Transcript: 143. The Bennington Triangle | USA

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It was a mild fall afternoon on the 12th of October 1950 when 8-year-old Paul Jepson’s mother took him along to a local dump where she worked as a caretaker. It was Columbus day, so Paul did not go to school that Thursday. A part of his mother’s job was to feed the pigs, so Paul knew the dump on East Road and the surrounding area rather well. Paul’s mother knew it wouldn’t take too long and when he asked if he could wait in the pickup truck, she said it was okay.

Paul was a dreamer and had been talking a lot about the ‘lure of the mountains’. She couldn’t blame him, as Vermont’s mountains are magnetically beautiful. Especially during fall, when the leaves turn to bright shades of red, orange and yellow…

When Paul’s mother returned to her truck, he was no longer there. She called for him and looked around, but there was no sign of him. Panic set in when she realised her little boy had disappeared.

Paul was not the first person to go missing in the Glastonbury Mountains. Between 1945 and 1950, three others had disappeared too: a 74-year-old hunting guide, an 18-year-old sophomore college student and a 68-year-old war veteran. Like Paul Jepson, the others all vanished under mysterious circumstances.

The area in which the disappearances occurred has been dubbed ‘The Devil’s Triangle’ or ‘The Bennington Triangle’ and theories about what happened to the missing people are wild and varied. Perhaps, the reason behind the strange disappearances even defies logic.

>>Intro Music

Bennington County is home to the Green Mountain National Forest – a pristine, wooded wilderness. In the 1940s, the recently unincorporated towns of Glastonbury and Somerset, only a handful of residents. Today, they are ghost towns, eerily standing vigil to the passage of time. The small towns of Bennington, Woodford and Shaftsbury on the other hand, managed to survive.

In 1945, Bennington was an idyllic mountain town with about 23,000 residents. Bennington College, located north of the town centre was known as a ‘Fashionable Vermont School’, that attracted New England’s finest students. The town of Bennington was a bustling town. Well, as bustling as it could be in the tranquil mountain-setting.

Tourists from neighbouring states came to soak up the scenery and explore the mountains by hiking, hunting or fishing. There was something mystical, almost magical about the place. That is, until people started coming up missing. A string of unexplained disappearances brought a lot of attention to the area after 1945. It wouldn’t be until the early 1990s that Vermont supernatural author, Joseph A Citro, coined the term ‘Bennington Triangle’ during radio broadcast. Before this, the cases were collectively referred to as the ‘Long Trail Disappearances’. The vanishings were linked together based largely on the geography of their occurrences.

The triangle includes the Glastonbury Mountain in the southwestern tip of Vermont. If you looked at a map, Bennington and Woodford form the horizontal base of the triangle and Shaftsbury to the north is the top.

Considered to be the first of the Long Trail Disappearances, was the case of 74-year-old local hunting and fishing guide, Middie Rivers. On Monday the 12th of October 1945, Middie Rivers guided a hunting party in the mountains. Middie had grown up in the area and was an experienced hunter and fisherman. It was a chilly afternoon in Hell Hollow in the southwest woods of Glastonbury, and the group knew they had to make it back to camp before nightfall. It was around 4pm when Middie rounded up the group of four hunters, one of whom was his son-in-law and said it was time to leave. Middie went out ahead of the group, which was not unusual. The hunters assumed that Middie had gone ahead to start the campfire. They were right behind him, however, and only lost sight of him for a couple of minutes. Sadly, Middie was never seen again.

An extensive search was launched form Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The community showed up in force, searching for Middie along the Long Trail Road and Vermont Route 9. The Boy Scouts scoured the woods, working with the army. Employees from Bennington Mills and Benmont Paper Mill came out for days on end to assist in the search too. The town board offered searchers $4 a day in compensation, but no one took the money. It was about finding a beloved and respected member of the community and they did not want to be compensated.

