Brent Swancer June 26, 2020
Susan Adams, 42, and her husband, Tom, of from Austin, Texas, had been looking forward to their next big camping trip for months. Both avid campers, hunters, and birdwatchers, their plan was to take a wilderness tour with a group called Iron Horse Outfitters, their destination being a protected wilderness area near the Idaho/Montana border called the Selway–Bitterroot Wilderness. Lying along the Bitterroot Mountain range, it is a rugged domain of thick forests and alpine parkland that spans 1.3 million acres, making it one of the largest such wilderness areas in the entire country. The couple was very excited about exploring it, they both had experience with the outdoors, and they were going in with a reputable wilderness tour company and seasoned guides in good spirits. There was no reason to suspect this would be anything other than the trip of a lifetime, but this was an excursion that only one of them would return from.
On September 22 of 1990, the couple arrived in Idaho Falls ready for their adventure, and met with the owner of the tour company, Art Griffith, before heading out a few days later to take a long horseback ride through pristine wilderness to the outfitters’ camp in the Battle Lake area. There they were greeted by the rest of the crew, consisting of a group of hunters, guides, and the camp’s cook. They then spent about a week leisurely exploring the area, hunting, and engaging in their hobby of birdwatching, before Tom decided to go out on September 29 with some of the camp hunters for an overnight hunting trip. Susan decided she would stay behind at camp, and after escorting her husband by horseback to a ridge she said her goodbyes and returned to camp. No one at the time realized that this would prove to be their final goodbyes.
The following day at around 9 AM, Susan decided to go do some birdwatching at a nearby meadow. The weather was clear and calm, and so she only had with her light clothing, her binoculars, and camera. The meadow was nearby and an easy short hike away, so when she told the camp cook that she was headed over there no one thought anything of it. She walked off, but never came back. No one in the camp seemed to really be all that alarmed, as it was a nice day, the meadow was so close, and Susan had not said anything about when she planned to return. It didn’t even cross anyone’s mind that something was amiss until Tom came back from his hunting trip in the late afternoon and she had still not returned.
Tom waited a while, but as darkness began to creep in, he became worried. He went out towards the meadow, where he found footprints that led away down a trail. Oddly, he claims that at some point the tracks just abruptly ended right in the middle of that dusty trail, with no sign of any leading off anywhere.
According to Tom, it was unsettling, as if she had simply vanished right there on the spot, and he would say, “I followed the footprints to a place about 20 yards from the meadow, where the tracks stopped.” He looked everywhere for more footprints but there were none, and his desperate calls out into the trees were answered by the sounds of the darkening forest. He was then joined by the camp guides and hunters, many of them experienced trackers, but they had no more success, and after some time scouring the area with no sign of Susan, night was finally upon them, forcing them to abandon their efforts and just hope that Susan made her way back.
The following morning, Susan was still gone, and so authorities were notified of the disappearance. A large scale search was launched of the entire area for miles around, but nothing whatsoever was found, and the operation had to be suspended due to cold and snowy weather moving in, which was worrying since Susan had not brought any warm clothing or survival gear with her.
The search then resumed with renewed efforts to find the woman, as it was thought that every minute lost was dangerous if Susan was still alive at all. Aircraft, dogs, and hundreds of volunteers meticulously combed the area, even walking side by side at arm’s length apart through large stretches of wilderness to leave no stone unturned. Some scattered footprints were found that indicated perhaps someone who was injured, but they were so faded and unclear that it was not positive that they had belonged to Susan Adams at all.
The theory that was brewing among law enforcement officials at the time was that she must have gotten injured and died out there, and before the official search was closed for winter, Sheriff Randy Baldwin would say:
I believe beyond any reasonable doubt that Susan Adams died from injuries or other related causes due to being lost or hurt in the wilderness area near Battle Lake. I also believe that Susan Adams’ remains are still in that area, but feel that any future organized search would not be effective in locating her remains.
The family was so desperate that they even hired a psychic, who rather eerily came to the same conclusion, predicting that Susan had sustained a head injury and perished not far from camp. Yet if this is all correct, then why hadn’t they found any trace of remains or indeed any sign of her at all, despite such a detailed search? Another idea was that a wild animal might have attacked her and dragged her off, but if this were the case it is thought that she would have screamed out, which would have been heard at the nearby camp, and there was also no sign of blood, shredded clothing, no indication of a struggle, nor any tracks from a dangerous animal. It is hard to believe that a vicious wild animal could have swooped in to take her away completely silently without any sign of blood or a fight, and without leaving any tracks behind. The idea of foul play was also briefly looked at, but neither Tom Adams nor any of the hunters or guides were found to have any evidence at all that they were linked to the vanishing.
