There’s an acronym searchers use when looking for a missing person: PLS. Point last seen. Law enforcement has an another acronym for what comes after point last seen: ROW. The rest of the world.

There are a lot of people in Maine who have crossed the divide from the point last seen and into the rest of the world.

Geraldine Largay, the Tennessee woman who disappeared somewhere in northern Franklin County while hiking the Appalachian Trail the week of July 21, is the most recent in a long list who have disappeared into the Maine woods. After searching for more than a week, the Maine Warden Service announced July 28 it is no longer actively looking for her but is open to any new leads.

Also in Franklin County, north of where Largay disappeared, on Sept. 1, 1975, Kurt Newton, the 4-year-old son of Jill and Ron Newton, of Manchester, was last seen riding his Big Wheel on a road at Natanis Campground in Chain of Ponds Township. The Big Wheel was found about a mile away near the camp dump, but the boy never was.

There are also those who didn’t disappear in the woods, but from closer to home.

Ayla Reynolds, the Waterville toddler who was last seen Dec. 17, 2011, at her father’s home on Violette Avenue, is one of the most recent.


The longest-missing person on the Maine State Police missing persons criminal investigation webpage is Douglas Chapman, who disappeared June 2, 1971, when he was 3, from his yard in Alfred. The most recent one is Jeremy Alex, 28, who was last seen running down a road in Northport “in a delusional state” on April 24, 2004.

Those two names may be familiar to Mainers who follow the news, but there are others that won’t ring a bell with anyone.

Jesse Hoover, 54, of Texas, was last seen at the Baxter State Park headquarters in Millinocket the morning of May 20, 1983. She’d come to Maine to hike the Appalachian Trail, but she seemed ill-prepared. Overweight and not in good health, she was dressed in jeans, wore a windbreaker and carried a knapsack. Her sister reported her missing July 11, 1983. And that’s all we know.

The only information that comes up about her in an Internet search are those same facts. Microfilm of the Bangor Daily News, the newspaper most likely to report her disappearance, shows the paper published no story in July and August 1983 about the missing-person report.

The paper did have some other missing-person news, though, reporting July 14, 1983, that George Wescott was back for a visit. The Swansea, Mass., man got lost in the woods north of Greenville during a snowstorm while on a hunting trip in November 1982 and was given up for dead. He walked out of the woods three weeks later.

His story was so astounding — much easier to believe someone will disappear into the woods than walk out after three weeks — that many thought it was a hoax. During his July 1983 visit, Wescott submitted to and passed a state police polygraph to prove otherwise.


The National Criminal Information Center lists 73 missing people in Maine, according to Todd Matthews, director of information for NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

He said Tuesday it’s possible some of those have been resolved but not yet canceled out of the system. “We find that on occasion,” he said. Part of his job is working with the NamUs staff and other agencies to reconcile variances in the numbers.

NamUs lists 19 missing people in Maine. There are 12 on the state police page, which lists those whose disappearance is the subject of an open criminal investigation.

Most times, an initial missing-person report is canceled because a person turns up or their fate is determined, according to Matthews. He said 661,000 people were reported missing in 2012. By the end of the year, all but 2,079 of those cases had been resolved.

He said many people who are reported missing, particularly men, leave and turn up later in homeless shelters, on the streets or somewhere else that’s not home.

But then there are the others.


“Another point to ponder, there are 40,000 unidentified remains (in the U.S.),” Matthews said, “most of which suffered a violent death.”

Maine’s missing range from Ayla Reynolds, 21 months old, to George Boardman, 70, of Bingham, who hadn’t been seen for a month when his car was found parked in Searsmont, 76  miles southeast of his home, in November 2000.

Some of the state’s missing came to a bad end at someone else’s hand. They had the wrong acquaintances or got into the wrong car. They lived with the wrong person. Others decided they didn’t want to be here anymore.

Some simply got lost in the woods.

For the families, the pain is the same.

Friends and family of Jeremy Alex set up a website. He was featured on the TV show “Disappeared” in February 2011, nearly seven years after he was last seen.


“There’s not too many things left to do that will spark an interest again,” his father, Ted Alex, of Portsmouth, N.H., told the Bangor Daily News before the show aired.

But still, there’s hope. “We’re optimistic,” Alex said. “Hopefully somebody will call and give us some information.”

“The uncertainty is the toughest part,” George Largay, Geraldine’s husband, told the Nashville Tennessean this week.  “Until they find Gerry, there’s always the unknown. And that’s almost tougher than the known.”

In Maine, that could be families and friends of as many as 73 people double-checking every time they see a certain shade of blond hair, not getting rid of those still-wrapped Christmas presents, waiting for the phone to ring.

Wondering all the time where in the rest of the world their loved one is.

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