At first, everyone who knew Middie were confident that he would find his way back. He was familiar with survival techniques and being a local guide, he would have been able to keep himself going for a while. At the very least, he would have known how to get himself to safety. In the weeks leading up to his disappearance, he had visited the doctor for a full physical examination and was deemed to be in great shape.

After searching the area for more than a month, authorities had to relent. The only clue searchers uncovered was lying at the bottom of a mountain stream: a single rifle cartridge. It was the kind Middie used, and the assumption was that the cartridge fell out of Middie’s pocket when he bent down to drink some water.

There were so many questions: did he get injured and was unable to move somewhere? Did he suffer a heart attack or stroke and collapsed? His hunting friends did not think. This was possible, seeing as he was within earshot. They started looking for him immediately and the thorough searches that followed, covered the immediate area where he was last seen. If he had collapsed or lost consciousness, they would have found him, no doubt.

Bennington psychic, Clara Jepson, had some information about Middie’s whereabouts, but it was another dead end. No one could find Middie Rivers, it was like the mountain had swallowed him whole.

The mystery of his disappearance was still fresh in the town’s memory, when it happened again. A year after Middie went missing, 18-year-old college sophomore, Paula Welden also vanished. This case received a lot of media coverage and has the most documented information of all the Bennington Triangle cases.

Paula, an Art student at Bennington College in North Bennington. Besides her love of art, she also had a keen interest in Botany. The Vermont mountains inspired her, and she often went hiking along its scenic trails. Paula was athletic and adventurous, and her friends used to call her ‘Paul’.

She was the eldest of four daughters and was close to her mother. Her father, William Archibald Welden was a well-to-do industrial designer. The family lived in Stamford, Connecticut and Paula’s roommate from Dewey House, Elizabeth Johnson, recalled that Paula did not like sharing details of her life with her family. She was strong-willed and independent and chose NOT to go home for Thanksgiving that year.

On Sunday morning the 1st of December 1946, Paula worked her lunch shift at the campus dining hall but couldn’t wait to clock out so she could go hiking. Her roommate, Elizabeth, noticed that Paula was in a strange mood and thought that a walk in the woods would do her good. According to Elizabeth, Paula was ‘very restless and full of life and energy.’ This was quite opposite to her mood the days before, which was more quiet and sullen.

Paula asked some friends to join her on the hike, but everyone had other plans. That did not deter the spritely blonde, and when her shift ended at 1:30, she rushed to her room to get ready. She donned a red parka with a fur trimmed hood, and set off to the woods, put on her walking shoes and left campus sometime between 2:30 and 2:45 with limited daylight left. Sunset was twenty past four and by six it would be completely dark.

Paula had been on a couple of hikes up the surrounding mountains but had not been on the Long Trail. She knew she would not be able to walk the entire trail that afternoon and only wanted to cover a small section.

When Paula did not come back to her dorm room that night, Elizabeth assumed that she had gone to the library to study. She was concerned and tried to wait up but fell asleep. By the next morning, there was still no sign of Paula. She did not show up to class, and Elizabeth, together with friends and faculty members could not find her anywhere on campus.

The university contacted Paula’s family in Connecticut, hoping she had gone home for some or other reason, but she was not there either. It was time to inform law enforcement and a search effort of the entire county commenced.

More than 1000 people volunteered to help looking for Paula, everyone was out in the woods. Because Paula was only 18, the FBI also assisted in the search, providing searches and resources. Paula’s father offered a $5,000 reward if Paula was found alive, $2,000 if her body was recovered. After an exhaustive search, spanning all the way to New York, there were still no clue as to Paula’s whereabouts. Police distributed Paula’s photo and information to the media and asked anyone with information to come forward.

Local contractor, Louis Knapp, came forward and said he gave a lift to a young woman who looked like Paula. He picked her up at 3pm, along State Route 67A near Bennington College, and dropped her off at Woodford Hollow on Route 9 – about 2.5 miles from the Long Trail. He recalled that she was in a good mood and when she got out of the car, she said:

“That’s swell, thanks a lot.”