What happened to Susan Adams? How did she just wander away so close to camp and then evaporate to never be found? Was she attacked by an animal or nefarious party? Was her attention drawn by something to bring her out and get injured? Or was it something far stranger? Why is it she did not call out and why was no trace of her remains ever found? Even more eerily, what is the meaning of those tracks that just stopped in the middle of a trail? We will probably never know, and it is another bizarre case to add to the considerable number of those like it. Mysterious Universe
The Strange Vanishing of Juan Pedro
Brent Swancer October 1, 2020
One of the strangest unsolved mysteries Europe has ever seen starts in southern Spain in 1986. On June 24th of that year, local truck driver Andres Martinez was off on a run to deliver a shipment of 5,200 gallons of sulfuric acid from the city Cartagena north to the town of Bilbao, in the northern Basque Country, along with his wife, Carmen Gomez, and his 10-year-old son Juan Pedro. This was not particularly unusual, as this time they had been planning to take a little family trip around Basque country when the delivery was made as a reward for Juan’s good grades, and the trip started off as usual, looking to be just a routine run. There was nothing to indicate that this would be anything other than a usual long drive through the rugged area, but things were about to take a hard turn into the weird. Here would begin an odyssey into a stranger vanishing that remains one of the odder on record in Europe, and which has never been satisfactorily solved.
After starting at 7 PM on June 24th, the family drove all night, according to witnesses stopping briefly to get something to eat at 5:30 AM before heading into a mountain pass called Somosierra, just north of Madrid. This was where the drive would become a little more interesting, as the pass was full of steep roads, sharp turns, plummeting cliffs, and switchbacks that posed a danger to those who weren’t careful, but Martinez was a seasoned driver and it wasn’t really a worry at the time.
However, despite this perilous route and the harrowing terrain, the truck Martinez was driving suddenly began to drive very erratically, swerving all over the lanes and picking up dangerous speed down one of the inclines. The careening truck clipped another vehicle to take off its side mirror, and rear-ended another to send it off the side off the road before continuing down the mountain at speeds in excess of 86 miles per hour with no sign of slowing down. While most vehicles coming the other way were able to evade the barreling truck, one was not as fortunate, with another truck smashing into Martinez head on.
The impact caused Martinez’ truck to overturn and its tank to rupture, spewing highly toxic sulfuric acid all over the road and creating a very dangerous hazard for anyone in the immediate area as a cloud of deadly vapor began to permeate the air. When first emergency responders arrived on the scene they found that Martinez and Gomez were both dead, killed by the lethal fumes and their bodies partially dissolved by the acid, after which they began work on neutralizing the potential environmental disaster the crash had posed. Over the next three hours, authorities scrambled to evacuate other drivers and staunch the flow of acid, which was threatening to leak into the nearby Duratón River, pouring out large quantities of lime and sand to absorb and neutralize the deadly acid. By the time this was done it was safe to approach the truck’s cabin, where the two melting corpses sat, but police would soon learn from the family of the victims that their son had also been travelling with them, which would start a new panic.
The cabin was searched thoroughly, and although some toys, children’s clothing, and a cassette of children’s songs were found, there was no sign of the boy. It was thought at first that his body had been completely disintegrated by the acid, but forensic experts asserted that this would have been impossible in such a short amount of time, even if the body had been completely submerged, and there would have been some remains left behind. Police questioning also turned up the fact that not 20 minutes before the crash people had seen the boy in the truck with the couple, so where could he have possibly gone? Had he gotten out of the vehicle and fled into the surrounding wilderness? Had he been kidnapped? No one knew. A search team scoured the area for the boy just to be sure, using trained dogs, helicopters, and hundreds of volunteers over an 18-mile radius around the site, but not a single trace of him was found, and in fact Juan Pedro would never be found.
In the meantime, there would be found several odd details surrounding the crash. While authorities had at first suspected that the brakes on the vehicle had failed and caused it to go in its wild, reckless episode, an examination showed that the brakes were in perfect working order. This left the question of why Martinez would have gone flying down the mountain with such reckless abandon in the first place. Medical records turned up no physical condition that could have accounted for it, so had he simply fallen asleep at the wheel? Had he lost his mind? Making it even stranger was that the vehicles instruments and tachograph showed that the truck had actually stopped around a dozen times within a 20-minute period while driving along the mountain pass. Why this would be is anyone’s guess.
Another strange clue turned up was the testimony of the man who had been run off the road by Martinez, who said that shortly after the incident he had been approached by two “foreigners” driving a white van. They were described as a man and a woman, both very tall and Nordic looking, with blonde hair and dressed in white. According to the witness, they spoke with a strange, unidentifiable accent, and he claimed the woman had claimed to be a nurse and asked him if he needed any medical assistance. Adding a layer of strangeness to this report was that of two local shepherds, who claimed to have also seen the white van and its mysterious couple, this time at the scene of the crash itself, where they were seen braving the toxic acid around them to remove some sort of package from the cab of the totaled vehicle before driving off. If this is true, then why were they there and what was in that package? Authorities would try to locate this mysterious couple to no avail, and it is unknown just what connection they have with the accident.
