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CASE NO: 543
DATE: October 16, 2021
REPORTING OFFICER: N/A; Eyewitness Report
PREPARED BY: Sergeant Andrew McCollum
DETAIL OF EVENT: I struggled to find the right form for this one. It seems the Dawsonville Police Department doesn’t have much protocol for eyewitness crime reporting. The event in question—or the event in question alleged by the eyewitness—refers to the disappearance and presumed death of a few local kids. When I say kids, I mean early twenties with the exception of an eighteen-year-old the eyewitness says tagged along with the group.
The eyewitness walked into the precinct covered in blood and dirt. She looked wet, although I’m not sure what the source was. Small thing, Hispanic, with big eyebrows and dark eyes ringed with mascara. Shoulder-length black hair, I think. Resilient. I don’t know how else to describe her. The eyewitness introduced herself as Olivia Reyes, although she is referred to as Liv. She claimed to have been involved in an accident. At least, that’s what she said at first. It didn’t seem like she had the right words for what she wanted to report, which is the main reason I’ve struggled to detail these events. When my colleague offered to call her an ambulance, the eyewitness declined the offer. She refused to let us check her and asked to speak to the first available officer as soon as humanly possible.
ACTIONS TAKEN: Once I was paged, I took Ms. Reyes to an interview room and offered her a cup of coffee. She accepted. When I brought her the cup, she just wrapped her hands around it and held onto it like she was soaking in the warmth. As Ms. Reyes began to tell me about what had allegedly happened to her, I asked if she had evidence to corroborate her claims. This line of inquiry angered her to the point that she stood and looked like she wanted to leave. I wasn’t about to let something big like this go.
“Why don’t you sit down and finish your coffee first?” I asked. I was hoping maybe after that, she’d feel like talking. I know I should’ve tried to get her processed then, but with no real evidence, I couldn’t charge her with a crime. That also meant I didn’t know how to guide my questions.
Ms. Reyes eyed me warily as she drained the cup. Then, she asked if I could bring her a tape recorder.
SUMMARY: Eyewitness (Ms. Reyes) came to station to report an alleged crime. She presented no physical evidence, but I proceeded with an interview. Eyewitness then requested I bring her a tape recorder so she could share her story. Once I set it down and hit record, the words poured out of her like water.
I don’t know where to start with all of this, so let’s go with the beginning. My name is Olivia Reyes, but everyone calls me Liv. Even when I’m in trouble, my mom doesn’t call me Olivia. This might be the strangest thing you’ve ever heard, but I have to put it out there, have to get it out of me. I’m hoping that these tapes or whatever will give you enough cause to send someone out for a search.
This might be the strangest thing you’ve ever heard, but I have to put it out there, have to get it out of me. I’m hoping that these tapes or whatever will give you enough cause to send someone out for a search. Once I get started, don’t interrupt me. If I stop, I’ll never get started again.
The… incident, as you’d call it, involves my group of friends—Alex Dang, Claire Thibideaux, and Ben and Ryan Jenkins. You might have heard of Alex and Ryan. Several years ago, they got involved in urban exploration. Do you know what that is? It’s like… well, when someone heads into an abandoned shopping mall or a condemned house or whatever. Maybe you won’t believe it, but there’s a pretty big audience for that shit on YouTube. Alex and Ryan’s channel is called Urbexploitation. I used to do their camera work before I moved away.
I guess everything started with Alex’s text. He wanted me to meet him and Ryan in the woods. Having grown up in Dawsonville, you spend your whole life hearing shit about the forest. Our parents told us all to stay away from it, too, which didn’t help. I don’t know if you grew up around here or if you’re familiar with it, but word on the street is that a bunch of kids in the nineties met out there to offer sacrifices to the devil. Then again, that might just have been an offshoot of the Satanic Panic. There are also stories of people who went into the woods and never come out, or people who came out screaming after seeing three-eyed deer or whatever. No one ever has any proof.
Anyway, all Alex said in the text was that if I was really back in town that they could use my camera skills. If it had been Ryan texting me instead, I never would’ve gone. It’s hard to think about that now. Ryan, Alex, and I grew up together, used to play together all the time when we were kids. Ryan and I dated in high school and tried to stay together when I moved away for film school. The relationship… it didn’t work. I cheated on him. Naturally, he wasn’t too thrilled to find that out. Since we broke up, he’s been so resentful of me that any time anyone shows interest in me—even on a friendship level—he starts talking shit about me to turn them against me. It sucks, but there’s nothing I can do about it. And… it doesn’t really matter anymore. Not much does in the wake of all of this.
I grabbed my camera, laced up my shoes, and made sure I had more than enough battery in there to work with. There aren’t exactly hundreds of places to charge when you’re in the middle of Dawsonville Forest.
