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Hiker Finds Creepy 'Shrine' to Missing Persons in New York Woods

An alarmed hiker believed he had stumbled on evidence of nefarious activity in Long Island.

Published Oct 5, 2016

 (Facebook video shot by James Rankin)
Image Via Facebook video shot by James Rankin
A hiker stumbled across a scary "shrine" made out of missing persons posters.

On 3 October 2016, in a story ripe for Halloween, hiker James Rankin was enjoying outdoor activities at Long Island's Berkeley Jackson County Park when he encountered a group of trees in a small valley with missing persons posters taped to them. In the middle of the trees, he came upon a strange pattern of branches lashed together symmetrically.

Rankin apparently believed he had found a hot spot for some seriously criminal activity: In the video, the clearly shaken, knife-wielding hiker tramped through the site while filming, focusing his camera on various missing posters and other findings. His video was viewed and shared thousands of times on social media:

However, Suffolk County police told us they didn't suspect any wrongdoing. A police spokeswoman asserted that had Rankin stumbled onto someone's Halloween party setup, saying: "The man was on private property and the owners had set up for a Halloween."

That explanation did not appease Rankin, who still seemed suspicious of what he found:

What I wanna know is, if these were "Halloween party" decorations, why have they been hanging there for weeks or months? Because it was plainly obvious that the stuff had been there for quite a while, and not set up recently. That's clearly the case as seen in the videos. Seems to me they're just using the time of year as an excuse (just my opinion).

Also gotta wonder just what sort of person thinks it's OK to use real missing persons posters of people's lost loved ones as party decor.

EDIT: I've been told through the grapevine that supposedly the residents of the adjacent property will soon be erecting fences and posting "No Trespassing" signs.

The posters come from various parts of the country and did describe real-life missing persons cases. However, it is likely safe to assume the party planners were not expecting their decorations to find their way into international news.

Police, meanwhile, quickly closed their investigation, having found no evidence of misdeeds, let alone serial killer activities or supernatural abductions.


Harvey-Jenner, Catrina.   "Man Finds Missing Persons Shrine in the Wood and It's Creepy AF."     Cosmopolitan UK.   5 October 2016.

McAtee, Paige.   "Video Shows 'Missing Person Shrine' Found in Long Island Woods."     Huntington Patch.   5 October 2016.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.

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