National Parks are known for their natural beauty, encompassing more than 80 million acres across the United States. They’re a popular destination for hikers and travelers, with more than 84 million visitors in 2017 alone. Unfortunately some of those visitors never return home. Here’s a look at 5 people who went missing in National Parks.
Name: Cian McLaughlin
Age: 27 years old
Last seen: June 8, 2021
Location: Moose, Wyoming/Grand Teton National Park
Status: Still missing
27 year old Cian McLaughlin went missing in Grand Teton National Park on June 8, 2021. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Cian held dual citizenship and was living and working as a snowboard instructor in Jackson, Wyoming at the time of his disappearance.
Described by friends and family as easy going and friendly, Cian loved the outdoors and was a trained musician. On the morning of his disappearance he texted friends, attempted to facetime with his mother in Ireland, and appeared to be in good spirits.
Cian McLaughlin was last seen in Grand Teton National Park on June 8, 2021.
Potential sightings of Cian on that day were on the trail system that leads towards Garnet Canyon, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, and Delta Lake.
Cian failed to turn up for work on June 10, where he worked as a snowboard instructor in Jackson Hole, and was reported missing late in the evening of June 12.
Security footage shows Cian entering Grand Teton National Park through the Moose Entrance station on June 8 at 2:15 pm.
The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center was notified of his disappearance at 7:00 am on the morning of June 13. His vehicle was found later that morning, parked at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead located within Grand Teton National Park.
Woman Fined For Providing False Information in McLaughlin Search
Additional searches near Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake were conducted after the woman came forward, but no new clues or evidence as to Cian’s whereabouts were located.
The woman was later charged for knowingly providing false information, banned from the park for five years, and ordered to pay $17,600 in restitution. Over 500 hours were spent conducting searches near Taggart Lake based on the false information she provided.
The location of Cian McLaughin, and the circumstances regarding his disappearance, remains unknown.
The National Park Service says no new information has been found regarding his disappearance, and continues to appeal for the public’s assistance in the case. His case remains unsolved.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Cian McLaughlin please contact the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch at (888) 653-0009.
Name: Jacob Michael Olivier
Age: 23 years old
Last seen: August 24, 2011
Location: Homestead, Florida
Status: Still missing
23 year old Jacob Olivier was last seen entering the Everglades National Park on August 24, 2011. His car was found abandoned three days later, parked at the Pine Glades Lake trailhead in Homestead, Florida. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
On August 27, 2011, Jacob’s abandoned vehicle was found by Everglades National Park rangers.
The vehicle, a green 1998 Isuzu Hombre pickup truck with Texas license plate #ADG3707, appeared to have been parked there for a few days, and was located in a parking lot by Pine Glades Lake in Homestead, Florida.
A receipt inside the vehicle showed that Jacob entered the park on August 24, and surveillance video showed him entering alone at 1:00 pm that afternoon.
Rangers also found an empty pistol case and a box of bullets with several missing inside the truck. The last ping from his cell phone was at 4:45 pm.
Jacob lived in the city of Spring, Texas at the time of his disappearance, and worked as a mechanic in a shop in Conroe. He didn’t have any known friends or relatives in Florida.
His family was unaware that he was in Florida until they were notified by park rangers on August 30 that his truck had been found abandoned.
A search of the area was conducted by park rangers and police officers using canines and helicopters.
The search was called off in September after a week without any evidence as to his whereabouts being found. The canines used in the search only found Jacob’s scent near the abandoned truck, leading investigators to believe he may have left the park in another vehicle or on foot.
His family says it’s uncharacteristic of Jacob to go without contacting them for this long. According to his family he had recently completed a drug rehabilitation program and seemed to be doing well. There was no evidence of drugs found inside his vehicle.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Jacob Olivier please contact the Everglades National Park dispatch service at (305) 242-7740.
Name: Laura Ann Bradbury
Age: 3 years old
Last seen: October 18, 1984
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California
Status: Found deceased
3 year old Laura Bradbury was last seen in California’s Joshua Tree National Park on October 18, 1984.
The three and a half year old disappeared from her family’s campsite at the Indian Cove Campground, and hasn’t been seen since.
Laura Bradbury was born in 1981 to parents Patty and Michael. Her parents married in 1969, and moved from Alaska to Orange County, California in the late 70s.
Laura had two siblings, Travis and Emily, and in 1984 the family of five was living in a two bedroom condominium in Huntington Beach. Joshua Tree park offered a nice break for the family, so they visited often.