I should also mention that Ryan’s younger brother Ben was supposed to meet us there. Unlike Ryan, Ben doesn’t have his head all the way up his own ass. The only person I didn’t know there was Claire. She’d more or less replaced me when I’d gone off to film school, so neither of us was thrilled to be spending the day with each other. I’ll get to Claire later.
As soon as I pulled up and got out of my car, Alex came over and hugged me. It was nice, like nothing had changed. Like Ryan hadn’t tried a thousand times to come between us. I didn’t see Ryan’s car, and I understood why when he and Ben got out of Alex’s van.
“Had to steal your mom’s ride again?” I asked Alex.
He shook his head. “It’s the only ride we have now. Rolled the Civic into a ditch.”
“Jesus. Why didn’t I hear about that?”
“Wasn’t exactly my finest moment. I was checking my phone.” He averted his gaze. “Channel notification. Almost got me killed. I’ve learned my lesson, though. I keep the phone in the glove compartment now just to be safe. Avoid temptation altogether.”
Ryan looked at me but didn’t say anything. Ben looked at his brother and hesitated only briefly before coming over to hug me as well.
“Long time no see,” he said.
I’ll describe them for you. I didn’t think about that before, but it might help you… well, I think it would help you identify them.
Alex was tall and well-built. Black stubble, sloping nose, sharp jawline, almond eyes. He’s Korean. Handsome—but that’s not relevant here. Ryan, my ex… I guess he wasn’t bad looking. Shorter than Alex but more wiry and lean. Disheveled blonde hair, short on the sides and maybe a little too long on top for Ryan to keep up with. His eyes are blue. The corners of his mouth turn down a little, making him look like he’s never content. His nose has a narrow bridge, but his nostrils flare. Ben doesn’t look anything like his brother. He’s taller than Ryan and Alex with an athletic build–he plays basketball, or he used to, anyway. He has floppy brown hair swept to one side and warm, brown eyes. Because he spends more time outside, his skin is a little darker than Ryan’s.
So, Claire. Like I mentioned earlier, they replaced me with her after I went away. Looks wise, she’s gorgeous. She intimidated me. Claire is biracial, half French-Creole and half Irish. Her hair is curly and dark, but it’s more of a loose curl. She has freckles across her cheeks and nose. Her lips are dusky rose. My mom had a lipstick in that shade. That’s why it sticks in my head.
Her camera wasn’t as nice as mine. I guess that’s not relevant, either.
As far as I knew then, Claire didn’t like me because Ryan had turned her against me. That’s what he’d tried to do with everyone since we broke up. Since Alex was his best friend, I knew he’d bitched about me to him the most. I was just thankful that Alex seemed to ignore him. He hadn’t treated me any differently than he had prior to the end of mine and Ryan’s breakup. I should’ve told him how grateful I was to him for that.
When Alex introduced Claire, she didn’t shake the hand I offered. Maybe if she had, we would’ve been friends sooner. Might’ve had more time together–or better time, at least.
After we’d all gathered together, Ryan and Ben took the rafts and the air pump out of the trunk. Ben had a backpack strapped over his shoulders. You might want to look for that, too. It’s army green and has his full name scribbled on the front flap in permanent marker. We headed into the forest in silence. I remember thinking it was an uncomfortable silence, but I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be uncomfortable yet.
The woods were chilly. That’s all I remember prior to entering the bunker. It took us a good while to find the spot, even with Alex’s intel. I’d seen video footage of the bunker on the Internet. It wasn’t exactly top secret. Like I said earlier, other people had explored it. Alex just wanted to explore it all, be the first to traverse the whole thing.
The biggest drawback was the region’s radiation. Three-eyed deer, and all that shit. No one really knows how dangerous the deeper parts of the bunker were, but Alex had a Geiger counter. He said he’d keep us posted. Said we wouldn’t be in danger.
While we walked, he said he was grateful to have all of us onboard. His plan was to make this video and go farther into the bunker than anyone had before. Like me, he had an idea of the dangers that could lie in store. I guess not all of them.
“Zipper Paranormal covered this place once,” said Alex. “His results were inconclusive, but we’re not really looking for ghosts.”
It was weird for him to say that. Alex likes spooky things, but he’s never mentioned ghosts in relation to a video. That’s the thing about urban exploration. A lot of paranormal channels also explore abandoned places, but they’re more interested in what paranormal shit might be there. Not Urbexploitation. It had never been like that.
I think that detail only stands out in my mind because of what we found. What happened to Alex. What happened to everyone in there but me.
I’m sorry. Can I have a minute? I just need to take a break.