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Thread: Derek Lueking - 17 March 2012

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    Derek Lueking - 17 March 2012

    My friend Derek Lueking went missing on Wednesday March 14th from his home in Louisville Tennessee. Over the next two days he purchased over $1000 in camping supplies from Bass Pro Shop, Knifeworks, and Coleman?s. We believed he stayed at the Motel 6 on the 14, the Smokemont Campground in the Park on the 15th and the Microtel Hotel in Cherokee N.C. on the 16th. His car was found March 17th at 8:30 at Newfound Gap in the smoky mountains after the family saw him leave the Microtel Hotel alone in Cherokee, N.C. through video footage at 4 am. A note stating only ?Don?t look for me? was found in his car along with th wallet and car key.

    The Great Smoky Mountain Park Service have never quit searching for Derek as they repelled down some high cliffs March 29th and did not find anything. The Rangers, park employee?s, volunteer?s and trail runners continue to look for him. Rangers are also still looking into the investigation aspect of this case following up purchases he made and trying to find out if there are any other significant clues in the recent past. We are extremely grateful for their continued efforts.
    Derek was a fan of the survivalist Bear Gryll?s TV show and theoretically he did have the necessary supplies to live in the woods for a long period of time. We believe he had a least a backpack, a waterproof watch, a Bear Grylls Survival Tool Pack (including a multi tool, small flashlight, fire starter rod), a Gerber pack axe, several pages of a military survival manual, a knife sharpener, a compass/thermometer, 100? of black parachute cord, a head lamp, packet knife, IPod Touch, a book about the Smoky?s and the trails, and some granola bars. He also purchased additional supplies from Wal-Mart for cash (5 empty bags were found in the car with opened packaging listing Wal-Mart), but we have not been able to confirm what he purchased. Appalachian trail hikers who have talked to the family have said that Derek could survive for a long time with the supplies he had.

    Official searchers have hiked hundreds of miles of trails the weeks after his disappearance which included using multiple dog scent trackers, three different days using helicopters, and one night helicopter. Unfortunately no significant clues were found leading to Derek, but Rangers still believe he is in the park somewhere possibly off trail. The Park Service initially asked our family not to search directly for Derek to avoid contaminating clues and wanted trained park service searcher on the trails, so we handed out flyers with Derek?s picture to everyone who hit the trails. As the Park Service direct search would down their food search we started our own. Our family and friends along with other concerned people in the park and the surround areas.

    There is still the possibility that Derek is not in the Great Smoky National Park, so the family would like to make sure that information is available for people to look for him elsewhere.

    The Family has not given up on finding Derek and is doing anything in their power to work with and help the rangers who are investigating as well as trying to make sure the information is out in the world as well. There is a Facebook page Find Derek Lueking that the family is keeping up to inform anyone interested in the case. Please help spread word to anyone hiking in the Smoky Mountain area to keep an eye out for Derek Lueking.

  2. #2
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    ‘Don’t try to follow me’: Note found in missing Blount hiker’s car

    By J.J. Kindred | (

    NEWFOUND GAP — Searchers are puzzled about a note found in the car of a Blount County man who has been missing since Thursday in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    “Don’t try to follow me,” read the note, which was left in the white Ford Escape owned by 24-year-old Derek Joseph Lueking, of Louisville.

    According to Park spokesman Bob Miller, officials consider the note irrelevant and he is unsure if Lueking even wrote it.

    “Who was it intended for?” Miller said. “What does that tell you? It certainly doesn’t help us.”

    It was discovered that Lueking had purchased a sleeping bag and tent, as well as several Park maps, but they were apparently left in his vehicle. Lueking’s father and sister, who came down from Northern Virginia to assist in the search and encourage others to provide information if they had seen him, confirmed Tuesday that he also left his wallet and credit cards as well.

    Miller said Thursday the Park had about 60 people and three dog teams assigned to continue the search for Lueking, which was entering its sixth day.

    The searchers have been organized into 14 search teams that have walked more than 70 miles of trails surrounding the Newfound Gap parking area on the Tennessee-North Carolina line, where Lueking’s vehicle was found last Saturday.

    “Trail search teams are exploring any area along the trail where it would appear relatively easy to get off the trail into the woods,” Miller said. “Once off-trail, the teams would look for tracks or clues that anybody passed that way. The teams continue into the woods until they reach a point where it is either unsafe to continue or until they reach a barrier, such as a rhododendron thicket, where (Lueking) could not have gone without leaving evidence of his passage.”

    Miller again confirmed Thursday that teams were following up on a possible sighting report along Newfound Gap Road last Saturday, where Lueking may have entered the woods.

    Lueking, a Northern Virginia native, is a graduate of Johnson University (formerly Johnson Bible College) in Knoxville and works as an orderly for Peninsula Behavioral Health Center.

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