His testimony was brought into question when he said the hitchhiker was wearing a brown parka and that she light-brown hair. Louis agreed to be tested and as it turned out – he was colour blind, a condition he was unaware of.

One of the last people to have seen Paula, was Ernest Whitman, who worked for the Bennington Banner, a local newspaper. According to Ernest, Paula spoke to his group of friends, and wanted to know if she was on the Long Trail. When they confirmed that she was, she wanted to know how far it went. Ernest and his friends told her that it went all the way up to Canada. He watched her walk away, northbound on Harbour Road – a road section of the trail. A bit later on, she was seen on the trail by an elderly couple, just after 4pm. They were about a hundred yards behind her and saw her turn a corner. When they reached the same spot, she was no longer up ahead. This was the last time anyone saw Paula Welden.

There was great concern for her safety, because she was dressed for a day-hike, not for the freezing overnight temperatures. December in Vermont reaches temperatures as low as 23 degrees. On the day Paula disappeared it was in the 40s – and that night when the snow came, it dropped to five above zero.

Once staff from Bennington College alerted police, as many as 400 students, faculty and local townspeople showed up to assist with the search. The National Guard assisted, as well as firefighters. Despite a thorough ground-and-air search, nothing was ever recovered. Paula was wearing a red parka with jeans and sneakers.

A witness claimed that she heard the screams of a young woman in the swamps near Bickford Hollow on the day Paula disappeared. A lot of the search focussed on that area. Because Paula’s jacket was red, searchers were optimistic that they would find her. But they did not.

Three weeks after Paula Welden vanished, on the 22nd of December, the official search was called off. Paula’s family had to face an unforgiving festive season without her.

A lot of speculation followed in the wake of her disappearance. People wondered if she left on her own accord. One story went that she had run away to Canada with a boyfriend where they lived off-grid in the mountains. Her roommate knew most of what was going on in Paula’s life, and claimed she was not seeing anyone at the time of her disappearance. Her friends also did not know anything about a boyfriend. She went on a couple of social dates, but there was no boy she had a particular bond with.

Many reports of sightings came in over time. One report came from a waitress from Fall River, Massachusetts who saw someone looking like Paula with a young man at the diner where she worked. She recalled that the woman looked “disturbed”. The sighting could never be substantiated, and investigators were sceptical whether it was Paula or not.

Witnesses who lived along the Long Trail recalled seeing a strange car in the days following Paula’s disappearance. A reddish-brown, or maroon vehicle with out-of-state number plates. They saw a woman resembling Paula in the vehicle that pulled into Fay Fuller camp – a boy scout lodge. However, investigators later concluded that it was another woman, not Paula.

Paula’s family spared no effort or expense and hired a private investigator. They also consulted a psychic, but nothing yielded any results. After meeting with the clairvoyant, Archie Weldon firmly believed that his daughter was with a boy she knew her family would not have approved of. He leaned towards the theory that Paula had eloped.

However, Paula did not take anything with her to indicate that she was planning on leaving for good. There was money and a cash cheque in her room – that would have come in handy, had she planned on travelling into obscurity. Paula also asked a variety of unrelated friends to join her on the hike, which means she probably did not plan to disappear.

During Paula’s search, local law enforcement had to rely on neighbouring states for help. Some felt that if they had had the resources at hand, their chance of finding Paula would have been bigger. The failed search for Paula eventually led to the formation of the Vermont State Police.

Nine years after Paula’s disappearance, a local lumberjack called Fred Gadette made a drunken confession, saying he knew where her body was buried. He lived in a cabin along Harbour Road, and on the day of Paula’s disappearance, he’d left home after fighting with his girlfriend. Over the years he gave differing statements: once he said he went into his shack after fighting with his girlfriend. On another occasion, he said that he got into his truck and drove into the woods along Harbour Road, as far as he could. This was the exact same route Paula was walking. There was no evidence at Fred’s property or in his truck that linked him to Paula, and investigators were not able to make an arrest.

Gadette later admitted that he had made up the story, because he wanted to be in the news. There are some who believed it was Gadette who had taken Paula that day and that he later retracted his drunken confessions, because he simply did not want to go to prison.

