On December 30th, 2014, a woman who goes by the name of Redwantsblue80 was sleeping in her bed with her 3-year-old child. Everything was normal, but when she got up the next day, she noticed something strange.
Redwants had been using an Android sleep app called "Sleep As Android" since 2013, to improve her sleep. One of the features of the app was that it records night time noises snoring, sleep talk, the covers rustling, that sort of thing. When talking of the app, she said, "I've never caught anything other than sounds created by me changing positions or coughing or something like that (although I've been told several times I talk in my sleep by other people)."
This is a firsthand account from Redwants:
"My 3 year old was with me that night as he is scared of the dark. It was just the two of us in the whole house. The next night I decided to go through and delete my recordings and saw this particular record. In it, you can here some clicks that start to get louder over the course of the recording. Eventually you can hear me say "What are you doing??" and immediately after there is a deep voice that says "Nothing".
The clicks become very loud at that point and at the very end of the recording you hear the same voice say "That's them" (I think?). I am pretty creeped out by this. I don't remember being awake that night. The only plausible explanation is that I answered my own sleeping talking but the voice doesn't even sound like me, or something I could emulate. It definitely doesn't sound like a voice my preschooler could emulate, either. I have no idea what the clicks could be. I keep a fan going at night for white noise, but the clicks sound like they're coming from right near my phone, (which is placed right by me on my bedside table). I want to say that I've picked up the clicks a few times on recordings before, but deleted them, thinking it was nothing this is the first time I've ever heard anything, though."
Here is an audio recording of the moment:
Over the years, hundreds of people have tried to lend a hand in solving this mystery, but so far, no one has been able to confirm anything definite.
It was confirmed that the voice who answers could not have been Redwants. If you're interested, you can find an in depth analysis here.
Several sound engineers have enhanced the audio to try to better decipher the voices... here is one of the enhanced versions:
Redwants has since moved, and says that it hasn't happened again since. Though, according to her: "I haven't caught anything else but then again, I haven't exactly been reviewing/listening to my night recordings, either."
50-year-old Dale Kerstetter showed up to work the overnight shift as security guard at the Corning Glassworks plant in Bradford, Pennsylvania, at 11:00 PM on September 12, 1987. Dale was a divorced father of six, and had worked at the plant for 29 years. He had recently been transferred from his position as a trades worker to a security guard, which involved him taking a pay cut of between $5,000-7,000 annually. At 7:00AM, after his shift, Dale's relief arrived, to find him missing.
According to Robinwarder1, who reviewed the case on The Trail Went Cold podcast:
"[Dale's] daypack and a full carton of cigarettes were inside the truck, along with the holster for a .22 caliber gun he carried which was never found. Dales keys to the plant and a newspaper were found on a table in the cafeteria, along with his lunch pail, which still had all his food inside. A police dog was brought in and tracked Dales scent from the cafeteria to the second floor, but it came to an end at the plants glass furnace."
Authorities checked the security tape from that night. The plant had three security cameras and the feed alternated between each camera at random intervals. According to authorities:
"The footage revealed an unidentified masked intruder walking through the plant at various points between midnight and 1:00 AM. In one of the shots, the intruder was seen meeting up with Dale in the back of the plant. They both walked past the security camera together, where Dale appeared to look up and stare directly at the camera before they disappeared out of frame.
Dale did not show up in the security footage again, but one shot showed the intruder heading towards the glass furnace, the same area where the police dog tracked Dales scent. There was also a shot of the intruder wheeling a large bag through the plant on a manual forklift. It was soon discovered that $250,000 worth of platinum lining had been stolen from the furnace."
On the surface, it appeared as though the intruder had forced Dale to escort him to the area where the platinum was stored, and that the intruder had subsequently murdered Dale and disposed of his body.
However, it wasn't so simple.
Cornings management believed that Dale was actually involved in the theft.
If you'll remember: as Dale was being escorted out of the plant, he looked directly at the security camera. Some interpreters took this as a signal for help. Corning believed that Dale was taunting him about his crime. A crime that was perhaps motivated by Dale's financial issues at the time, partly due to his recent cut in salary. According to Robinwarder1,
"Dale was in debt and unhappy that his employer had cut his pay and given him a security position, so Corning believed Dale willingly escorted the intruder to the furnace, helped him steal the platinum, and then skipped town with his share of the profits."
Dales family didn't believe he would do anything illegal, or abandon his children. They believe that he was an innocent victim of the crime.
So what was the truth?
Nobody knows. Dale Kerstetter has been missing, (without a single trace), for nearly 30 years.
This mystery has been coined by many as the "American Dyatlov Pass", and with good reason. The mystery is heartbreaking, full of twists and turns, with many questions left unanswered.