The whole bizarre case would be made even weirder over the coming days, when several witnesses stepped forward claiming to have had sightings of the missing boy all over the region, none of which could be confirmed. One of the stranger of these sightings supposedly happened in 1987, when a teacher at a driving school in Madrid was approached by a blind, old foreign woman accompanied by a young boy of 10 or 11, who asked him where the American embassy was. She told him she had only been in Spain for 6 months, and so her Spanish was not very good, however, the boy spoke fluently, with even a regional dialect. When the witness asked the lady why the boy’s Spanish was so good, she allegedly got noticeably uncomfortable and ushered the kid away. Later when the witness saw news about Juan Pedro on TV he became absolutely certain that this was who he had seen. It seemed to be an exciting tip, but it would ultimately lead nowhere. Many questions still orbit and buzz around the bizarre case. Why was the truck driving so erratically before the crash? Why did it stop over 12 times in a 20-minute period? What happened to the boy? Who were the strangers in the white van and did they have anything to do with it all?
Over the years there have been many theories about what happened up on that mountain pass. One is that they were fleeing someone or had been attacked by drug traffickers who had kidnapped Juan, and there even the idea that Martinez had been a drug smuggler himself and had fallen afoul of someone, supported by the claims that traces of drugs were later found in the truck’s cabin. In the drug trafficker theory, the two foreigners were the drug dealers coming to get their stash. Another version of this is that Juan was kidnapped earlier and that Martinez was chasing them down, explaining his wild driving. There is also the idea that Martinez had suffered a medical episode of some sort and Juan survived the crash somehow and perhaps went off to get help and got lost, or tried to alleviate acid burns in the river and was washed away, but with no sign of him ever found it is hard to say. Juan also might have been picked up by someone on the side of the road, either a kidnapper or a good Samaritan who meant to help, only to have the injured boy die and then dispose of the body to avoid being blamed.
All of these ideas are interesting and have points that make them intriguing, but none of them really perfectly tie up all of the various weird clues orbiting the case. It has left a void that hasn’t really been filled, and it dwells in a limbo of speculation and debate, without any further real answers. What happened to Juan Pedro will likely remain a mystery forevermore, and it is one of the strangest vanishings that Europe has ever seen. Mysterious Universe
Monday, October 5, 2020
The Phone Call From the Future
Assia Smaguine Riley, via https://issuu.com/lesliehindman/docs/sale_338
“Crisis apparitions”–cases where ghosts of the recently deceased supposedly visit loved ones to announce their passing–are quite common. However, the following account is an unusual twist on the genre.
John Powell Riley was a successful electrical engineer. During the 1950s and 60s, he was married to a beautiful Russian socialite, Anastasia “Assia” Smaguine. They spent much of their married life in Geneva, Switzerland, where they socialized a great deal with the local community of Russian exiles. Among the most popular of this colony of “White Russians” was a small family whose last name Riley discreetly declined to provide. It consisted of a woman named Tamara, her 25-year-old daughter Mara, and Tamara’s mother Baboussia.
Mara–the breadwinner of the family–was an exceptional young woman. She was a gifted linguist who worked as a translator for the United Nations. Mara was beautiful, charming, and kindly, well-loved by everyone who knew her.
Eventually, Riley’s marriage to Assia ended when she left him for her first love, a Frenchman named Pierre Saunier. He moved back to America, losing contact with Mara and her family. Despite the divorce, Riley and Assia remained on very friendly terms, and spoke often on the phone. (The two eventually remarried in 1998.)
Some years passed. Then, early one morning, Assia phoned. She was sobbing. “Oh, Johnny,” she gasped, “something terrible has just happened. Mara died.”
Riley was shocked. As far as he knew, the young woman had been in perfect health. Assia explained that while Mara had friends over for lunch, she choked on an olive pit, dying before help could arrive. She had married only a month before.
Riley felt a lingering sadness over the tragic event. To have such an exceptional person, with so much to live for, die suddenly in such bizarre circumstances, made him question what life was really all about. He shared the story of Mara’s sad end with friends, and they all endeavored to find any sort of logic and reason in the ways of this world.
In an article he wrote in 1995 for “Fate Magazine,” Riley mused, “One thing seems certain. We live in a world of consequences where the physical laws of the universe prevail without exception. Not even God rescinds them. You can be the best person in the world, but if I push you off a cliff, you will fall to your death and all your goodness will not save you. If you absentmindedly step in front of a speeding car, nothing in your character will have any bearing on the inevitable outcome.”
A far more elegant way of saying “S— happens.”
Riley and Assia did not discuss Mara again. Then, about a year later, she phoned him. He could instantly tell she was very upset.
Assia said, “Oh, Johnny, something terrible has happened. Mara died.”
The confused Riley replied. “I know that, darling. She choked on an olive pit.” He reminded Assia that she had told him the news a year ago.
Assia stated that this was impossible. Mara had died just the day before.
Posted by Undine at 4:37 AM
Labels: John Powell Riley Jr., time-slips