In the spring of 1947, another search was launched, hoping that the melted snow would yield Paula’s remains, but they found nothing.

For years the Paula Welden-case became synonymous to Bennington. If anyone mentioned the town’s name anywhere in America, everyone immediately made the connection to Paula’s disappearance. While thoughts of Paula still lingered, In December 1949, the Bennington Soldiers’ Home informed police that one of their residents did not return after visiting relatives in Northern Vermont.

James E Tedford, or Jim as everyone knew him, was a 68-year-old war veteran who was consigned until he was already in his sixties. When he retired, he came home to find that his young wife had left him. She had moved upstate and although they were still married, they lived separately.

On December 1st, 1949 – three years to the day of Paula Welden’s disappearance – Jim Tedford went missing. He was making his way to Bennington, after visiting his wife and other relatives in Cambridge and Franklin. Jim boarded a bus in St Albans and bumped into a friend during his stopover in Burlington. His friend saw him get on the bus, but somewhere on the way to Bennington, he disappeared.

Jim was travelling alone, and no one was at the station in Bennington to pick him up. So, for a while, no one noticed he was missing. It was more than a week later when the Veteran’s Home called his wife to ask if she knew when Jim was coming back. She was confused and informed them that he left on December 1st. Staff at the Veteran’s home notified police, who had lost valuable time in the investigation.

They interviewed the bus driver, and 14 fellow passengers who all remembered Jim. Everyone recalled seeing Jim, wearing an army coat and cap, sleeping in his seat when the bus left the last stop in Burlington. The bus went along Route 7 and never stopped again before it reached Bennington, yet James was nowhere to be found. On the empty seat next to his, was a bus timetable, folded open. His luggage was still stowed in the luggage rack. His wife and friends in St Albans said that Jim had been somewhat depressed during his visit and was not overly eager to return to the veteran’s home.

Police had no idea where to begin looking for Jim. It was like he had vanished into thin air. His disappearance baffled investigators and continues to do so to this day. Because James left his personal items on the bus, it indicated that if he got up from his seat, he had intended to return. Because he disappeared somewhere along Route 7, the stretch of highway nearest to where Middie Rivers and Paula Weldon were last seen, the cases were linked together.

Jim’s inexplicable disappearance gave rise to many supernatural theories. In the late 1940s ‘flying sorcer’ stories, or UFO sightings became prevalent in the news. The Roswell Incident of July 1947 opened people’s minds to the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Jim Tedford’s disappearance had all the hallmarks of an alien abduction. But in most alleged alien abduction cases, people told their strange stories of losing time and consciousness, before returning to their normal lives. In Jim’s case, he never returned.

Then came Columbus Day 1950, and another disappearance along Route 7. This time, the Bennington Triangle devoured its youngest victim. 8-year-old Paul Jepson’s parents, Paul SR and Nancy, were both retired teachers who owned a farm in North Bennington. They raised animals and as a side-job and minded and fed the pigs at the town dump where they were the caretakers.

On the quiet fall afternoon of October 12th, Paul waited in the truck while his mother went to feed the pigs. She arrived, like any other day, at 3:30pm. When she returned to the truck after half an hour, Paul was gone. Like Middie Rivers and Paula Welden, Paul went missing just before 4pm.

Paul’s mother raised the alarm, and the community came out in force, looking for the boy in the bright red jacket. Coast guard planes were brought in, and the relatively new State Police made all resources available, but to no avail. The search effort for Paul was hindered by heavy rains and mudslides. A nightmare for his parents, knowing their young child was out there somewhere, battling the elements.

A story that has been passed down through the years is that bloodhounds borrowed from New Hampshire State Police traced Paul’s scent to the highway Route 7 before they lost it. The location at East and Chapel Roads was eerily close to the last location Paula Welden was seen four years before.

