Sep 18, 2023 I Brent Swancer

Mysterious Mystical Caves and Strange Disappearances

Caves are inherently spooky places at the best of times. With their dank tunnels winding off into the unknown darkness, they are imposing at best, and almost inhospitable at worst. Caves have from since time unremembered gathered about them all manner of strange tales and legends, so they are obviously ripe for all manner of all kinds of bizarre tales. Here we will look at mystical and mysterious tales that seems to have drawn people in to never let them out again. 

According to one tale, in the days before white settlers arrived, two boys from the Native American Winnebago tribe in Wisconsin went out hunting for deer not far from their village among bluffs along the Wisconsin River. It was clear weather and the boys were already seasoned hunters and trackers, so it was not unusual that they should be out there in the wilds, but they did not return that evening and as the days passed with no sign of them the village became worried. Two days after the boys failed to show up, the chief of the tribe sent out a search party consisting of ten men to locate the boys and bring them back safely. The team was made up of the tribe’s best trackers and it was thought that they would quickly find them, but things were about to get very strange.

The trackers took very little time to pick up the boys’ trail, which apparently meandered through the trees until it came to the dark maw of a cave entrance. Since there were no tracks leading away, it was surmised that, for whatever reasons, the boys had gone into the murky gloom of the cave, and so two of the tribesmen were assigned to go in there and get them out. The two men crept off into the blackness and the others waited. According to the story, hours passed with no sign of them, and calls out to them went unanswered. As they wondered what to do and debated sending even more men into that dank place, there was supposedly heard the sound of a light singing with “weirdly beautiful plaintive notes” coming from the cave, so faint it could barely be heard over the wind. When this eerie singing started, more men were sent in but they too failed to return, while with each subsequent tribesman who was swallowed by the darkness the song seemed to increase in volume and intensity. By this time only two of the search party remained, and rather than risk disappearing into that cave, they ran back to alert their village.

It is said that the chief of the village, a man called Great Eagle, sent a contingent of one hundred fierce armed warriors to the mysterious cave the following day. When Great Eagle and his one hundred men reached the cave, they decided to join hands into a sort of human chain in order to prevent anyone else from vanishing within its depths. At some point, the second man in front realized the leader who at one moment was holding his hand, seemed to have completely vanished, and shortly after this, he apparently disappeared too, leaving the third man in the line feeling around in the darkness and calling out to them. The allegedly continued down the chain, with each new leader of the chain disappearing seemingly into thin air. Realizing what was happening, the remaining links in the human chain broke apart and made for the safety of the light on the outside of the cave, and once outside they peered into the entrance as that mournful song fluttered from the bowels of the earth once again. 

The others were terrified but undaunted in their resolve to get the missing people to safety. Great Eagle decided to tie a rope securely around a warrior’s waist and send him down into the cave as the others held on. At some point the rope supposedly just stopped moving, and when they frantically pulled it back in not only was the warrior no longer attached to it, but the knot that had been tied around him was still tied and fully intact. It was as if he had just evaporated into thin air, and in the background that taunting song beckoned from within. Great Eagle now knew that they were dealing with forces that were beyond them, and halted further efforts to delve into the inly depths of that cave. He ordered his remaining men back to the village and the cave was deemed to be forbidden territory.

Despite it being forbidden, it is said that Great Eagle himself became obsessed with the cave, and when he next visited it there was no hint of that creepy song. He purportedly then sent two of his best warriors to explore once again, and the two descended into the dark, feeling their way through meandering tunnels that were sometimes so narrow they had to shimmy through them on their stomachs. The tunnel finally ended in a cavern within which lay a grisly discovery. There, the light of their torches flickering onto them, were apparently droves of human skeletons, all faces down, with their arms outstretched in front of them, and arranged in strange patterns and lines, suggesting they had been carefully placed by someone or something. They also would claim that they had found an enormous stone throne down there, and it was all enough that they quickly made their way out of there. After this, the cave was supposedly sealed and hidden, so that whatever evil dwelled there would never be found again.

The mysterious lost cave, sometimes referred to as the “Death Song Cave,” then sort of faded into the mists of time until the 1800s, when a German immigrant by the name of Paul Seifert supposedly stumbled across the hidden entrance of the Death Song Cave while out looking for Indian artifacts to sell to collectors. He apparently would venture down into the cave with an unnamed companion, eventually coming to a large chamber that contained an array of hundreds of human skeletons in various poses and seemingly laid out in lines, just as was told in Great Eagle’s story, and as they looked on in astonishment and horror, they were assailed by the loud sound like “the howling of a lot of maniacs and the moaning of the dying under torture.” Terrified, the men noped out of there, and Seifert would take the secret of the cave’s location to his grave when he died in 1921. Is there any truth to any of this at all?