On October 18, 1984, three and a half year old Laura Bradbury was on a camping trip with her family in the Joshua Tree National Park.
They were staying at the Indian Cove Campground, and were regular visitors to the park.
Laura accompanied her 8 year old brother Travis to the portable restrooms near the campground. She waited outside while he used the restroom. When he came back out, she was gone.
Authorities suspected Laura had been abducted. Over 250 people, including horses and helicopters, searched for Laura in the park.
A bloodhound followed what appeared to be Laura’s footprints for about two miles before losing the scent.
Witnesses claimed to have seen a man in his fifties in a blue van at the campground before Laura disappeared. A similar van was spotted near Burns Canyon a few hours after her disappearance.
The search for Laura made national headlines, and she was one of the first children to be featured on milk cartons.
The official search was called off after three days.
Within weeks of Laura’s disappearance, Mike and Patty created the Laura Center in Orange County, a nonprofit organization that mailed fliers and held regular news conferences.
Skull Found in 1986
In 1986, two years after she vanished, a skull believed to be Laura’s was found by hikers near the parks west entrance, only a few miles from the family’s campsite.
At the time DNA tests were unable to conclusively identify the skull as hers.
In 1990 new DNA tests were used, and identified the skull as belonging to Laura Bradbury with 99% accuracy.
The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office has not issued a death certificate. Laura’s cause of death remains unknown.
Her father has been trying to get the skull transferred to a mortuary since 2009, but because they haven’t issued a death certificate he has been unable to claim her remains.
No arrests have been made in connection to Laura’s disappearance, and her case remains unsolved.
In 1990 the family sold their condo in Huntington Beach and moved with their two children to a home in Grass Valley.
Laura’s mother Patty died on September 5, 2001.
Her father Michael wrote a book about her disappearance called “Laura Ann Bradbury: A Father’s Search” in 2010.
Name: James Randall Morgenson
Age: 54 years old
Last seen: July 21, 1996
Location: Fresno, California
Status: Found deceased July 2001
54-year-old Randy Morgenson was last seen in Fresno, California on July 21, 1996.
The backcountry ranger disappeared while on a four day routine patrol in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.
At the time of his disappearance, Morgenson had served with the National Park Service for 27 years. He was a seasonal backcountry ranger at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, and was considered the most senior ranger in the High Sierra, California.
Around the start of the 1996 season, Morgenson received divorce papers from his wife of twenty years, Judi. He recently had an affair with a fellow ranger, and this was the consequence.
On July 21, 1996, Morgenson walked away from his remote outpost station, two miles east of Bench Lake, leaving for a routine patrol. He left a note saying he would be away for three or four days.
Morgenson never returned, and has not been heard from again.
On July 24, 1996, he was reported missing by fellow rangers when he failed to check in with dispatch at the regular time following the first day of the patrol.
Nearly 100 rescue personnel conducted an extensive search for Morgenson in an eighty square-mile radius of Bench Lake Basin with helicopters scanning from above, and trained dogs sniffing the ground. After seven days of searching, no signs of Morgenson were found.
On the day of his disappearance, two hikers witnessed Morgenson on the John Muir Trail. He was reportedly in good spirits and even encouraged them to continue their trek over the next daunting pass.
Some speculated Morgenson left the park to start a new life, but bank records showed no withdrawals and his credit cards were unused. Morgenson had recently separated from his wife in Arizona, and the trauma in his life may have had an effect on his state of mind.
Morgenson’s car was also found where he had parked it. His service revolver, a .357 magnum, was found locked in a drawer in his cabin.
Skeletal remains found near a creek in the Window Peak drainage
In July 2001, skeletal remains were discovered in a remote trailless area along a creek northeast of Window Peak drainage within Kings Canyon National Park. Dental records positively identified the remains to be that of Randy Morgenson.
Rangers also discovered a tattered shirt with Morgenson’s badge and name tag, a backpack, and a boot with a leg bone protruding from it. A functioning, park-issued radio was discovered resting on top of the falls.
The investigation indicated that he likely fell through a snow drift and broke his leg while crossing a creek, dying of associated injuries and hypothermia. His remains were then washed down the creek into a small cascade where they were hidden in the rocks for years.
Name: Amy Joy Wroe Bechtel
Age: 24 years old
Last seen: July 24, 1997
Location: Lander, Wyoming
Status: Still missing. Declared legally dead in 2004.