Was Paul kidnapped by someone who took him to a car waiting on the highway, before driving off? The problem was that the highway was a couple of miles from his mother’s truck. With so many people looking for him, would Paul have been able to cover that much distance in a relatively short amount of time?

A witness claimed that she saw a boy fitting Paul’s description walking toward the Vermont/New York State late, when she drove south from Mechanicsville to North Hoosick. However, Paul’s father was convinced that the boy the woman saw was not his son. Paul walked with a distinct gait and the woman would have mentioned it. Also, she claimed that the boy was dishevelled and in desperate need of a haircut. Paul’s parents claimed his hair was on the shorter side, and neat.

Paul’s mother said that in the days prior to his disappearance, he had repeatedly spoken of ‘the lure of the mountains’ and she thought that he had wandered off, got lost and perished due to the elements. His dad had a similar version but referred to it as Paul being drawn to the ‘yen’ of the mountains.

When Paul could not be located, people refused to accept that he had simply vanished. Some ghastly stories did the rounds, speculating if his parents had killed him and fed his remains to the pigs. When this story made the newspapers, Paul’s family was understandably furious and denied harming him. This brought a lot of tension between the family and the press, and Paul’s dad said his wife refused to ever speak to journalists again.

The search for Paul was still going strong after two weeks, when 53-year-old Frieda Langer vanished from a hiking trail. Frieda, her husband Max and her cousin Herbert Elsner were staying at their family cabin near the Somerset Reservoir. Max had injured his knee, and opted to stay at the campsite, while Frieda and Herbert went for a hike.

Along the trail, Frieda slipped and fell into a stream. She was soaked and told Herbert to go on without her. They were only a short distance, about 150 yards away from the cabin, so she wanted to go back and change. When Frieda did not return, Herbert went back to the campsite, where Max was surprised that Frieda wasn’t with him. Herbert was shocked when he heard Frieda had never made it back.

Frieda was last seen at 3:45pm, more or less the same time Middie Rivers, Paula Welden and Paul Jepson went missing before her.

An extensive search was conducted over two weeks, including aerial searches with helicopters and other aircraft. Like the four people who had disappeared before Frieda in the same area – there was not a single trace to be found.

Frieda was an experienced hiker who had spent a lot of time in the woods near the Somerset Reservoir. Together with Max, she had owned the family cabin for 14 years. She knew how to handle a gun and was a gritty woodswoman. It would have been unlikely for her to get lost, and even if she did, she would have some clue as to how to get herself to safety. There was less than a half a mile between Herbert and Max, a short walk for the fit Frieda. Very much like Middie Rivers, it seemed like the earth had swallowed her whole. She was there the one minute, and the next she was gone.

Unlike the others who disappeared from the Bennington Triangle, Frieda’s body was eventually discovered… On May 12th, 1951 – almost seven months after she vanished, her body was found in a clearing near Somerset Reservoir. It was a location that had been searched multiple times before – three miles from Frieda and Max’s hunting cabin. It was in the open and searchers could not have missed her. Investigators believed her body was placed there after the search was called off.

However, they could not determine a cause of death, due to the ‘condition of her remains’. Because she was found in a swamp, they wondered if she drowned. Local newspaper the Banner, said that it was in a ‘gruesome condition’. The discovery of Frieda’s body deepened the mystery even further – was she taken my someone who killed her, then kept her body for months before dumping it at the Reservoir? It was an unsettling thought and people quietly wondered if more human remains would emerge from the forest over time.

After Frieda’s disappearance, the vanishings stopped. Investigators looked at the preceding five years and tried to find a link between the victims: five people, of different ages, gender and background who disappeared from the same area over a period of five years. All the disappearances occurred late in the year, in the fall or early winter, usually in the afternoon between 3 and 4pm.

Other than that, there were no obvious links. The two youngest victims, Paula Welden and Paul Jepson both wore red jackets, which was not extremely unusual. Red is a common colour and worn by men and women. However, the fact that both Paula and Paul disappeared wearing red, gave rise to superstition. To this day locals believe it is bad luck to wear red when you’re hiking the trails of Glastonbury Mountain.

