Friday, April 4, 2008

The Northeast Kingdom Triangle and The Fateful Date of December 11th

Between 1945 and 1955, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was the site of several completely unexplained disappearances. Strangely all such disappearance occurred on December 11th. Among some of these disappearances:

* On December 11, 1949, Mr. Jephet Tetford, a 55 year old bachelor pig farmer from Lower Cabot, vanished from a crowded bus full of religious enthusiasts on their way to a revival at Cabot's Reformed United Second Church of Christ . Before being picked up by the bus, Tetford had been on his way home on foot from a neighbor’s home. Tetford had spent the morning playing some cards with his neighbor who helped Tetford map out the logistics for a blind date his host had scheduled for him in the coming weeks. Tetford had with him a canvas bag in which he carried some proposed clothing for the date along with some self-help books on building lasting relationships. As the bus approached the sweaty farmer trudging along on the dusty rural Route 21A, the odds of the farmer being offered a ride were low. The driver of the bus, Henry Wallace, was off schedule. He was due to be in Lower Cabot in less than forty minutes. To make time, Wallace kept the accelerator firmly pressed to the floor. Moreover, while Wallace steered the rickety, converted school bus with one hand, Wallace used the other hand to hover over the horn on the ready for any sluggards clogging the sole northbound lane. Wallace had no plans to lift his foot off the accelerator whether for crossing wildlife or roadside pick-ups. If left to his discretion, Wallace would have passed the farmer, giving him only a good last second honk to make sure the farmer bandy-stepped off the main road onto the grassy roadside. However, at the insistence of the Christ-like passengers, who battered Wallace’s head with their floppy, paperback bibles, the bus was stopped and a good deed was reluctantly done. On the bus was 14 passengers. They all testified to seeing Tetford enter the bus, and give thanks to Wallace. Wallace grunted at Tetford, and thumbed him to the back of the bus. The passengers saw Tetford pass by and then take a seat near the rear of the bus. Each gave him a Christian greeting as he passed. Unbeknownst to the Christians on the bus, Tetford was something of the village atheist in lower Cabot. However, he had good manners and he returned their greetings with similar sentiments of Christian based cheer. Within minutes, Tetford propped his mud-caked boots on an empty seat, and was soon asleep. All of the passengers, who had gawked somewhat at their subject of Christian charity, turned face forward and began quietly reading to themselves from their bibles. When the bus finally reached its destination over an hour late, Tetford was gone. First to notice the disappearance was Wallace. Wallace was livid that he had failed to arrive on time. He was about to let the passengers have a strong lecture on the consequences of stopping to pick up non-paying, road-side stragglers when he noticed the principal source of his wrath was missing. Although Tetford’s belongings were still on the luggage rack and the crumbs of dried, brown dirt from his mud-caked boots lay on the empty seat upon which he had propped his feet, Tetford himself was gone. His disappearance caused somewhat of a religious hysteria on the bus. One of the riders suggested that Tetford had been translated Enoch like whilst in their midst. Some of the passengers took this statement to mean the farmer actually had been Enoch, only come disguised as a poor farmer to test their Christian mettle. Another of the enthusiasts wondered loudly whether the farmer had been Christ himself. Suddenly this person became certain of the idea, and he fell to his knees, babbling in tongues. Two others soon joined him. Bus driver Wallace was only able to contain the increasing hysteria by pressing on the horn until its loud squawk caused ears to ring, and all talking of any type to cease. Tetford’s family soon appeared and discounted these stories, noting that their relative was a mere man with calloused hands, perpetually weathered face, with more than his fair share of human frailties. Despite a sizable search and reward, Tetford has never been found.

* On December 11, 1950, an 19-year-old Taiwan-American art student named Paulette Wu vanished while hiking the Maple Trail into Glastonbury Mountain. She was seen by a middle-aged couple named Ben And Janis Points who had been strolling about 100 yards behind her. Before passing the couple, Wu had an extended conversation with the couple regarding her plans to study physics at MIT and then pursue a second degree in the law at Harvard. The couple thought the conversation unusual in that Wu admitted that she was a high school drop out without any means to pay for such an education. However, the chirpy and high spirited personality of Wu made it seem that anything might be possible for her. Mr. Points noted to her that he had a cousin who had graduated from MIT about 20 years back, and he suggested that maybe the cousin had continuing contacts with the institution which would be of help to her. Wu accepted the offer, and wrote her name and address on a scrap of paper so the cousin could contact her. On the paper, Wu had playfully scrawled beneath her name and address a cartoonist dome shaped UFO with the caption: “Beware: They’re real you know!” The dot to the exclamation mark was heart shaped. The couple hid their bemusement at this eccentric message. They gave a mild smile to the message. They weren't sure what to make of it as they had not been speaking of UFOs. Rather than engage Wu in an explanation, they decided to let her move on. She began walking at a quick pace but still she remained within their vision for quite a period. She was not an unattractive girl and the couple noted how cutely her black ponytail bounced off the bottom of her neck as she took exaggeratedly long strides which caused her body to go up and down like a slow operating piston. At this point they noted that she was not wearing socks, and the exposed top of her heels were red and bleeding from the rough edge of her sneaker riding over the exposed skin. In fact she was bleeding enough that the edge of the sneakers were a grotesque dark red. Mr. Points was about to call out to her to see if she needed medical attention.. But they lost sight of her when she followed the trail around a rocky outcropping known locally as Coolidge’s Profile. When the Points rounded the outcropping themselves, she was nowhere to be seen. The pen that she had used was in the middle of the trail. It was stabbed like a knife into the rocky soil. That pen was the only evidence that she had stayed on the trial past the rocky outcropping. The couple looked to both sides of the trail. While this area was heavily wooded, visibility was good due to the lack of foliage. Despite having a reasonably good view of both sides of the trail, they saw nothing. Police were ultimately called and searched for the girl. Her parents who lived in Worcester Massachusetts came and stayed a month helping in the search. They were impoverish and both were badly disabled: the mother by MS; the father by crippling spinal degeneration. Despite an extended effort, their sole child was never found. Sadly, her heart broken parents committed suicide soon after. Authorities blamed their lingering illnesses and extreme depression brought on by the loss of their child. Wu has not been seen nor heard from since.