In 1967, highway construction work in Hannibal, Missouri, uncovered the entrance to an until then undiscovered subterranean cave system. Finding a cave in Missouri was not particularly that strange in and of itself, because the state is home to nearly 8,000 caves, to the point that it is often nicknamed “The Cave State,” but this particular cave would become the center of a perplexing mystery. Called Murphy’s Cave, it soon gained the interest of some local boys by the names of Joey and Billy Hoag, 13 and 11 years of age, and 14-year Craig Dowell. The boys were self-professed adventurers and explorers, and on May 9, 1967, they gathered some shovels and flashlights and went off to explore Murphy’s cave. They were at first turned away by construction workers, and their angry parents forbade them from going back, but the boys were undeterred. The following day after school they snuck back into the construction site with their exploration gear, and they were spotted by witnesses at the site near the cave entrance at around 4:30 p.m. That evening, they failed to return home, and when the following day came with still no sign of them, a search was launched.

Teams of searchers the Mark Twain Emergency Squad and the National Speleological Society scoured the cave as police, volunteers, and the Missouri National Guard combed the surrounding area for any sign of the boys, but there was nothing. Sniffer dogs followed the scent trail to the cave entrance, so it was assumed they must have entered, but it seems they had never come back out. Since the cave system was not particularly large or complex it was seen as odd that they should so thoroughly disappear, and even odder that not a single sign of them could be found in the dank gloom. Interviews with locals and checks of trains and buses leading out of Hannibal also led nowhere, as did various visions given by psychics, who were brought in out of desperation. The search lasted for nearly a month, but not a trace of the missing boys was found.

Theories on what happened to what was not being called “The Lost Hannibal Boys” run the range. A construction accident, cave-in, serial killer, running away from home, and of course getting lost in the cave were all considered, but there was no evidence for any of them. A more bizarre detail that may or not be related is that it would later turn out that there had been some UFO activity reported in the area not long before the vanishings. Whatever the case may be, the three missing boys have not been seen since, and a plaque and stone monument sits atop the Lover’s Leap park overlooking the Mississippi River to honor their memory.

On April 15, 1988, high school senior Randy Wayne Leach borrowed his mother’s car and headed out at around 6:45 PM to go attend a pre-graduation bonfire party at a friend’s rural farm house about 5 miles away from their home in Linwood, in Leavenworth County, Kansas. By all accounts Randy was a smart, healthy, and responsible easy going guy going out to spend time with some friends, it wasn’t late, and the area was peaceful and safe, a small town where everyone knew each other, so when his parents saw him off they had no idea that this would be the last time they would ever see him again. Randy got into that car to head to his friend’s party, and there was no way of knowing that he was about to become one of the country’s most perplexing mysteries, a vanishing saturated with strangeness, mysterious people, weird clues, and Satanic cults.

What is known is that Randy went to a convenience store in Linwood to get food and gas, before visiting a cousin and then heading to DeSoto to a body shop to ogle the 1966 Mustang that was being restored and would be his high school graduation present. Perhaps because of these diversions, Randy would not actually get to the party until sometime between 9:30 and 10 PM that evening, where around 50 to 150 guests were in the midst of partying, with a lot of drinking and drug use going on. It is unclear if Randy himself had anything to drink, as while witnesses would later claim they had not seen him drink anything at all, others said he had been acting strangely, stumbling around as if drunk. It is not completely understood what time he left the party as no one would recall actually seeing him leave, but it was probably after 1 AM and definitely well after his curfew of 12:30 AM, which he usually strictly honored. Randy then got into his car and basically drove off the face of the earth.

It would not be until his parents woke up the next morning to find him nowhere in the house that anyone really realized that something was wrong. Randy had always been a responsible young man who followed the rules and his curfew, so for him to not be in his room that morning was seen as very odd. The parents called some of Randy’s friends, but no one had seen him or had any idea where he was, and they proceeded to call the police. An investigation of the site of the party turned up no evidence, as it had already been cleaned up unusually spotlessly, with apparently not even a stray paper cup lying around, and when interviewed other party goers were very vague about how long Randy had stayed or when he had left. No one seemed to remember much about him being there other than he had seemed to be having trouble walking, but a time for his departure could not be pinned down and no other details were forthcoming. Randy was subsequently reported missing, and this is where strange things would begin to unfold.