As time went by, no more information about the strange disappearances and Frieda’s death emerged. Looking at the broader picture, investigators had to consider other incidents that occurred in the Bennington Triangle over time. The first strange case was that of John Harbour. He was a well-respected father-of-four who disappeared on the 1st of October 1897.

John went hunting on the first day of deer hunting season. In fact, it was the first official deer hunting season declared by the State of Vermont. His body was found at Hotchkiss Clearing and police declared that he had died due to ‘a deliberate shooting’. John was killed.

But there was no way of finding the perpetrator. John had no known enemies and no one witnessed the shooting. It was possible that John’s death was an accident – perhaps he was shot by another hunter? But then again, would someone have shot him by mistake at such close range? John Harbour’s murder was never solved.

A Banner article notes the disappearance of Melvin Hills, a 13-year-old boy from Bennington. He was last seen along the Long Trail on 11 October 1942. Many people regard his case as the first of the Bennington Triangle mysterious disappearances.

If you look outside of the triangle, it’s fair to say mysterious incidents did not stay within its boundaries. In 1936, 40 miles away near Lebanon Springs, New York, 22-year-old Katherine Hull disappeared after going for a walk. Her skull was found by hunters in a nearby wooded area in 1943. Investigators believed that she got lost in the woods and died due to exposure, and her death was never investigated further.

70 miles away from Bennington, at Lakeville Connecticut, 10-year-old Connie Smith also mysteriously vanished in the woods during summer camp in 1952.

An article in the Burlington Free Press of October 1981 reported the story of three hunters from Massachusetts who disappeared near the ghost town of Glastonbury in 1952. Their remains have never been found and no one knows what happened to them. And the list goes on… Over the years between 30 and 40 disappearances have been reported.

There are simply too many cases in the immediate Bennington area to ignore the possibility that something strange is going on. For centuries, Native Americans believed the mountains to be cursed. An Algonquin legend warns of an enchanted boulder in the mountains that opens up and devours anyone who steps on it. Because the ‘four winds’ met in the mountains, Native Americans steered clear of the place of eternal conflict of natural forces. They would only ever venture into the woods in the Green Mountain Range to bury the dead.

Glastonbury Mountain indeed has an unpredictable wind pattern, that causes plants to grow in different directions. This makes it very difficult to orientate oneself, even if you are an experienced hiker.

For the true crime-oriented sleuths, there is the possibility that a serial killer trawled the woods, snatched up his victims and took them to a car that was parked next to the highway.  But this theory is problematic… There was no ‘typical’ victim – they ranged in age from 8 to 74, so it’s not likely to be a serial killer. But that does not explain James’ disappearance from the bus.

Bigfoot reports from the Green Mountain National Forest are frequent. Everyone who claims to have seen Bigfoot, has the same description: a hair-covered, upright being of more than 6ft tall. The first recorded sighting of the ‘Bennington Monster’ was in the early 19th century when an unknown beast attacked a stagecoach and pushed it over onto its side. It ran away into the woods, roaring before anyone could get a proper look.

But in all reports, witnesses make mention of a strong odour, and if he attacks, he roars loudly. If the ‘Bennington Monster’ is to blame for the strange disappearances, why did witnesses not hear or smell anything? Middie Rivers, Paula Welden, Paul Jepson and Frieda Langer were all within earshot of other people. If they had suffered an attack, by yeti or catamount, someone would have heard something for sure.

The Bennington Triangle is also rife with UFO sightings. Stories about strange noises on CB radio, sightings of mysterious figures, navigation fails, and mysterious plane crashes are all common knowledge to locals.

Because of such strong supernatural elements surrounding the area, some people believe they know what happened to the people who went missing along the Long Trail. Science fiction fans would be familiar with the concept of a wormhole. If you don’t know what a wormhole is… Albert Einstein and physicist Nathan Rosen proposed the existence of bridges through space-time. Each bridge connects two points in space-time and, in theory, creates a short-cut from one point in time and space, to another, like a portal of sorts. But seeing as this notion exists in theory only, it is impossible to say where someone entering a wormhole would even go? To another time? To another place? Or perhaps into an alternate universe?