* On December 11, 1953, 13-year old local resident John Maguire disappeared while visiting a neighbor’s Cabot farm. There is a saying that the typical Vermont boy is one part sweet Maple syrup, and nine parts tart apple cider. If so, John Maguire was a typical Vermont boy. Full of energy and active from the moment the sun snuck a ray pass the imposing Green Mountains to when it set over the mirror surface of ever-placid Lake George, John was a handful. His disappearance was state-wide news. On the day of Joey’s disappearance, John’s mother, Amanda, had taken John along on a visit to a neighboring pig farmer. The farmer was, Franklin Pierce, Jr., a retired State Senator. Pierce was partially blind and deaf and so for the past few years John’s mother would occasionally assist him. However on the day of John’s disappearance, the visit was purely social. Despite having been a state senator for close to thirty years, Peirce was extremely poor. He lived on a rusted second hand mobile home borrowed from his cousin. The home was precariously set on cement blocks and discarded imperfect granite stones. Set around the home were self-built shacks which Peirce used to store his limited farm equipment and house some of his small animals. Upon arrival at this humble farm, the mother went indoors. John, as was his nature, refused to go in. Like most Vermont boys, he loved the outdoors year round and in all weather. To keep an eye on her “Johnny”, the mother and her friend sat at a Formica table set by a window looking over where John played. According to the mother, at first John amused himself by smashing some large rocks against the farmer’s small concrete front walkway. After a few minutes of this, John picked up a small fallen branch. He tore off its few red-black dead leaves. With a penknife he carved a sharp point. The mother knew from past experience that John was likely planning to go poke the pigs. Despite that John had now walked out of her sight, the mother still felt comfortable about his whereabouts: from the noisy commotion now coming from the pig sty, she knew where and how he was occupying himself. After forty minutes it became suddenly quiet. The mother did not think it eerie. After being a whirlwind of energy, John often would suddenly run short. At such times, he would find the nearest fence post, tree stump or set of steps to sit and lean against to take a quick nap. The mother and her friend walked outside to check on John. Down at the pig sty John was nowhere to be found. There were smudged, ill-defined muddy footprints on the top of the soggy grass. John had evidently walked towards a nearby grassy field to go and poke at the friend’s horses. The mother noticed that in his wake, Joey had wrenched off metal strips on fence posts along the way. Standing at the fenced horses’ pasture, the mother saw something or someone bunched up like a ball and lying on the ground in the field near the horses. The tall grass obscured her view. Her friend, near sightless, was no assistance. She climbed over the fence and treaded through the ankle high grass towards the object. The closer she got to the area, the more the grass seemed to obscure her view. Her line of sight was repeatedly cut off by the horses which circled his object.. The closer she approached, the more the object/mound/person diminished as if it was being absorbed by the earth. Ultimately, just as she came upon the site, the horses ran off. Looking down, there was nothing but wet grass beaten down in a half moon shape. The outline of a young child, in a fetal position she later claimed.. The mother started screaming. Within the hour, local police searched the farm . Nothing was found. Within a week, flyers were posted, volunteers walked fields, rivers and lakes were dragged. No John. There was even a three part article on the disappearance in the Cabot Ledger. Still there were no leads. Despite the unusual circumstances of his disappearance, after a while, people soon forgot about John. After four years, the mother moved out of state, becoming a teacher’s assistant in Nashua, New Hampshire. She returned once more in 1967, perhaps grayer than could be blamed by the passing years. She helped dedicate the John Maguire Memorial baseball field for the junior high school. Sadly, John had dropped out of that school a month before he disappeared.. After dedicating the field, the mother never returned to Vermont. Yearly, upon the anniversary of his disappearance she sent a letter to editor to each of Vermont’s state-wide newspapers asking for a re-newed investigation, She died in 1972. Upon her death, the junior high school was closed due to declining tax revenues and John’s memorial field was paved over. Presently it is the location of a Stop and Shop.