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Vanishing Point

by Carl Hughes

A strange celebration took place recently around Bennington in Vermont, north-eastern USA. The festival celebrates 50 years since anyone has vanished. 

Bizarre, you may think, but not nearly as bizarre as what happened in this area between the years 1920 and 1950.

The actual date for celebration was October 28 that is when in 1950 a young hiker named Freida Langer became the last victim of what is known locally as the Bennington Triangle. Like dozens of others before her, Freida disappeared as completely as if the Starship Enterprise had beamed her up.

On that autumn day Freida and her cousin set off walking from their camp in the wilderness near Glastenbury Mountain. The sun shone from close to the horizon and the air held a pungent taste of the coming winter. Everything seemed normal and serene until Freida abruptly vanished from the wooded track.

Despite several inch-by-inch searches of the area, no trace of the young woman could be found. Then seven months later her body appeared, lying on the track from which she had vanished. She wore the same clothes, the body had not decomposed and no cause of death could be determined.

It was as if shed dropped dead of shock ten minutes earlier, said a police chief at the time. No one saw where she went to, no one saw where she came from. Its spooky.

At least Freida did return eventually, albeit dead. In most other Bennington Triangle cases the victims were never found. They disappeared from their gardens, from their beds, from petrol stations, from log cabins. One man, James Tetford, even vanished while sitting on a bus.

That disappearance, on December 1 1949, involved a fiercely-sceptical man who had always scoffed at the idea of anything supernatural. Whether he changed his opinion we will never know.

After visiting relatives in St Albans on a frosty afternoon, Mr Tetford boarded his return bus for the journey to Bennington where he lived in the Soldiers Home. There were 14 other passengers on the bus as it drove into Bennington, and all of them testified to seeing the ex-soldier sitting in his seat dozing.

However, when the bus reached its destination five minutes later Mr Tetford had vanished. His belongings remained in the luggage rack and a timetable lay open on the seat where he had been sitting. Of the man himself there wasnt a trace. He has never been seen since.

His disappearance came three years to the day after an equally weird vanishing act. Eighteen-year-old student Paula Welden set off for a stroll on the Long Trail into Glastenbury Mountain followed by a middle-aged couple 100 yards behind. The couple saw Paula follow the trail around a rocky outcrop and out of their sight. When they reached the outcrop themselves she had vanished and no one has seen or heard of her since. She had become yet another statistic of the Bennington Triangle.

Youngest known victim of the Triangle was eight-year-old Paul Jepson whose disappearance occurred 16 days before that of the hiker Freida Langer.

Paul's mother, a caretaker, left him playing happily outside a pig sty while she went inside to tend the animals. When she re-emerged the boy had vanished, and as in most other cases no trace of him has ever been found despite exhaustive searches.

So where did these and so many other people go, and why did this seemingly-innocuous part of America close to the Canadian border become the focus of sinister activity?

No one has an answer to either question, but it seems the areas malign reputation goes back a long way. It is known, for instance, that in the 18th and 19th centuries American natives shunned the Glastenbury wilderness, believing it to be haunted by evil spirits. They used it only as a burial ground.

According to native legend, all four winds met in that spot something conducive to out-of-this-world experiences. The natives even believed the wilderness to contain an enchanted stone that would swallow anything that passed by.

Just superstition? That is what the first white settlers thought, and what they went on thinking until their friends and families began to disappear.

Perhaps the wilderness has at last sated its appetite, maybe the enchanted stone is no longer hungry, or perhaps the four winds have moved on. At any rate, 50 years have passed since the last uncanny disappearance.

Now the local people can celebrate and walk again with impunity through the Bennington Triangle.

Or can they?

Carl Hughes is a writer for a large daily paper in Britain, and has also written for television, radio and other publications. Unlike many reporters, he specialises in covering matters of a paranormal nature.

Carl Hughes retains the sole copyright © 1999 for this article.


       
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