The Missing 5
Long time, no chat! How the hell are you guys? How’s your writing coming along? Comment if you have any new releases so I can check them out! It’s the time of year that there’s not much I love more than curling up with a book while watching the snow fall.
Once the snow starts to pile, I find myself thinking about one story every year….The Dyatlov Pass Incident. Something about that story has stuck with me since I first heard about it many (many – ugh) years ago. Maybe it’s the fact that the tent was ripped open from the inside. Or that one of the climbers was found to be missing her tongue, eyes, part of her lips, and more facial tissue. Perhaps it’s that some of the hikers were found partially dressed in snippets of their deceased friends.
I mean, if that doesn’t give you chills, then what will?
I’m glad you asked. Submitted to the approval of the Midnight Society, I give you the tale of the American Dyatlov Pass.
Before I get started, I found most of my information off this Washington Post article from 1978 as well as a few reddit rabbit holes and the like. It’s noted throughout the sources that 3 of the 5 men were developmentally delayed, with the fourth, Gary, being a paranoid schizophrenic. Does this change the oddness of this story? Or make it easier to explain? I’ll leave that up to you to decide for yourself.
The article starts with this gorgeous quote:
There was a half moon that night, a winter moon in a cloudless sky. Up in the mountains above the Feather River, the snow-drifts sometimes rose to 15 feet.
On February 24, 1978, five ‘boys’ (Bill Sterling, Gary Mathias, Ted Weiher, Jackie Huett, and Jack Madruga) climbed into a turquoise and white 1969 Mercury Montego after watching their favourite basketball team play in Chico, California. They were enroute home to Yuba City, approximately 50 miles south.
They didn’t make it home.
A week later, Jack Madruga’s Mercury was found 70 miles from Chico, seemingly stuck on a snowy mountain road. The car had gas and thought the tires spun, it was believed that the five men should’ve been able to push it out easily.
There was no trace of any of the boys.
It wasn’t until June 4th that a body was discovered. Ted – a man of at least 200lbs – was found in a trailer, wrapped from head to toe in bed sheets. He had lost 80-100lbs despite living in a trailer for an approximated 8-13 weeks after the basketball game. Ted was badly frostbitten even though there was a functioning propane heater that simply needed to be turned on. He had his possessions with him, along with a gold watch that no family members could match to any of the missing men.
Jack Madruga and Bill Sterling were found on opposite sides of the road to the trailer, only 11.4 miles from the car. Both had been eaten by animals, with Sterling’s bones covering a fifty feet area.
In a cruel twist of fate, it was Jackie’s Huett’s own father that found the first trace of him….his spine.
Gary Mathias was never found. He is still, to this day, listed on the Doe Network as a missing person.
There are theories – so, so many theories – ranging from kidnapping to aliens to murder. A man, Joseph Shones, was said to have seen a group of men and a women near the last known location of the 5. Shones also heard whistling noises, but when he called out to the group for help, they had disappeared.
The Washington Post asks these questions:
Why abandon a perfectly operable car to strike out into the forest at midnight?
Why press on through 20 miles of snowdrifts and darkness to break into a lock, unheated trailer and die?
Why drive all the way up there in the first place? And how? If someone chased them, why was the car undamaged? What were the whistling noises and the voices Shones heard on the road?
Nothing makes sense. Nothing adds up. In the words of David Ridgen, Somebody knows Something. Without Gary, who’d be in his late 60’s by now, we’ll never truly know what happened to the 5 ‘Boys’ Who Never Come Back.
May they Rest in Peace.
What could’ve happened? The sense it may never be solved is heartbreaking and eerie.
I don’t know – I can’t fathom a situation that would make the boys leave the car and scatter. Especially since there was still gas in it.