Thirty years ago Park Ranger Paul Fugate walked out the door at Chiricahua National Monument and vanished without a trace.
At 2 PM on January 13, 1980, Fugate, the only member of the permanent staff on duty that day, walked out of his office to check out a nature trail. He left instructions with the only other person, a seasonal employee, that if he wasn’t back before 4:30 to begin to shut down without him.
Fugate appeared to walk down toward the Monument entrance and was never seen again. No trace of the ranger was ever found despite extensive searches by the National Park Service, The Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, The Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, The Southern Arizona Search and Rescue Association, Customs, The Border Patrol and Fugate’s many friends.
All that was missing from Fugate’s home were the clothes he was wearing and his NPS keys.
Despite some evidence of a crime having been committed nothing has ever been uncovered to explain Fugate’s disappearance. He left behind a wife, Dody, a mother Mrs. Braxton Fugate, two brothers, three sisters, many friends with a vast hole in their lives.
At 1:30 PM on Wednesday, January 13, there will be a memorial to commemorate the 30th anniversary of this sad event. The memorial will be at Faraway Ranch near the entrance to Chiricahua National Monument. Anyone who knew Paul or remembers this event is invited to attend.