This is a developing case. As of nine days ago remains have been found in the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. I will update when the police confirm or deny Cassie Sheetz has been found.
As you may know Reasoned Crime Chronicle overlaps with missing person cases quite a bit. We have written about several that have occurred in forest and mountainous areas. This incident took place on Thursday 11th March 2021. The 24 year old victim went hiking with two other men. I note in the accounts that these were not referred to as friends though this might be insignificant.
The trio were overdue and were reported missing. The men had exited the forest but by that time it was into 12th March. One remained with the vehicle, presumably in case Cassie made her own way to it, and the other went back into the woods to look for her.
The West Virginia State Police have said they believe the remains are those of Ms Sheetz because of items found near by. Given the time that has passed there is little more than a skeleton to examine and the West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner’s Office is now preparing a report.
Early details indicate that after going missing in the darkness of the woods Ms Sheetz was found eight miles from the nearest road. The distraught mother gave an interview to WDTV live in which she said:
‘She just trusted everyone, she was just so friendly, so outgoing, And now we’re not going to have that anymore.’
She went on to say that her instincts told her there was foul play involved. The West Virginia Police have not identified any suspects.
The whole case is strange to say the least. Apparently Ms Sheetz has had some of her belongings recovered at the scene yet her cell phone, sunglasses and jewellery are missing. There is also the question of the actions of the two men. Accounts vary. In one they acted as I have described. In another they were located with one stood near the car and the other emerging from the forest without any mention of them having searched for Ms Sheetz.
Ominously investigators have already said they do not believe that Ms Sheetz could have got to the place where her body was found without help. Unfortunately at this time we are in the dark as to what has prompted that line of thought.
The trails the group were following are rugged but well maintained as part of the Huckleberry Trail. The US Forestry service says this about them:
‘Trails are marked with blue blazes and can be muddy in places so be prepared to get your feet wet. Elevation ranges from 3,000 feet to over 4,800 feet above sea level. Freezing temperatures can occur any time of the year. Snow can be expected anytime from October through April.’
I note that in the image below you can see that despite the description the area is interlaced with impressive access points and my first impression is it is not the easiest place to get lost in. Even in the UK, where areas are smaller, no matter where you go we don’t have many observation towers or wide well built paths as this place does. As to what had delayed the group in getting out of the area in daylight we will have to wait on the findings of the investigation.
Bear hunters came across the remains on 29th December 2021 in dense woodland. They then called the police. I will follow this up once the medical examiner makes a determination. Meanwhile I hope the family and Ms Sheetz find whatever peace they can in what is a nightmare situation.
This case highlights the ongoing issue about missing people and unsolved murders in regions like North America and Australia. Rural areas are fantastic. They have beauty and space. They also produce mystery and untold dangers. I hike a lot. I will as long as I am able, but as in the cases of the Yuba Five in the US and Tony Jones in Australia extreme care is needed.
Another article that details mysterious and not so mysterious wilderness incidents can be found by clicking here