Bennington Triangle

I love unexplained mysteries. This story caught my attention from the very beginning. It’s intriguing, mysterious, and really makes you wonder what the hell happened.

“Bennington Triangle” is a nickname given by paranormal author Joseph A. Citro to denote an area of southwestern Vermont within which at least five or as many as ten people have disappeared between 1920 and 1950.This  “mystery triangle” centered around Glastenbury Mountain and includes some or most of the area of the towns immediately surrounding it, especially Bennington, Woodford, Shaftsbury, and Somerset (

The first case was the disappearance of 75-year-old Middie Rivers which occurred on November 12,1945. Rivers was a lifelong resident of the area and a very experienced hunting and fishing guide. On that day, he led a group of four hunters into the mountain. When the group returned to camp near Long Trail Road and Route 9, Rivers went ahead of them and disappeared, never to be seen again.

Police and volunteers canvassed the area looking for any signs of the elderly man. All they found was a single unexpended bullet from Rivers’ own belt, which friends speculated could have fallen out when Rivers took a drink of water. The search went on for a month before it was called off.

Slightly over one year later, on December 1, 1946, 18-year-old Paula Welden, a sophomore at Bennington College, vanished without a trace. The teenager hitched a ride to Long Trail Road, the same road Rivers was last seen near. Several witnesses saw her on the road including an elderly couple. They were about 100 yards behind Welden when she went around a corner on the trail. When the couple followed a short while later, Paula was nowhere to be seen. Ernest Whitman, a Bennington Banner employee, told police he gave directions to the young girl that day. Other people claimed Welden waved to them on her way up the trail.

Exactly three years later on December 1, 1949, Jame E. Tetford, a resident of the Bennington Soldiers’ Home,  vanished from a Bennington bus he boarded in St. Albans, Vermont. Witnesses confirmed he got on the bus and was on it at the stop near Bennington. In fact, he was asleep in his seat, his belongings were in the luggage rack, and an open bus timetable sat on the vacant seat next to his. However, when the bus arrived in Bennington, Tetford had vanished. The bus driver could offer no explanation. Tetford was simply there one minute, and gone the next.

Less than a year after Tetford vanished, 8-year-old Paul Jepson disappeared on Columbus Day, 1950. Paul’s parents were caretakers of a local dump. Paul had been playing there while his mother tended to the family pigs. She had left her son unattended for less than an hour. When she returned, he was gone. Despite a desperate search for her son, who was wearing a bright red jacket, she couldn’t find him. Military and civilian searchers were brought in to help. In the area west of Glastenbury Mountain, at the intersection of Chapel and East Roads, a team of search dogs provided by the New Hampshire State Police lost the boys scent at the same exact spot where Paula Weldon was last seen.

Paul Jepson, Sr. would later say that his boy had a strange “yen” to go into the mountains.

Two weeks after Paul Jepson disappeared, 53-year-old Frieda Langor was hiking with her cousin, Herbert Elsner. They had a camp set up near Somerset Reservoir. Shortly after leaving camp, Langor fell into a stream. Leaving her cousin there, the woman left to go back to camp to change clothes. When she didn’t return, Elsner decided to go back to the camp only to discover Langor had never arrived, and no one saw her leave the woods. Langor knew the area well so it was unlikely that she could get lost, especially during daytime hours. A massive search began, but Langor was not found. On May 12, 1951, months after she disappeared, Langor’s body was found in an open area where it would not have been missed during the search. Cause of death was unknown, most likely due to decomposition.

Other Strange Events

In 1892, Henry MacDowell murdered fellow millworker Jim Crowley in a drunken brawl.  MacDowell was declared insane and sentenced to Waterbury Asylum. However, MacDowell escaped and was never seen again.13-year-old Melvin Hills disappeared in the Bennington Area on October 11, 1942.

Three hunters mysteriously vanished in 1949 in the Glastenbury area.

Paranormal Theories

There have been many theories surrounding these disappearances. The area surrounding Glastenbury Mountain was alleged to be “cursed land”, a region where all four winds met, according to the Native Americans. The first European settlers to the area told stories of strange lights in the skies over the mountain, bizarre noises coming from the woods, and unexplained odors in the air. Rumors of a Bigfoot-type creature spread like wildfire after it allegedly attacked and overturned a stagecoach on Route 9.Some people believe those who disappeared were abducted by aliens or somehow entered another dimension. Indian legend holds that there is an enchanted stone that consumes anyone who is near it. Where this stone is, I have no idea, but I did read something about a stone circle in the area, so maybe this is what the legend refers to.

The Serial Killer Theory

Of course, the normal theory is that these people were killed by a serial killer who was never caught, which I would normally agree with except that a serial killer usually targets a certain type of individual, not a combination as seen here. He usually isn’t going to attack both sexes and all age groups. Not to say it hasn’t happened, of course, but it’s rare.

Interesting Facts

  • All of these disappearances occurred in the fall, never at any other time of year.
  • The vanishings occurred only between 1942 and 1950.
  • The victims disappeared without a trace, except for Langor, who was eventually found dead. However, HOW she disappeared remains a mystery. Even though she was the only one found, it seems to me that her body was placed in its location. Search parties would have discovered it prior to that, but didn’t.
  • Two victims – Rivers and Langor – were both experienced in the woods and were older.
  • Two victims – Weldon and Jepson – were wearing bright red jackets.
  • Two victims – Weldon and Tetford – disappeared on the same exact day, three years apart.
  • The once thriving, original town of Glastenbury succumbed to disease, bad weather, and deaths, and in 1937, it was unincorporated as a town. Nowadays, it is basically a ghost town with only eight residents, according to the 2010 census.
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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger

  • Ted

    I find this tale fascinating, but there is one thing that disturbs me about the James Tetford disappearance. Supposedly there are witnesses that he was on the bus, but nobody is ever interviewed or named, including the bus driver, so I think this one reeks of urban legend, at least to me.

    Fans of unsolved cases may recall the tale of the Man from Taured. While supposedly this mysterious incident occurred, NOBODY is ever named that supposedly was there when this mysterious traveler somehow showed up in Japan. (Note: I’m not going to relate the story here because it is easily found on the web during a Google search if anyone here is not familiar with it).

    • I didn’t even think about that, Ted! It definitely could just be an urban legend because there is no way he could just disappear on a bus full of people.

      • Ted

        Whenever I hear tales like the James Tetford case, the Man from Taured, the shackled prisoner who somehow vanished in front of several other prisoners and prison guards, the mysterious staircases that supposedly appear in the forests, and of course the infamous tale of the ghost ship Ourang Medan, I always look for the actual NAMES of the people that were supposedly witnesses to these events, and sadly I NEVER find them. To me, those are sure signs of urban legends. Notice how the truly baffling stories of the Jamison Family of Oklahoma, or the McStay Family murders, the Elisa Lam case, or the Hinterkaifeck Farm to name a few, actually do have evidence of bizarre behaviors and strange circumstances leading up to the mystery itself; these stories have interviews of live people, whereas the former ones do not.

        Keep up the good work TrueCrimeDiva: I’m enjoying your site.

        • That is very true! I will definitely have to keep this in mind when I come across another strange case!

          And thank you! I’m glad you like the site! 🙂