David Paulides brought the world’s attention to the mysterious disappearances (and sometimes even stranger reappearances) of visitors to America’s national parks. While he has listed these in great detail he has yet to provide a reasonable conclusion for them. Over the years, I have discovered that unusual occurrences are not limited geographically, but often there are striking similarities across the world. Unexplained disappearances are a case in point.
There have been many people, some famous, who have suddenly and inexplicably vanished over the years. Of course, crime could be a major factor in some, and accidents in others. Some disappeared without giving any hint as to what happened to them while others created even more of an enigma with their last words. Frederick Valentich told Melbourne air traffic control – “It’s hovering, and it’s not an aircraft” while the lost colonists of Roanoke carved “CROATOAN” on a gate post and “CRO” on a tree. Sometimes, whole communities disappear, even leaving their last meals laid out: the Inuit villagers at Lake Anjikuni, the crew of the Marie Celeste, the Cowden family camping in Oregon, or the lighthouse keepers of Eilean Mor.
Some disappearances are even ironic – the famed writer Ambrose Bierce investigated the strange disappearance of Orion Williamson and then subsequently disappeared himself.
The most famous region for unexplained disappearances is obviously the Bermuda Triangle, but there is also the Bennington Triangle in Vermont and the Devil’s Teeth region around Mount Mezenc, France. The Carpathian Mountains of Central and Eastern Europe have several regions where people have been known to disappear: Romania’s Hoia-Baciu forest has been well televised, and the Tatra Mountains see people go missing several times a year, but there is also an area in west-central Slovakia known locally as the Tríbečska Triangle.
Close to the ruined 13th Century Gymes castle, Hrusov castle and the infamous Black castle, Tríbeč is a region in the hilly and forested Fatra-Tatra range. It is an area where people enter but sometimes don’t come out.
47-year old forester Adam Samasly regularly went into the woods to conduct surveys. In the winter of 1929, despite an intense police investigation, he simply vanished.
One year later, in 1930, again in winter, 18 year old Maria Švajzerová was sent by her mother to go from her village to another village close by, bringing food. She disappeared. Again, there was a large manhunt organised by the police but Maria was never found. Very Little Red Riding Hood…
In 1934, a quarry worker (who police records show as Andrej Murgaš) finished his day’s work and began walking back home to his village. He was never seen again.
In 1939, again in winter, Walter Fischer, a Bata shoe factory worker, set off on a walk up to the Black Castle ruins. He disappeared, and then was found 3 months later lying unconscious in the forests surrounding Zlate Moravce. His body was covered in burns. Sadly, he could never remember anything from his experience and it appears that he had lost the ability to communicate. He died in a mental hospital. Despite a police investigation, no explanation was ever provided.
In 1966, a car with Bratislava (the capital city) number plates was found abandoned outside a village in Tríbeč. It belonged to husband and wife Jan and Alena Belanovič. The car doors were open but there was no trace of them. Again, there was a search and an investigation but, to this day, they remain missing.
Widower Antonín Topil was an old recluse who kept to himself in his village, so his disappearance wasn’t recorded until the postwoman couldn’t reach him to deliver a message. In 1980, the police began a manhunt after discovering his house to be empty. He was known for taking long walks in the forest. In 1991 his house was torn down as he was presumed dead and had no descendants.
In 1995, two police men driving around came across a BMW that looked as though it had been abandoned at the side of the road. The number plate showed it to be registered to a Ján Šala. The car door was unlocked and, inside, the police found several thousand dollars worth of cash. They waited for 2 hours for the driver to return, which he didn’t, and then began a criminal investigation. Ján Šala has never been found.
The disappearances continue to this day, which eliminates the possibility of a serial killer. In June 2012, Jaroslav (surname unknown), from the village of Žirany, disappeared while hunting for mushrooms in the forest. Even after a large manhunt and search he still remains missing.
There are others associated with this dark forest mystery. A strange Moravian man in World War 2, who was surviving in the forest by foraging, offered himself to hungry villagers as food. And then there was the secret agent who disappeared in the forest in 1954…
Like the Bermuda Triangle, there are many theories but no conclusive answers. Without bodies, there never will be. And, even when they do find a body, such as with Walter Fischer, it just leads to more questions.
The forests of the Carpathians are beautiful and magical and are well worth visiting. So magical, in fact, that you might never leave…