Last month, people began disappearing near the southern edge of the San Carlos Indian Reservation, west of Phoenix, Arizona.
The first people missed were an elderly couple, the Curtleys; they were due at their son’s home for dinner a month ago. The Curtleys’ car was found on State Road 70 with a flat tire, but there was no sign of the Curtleys.
At a nearby gas station on State Road 70 an attendant, Felix Royos, disappeared while working the night shift two days after the Curtleys vanished.
Four days later, Ed Stoltz and Chris Martin were reported missing while fishing on the Coolidge Dam reservoir, less than four miles from State Road 70. Their camp was found abandoned, with no signs of violence or emergency.
As the Arizona highway patrol and the Apache tribal police began to investigate, they noticed more disappearances connected to that area. The abandoned rental cars of two European couples – Rolf Trautner & Freda Ollenburg, and Mr. & Mrs. Van Olson – were found two weeks ago. Both cars were on the side of State Road 70, and neither showed signs of sabotage or mechanical failure. An Apache sheep rancher, Victorio Begay, as well as his wife and two teenage sons, vanished from their beds, leaving their flock unattended for at least a week. The Begay ranch is within fifteen miles of State Road 70. The national press has already picked up the story, dubbing the stretch of road “The Devil’s Highway.”
Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are now being brought in using the jurisdictional pretext that since there are no bodies, the disappearances are kidnappings. Privately, the FBI is concerned about tribal relations in the area and the possibility of radical Native American activity; the agents’ superiors wish to avoid situations such as the Leonard Peltier incident of the 1970s. The FBI is to lend the local police all possible assistance, but are not supposed to take over the case.
- Your boss, at the FBI is Patrick Hobbson, Special Agent in Charge for Phoenix.
- The liaison with the Arizona state police is Major Frank Garrett.
- The Apache tribal police liaison is Sheriff Mangas Colorados.