10 Mysterious Disappearances in National Parks

David Gonzales, 2004
California's San Bernardino Forest was the setting for the 2004 search for 9-year-old David Gonzales. © Steven K. Doi/ZUMA/Corbis

At 8 a.m. on a July day in 2004, David Gonzales asked his mother if he could have the car keys. There was a box of cookies in the car, and he wanted a treat. The car was only 50 yards (46 meters) away, and his mother watched him as he walked to the parking lot near their Big Bear Lake campsite in Northern California's San Bernadino National Forest [source: Vistaramic Journeys]. She turned her back for a second, and when she looked around again, Gonzales was gone.

His mother reported that she heard no sound at all when her back was turned, though she did see a beige truck speeding out of the campground around the time that her son went missing. Since there were no signs of abduction, authorities did not pursue that lead [source: Associated Press].

The cookies that Gonzales went to get were still in his family's locked van, so he never made it to the car. Rescue teams in San Bernardino County scoured the woods for Gonzales. They found no signs of struggle or of the boy. The search went on for nine days, but rescuers never found him alive.

Almost a year later, hikers stumbled upon the boy's remains about a mile from his family's campsite [source: Brooks]. Authorities chalked this up to a mountain lion attack, but how could a mountain lion have silently dragged a 9-year-old boy a mile without leaving any blood or signs of struggle?