George Knapp: It was a couple of government employees that sort of set you down this path. They told you, “Hey, you should look into this.” But the government has been anything but cooperative in dealing with you. The National Park Service, in terms of just sharing information about who’s missing in a particular place in any of your clusters. Is that still the case?
David Paulides: Yes. And I suppose there’s been some pressure from the media and from people associated with me that they released something. When we first started, I knew that the National Park Service had the largest contingent of federally trained law enforcement officers of any agency in the US. And they could, and they should, be keeping good statistical data on what’s going on in their parks and monuments.
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Paulides: So I filed the Freedom of Information Act request against the Park Service, National Park Police, asking them for numbers on the total number of disappearances in their parks, monuments, their names and their locations. I get a call back from their attorney asking me why I wanted that information. Well, I knew at the time that that cannot be used as a qualifier if the information is released or not. And I asked him that, he says, “No, no, no, we’re not … we’re not interested in that. We just want to know why you want it.” Told him it’s just research. He says, “Well, we don’t have that information. But if you want it, it’s going to cost you $1.4 million.” And I said, “Well, I’m a published … I’ve published books. So there’s a subset in the Freedom of Information Act that says that I can get this information for free.” He goes, “I’ll get back to you.” Six weeks later, he calls back and says, “Well, your books aren’t in enough public libraries to qualify.”
Knapp: As if that’s a real criteria.
Paulides: It’s not.
Knapp: So do you think they know? Do you think they have a better understanding of it? Or they’re as much in the dark as we are, and that’s why they don’t want to help publicize it or get the word out?
Paulides: Interesting question. And in the Park Service police, they have a series of what’s called special agents. And the special agents are like the detectives. Well, if the case is real severe they’ll bring in the FBI. Now, what’s interesting about that is since probably the early 1960s, I’ve written about disappearances where the FBI randomly shows up. And they show up in instances where nobody calls them, they’re just there, and they’re monitoring the case. Well, when they monitor these cases, the FBI is the best at writing documentation and forwarding those onto their profilers. Even as recently as weeks ago, the FBI still shows up on these missing persons cases. And in a movie coming out in April or May, the FBI showed up on a New York case of a missing man who was a hunter. And we questioned the sheriff about why these two agents showed up. He said, “I don’t know.” And I said, “Have they ever showed up in another case of a missing person?” No. And this is way in the middle of nowhere, northern New York. Two agents. What are they doing there with a missing adult, which according to their protocol, they don’t search for missing adults, and they don’t investigate missing adults.
Knapp: Can you FOIA that stuff?
Paulides: I suppose you could, but, you know, I doubt that they would give us the information because they would claim that it was an ongoing case.