Authorities and family members released missing person flyers all over the region for Randy and his car and began an intensive search of the area, including combing the river that flowed through nearby, but they came up with nothing. Not a single person came forward with any information at first, and police began to suspect that Randy had simply run away, but friends and family were staunchly against this. Not only had he been a hard working student looking forward to life after high school, but he had also left behind his soon-to-be graduation present, that 1966 Mustang, which had been the car of his dreams. It was believed by his friends that he would have never willingly given up that car for anything. However, adding to the theory that he had perhaps indeed run away were several sightings that came in of Randy, one on April 19 near his high school, and another on April 25 of his mother’s missing 1985 gray Dodge 600 driving about erratically down Iowa Street in the town of Lawrence, although neither of these could be confirmed.

Randy Leach

As police continued trying to find out what was going on and the story began to circulate in the news, there were some dark rumors that would begin going around. At the time the Leavenworth area had been undergoing a bit of a Satanic panic, with rumors of a Devil-worshipping cult operating in the rural area and dark robed figures spotted lurking about, particular in the vicinity of the farmland where that fateful party had been held. The rumor was that Randy had been captured and killed in some arcane ritual there in that field by cultists, after which they had completely scoured cleaned the area to get rid of any evidence. In fact, not long after the vanishing the farm where the party had been held would burn down to the ground in a mysterious fire, only fueling the ideas of some cult conspiracy.

So strong was the idea that Satanists or some sort of cult were involved in the disappearance that locals pointed police in the direction of a friend of Randy’s named Robert Marble, who had also been at the party and was widely regarded as being an eccentric loner and a self-professed Satanist. Marble was questioned by police, with one detective coming to the conclusion, “he has read the satanic bible but does not believe in the concepts of the occult,” and while a knife was found in his car he was dropped as a suspect. In later years, three other young men suspected of being Satanists would be brought in for questioning, but there was no evidence they had had anything to do with the disappearance and they too were released without any charges filed.

Another strange lead pertaining to dark Satanic cults and arcane rituals came in when a man came to police claiming he had been abducted and kept hostage for 2 weeks in a cave by cultists not far from Linwood. He told police that while he was there in that dank prison he had seen the dead body of a young man he believed might have been the missing Randy Leach. However, when authorities searched the cave where the alleged body was supposed to be they found no trace of it, and indeed no evidence that a cult had ever been there at all. Oddly, Randy’s father would later claim that the Sheriff had had the cave bulldozed and destroyed, although this was denied by authorities.

Other odd leads in the case revolve around an acquaintance of Randy’s by the name of Steve Daugherty, who had also been at the party and been seen on the morning after, suspiciously driving 10 mph on a back road that had a 55 mph speed limit. Rather strangely, this same man would claim that he had found a dismembered foot on the banks of the Kansas River in March of 1989, but when police searched the area there was no foot, and wherever it went it was thought to not have belonged to the missing man. How they came to this conclusion is anyone's guess, but the potential tip was widely just shrugged off. Daugherty remained a potential person of interest right up until his death, when he took any secrets he had with him to his grave.

In the end none of these odd leads and tips have led anywhere in the investigation, and there have been no new ones to follow. In the meantime, Randy’s parents have complained that over the years police have botched the investigation numerous times. One example is that they failed to thoroughly search some of the area’s creeks until far too much time had passed. There was also the fact that they didn’t seem interested in following up some of the leads they had as deeply as they should have. One of the worst cases of them dropping the ball was when they arrested a suspect named Eric Montgomery in the 1990s. Montgomery had been a suspect in two homicides just a few miles from the Leach residence, and he would admit that he and an accomplice had hidden the bodies in barrels that he had tossed into the Missouri River. The suspect would die in prison with no evidence that he had anything to do with the Leach case. What makes it even stranger is that police never told the Leaches that they had a suspect in custody, and the records of Montgomery’s information have been sealed in court, hidden away from public access by authorities who have refused to release them.

Indeed, authorities have been continually accused by the Leaches of generally failing to update the family on new developments over the decades. This lack of police cooperation in the disappearance of their son has forced the Leaches to go to private investigators on their own dime and do their own research, but this has met with more bizarreness. A bit spookily, one of the investigators would soon after taking the case be found dead with his wife, both of them shot to death and with the police deeming it a murder suicide. Another investigator who helped the family along with the help of Leavenworth County Sheriff's Detective Dawn Weston helped to bring in three men for questioning in the case, all of whom were released soon after, after which both men mysteriously quit the case to leave the state after making cryptic statements that they feared for their safety. Why should this be? Were they threatened by someone or scared off by something they found? What is going on here?