The Bennington Triangle continues to intrigue sleuths from all over the world. It’s been likened to the Bermuda Triangle and other National Park disappearances, referred to as ‘Missing 411’. In his research, retired detective David Paulides found more than 1200 cases of unexplained vanishings in national parks and forests in North America. Paulides notes certain parallels in the cases, and it definitely rings true when it comes to the Bennington Triangle disappearances. Here are a few of the common factors: with every disappearance there is a point of separation, the person who goes missing is by him or herself. The time of disappearance is similar to others in a geographical cluster. It usually occurs near water, or boulders and bloodhounds struggle to follow the scent. Victims are sometimes found in locations previously searched and if they are found, there is no clear cause of death – as was the case with Frieda Langer.

In his book, Missing 411: Eastern United States, David Paulides reports another strange case from the heart of the Bennington Triangle. The Barker family from Hudson, New York were vacationing at a Bald Mountain cabin, about a mile down a side-road off Route 7. It was late in the afternoon on August 16th 1937, when Mrs Barker left her 20-month-old daughter, Alice, inside the cabin and went to the next door neighbour. She returned 10 minutes later and little Alice was nowhere to be found – not inside or anywhere around the cabin outside. The Barker’s neighbour called police and an intensive search of the area followed.

The temperature dropped unseasonably low and there were some showers overnight. By the next morning, there was still no sign of the toddler. After two days’ continuous search, volunteers miraculously found the little girl alive. She was under a tree on a little-utilised logging road, naked and sitting on top of her sun suit. When doctors examined her she had no injures, was not dehydrated and needed no hospitalisation. After being out in nature, during a rainstorm, it was almost unbelievable that Alice was completely unscathed.

The Sheriff believed that she had been abducted by someone and that her kidnapper had placed her where she was found – that was the only way to understand the case. However, if one looks at it together with all the other strange disappearances, one has to wonder…

Perhaps we should consider the experience of a recent hiker who got lost in the forest but made it out okay. Robert Singley, a music teacher at Bennington College found himself lost while hiking a trail near Bald Mountain. Robert was an experienced hiker, who knew the area well. When it was time to return home, he walked the same trail back. However, it took him to an unknown part of the woods, he had no idea where he was. Robert grew concerned and knew if he did not get back on track, he might have to spend the night in the forest. Just then, a heavy fog rolled in, obscuring the entire track ahead of him. Disoriented, Robert decided to stay put for a while. He saw a maple tree and was inexplicably drawn to it. He made it to the tree and rummaged for dry sticks so he could start a fire. However, every stick he picked up turned out to be skeletal remains of animals.

Instead of freaking out about his situation, Robert was more concerned about his fiancée. He knew she would be worried about him. Determined to make it through the night, he managed to make a fire and huddled at the foot of the maple tree. The next morning, the fog had lifted, and he realised that he had walked the opposite direction to where he parked his car. He did not know how he could have gone the wrong way but was relieved that he had made it out okay.

The Bennington Triangle with Glastonbury Mountain at its centre is, without a doubt, a treacherous place to go for a hike. As beautiful as it is, the tragic secrets it holds makes it a dangerous place. Did Melvin, Middie, Paula, Jim, Paul and Frieda all have a similar experience to college teacher, Robert Singley? Is it possible that, even though some of them knew the area like the back of their hands, they somehow became disoriented and succumbed to the elements? That is impossible to say, but with so many searchers out in the woods back between 1945 and 1950, surely someone would have found something.

One can be as open-minded as possible, but the only thing we know, is that we DON’T know what happened for sure. Chances are – we’ll never learn what fate befell Middie Rivers, Paula Welden, Jim Tedford, Paul Jepson and Frieda Langer. For now, the misty mountain refuses to let us into the secret, she holds the mystery of what happened between 1940 and 1950 so very close to her heart…

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