Every year for father's day the Martin family would go camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it was a family tradition. They had hiked out to Spencer Field which is near the Appalachian Trail on June 14, 1969. They were set up there to camp for the night.
Dennis who was six years old at the time, had been playing hide and go seek with other children when he vanished around 4:30pm. His father William had been watching him, and when he hadn't seen his pop back up from a bush he was hiding in, he went to frantically search. He covered a 2 mile area before getting park services involved.
It began to rain heavily that night, which made the search that much harder. Dogs were brought it, and so were local law enforcement, FBI over 1400 in total. The odd thing that I noticed was that the Green Berets were brought in to help with the search. Maybe that was protocol back then, but I can't find too many missing persons cases where special forces were brought in.
The rain had made it impossible for the dogs to pick up a scent, and it also had affected finding any tracks of the boy, as 1400 searchers walking in the mud, probably destroyed any tracks. No one ever found any trace of the boy.
About 5 miles away the Keys family was out in the woods looking to see animals and maybe find a bear to watch. They thought they had spotted one, but when they got a better look, it was just a man wearing extremely furry clothes, like he was some kind of mountain man, he was carrying something red over his shoulders and ran out into the wilderness with it. When they heard about the missing boy they reported what they had seen to the police. The police did not take their sighting seriously though. Dennis Martin had been wearing a red shirt, when he had vanished, which only made their sighting sound more feasible.
Dennis was never found, and his father died without knowing what happened to him. His father did believe that someone had abducted his son, and was angry that law enforcement didn't take that sighting seriously, when he found out about it in a local paper.
Here are some of the theories, of what people think happened.
1. That he got lost and died from the elements. This is what park authorities believe happened. But there was never any remains found, or a shirt or even a shoe. Plus the father was out looking for him within minutes. But still this is probably most likely what happened, as the wilderness is vast.
2. The boy was attacked by a bear, or an animal and was dragged off. Maybe, but I think some sort of trace of him would have been found like a shoe. Plus he vanished without anyone hearing a peep. Not a scream?
3. The third is that he was abducted, and this was the theory that the boy's father had believed to be what happened. And it is possible, as he didn't scream and not a trace of his clothing was ever found. Plus there was that strange sighting by the Keys family.
I'll also add that there is a conspiracy theorist named David Paulides, that investigates a lot of these missing cases that happen at national parks. More people go missing in National parks than anywhere in the country and it is a strange fact. But some of his ideas are really out there, like bigfoot out there. I'm not going to go into any more detail than that, if you want to read or listen to his theories, you can check out his 411 channel on youtube, or just google him. He does investigate very thoroughly and his perspective is very interesting.
Here's the word on the street, what the people of the area believe happened. According to locals, there's a legend that there are wild people that have been living up in those mountains for over a hundred years. Before the national park was established it was rumored that outsiders were paid by the government to hunt these mountain people to rid them of the area, so tourist could enjoy the coming park. The locals believe there are still remnants of these wild people living out there, and many locals believe that's who took the boy. Those that believe that also think that special forces were called in to hunt down any remaining mountain folk, as the park brings in money which keeps that community alive, and they can't have mountain folk snatching kids.
I can't find any information about the Green Berets, on what they found or anything about their search, whatever they did or found has been kept secret. All I could find for certain is that they were called in, they did search the area, and they did not work with law enforcement, they did their own thing, and didn't answer to anyone else.
This case may never be solved, but you never know, we do have DNA now and maybe someday even in the very distant future his remains will be found. There is also that remote possibility that he is still alive.