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Ranger Went to Check a Trail in 1980, Was Never Seen Again

Reward tripled to $60K in case of Paul Fugate
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2018 9:15 AM CDT
Paul Fugate went for a hike and vanished without a trace on Jan. 13, 1980. He was wearing his NPS uniform with an official NPS Arrowhead patch and a gold-colored NPS ranger badge.   (National Park Service)

(Newser) – There's been no sign of Paul Fugate since the Chiricahua National Monument ranger disappeared nearly 40 years ago. But there apparently has been "new information" in the case, which has led the National Park Service to triple the reward for information leading to his whereabouts to $60,000. As an NPS release explains, the 41-year-old Fugate was working a Jan. 13, 1980, shift at the southeastern Arizona monument's visitor center when he set out on one of the trails. He was never seen again. In a 1981 article on the missing man, the New York Times reported the 17-square-mile monument area was thoroughly searched, but that search didn't extend beyond those grounds. The Douglas Dispatch in 2010 reported that no items were missing from Fugate's home to suggest he actively disappeared.

The Times reported that friends and family (he left behind a wife) suspected he came across a drug deal in progress—drug deals had been known to occur at the monument, which sits roughly 60 miles from the Mexican border—and that the uniform and badge he was wearing caused those he encountered to panic and abduct him. "I believe there is a 50% chance that a homicide has occurred," an investigator with the Cochise sheriff's office said at the time. The only lead was an acquaintance's report of seeing Fugate sandwiched between two men in a pickup, though that stemmed from a quick glimpse that occurred as the vehicles passed each other at 50mph. Those with info can call or text 888-653-0009. (This man was on a quest to perfect Ulysses, then vanished.)

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