master should be Canadian, so the family was connected with Doug Teeft, who trains dogs in Nova Scotia. But again nothing.

Elizabeth rutledge - christina calayca disappearance

Her mother, Elizabeth Rutledge, believes Christina was abducted or murdered in the park. To this day no trace of Christina has been found, she vanished.


Paul Fugate - Strange disappearances from U.S. monuments

Paul fugate disappearance Chiricahua National Monument.

Paul Fugate, disappeared January 13, 1980, Chiricahua Monument, Arizona

Another story about a Park Ranger disappearing whilst working.  See also Randy Morgenson who worked in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park who left his station on July 21, 1996 and was never seen alive again. 

About 2-3 PM on a Sunday afternoon on January 13, 1980, law enforcement ranger Paul Fugate, 41, left the Visitor Centre to "check the nature trail" in the Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona and was never seen again.

Faraway Ranch Chiricahua National Monument

He was the only member of the permanent staff at the Monument on duty that day and left instructions with the only other member of staff, a seasonal employee, that if he wasn’t back before 4.30pm to begin to shut down without him. Fugate walked down towards the Monument entrance to check trails leading to Faraway Ranch, a 400-acre piece of land recently acquired for the Monument and was never seen again. The Faraway Ranch preserves an area associated with the final conflicts with the local Apache, one of the last frontier settlements. Paul left his radio and key behind in the Ranger Station.

Chiricahua National Monument is part of the National Park System located in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona. The monument was established on April 18, 1924, to protect its extensive hoodoos and balancing rocks. It is located approximately 36 miles (58 km) southeast of Willcox, Arizona and it preserves the remains of an immense volcanic eruption many millions of years ago.

Chiricahua National Monument balanced rock

Search and rescue teams on foot, with sniffer dogs and in helicopters and light planes searched the area with the help of the National Park Service, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, Southern Arizona Search and Rescue Association, and Fugate’s friends and family. But they found no trace. 

The only lead was provided by an acquaintance of Paul who described seeing him later that afternoon, wearing his uniform and slumped unconscious between two men in a pickup truck. Under hypnosis, the acquaintance described the truck and the men. The acting director of the Park Service's Western Region, Jack Davis, dismissed this saying it ''would have to be questioned because of the speed,'' since the vehicles passed each other at 50 miles per hour, ''and the fleeting nature of the glimpse.''

At home he left behind his wallet, $300, a valuable gun collection, expensive camera equipment and a truck he was restoring, suggesting he hadn't disappeared to start a new life somewhere else. Though there was some speculation that he had followed a pregnant girlfriend to a new city.

He was reportedly seen three years later in 1983 in Bend, Oregon but in July 1983 based on new leads, a Cochise County Sheriff's Office official announced Fugate had been murdered and that the arrest of "more than one person" was imminent. However, no one was ever charged.

Chiricahua National Monument

Following his disappearance, the Park Service declared Fugate missing and posted a $5,000 reward for information. His family matched that sum. The service also started making partial salary payments to his wife, Dody, who was a scientific photographer at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

In early 1981, Howard Chapman, director of the Park Service's Western Region, reviewed the case and decided that Fugate had voluntarily ''abandoned his position.'' Paul was dismissed from his role, and his wife was asked to return the $6,900 paid to her, plus 11 percent interest. Later, the demand for repayment was changed to a deduction on his retirement fund.

Dody was told that no appeal was possible because a termination hearing must be requested within 20 days and the dismissal had been made retrospectively to early 1980. It emerged that on another occasion, in late 1970, Paul had been dismissed by for having long hair and a handlebar moustache. After a dispute with the service, Mr. Fugate was reinstated in 1976 and his back pay and benefits were restored.

For six years the National Park Service refused to list him as deceased and his widow was unable to collect benefits. In 1986, the NPS and an Arizona investigator re-examined the case and confirmed his death.  Dody was finally able to claim full financial support. Not the park service's finest hour!

To this day, no evidence of Paul Fugate's disappearance has been found and speculation has mounted that he was murdered by drug traffickers in the area, that his body was taken out of the park, and buried elsewhere, never to be seen again. Illegal drug activity was apparently common in the vicinity of the Monument in the early 1980's.

In June 2018, the NPS announced it had discovered new information about Fugate’s case and together with the Cochise County Sheriff Department, asked for help from the public in solving the mystery. The NPS also announced it was increasing the reward offered for solid leads from $20,000 to $60,000. There is no further information on what prompted the case to be reopened.