The case of the vanishing of Randy Leach remains totally unsolved even over three decades later. There have been no new leads, no new suspects, no additional evidence, and although it is occasionally revisited by authorities it has largely been swept under the carpet and forgotten. Randy Leach was officially declared dead in 2001, but he has never been found and his family has continued over the years to investigate what happened, to little success. Was the local law enforcement in on this? What role did cultists have to play in it all, if any? What happened to those investigators? Why would anyone want to cover it all up and was this just some freaky little town embroiled in some kind of strange stuff that they didn't want anyone to snoop into? If so, then why Randy Leach? Whatever happened to him, the grim case has gone on to become mired in a morass of weird mysteries, conspiracies, cover-ups, and strangeness that we will likely never be able to get through.

Perhaps even more notorious than any of these cases we have looked at here happened in 2014. It was in that year that an avid and experienced hiker by the name of Kenny Veach started commenting on the popular video site YouTube that he had found a mysterious cave cloaked in oddity out in the Nevada desert in the Sheep Mountains, located within in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge north of Las Vegas, near Nellis Air Force Base. In the comment, the 47-year-old Veach claims that the cave entrance was rather oddly shaped, like the letter “M,” and that a variety of strange sensations had overcome him as he had approached. He claimed that as he had drawn closer to the enigmatic cave his body had been beset by powerful vibrations that pulsated and emanated out from an unknown source to shake him to the core. The vibrations engulfed his body and only got stronger and more unbearable the closer he got to the cave. Although he wished to continue and see what lie down in the darkness, at some point he began to fear for his life, and sensing that there were forces here beyond what he could understand, he had made a hasty retreat away from that ominous gash in the ground and all of its strangeness.

Kenny Veach

The comment generated an immense amount of interest in the enigmatic cave, as well as its fair share of debate, with many skeptics demanding proof of the whole ordeal. A lot of commenters began replying that a follow up expedition was in order to what was becoming known as the “M Cave,” and for his part Kenny said that this is exactly what he planned to do once he was properly prepared and equipped. He would eventually venture out once again into the rugged Nevada badlands with a camera to record his exploits and any evidence he came across, but on this second trip he was unable to relocate the cave. He uploaded the video of this expedition, which only further generated interest in the mysterious cave. Encountering that cave seemed to be quite a big deal for him, a frightening life-changing experience, and he posted before his excursion:

The region that I cover is vast. There are many caves. I have been in hundreds of them. The M-cave is the only cave I ever feared… I dare any of the people that like to run their mouths on here to join me.

The only thing of import he reported on during this second trip was the presence of a mysterious black ram which he said had intently watched him from atop a ridge. None of this deterred the determined Veach, who was by many of those who new him described as an avid, hopeless adrenaline junkie and intrepid, fearless adventurer who was an experienced hiker and outdoorsman. Veach described himself as a daredevil and “a cowboy,” and he often showed this side of himself with pictures of himself in intimidating, treacherous terrain or holding wild rattlesnakes he had come across. Despite the influx of concerns and warning, he immediately proposed that he meant to make a third foray into the wilderness, refusing to give up on finding the strange cave or be discouraged by the remote, forbidding landscape, and this time armed with a gun. He posted:

I will have my 9mm with me this time, just in case. It’s a ten-hour hike. No trails. Very dangerous terrain.

Some other commenters strongly warned against it, with some pleading that he not go back because he would likely never return and calling it folly. There seemed to be an air of dread that the cave was nothing but trouble, a hungry presence, and if it did indeed exist was perhaps a place that he was not meant to return from, perhaps even calling out to him for a final embrace. None of this stopped the intrepid Veach, who was dead set on once again finding the mysterious cave and perhaps gleaning some understanding of it. On November 10, 2014, Kenny Veach headed out into the harsh desert on his third journey out to the cave, on what was meant to be a two-day hike. He would never return. After his scheduled return came and went and Veach’s family and friends became increasingly concerned, an intensive air and ground search was launched by authorities and volunteers to scour the area. 

During the search efforts the only sign of Kenny Veach that was turned up was his cellphone, which was found lying on the ground near an old, vertical mine shaft with no other trails leading out into the wilderness. It was assumed at the time that perhaps Veach had fallen into the mine, but when mine experts were brought in and took a look down in its depths no sign of the missing hiker could be found. Indeed, exhaustive combing of the area turned up not a single further clue of where Veach had gone or if he had even ever been there at all. It was as if he had just vanished into thin air. He has not been seen since.