24-year-old Amy Bechtel was last seen in Lander, Wyoming on July 24, 1997.
She disappeared while jogging in the Wind River Mountains of the Shoshone National Forest, approximately 15 miles south of Lander.
Amy Wroe Bechtel was born on August 4, 1972 in Santa Barbara, California to parents Duane and JoAnne Wroe. Amy is the youngest of four siblings, and the family moved to Jackson, Wyoming, where she grew up.
Amy graduated from the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 1995 with a degree in exercise physiology. She was captain of the UW cross-country and track team, and would continue to compete in both regional and national competitions after college.
Amy met her husband, Steve Bechtel, during college in December 1991, and they got married in 1996 after living together for three years.
In January of 1996, they moved to Lander, Wyoming because its rugged terrain made it a perfect place for cross country and rock climbing. The couple bought a house three days before her disappearance.
Amy and her husband worked part time at Wild Iris Mountain Sports, a local outdoor equipment store. She also waited tables at the Sweetwater Grill, and taught a youth weight-lifting class at Wind River Fitness Center.
On the morning of July 24, 1997, Amy left home around 9:30 am and told her husband Steve she would be running several errands in town after finishing her shift at Wind River Fitness Center.
Around 2:30 pm, Amy stopped in at Camera Connection in downtown Lander, a local photo shop. She asked the shop’s owner about several photographs she planned to submit to the Sinks Canyon Photo Contest. She seemed as if she was in a hurry, repeatedly looking at her watch during their conversation.
Around 4:30 pm, Steve returned home to find their house empty after having spent the afternoon with a friend. Amy never made it back home, and has never been heard from again.
Steve reported his wife missing to the Fremont County Sheriff’s office at 10:30 pm that evening.
On the morning of July 25, 1997, Amy Bechtel’s white Toyota Tercel wagon was found abandoned on the Burnt Gulch Road turnoff, up in the Wind River Mountains near Shoshone National Park.
The car was unlocked, and the keys were found under her to-do list sitting next to her sunglasses on the seat of the vehicle, but her green Eagle Creek wallet was missing.
Authorities believed that Bechtel drove to the Shoshone National Forest after leaving the photo shop to prepare for an upcoming 10 km hill climb sponsored by the fitness club and scheduled for September 7th.
A couple who were driving along Loop Road witnessed a blonde woman running toward Burnt Gulch near Frye Lake around 5 pm the day she went missing. She was described as wearing black shorts similar to those Amy had worn earlier that day, with a light-colored singlet tank top and a fanny pack.
Investigators didn’t initially suspect foul play, and believed Amy Bechtel had fallen victim to the elementsm or potentially been attacked by a bear or mountain lion.
Investigators interviewed Amy’s husband Steve who provided an alibi for the time of his wife’s disappearance. It was corroborated by a friend, who confirmed they had spent the afternoon rock climbing together near Dubois, 70 miles from Lander.
During a search of their home, authorities uncovered several journals of Steve’s from high school that included song lyrics and poems seemingly describing violence, power and death.
On August 1, 1997, Steve cut short an interview with the FBI after an agent claiming to have evidence proving the murder, accused him of killing his wife. He refused to submit to a polygraph test, but authorities stated that he was not a central suspect in the case.
Dale Wayne Eaton had also been named a suspect in Amy’s disappearance. He was convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Lisa Marie Kimmell in the Lil’ Miss case.
His brother told investigators that Eaton was in the Lander area at the time Amy Wroe Bechtel vanished. He had reportedly been camping in the Burnt Gulch area, where Amy’s car was found.
Eaton refused to discuss the case, and has not been charged in connection to her disappearance. His death sentence was been overturned by a district judge, and he has been serving a life sentence in prison since November 2014.
In June 2003, a watch similar to the one Amy owned was found by a hiker in the middle fork of the Popo Agie River. Police have not been able to determine if the watch indeed belonged to her
Police found no evidence, means or motive for foul play in Amy Wroe Bechtel’s disappearance.
She has never been located, and was declared dead in absentia by her husband in 2004. Steve Bechtel has since remarried with two children and still lives in Lander.
The circumstances of Amy Wroe Bechtel’s disappearance remain unclear, and her case is currently classified as endangered and missing. Her case remains unsolved.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Amy Bechtel please contact the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office (307) 332-5611 or call Crime Stoppers at (800) 442-8477.