Another missing persons case solved… another disturbing mystery.
A New Jersey couple who had been missing for about two weeks have been found dead in the woods by their home, according to the Stafford Township Police Department.
Gary and Lorraine Parker were reported missing by their daughter on November 22. A search began the next day; over 100 police officers, firefighters, and volunteers pitched in, but the search was difficult. The area near their home, the Warren Grove woods, is “the thickest part of the Pine Barrens you’re going to find,” according to police Captain James Vaughn. He told People:
“The only way we were able to find them was by using a drone. Without the use of a drone, it was nearly impossible. You could have walked by them and not seen them unless you were directly looking.”
Gary, 67, and Lorraine, 60, were finally spotted by the drone, lying together on the ground. Their ATV was found a short distance away, 70-75 yards. The couple were only 200-250 yards away from their home in the end.
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A cause of death is not currently known. Gary owned a shotgun, but it was found in the ATV, not near the bodies. In fact, police say based on the bodies they don’t suspect foul play at this time — though it’s still unclear how or why the couple got into the dense woods. Captain Vaughn told the Asbury Park Press:
“I don’t think we’re ever going to know. I mean, there wasn’t an ATV crash per se, but why they got off and why they ended up in the thicket the way they did far from their house, we’re never going to know.”
Is it possible they got lost and succumbed to the elements? From the description of the area, it sounds all too easy to get lost if you’re not prepared.
A neighbor told local station WCAU:
“It’s unusual that people would just disappear like that. This area is not that large of an area to get lost.”
However, with woods that dense, we have to wonder.
If the Pine Barrens sounds familiar, there may be a reason for that. It’s the title of one of the most celebrated episodes of The Sopranos — one which features two gangsters trying to commit a murder in the seclusion of the woods but getting hopelessly lost in the process.
Authorities say it will be around six weeks before autopsies shed more light on this mystery. But like the Captain said, we may never know what happened.
[Image via Stafford Township Police Department/HBO Max.]