Of course with such a mysterious disappearance and especially with all of the talk of the enigmatic M Cave that had been going on and him vowing to find it, which had led to his vanishing, there was immediately rampant speculation on what had become of Kenny Veach, ranging from the rational to the far-out. Perhaps the most likely is that he simply met with one of the many hazards inherit to the terrain he was in. Hazardous footing, the sheer remoteness, wild animals, and dehydration were all very real threats facing the hiker, and things were not helped by the fact that he had been rather well-known for being risky and careless to the point of being foolhardy. He was known to engage on difficult hikes into inhospitable landscapes with only the barest of supplies and would then push himself to the limit, as if in constant need to raise the challenge. One comment he posted on YouTube attests to this, in which he wrote:

My hikes are brutal on the body. After one of my long hikes, some of my toenails turn black and fall off… It takes me about three days to recover from the abuse I put myself through.

In other words, his hikes were hardcore. Maybe too hardcore for his own good. Perhaps his luck had finally run out on this hike and his body just never found. Another rather plausible possibility is that he went out into the desert wilds with no intention of ever coming back. According to Veach’s girlfriend, Sheryon Pilgrim, he had come from a family with a history of depression, which he had apparently not been unscathed by. She explained that Kenny had been plagued by depression for years, but had always refused to see a doctor or take any medication for it. One haunting comment made by Pilgrim was:

Seeing his depression increase, I said to him, ‘You aren’t going to pull a Robin Williams on me are you?’ This is when he opened up more about his depression and his thoughts much of his life about suicide. He asked me what I would think of him if he did it. He also said if he decided to do it, ‘No one will ever find me.’ It has also been speculated that Veach had come across some sort of foul play in one form or the other. Perhaps he had stumbled across something he was not meant to see and silenced for it, such as a drug deal out in the desert or someone disposing of a corpse. He could have also been kidnapped by someone for reasons not understood. Then there are the theories that he faked his own death to escape financial burdens or just to simply get away from his life.

Then there are the more bizarre, fringe theories. The area where the M Cave allegedly was found is near Nellis Air Force Base, which has long had a storied history of conspiracy theories ranging from a vast network of tunnels beneath it with inscrutable purposes, to secret research projects and shadowy military secrets, to the presence of aliens, leading to speculation that the base had something to do with it. There is also the fact that Veach was known to have a fascination with the occult, and that he may have known where the cave was and what it was all along, only to disappear within it when he got too close. Some have even suggested that the cave was a place that had the macabre power to lure in depressed individuals to their deaths or was even a portal to another dimension.

In the end, no one knows what became of Veach, but what of the cave he had become obsessed by? Was there ever an M Cave and what could it have been? In addition to all of the talk that it was an entrance to top-secret military networks of caverns, a portal to another dimension, or even the location of a crashed spaceship, there is also the rather intriguing idea that its mysterious effects could have come down to eerie acoustics. Depending on their depth and dimensions, caves can produce a wide range of harmonics, resonances, frequencies, and echo, some of which can combine to have a profound effect on humans and the psyche. In particular, the frequency of 110 Hz has been found to particularly influence human senses, to the point that researchers believe that human cultures who engage in cave chanting or seek spiritual enlightenment will congregate to caves that happen to have this frequency, even if they do not realize what this frequency is. Indeed, many cathedrals are acoustically designed in order to achieve this particular resonance. Is that the sort of effect that Veach had experienced when he made that first encounter with the cave? Who knows?

So what in the world happened to Kenny Veach? Was he killed by the wilderness he liked to tackle with reckless abandon? Did he go off to willingly step off the face of the earth or was he killed by nefarious parties? Was it secret military experiments or installations, inter dimensional portals, or aliens? Just what is the relationship between the mysterious M Cave and the vanishing, and did the cave ever even exist at all? These are all questions which swirl around this case and none of which have satisfactorily landed on an answer. Kenny Veach's strange disappearance remains just as mysterious as it ever was, and continues to be animated by talk of all manner of weirdness, which only further fuels the enigma. It is a story of adventure, mystical locations, puzzling mysteries, and questions whose answers are only known by the vanished himself. For now, the M Cave, if it is real, still sits out there in the unforgiving desert, perhaps waiting for its next victim.

What has happened in these cases of disappearances and is there anything about them to really make them any more mysterious or numerous than other vanishings? Are there strange forces or conspiracies surrounding these caves or is this all just spooky theories congregating to inherently spooky places? It remains to be seen. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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