10 People Who Went Missing in Mammoth Cave National Park

Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park features the longest known cave system, stretching for 400 uncovered miles (644 km) and another 600 miles (966 km) unexplored. In 1839, Dr. Croghan of Louisville, Kentucky, purchased Mammoth Cave for $10,000. With minimal existing treatment methods for tuberculosis in the 19th century, Mammoth Cave was purchased by Croghan as a sanitarium, but this proved ineffective.

Located in Edmonson, Hart, and Barren counties with the Green River running through its land, Mammoth Cave was first established as a national park in 1941. Since the 1800s, many people have become lost in Mammoth Cave or have disappeared into the wilderness. park. While some people were later found alive, others were unfortunately found to be deceased. Another group of people got lost in or around Mammoth Cave and was never heard from again. This article explores 10 of the most unusual cases of people going missing in Mammoth Cave National Park.

Related: 10 unexplained mysteries of national parks

10 Orla Alyne J. Barrick

Orla Alyne J. Barrick was last seen on Laurel Ridge Road in Mammoth Cave on April 12, 1996, when a neighbor spoke to Barrick around 2 pm. Barrick lived alone near the Nolin River. After forcing their way into the Barrick cabin, police discovered that the lights were out, the carpet was stained with blood, and the sofa was out of place. In addition, Barrick’s dentures were found soaked and a burnt cigarette was found on a shelf. Barrick’s dog was discovered still locked in a cage.

Barrick’s family sees the dentures as a sign that Alyne wasn’t expecting any more visitors that night. The only thing missing from the Barrick residence was a fitted sheet and his bag. The $400 Barrick kept in a freezer remained, suggesting that Barrick’s disappearance was not the result of a robbery. Furthermore, the amount of blood at the crime scene was not sufficient to indicate death. There were also no signs of forced entry. However, foul play has long been suspected in the Barrick case.

On February 7, 1997, a fisherman from Mammoth Cave recovered strands of human hair belonging to Barrick in Green River. Searches in the area turned up neither Barrick nor any additional evidence. Since then, no further evidence of Barrick has been uncovered.[1]

9 michael leland vincent

When he disappeared on May 5, 2011 in Brownsville, Kentucky, Michael Leland Vincent was on probation. He disappeared from a burning house that he shared with his mother and his aunt. In early 2005, Vincent was found guilty of assault, unlawful imprisonment, and arson.

Some people have wondered if the desire to escape the consequences of these charges led Vincent to burn down his residence and fake his disappearance or if something else happened to him. Suggesting that something else could have happened to Vincent, six fires are known to have occurred on Oak Grove Church Road between 2002 and 2018. Wildfires caused by natural factors such as lightning and man-made fires are common in national parks like Mammoth I dug.

Brownsville is in Edmonson County, and Vincent lived about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Mammoth Cave. Vincent was last seen at his Oak Grove Church Road residence, standing in the driveway. A Caucasian male with brown hair and brown eyes, Vincent was last seen shirtless. He can be distinguished by tattoos of a dragon, a grim reaper, and a flag.[2]

8 Ronald Edward Baldwin

On a weekend in June 2004, Ronald Baldwin and his neighbor of 12 years rode four-wheelers on Baldwin’s 300 acres on Buckner Hill North Road, which is situated in the Bonnieville portion of Hart County, Kentucky. This area is less than a 20 minute drive from Mammoth Cave.

At some point, the 12-year-old returned to refuel his four-wheeler, but upon returning to Ronald, he was unable to find the 54-year-old. The boy has been described as “mentally disabled”. Still, it remains uncertain how well the boy would be able to communicate with others if he saw something happen to Ronald, who was a seasoned outdoorsman.

After Ronald did not return the next day, his girlfriend reported Ronald missing. Ronald’s girlfriend said it was not uncommon for him to be away for hours in a four-wheeler. A search party soon discovered Ronald’s abandoned ATV, along with his glasses, shoes, and an unfinished bottle of whiskey.

No sign of Ronald has ever been found. The police do not believe that there was foul play. Unfortunately, Baldwin’s mother passed away in 2015 without even knowing what happened to her son. Still missing in 2023, Baldwin has tattoos of a nude woman, a flag, and a sword.[3]

7 Tony Ray Choate

Tony Choate, who was 25 years old at the time, went out four-wheeling around noon in September 1993 in Bonnieville. Choate was wearing cut-off jeans and his wedding ring. Leaving his mother-in-law’s residence in his four-wheeler, Choate was supposed to wait until the local bus dropped off his son before beginning his journey. Choate never returned and was never heard from again.

Choate routinely left home and traveled significant distances, including excursions to Florida and California, making her disappearance that afternoon seem routine at first. While Choate was believed to simply be missing, years after Choate’s disappearance, law enforcement collected evidence that led them to suspect foul play.

