The Baffling Murder Case Of Joe Elwell Killed Inside A Locked Room In 1920 (1)

The Strange Disappearance Of Damian McKenzie: 10-Year-Old Kid Vanished Without Any Trace

“Missing 411” is a popular series of books written by former police officer David Paulides that covers strange disappearances cases from all around the world. What stirred curiosity among the readers was the sudden disappearance of a 10-year-old boy named Damian McKenzie who mysteriously vanished from Australia in 1974.

McKenzie and a group of about forty other teens were at a youth camp in the Australian state of Victoria’s mountains in September 1974 close to Victoria Falls and the Acheron River in Taggerty. The “Young Australia League” was in charge of running the camp, which was meant to be a straightforward 5-day excursion during which the kids were to enjoy trekking and several other outdoor activities. Although there had never been an issue or incident at the camp previously, it was about to significantly change.

The Missing Kid, Damian McKenzie
The Missing Kid, Damian McKenzie

The party hiked up a twisting trail from the mountain to the falls at Steavenson Falls in Marysville, Victoria, on September 4, 1974. The hike was challenging, but everyone was within sight of the others and the group was properly supervised. It is said that Damien was moving way ahead of the group, and at one point, he briefly vanished from view, and next, he was nowhere to be found or seen.

It appeared as if the young lad has left the planet altogether as he could not be traced by his supervisor despite combing the region thoroughly and addressing him. As soon as authorities learned of his disappearance, one of the biggest search operations in Australian history was launched to find him.

The search party involved over 300 people from a number of agencies, including the police, the Search and Rescue Squad, the Federal state of Victorian Walking Clubs Search and Rescue Segment, the Forestry Commission of Victoria, the Red Cross, and various local volunteers, as well as the use of helicopters and tracking dogs to scour the forbidding wilderness. After more than a week of searching, it was finally called off due to poor weather without having turned up any trace of Damian McKenzie, whose fate remained unknown.

A former policeman, David Paulides predicted that during the search party, the authorities were confronted with certain abnormalities. He asserted that the tracking dogs were unable to detect any scent of the boy, to start with. The dogs couldn’t get any sniff readings for the boy and be circling aimlessly since they didn’t know what they were supposed to be looking for. Instead of picking up a trail and then losing it, the search dogs roamed aimlessly.

The boy’s traces were found to have led straight up one side of the waterfall and then abruptly stopped as if he had vanished there and then, claims Paulides, which is another odd clue. According to Valentine Smith, an investigation specialist working on the case, this was an extremely strange hint, albeit as to what extent it was necessary, thereby rising curiosity regarding the whereabouts of the young chap.

Regardless of whether the mysterious disappearing footprints are details or not, the fact that Damian and any trace of him have never been found has given rise to a variety of theories regarding what may have happened to him. He might have simply gotten lost in the underbrush, for example.

The terrain where they were hiking was described as being mountainous and heavily forested, with thick undergrowth and foliage that made some parts of it nearly impassable. Even members of the search and rescue team acknowledged that there is a possibility of the young boy being somewhere close to them, but that they might not have seen him.

It’s possible that the operation would have missed him if he had fallen and been rendered unconscious, if he had died from hypothermia in the subzero weather, or if he had turned disabled and failed to answer any calls.

“I have found that there have been several reports of child footprints found a considerable distance from where Damien was last seen. However, all of these messages are contradictory and do nothing. I also read the remarks of Investigator David Polids. He writes that the boy’s footsteps suddenly appear elsewhere and also suddenly have strange traces …”

Another story proposed that he may have violently slid down a slope and into the nearby Steavenson River, where he eventually drowned or got carried away due to the fast flow of water. However, the authorities exhaustively searched the relatively shallow river and were confident that he wasn’t there. On the other hand, is it possible that they missed him?

Valentine Smith 

Another possibility is that the area was once utilized for gold prospecting, so there is also a chance that he may have fallen down a mineshaft. Though all known mine shafts have long been walled in to prevent such unfortunate happenings, perhaps there are still more that have been lost and forgotten.

Even more concerning is the possibility that Damian was taken, although witnesses assert that nothing out of the ordinary was seen nearby, and the terrain itself would have made it challenging for an assailant to kidnap the boy and then successfully relocate him without going down that trail.

David Paulides

In the end, we are unsure of Damien McKenzie’s fate. We’re left wondering how could he possibly have gone extinct from the face of the Earth. The only information available is Paulides’ claims that there were tracks that virtually vanished in the middle of the trip and that the tracker dogs were baffled, but it is not clear how credible these claims are.

Was Damian McKenzie the victim of some natural calamity, or was he kidnapped, lost, or perhaps the victim of unidentified forces? Whatever the circumstances may have been, the young boy was never found, and even to this day, the case has not been solved. What is your take on it? Let us know in the comment section. 

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