This story is a bit of a departure from what I usually write, since there is no evidence of a crime. However, it’s such an odd tale that I just had to write about it.
On August 17, the bodies of John Gerrish, his wife Ellen Chung, and the couple’s one-year-old daughter, Miju, as well as the family’s dog, Oski, were discovered in a remote area of the Sierra National Forest in California along a hiking trail. The family’s nanny had reported them missing the previous day.
While it’s not unheard of for people to go missing and die in a national forest, most such incidents involve falls, exposure, or animal attacks. However, the cause of de*ath for the Gerrish/Chung family remains a mystery to investigators.
The information that is known is limited to the following: chemicals coming from nearby abandoned mine shafts have been ruled out, and they were not shot or attacked by any other kind of weapon.
In addition to the water in the family’s drinking supply, samples of water discovered on the trail were also sent for testing, and the family’s dog and toxicology labs were consulted.
So far, nothing indicates how the four died.
The FBI is currently looking at Gerrish and Chung’s cell phone records, and search warrants have been requested for the couple’s social media accounts.
Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said the de*aths present a unique challenge for investigators, and that he had never seen such a case in two decades.
“I’ve worked in different capacities but I’ve never seen a de*ath like this.”
On the day the family vanished, temperatures along the trail reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but the family’s bodies showed no symptoms of heat stroke.
The family was poisoned by toxic algae blooms along the Merced River, according to the most widely accepted working theory.
A warning about the blooms was released by the U.S. Forest Service in July, and signs along the river cautioned people not to swim, wade, or let their pets in the water.
Throughout the summer, algae blooms are not unusual in the area, and the park is frequently marked with health advisories.
Unfortunately, people tend to disregard these warnings. Human de*aths are not commonplace, even so. In actuality, the California Department of Public Health reported that it was unaware of any fatalities caused by “exposure to cyanobacterial toxin in recreational or drinking water.”
Senior analyst Anne Schechinger of the Environmental Working Group said:
Although it happens infrequently, these algae toxins have the potential to ki*ll humans. Additionally, exposure to these toxins from algae blooms results in the annual de*aths of numerous dogs, livestock, and other animals, wildlife, geese, and birds in the United States.
It will be a few weeks before tests reveal whether algae blooms are to blame for the family’s demise.
So, what if algae blooms are ruled out as a cause of de*ath? Where does that leave us?
I’m not a big believer in conspiracy theories and I believe that the most logical answer is usually the best explanation in questionable circumstances, BUT…what if no logical explanation emerges?
Paulides has penned a number of books that describe strange and enigmatic missing persons cases, such as individuals who mysteriously disappear and/or are discovered de*ad in national parks, without getting into too much detail—that’s a topic for another blog. Two documentaries that are based on the books have also been produced.
Though no one has been able to identify them, it is still very likely that there are rational explanations for these cases. Here’s a story about one peculiar disappearance from a national park.
The main idea of the books and documentaries is that people are mysteriously going missing and dying in national parks due to some weird force or entity. Renowned Bigfoot researcher David Paulides is cautious about disclosing his theories about what might have happened to the people he writes about.
Other theories, of course, center on “feral people,” UFOs, demonic entities, portals, and creatures that transcend dimensions, to mention a few.
Though it makes for an interesting case study, it’s likely that John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, Miju, and the family dog perished from more commonplace causes than UFOs, Bigfoot, or extraterrestrial life. It is significant to note that the possibility of homicide being the cause of their d*eaths has been ruled out.
As more information becomes available, I’ll keep you informed. In your opinion, what transpired with the family?