David Paulides: We have a case that just happened recently with a little boy named Casey Hathaway. And he disappeared from a rural area in North Carolina. And after 56 hours of searching, he’s found a quarter mile from his house. Not just a quarter mile. But this is after some of the best bloodhounds in the state of North Carolina had covered that area multiple multiple times. Flir had flown it. And all of a sudden, he’s found right there.
George Knapp: The weather was a big factor in that case, too. The fact that it was so severe, how this kid survived that … even that much time, is amazing.
Paulides: Well, and that goes to another profile point. At about the time the person disappears, or at about the time the search starts … weather has changed for some reason. And maybe it’s normal, but in the number of times I’ve documented this, it seems unusual. In Casey’s case, the weather was so bad — wind, rain, freezing conditions — that the sheriff pulled the searchers out of the field for a period of time. And they pulled the helicopters out of the sky. Yet this little 3-year-old boy was described to be in good condition by the sheriff when he was found.
Knapp: It’s like he’s taken somewhere else and then brought back.
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Paulides: It doesn’t make sense. And what I would say to that is that somehow or another, he had to have found some type of shelter to live through those conditions. Because even if you and I were out in that type of weather for 56 hours, we would be hypothermic.
Knapp: And his comment. You know, he’s young, so he can’t say a whole lot and describe in detail where he was or what was going on. But what was his comment?
Paulides: So he told his aunt that he spent two days with a bear that was taking care of him. Now, everyone giggles about that. But I’ve written about a number of those cases since the late 1800s, where a small boy or small girl is later found, and they tell a very similar story. And the unusual aspect to this is that area of North Carolina, bears are hibernating right now.
Knapp: So, his explanation that it was a bear, he’s describing a bear-like something-or-other, or that’s how it appeared to him. You don’t think it was a real bear?
Paulides: Well, that brings up another good point. Some of the books I’ve written in the past, I use an FBI forensic trained artist to go out and interview people to describe what they saw. And when the FBI uses these people to draw a bank robber or something, when the person’s later found, sometimes it’s like they were sitting in the room and the picture was drawn. So we know it’s right. So, to take one of these people and have them interview a small child like that … I think it’d be perfect.
Knapp: Him describing a bear … you’ve heard similar stories. I mean, not all these people come back. Most of them don’t. Or they find them and they’re dead. The few who come back and are alive and can recall anything, you’ve had children who’ve told stories similar to that.
Paulides: Very similar. One time there was a story of a small girl, disappeared from a rural location. Her dad was a lumbermen. As the guys are going into the woods, they hear a splash. They see the girl standing on a log near a stream. They said, “What happened?” And she said, “Well, a big hairy wolf had me.” So, the locations that the kids are found in don’t make sense. Sometimes these kids that I write about are found, like a 2- or 3-year-old, are found 10-15 miles from the point they were last seen. Or they’re found 5,000 feet higher in elevation than where they disappeared. And as a parent, you’ll know, my kid wasn’t going to make that distance in this amount of time or climb that elevation in this period of time. So it doesn’t make sense.
Knapp: You have little kids crossing mountain ranges in the course of two days. It’s just impossible.
Paulides: Well, there was a little boy that we chronicled in our last movie in Oregon that disappeared for nine hours, was found 12 miles away, two mountain ranges away. And we had “Survivorman” Les Stroud, trying to reenact what that little boy did through the night. In the middle of the night, Les stopped and said, “I couldn’t do this. This isn’t right, the the kid didn’t do this on his own.”