38-year old National Guard Captain Gordon Hess was on the base in Fort Knox, Kentucky when he went missing on March 3rd, 1998. A search that night failed to find him, but the following day Hess was located at the bottom of a ravine – he was stiff with rigor mortis. The four men who found his body counted at least twenty stab wounds but found no knife in the area. An autopsy was performed the next day and found six stab wounds in his neck, two in his heart, one in the liver, four in the lung and a total of 26 stab wounds in all. Incredibly, Dr. Peter W. Schilke who was in charge of the autopsy declared Hess’ death a suicide. His reasoning was that Hess’ wallet hadn’t been stolen, some wounds were superficial and a lack of defensive wounds that would indicate a struggle. The knife that was used turned up in official crime scene photos despite the first men on the scene not seeing it. To further raise alarms, the Army had two tons of dirt poured on the crime scene only two days after Hess’ death “to contain biohazards from the blood”.
Hess’ family was concerned that his death wasn’t being properly handled and had a second autopsy done. This time, with a new doctor in charge, it was ruled a homicide. With that ruling emboldening them, Hess’ family had an independent investigation look into the crime. The investigators determined that due to the nature of the strikes to his heart and lungs that no more than one blow should have been necessary to bring on death, plus the odds that he would have been able to continue stabbing himself while mortally wounded are slim. They also speculated that since Hess was trained as an EMT and death via suicide was actually his goal, then he had the knowledge to end his life in a far less painstaking manner than what occurred. The most damning evidence was that the knife the Army said was found at the scene was smaller than the wounds indicate and the knife had no blood on it.
After over a year of battling the Army to try and have her husband’s case reopened, Hess’ wife Dorene elected to focus on their children and let things go. The case remains officially closed.
On April 16, 2003 Col. Phillip Shue prepared for his daily trip to Lackland Air Force Base and bid farewell to his wife shortly before 6 a.m. A little over two hours later witnesses saw his car recklessly roaring down an Interstate highway before it swerved off the road and smashed into a patch of small trees. The medical team that arrived on the scene first was shocked by what they saw: Shue had a six-inch long one inch wide incision cut into his chest, his nipples had been carved off, his finger was missing, as well as an earlobe. He had serious injuries to the right side of his head despite the crash impact coming from the opposite angle. Bloody duct tape strands hung from his wrists and ankles. Shue’s head injuries suffered in the crash proved fatal.
Despite all the brutal wounds the Air Force Office of Special Investigations ruled his death a suicide. The medical team never bothered to examine the foreign gray hairs found on the duct tape or do additional blood work to determine if any DNA other than Shue’s could be found.
Shue’s wife Tracy refused to accept such an obvious miscarriage of justice to be the truth and came forward with suspicions that Shue’s ex-wife had him killed for a million dollar life insurance policy that she still held on him. Tracy had a series of threatening letters that had been coming to their home stating as much. These letters were sent from an anonymous source who could not come forward out of fear for their own well being. Tracy believes her husband was attacked and was attempting to drive home to protect her when his car accident occurred.
A grand jury panel in Texas declared the case a homicide several years after Shue’s death but the case remains unresolved.
On Father’s Day in 1969 seven-year-old Dennis Martin was camping in the Smokey Mountains with his grandfather, father and several other young boys. The kids decided to play a prank on the adults and snuck off into the woods in order to jump out and surprise their elders. Three of the boys went one way, while Dennis went the other. When the trio jumped out, the adults played along and acted scared. Then Dennis’ father asked where he was. It had only been three to five minutes since the children had left his sight. The family quickly scoured the area in search of Dennis but when they came up empty handed the park rangers were notified.
Over the next days and weeks a massive search force went into action, peaking at around 1400 searchers from the National Guard, Green Berets, local firefighters, rescue squads and such. The search was immediately hampered by inches and inches of rain pouring down on the area. Nonetheless blood hounds and helicopters aided in the 13,000 plus man hours that went into the search as the weeks went by. Several psychics offered their assistance and an Ouija board was even used as the searchers got desperate for a resolution.
A trail of footprints lasting around 300 yards were found. They appeared to show a small foot walking barefoot next to a shoe print that matched the brand that Dennis was wearing. The search officials decided that this wasn’t a valid clue since other searchers had gone over that area already and it could have been from them (never mind the fact that no children were part of the search party). The area the prints were found in were also considered to be too far away from where Martin disappeared to be his.
A visitor who was two miles away from where Dennis disappeared from reported that he heard a “sickening” scream from a child at about the same time that he saw a haggard looking man near the edge of the woods. When the man was spotted, he quickly dashed back into the undergrowth of the forest. The investigators chose to ignore this lead as they felt that it was too far from the place where Martin vanished from to be connected to him. Dennis’ family was supposedly not told about this tip until days after the event, at which point Dennis’ father walked from the site of the disappearance to where the man was seen and he felt it was very much plausible to have hiked from one point to the other in the time necessitated by the timeline.
As the weeks went by, the search started to dwindle in volunteer numbers and the focus started to become more about recovering a body more than finding a child. They watched for buzzards circling and other such telltale signs of death in the wilderness. Ultimately the search was called off that September.
In 1973 a man was in the woods illegally searching for ginseng when he found a skull and some human bones about five miles from where Martin disappeared from. Fearing being arrested or fined for trespassing, he didn’t tell authorities about what he saw until 1985. At that point the rangers sent a crew to the area to try and find the bones, but too much time had passed (if the story is even valid) and nothing was left to be found.
Dennis’ family ultimately felt that he was kidnapped since no body, blood or clothing was ever found to indicate that he died there. It should be noted that this case is often used as an example of a possible Bigfoot related abduction, and at least one author claims that the boy’s father told them that the FBI on scene were in charge of the case and made it a point to not follow up on the sighting of the man in the woods because the “man” was actually a large hairy bipedal creature who may have been carrying the boy.
Martin’s father died in October of 2014. Dennis’ case remains unsolved.
Thanks for reading, there will be more stories to come in the near future.