Law enforcement dug concrete, searched nearby Mammoth Park caves and never located Choate, dead or alive. Choate’s family remembers him as a young man who had the potential to be a person of integrity.[4]

6 Josephine Poteet

In the late 19th century, Josephine Poteet was born on her family’s farm in an area that later became Houchin’s Ferry Road. Today, most of Houchin’s Ferry Road is situated in Mammoth Cave National Park and is managed by the National Park Service. Josephine, the third child in a large family, grew up along the Green River.
After the death of Josephine’s father, the Poteet family faced financial difficulties. Josephine also gave birth to three children while she was unmarried, which resulted in Josephine being ostracized from the community.

In 1914, Josephine left Edmonson County. It is unknown how Josephine traveled, but she probably took the last name of the man with whom she traveled. The man then returned to Edmonson County without Josephine. When asked what happened to her, the man said he last saw Josephine sitting on the banks of the Missouri River.

For some time, Josephine’s family was unsure what happened to her until a search of Missouri marriage records revealed that after Josephine left the area, she married a man in Missouri and assumed the new name, Thena Williams.[5]

5 1973 Barren County Jane Doe

While the Watergate hearings were underway, on November 2, 1973, a truck driver found the decomposed body of a deceased Jane Doe along Interstate 65, about a mile north of Park City. This location is only a few miles from Mammoth Cave, suggesting that the Jane Doe could have passed through the area before being discovered. Forensic experts later assessed that prior to discovery, the Jane Doe’s body had been lying at the location for three to ten weeks.

It was also determined that Jane Doe had been killed by a single shotgun blast to the chest. More puzzling than who or what led to this murder is the question of why the keys were found next to her body. Two of the keys are strangely engraved with “114”.

Jane Doe had auburn hair and was between the ages of 20 and 50. This is notable because the Barren County Jane Doe matches the victims identified in the “Redhead Murders,” a series of murders stretching from the 1970s to the 1990s. The “Redhead Murders” are believed to have occurred in several states, including Kentucky. The unidentified killer targeted Caucasian women with reddish-brown hair.[6]

4 Walter Greg Fowler

Maintenance worker Walter Fowler was reported missing by his wife, Debra, in June 1999. After helping Walter load his small aluminum boat “Jon” into his pickup truck, Debra claimed that she never saw Walter again. Later, her Debra herself claimed to have found Walter’s empty boat floating along the Barren River while she was looking for it. The police believe that Walter’s disappearance was the result of foul play.

Some details in Fowler’s case suggest that multiple people were involved in the disappearance, including Fowler’s weight of over 200 pounds (91 kg). For example, Walter’s vehicle and trailer were discovered abandoned on Osborne Ford Road, which is near the Barren River. Fowler’s boat was found approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) downriver. Police have even received conflicting claims that Walter is hiding out in Mammoth Cave.

Another suggestion that Walter’s disappearance was the result of foul play is the fact that Walter and Debra were in debt at the time of his disappearance, and Debra was the beneficiary of Walter’s life insurance policy. However, Debra claims to have first learned of the policy in 2015. As of April 2023, no charges have been filed and Walter’s case remains unsolved.[7]

3 “Lost John”

Many mummies have been discovered in Mammoth Cave from the intentionally buried remains of natives. An exception to these intentional burials is the discovery of the mummy, “Lost John,” in 1935. Lost John was crushed to death by a falling rock, and his face is caught in a bloodcurdling, frozen scream, which he probably let out shortly before. . the rock fell on him.

Alonzo W. Pond, a former National Park Service archaeologist, discovered Lost John in the 1930s. Pond concluded that the man was likely a Native American who was using a stone chipping tool in the cave when he lost his life. Pond was also the one who recovered “Lost John” from Mammoth Cave.

To lift the rock from John’s body, archaeologists built a wooden tower, tied bands to the rock, and lifted the rock. Beneath the rock, John’s body was found face down in the dirt. Who John was or what Indian tribe he belonged to remains uncertain.[8]

2 1998 Green River drowning victim

On May 30, 1998, two people in a four-person group took a boat to the Green River in Mammoth Cave National Park. Both men fell into the Green River after their boat capsized. One man made it safely to shore, while the other disappeared. The next morning, park rangers began a search involving scuba teams and canines.

The following week, park rangers found the body of the missing man along with corresponding personal items. The boat operator was determined to be intoxicated at the time of the accident. Still, what exactly happened to the man who fell overboard and drowned remains uncertain.[9]

1 1984 Barren County Jane Doe

A deceased elderly woman was found in the Barren River Reservoir in Glasgow, Kentucky, in 1984. Two fishermen discovered the woman’s body on the Narrows Boatramp Road, approximately 12 miles (19 km) from Glasgow.

The autopsy revealed that the woman died of suffocation after being gagged. After being dumped in the reservoir, the woman’s body is believed to have spent two to three months in the water. Her body showed signs of natural childbirth and the woman was wearing a Harve Benard shirt and ankle-high stockings. No killer has ever been identified.[10]

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