According to the Washington Post:
"Two hours before midnight last Feb. 24, when the basketball game ended at the California State University at Chico, five young men from the flatlands 50 miles to the south climbed into a turquoise and white 1969 Mercury Montego and drove out of the parking lot. They were fans of the visiting team, which had won. They stopped three blocks away at Behr's Market, mildly annoying the clerk (who was trying to close up), and bought one Hostess cherry pie, one Langendorf lemon pie, one Snickers bar, one Marathon bar, two Pepsis and a quart and a half of milk.
Then they walked out of the store, got back in their car, drove south out of Chico and disappeared."
The next day, the boys' families discovered that all the boys had not come home that night. Phone calls ran from ear-to-ear of each concerned parent. All five friends had vanished. At 8 that evening, Mrs. Madruga called the police.
As for the young men? They had never done something like that before. According to reports, these were some key details:
- The five men were: Theodore Earl Weiher, Jackie Charles Huett, Jack Antone Madruga, William Lee Sterling, and Gary Dale Mathias.
- Huett, the youngest, was 24 years old.
- Three of the five of them had been diagnosed with developmental delays.
- Mathias, (not included in the three above), was undiagnosed, but was generally regarded by his family as developmentally delayed. They described him as "slow".
- One of the three males with diagnosed developmental delays was medicated for schizophrenia, a psychotic break that first appeared five years ago and that, according to his doctor, had not resurfaced for the past two years.
On February 25th, the day after their disappearance, the men were supposed to play a basketball game, as part of a tournament. According to the Washington Post:
"Saturday came and went and no word came. The police began to take interest. On Tuesday, Feb. 28, they found Madruga's Mercury, and from that day on nothing they found, nothing anybody told them, seemed to make any sense.
The car was 70 miles from Chico, on a deserted and rut-ravaged mountain road. It had stopped at the snow line, and although its tires had apparently spun, the car was not really stuck; five men easily could have pushed it free. The gas tank was a quarter full. Four maps, including one of California, lay neatly folded in the glove compartment. The keys were gone, but when police hot-wired the car the engine started immediately.
Both seats were littered with the wrappers of the food bought at Behr's. Everything had been eaten except the Marathon bar, which was half gone.
And the car's underside was undamaged. This heavy American car, with a low-hanging muffler and presumably with five full-grown men inside, had wound up a stretch of tortuously bumpy mountain road - apparently in total darkness - without a gouge or dent or thick mudstain to show for it. The driver had either used astonishing care and precision, the investigators figured, or else he knew the road well enough to anticipate every rut.
The families say only Madruga drove that car, ever. And the families say Madruga, who disliked camping and hated the cold, did not know that road."
As far as anyone could tell, none of the young men knew the road. It was incredibly uncharacteristic of them to go out there, too. With the exception of Mathias, who occasionally stayed over at a friend's house, the other four men led lives that were predictably routinized. Nobody could understand why they might have done something like this.
After they found the car, the scene was searched. However, it made it increasingly difficult that, on the day the car was discovered, nine inches of snow coated the ground on the upper mountain. Despite this, one would think that it wouldn't be difficult to find at least one trace of the missing men. However, not a single sign could be found. Until...
On June 4th, a small group of Sunday motorcyclists were in a deserted forest service trailer camp at the end of the road, when they found Ted Weiher, one of the men who had disappeared, stretched out on a bed inside a 60-foot trailer. He had frozen to death.
According to reports:
"Eight sheets had been pulled over his body and tucked around his head. His leather shoes were off, and missing. A table by the bed held his nickel ring with "Ted" engraved on it, his gold necklace, his wallet (with cash inside.) and a gold Waltham watch, its crystal missing, which the families say had not belonged to any of the five men."
There was evidence that Weiher had not died right away, either. At the time he left his town in February, he was 5'11, 200 pounds. By the time he found him, Weiher had lost 80 to 100 pounds, his feet were badly frostbitten, and the growth of beard on his face showed that he had lived from anywhere between 8-13 weeks past the day he disappeared.
He was 19.4 miles from the car.
The details of this case, which are still unravelling, continue to get increasingly bizarre:
According to Cynthia Gorney, of the Washington Post:
"The trailer had been broken into through a window. No fire had been built although matches were lying around and there were paperback novels and wood furniture that would have burned easily. More than a dozen C-ration cans from an outside storage shed had been opened and emptied - one had been opened with an Army P38 can opener, which only Madruga and Mathias who had served in the Army, probably knew how to use - but no one had opened a locker in the same shed containing enough dehydrated Mexican dinners and fruit cocktails and assorted other meals to keep all five alive for a year.
Yuba County Lt. Lance Ayers said, "All they had to do was turn that gas on, and they'd have had gas to the trailer, and heat."
Leads were coming in from all parts of the country. The boys had been seen in Ontario; Tampa; entering a movie theater in Sacramento accompanied by an older man; kidnapped to Arizona and Nevada; murdered in Oroville, in a two-story red house, brick or stained wood, with a gravel driveway and the number 4723 or 4753.
