I thought it would be useful to setup a page summarizing my current thinking about the Bill Ewasko case. It may well change with time as new evidence comes to light and more areas are searched. I’ve changed my working theories many times while doing this, so I’m not wedded to any of it. This should be something of a living document.
Also be warned that I’m no expert here. I could be full of crap in any or all of my judgments, or I could just perhaps not be seeing something right. I can give you the names of any number of people who will loudly attest to that. But I am fairly confident that when Bill is eventually found, where he is will make some sort of sense in hindsight. It will probably be a “Duh!” moment. The trick is figuring it out in foresight.
So, here’s what I think, at the moment:
- Here’s a significant update regarding implications of Bill’s single cell phone ping based upon more knowledge of the Verizon cell system (July 12, 2012).
- Bill is nowhere near any trail or “standard” cross country route in the area. If he was, he would have been found by the many other hikers out there in the interim. The backcountry of JTNP gets significant traffic. Bill’s someplace fairly weird and unexpected.
- Bill wasn’t struck by a catastrophic medical situation like a heart attack or stroke. If he had, he would not have been able to travel and would have been found along a standard route between his vehicle and Quail Mountain.
- Bill is somewhere that has yet to be searched. (This sounds like a dumb statement, but it effectively excludes a large amount of area)
- Bill is somewhere that is not readily apparent from the air. This would be either under a rock, tree or bush, or outside the primary search area. Air support was very good during the initial search and if Bill was in the open, he would have been seen.
- It seems unlikely Bill is in Johnny Lang Canyon, anywhere between Quail Mountain and the Juniper Flats trailhead, or the Stubbe Spring area. These areas have been searched very extensively, and the area between Quail Mountain and the trailhead (and Stubbe Spring) would be impossible to get a cell ping out as the mountain blocks the radio path toward the Serin Drive tower.
- It doesn’t appear plausible Bill ever reached the top of Quail Mountain. His signature wasn’t on the register at the peak. His start on the trail had to have been after 10:20 AM when hiker Mendoza arrived at the Juniper Flats trailhead and saw no other vehicle. This would be a very late start to attempt something as ambitious as Quail Mountain and be out of the park by 5 PM. Finally, if Bill had been on top of Quail Mountain and was forced down in a different direction, cell coverage up there is excellent and he could have placed a phone call.
- Bill probably, but not positively, started his hike westerly on the closed Juniper Flats Road rather than the parallel Calif Riding & Hiking Trail, leaving the footprints spotted by hiker Mendoza. These routes join in the vicinity of Juniper Flats.
- If Bill had intended to hike to Lost Horse Mine or Mountain, he would have parked at the trailhead for that area, which is about another 1.5 miles further south on Keys View Road, so that area could likely be excluded.
- The record of the cell phone ping early Sunday morning suggests Bill had not fallen into a mine, crevice or other hole. If he had, a cell ping wouldn’t have got out. It also tends to suggest he was still ambulatory at that time.
- If the 10.6 mile cell ping distance is anywhere close to valid, it would put Bill well beyond his apparent destination of Quail Mountain. How he could get that close to the Serin Drive tower and not ping it (or another tower) sooner still remains a mystery.
- Whether or not the distance of the cell ping is correct, Bill and his phone should be in a line of sight to the Serin Drive Verizon cell tower. If not in a direct line of sight, he would have to be very close to one in order for a reflection of his cell signal to make it to the cell tower.
- I personally put little weight on the possibility of foul play being involved. I also discount the witness who claimed Bill’s vehicle was pointed in a different direction from when she saw it to when it was found by the CHP helicopter. If the vehicle really appeared and disappeared as some witnesses suggest, then something extremely criminal would have been going on. The Riverside Sheriff’s Office, the experts in such things, have not given the least inclination that they think it’s a criminal matter.
- The found bandanna is an intriguing item, but absent any DNA analysis, there’s no clear link of it to Bill. It’s a “maybe”.
- After this much passage of time, Bill’s pack belongings and personal effects should be scattered by animal activity over a substantial area, improving the chances of coming upon him.
- As time goes by and more searching completed, the odds of finding Bill actually improve. This is due to the diminishment of the remaining area he could possibly be in. Strategic selection of the remaining areas to search would further improve the odds.
- Whatever Bill did and where he went made sense to him at the time, given his circumstances, but has been completely unexpected by the searchers to date.
Back to the Bill Ewasko search page