Saturday, December 19, 2015

Unsolved Murders: The Vermont Long Trail Disappearences


            There has long been a rumor that in the late 1940s a serial killer stalked the Long Trail in Vermont. And it is indisputable that between 1945 and 1950 at least 7 people vanished in the area, with only one corpse found. The Long Trail is a hiking route that runs for 272 miles, the entire length of the state. A long distance, but still small enough to be the roaming grounds for a serial killer.
            Middie Rivers, a 75 year old deer hunter, was the first to go. On November 12th, 1945, he went out, guiding a group of four hunters up the mountains as he knew the terrain well. On the way back Rivers got ahead of the rest of the group and was never seen again. A hunt by the state police, Boy Scouts, and locals could not locate him.
Paula Welden
            The second disappearance was college student Paula Welden who, on December 1st 1946, told her roommate that she was going for a walk. The last person to see her was a watchman at the local paper who directed her to the trail. A manhunt again revealed nothing, but rumors circulated of her moving to Canada with her boyfriend (this was proved false by the police) or living as a recluse up in the mountains.
            The third victim was James Tedford who disappeared after getting off a Greyhound bus to grab a quick dinner, in 1949. No one noticed when the bus took off without him. His disappearance was only brought to light when other passengers saw that his luggage was still there and an open bus timetable still lay on his seat. He was never spotted again.
            The fourth person to vanish was eight-year-old Paul Jepson. On October 12, 1950, Jepson had accompanied his mother in a truck. She left her son unattended while she fed some pigs. When she returned the boy was nowhere in sight. Search parties were formed to look for the child. Nothing was ever found. According to one story, bloodhounds tracked the boy to a local highway, where, according to local legend, four years earlier Paula Welden had disappeared.

Frieda Langer
 Fifth was Frieda Langer who was camping with her husband on the Long Trail. After accidently falling into a creek while on a hike, she decided to head back to camp for some dry clothes. She disappeared. It wasn’t until months later that her mummified remains were stumbled upon by some hikers. Unfortunately due to various scavenging animals, the exact cause of her death could not be determined. But at least her family had something to bury, unlike all of the others.
When Martha Jones disappeared next on November 6th, 1950, she was thought to have run off with her boyfriend in Virginia, like the rumors surrounding Paula Welden, but this was disproven. Once again a massive manhunt by the state police and locals found no trace of her.
The last victim of this potential killer was Francis Christman who, on December 3rd, 1950, vanished while walking to a friend’s house, located half a mile away. Her remains as ususal were never recovered. It is speculated that she may have accepted a ride with the wrong person, as the night was bitterly cold.
Just like Dr. Who
It has been disputed whether these deaths are connected. There have been “theories” (to misuse the word) running the gauntlet from it being coincidence, to a serial killer, to alien abductions, to a vortex sucking people into another dimension. The truth, for those who care about more than a good story, will ultimately never be known.