None of the stories added up.
There were other stories, too.
Joseph Shones, 55, told police he had driven his Volkswagen bug up the same road as the men had, on the same evening the boys had disappeared. He had been checking the snow line at the time, because he wanted to bring his wife and daughter up that weekend. "His car got stuck in the snow just above the snow line - about 50 yards beyond the place where the Mercury would be found - and as Shones was trying to free his car, he said, he had a heart attack," which doctors later confirmed was true.
According to the Washington Post report:
"Shones lay in the car with engine on and the car heater going, he said. Sometime in the night, he heard what he described as whistling noises a little way down the road, and he got out of his car. What he saw looked like a group of men and a woman with a baby, he said, walking in the glare of a vehicle's headlights. He thought he heard them talking. Shones said he yelled for help, but the headlights went out, and the talking stopped.
Shones got back into his car and lay down again, he said. Sometime later, maybe a couple of hours, he saw lights outside his car window - flashlight beams, he said. Again he called for help. The lights went out and whoever was out there went away. Shones said he lay in the car until it ran out of gas, and then while it was still dark he walked back eight miles to the lodge called Mountain House, where he had stopped for a drink before heading up the road. Just below his Volkswagen, in the place where he had heard the voices, he passed the Mercury Montego sitting empty in the middle of the road."
Within a day of finding Weiher's body, investigators also found the remains of Madruga and Sterling, on opposite sides of the road to the trailer, 11.4 miles from the car.
Both bodies had taken dematerialized a lot over the Winter season.
According to reports, "Madruga had been partially eaten by animals and dragged about 10 feet to a stream: he lay face up, his right hand curled around his watch. Sterling was in a wooded area, scattered over about 50 feet. There was nothing left of him but bones."
Two days after that, off the same road, Jackie Huett's backbone was discovered, along with a few other bones, and pieces of Jackie's clothing. An assistant sheriff from Plumas County found Huett's skull the next day, about 100 yards downhill from the rest of the bones.
They found no sign of Gary Mathias, other than his tennis shoes, which were found inside the forest service trailer. It was suggested that he had perhaps taken them off to put on Weiher's leather shoes instead. That was all they had.
John Thompson, a special agent from the California Department of Justice, who joined the investigation, described the case as, "Bizarre. And no explanations. And a thousand leads. Every day you've got a thousand leads."
It has been decades since the disappearance of Paula Jean Welden, but the details surrounding the case remain just as chilling as the day she vanished without a trace.
Weldon was studying at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, in the fall of 1946. On December 1st, she tole her roommate that she was "through with studies; I'm taking a long walk".
There was no indication that Welden had planned to be out for long she had only dressed in a red parka coat, blue jeans, and a few other casual accessories.
According to coldcasejustice:
"She was supposed to walk part of Vermonts Long Trail. Danny Fager, who owned a gas station near the college gates, said he spotted Paula. He said he had seen her run up then down the side of the gravel pit near the entrance of the college around 2:45 P.M.15 minutes late, Louis Knapp claimed to have picked up a young girl matching Paulas description on Route 67A and let her out on Route 9, near the Long Trail. Just after 4 P.M., she was spotted by several people in Bickford Hollow, seemingly headed toward the trail."
Welden didn't come home that night. She didn't come home the next morning, either. Welden's roommate grew worried, and contacted the College President, who then contacted Welden's parents to ask if she had, perhaps on a whim, gone home for a weekend.
Both parents were feverishly worried. Welden's father immediately organized a massive search party, but nothing turned up. That's when the New York and Connecticut state police forces were brought in.
According to coldcasejustice:
"Days passed and Paula was still missing. Then, a waitress in Fall River, Massaschusetts claimed to have served dinner to a disturbed women fitting Paulas description. Strangely, after hearing this, Mr. Welden vanished for 36 hours. After his return, people began to suspect that he had something to do with his daughters disappearance. It came to light that Mr. Welden did not approve of a boy Paula had been seeing. He claimed this boyfriend had to be the responsible party, but his only proof came from a clairvoyant. He then began to trash the police for their lack of professionalism and lack of records. Mr. Welden soon returned to his home in Stamford."
Unfortunately, poor weather got in the way of the search for Paula, and nobody found anything.
Nine years later, a lumberjack contacted authorities to say that he knew where the body was buried. After questioning, he eventually said that he was making it up for publicity.
In 1968, a skeleton was found. It was later determined that it was far too old to be Paula.
Several theories have developed as to what happened to Paula on that day in December. Perhaps she got lost in the woods and died in the cold. Was she wrapped into the "Bennington Triangle" a case in which 5 people vanished between 1945 and 1950. Was there someone else involved?
In the more than fifty years since the case has opened, it seems less and less likely that we will ever know what happened to Paula Jean Welden.