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The Mystery of the Missing People of Nome Alaska

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In 2012, Top Secret Writers published an article about the real story behind the missing people in Nome, Alaska. The article dissected the credibility of the 2009 American science-fiction thriller The Fourth Kind, an alien movie that bills itself as containing “actual footage” from case histories.

The movie is based on the conspiracy theory that the 24 people who went missing from Nome between the 1960s and 2004 were abducted by aliens. The article, like the movie itself, spawned comment and debate, namely for the suggestion that the movie lacked evidence to back up its claims that aliens were responsible for the abductions.

One of the biggest problems in attempting to authenticate the credibility of The Fourth Kind can be found in the alleged “real footage” part of the movie. In the trailer to the movie, the opening scene shows a snippet of an alleged interview with Dr. Abigail Tyler, recorded on September 03, 2002. The whole movie is based on apparent archival footage of Dr. Tyler, a psychologist who came across the “most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever documented” while interviewing Alaskans. (2)

The scene depicts alleged real footage of Abigail Tyler accompanied with the advisory that facial features were obscured for privacy reasons. The “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler then states her name to the camera followed by footage of actress Milla Jovovich, who plays Abigail Tyler in the film.

The major discrepancy with the real footage is that despite Dr. Tyler’s face being slightly obscured, the woman pretending to be a psychologist is clearly actress Charlotte Milchard. If facial feature detection isn’t enough, providing additional evidence that the supposed authentic recording of Dr. Tyler is indeed Charlotte Milchard can be found on the actress’s IMDB resume.

On her bio page, The Fourth Kind is clearly listed as being one of the actress’s films. Doesn’t this fact alone prove that the movie is false and completely debunked?

More important than the insincerity and dubious integrity of a Hollywood film is the fact that 24 people have gone missing from Nome during the last half a century. 24 families are still none the wiser to how and why their loved one went missing. In fact, the real stories behind the missing person’s cases, are more ominous than The Fourth Kind

Could a Serial Killer Be Responsible?

According to Anchorage Daily News, the families of the missing persons suspected a serial killer. After decades of speculation that Nome had become a dangerous place for travelers, in 2005, local Nome officials released a list of approximately 20 people who had either disappeared or died in the city.

These cases dated back to the 1960s. One vital fact that remains largely void from the Nome disappearances accounts that at the time the local officials released their list, a Nome police officer was on trial for the murder of a young village woman.

In 2005, 30-year-old Matt Owens was on trial for the second time in a first-degree murder case. Owens stood accused of shooting and killing 19-year-old Sonya Ivanoff. Owens was also charged with tampering with evidence.

During cross-examination at the trial, prosecutors attempted to paint Owens as a man who abused his position as a police officer to control young women, as stated by the Associated Press. (3)

In December 2005, Matt Owens was convicted of first-degree murder and for tampering with evidence in relation to the killing of the young woman who had moved from Nome approximately a year before her death.

One interesting component of the trial was that throughout the court case the defense lawyer attempted to pin the murder on three other suspects. The defense lawyer claimed that his client was the victim of a police setup and that state authorities had made the evidence fit Owens. (3)

The police corruption that is blatantly obvious in the murder case is likely to have strengthened the mistrust that some of the residents felt toward Nome police.

The article published on Anchorage Daily News hints towards the suggestion that police corruption could be behind the mysterious killings and disappearances in Nome.

“Some residents mistrusted city police,” states (3)

welcome to nome

Or, Could Alien Abductions Explain the Missing?

The premise that aliens could have been responsible for the abductions remains widely doubted in the city of Nome. As Dallas Massie, a retired state trooper who had been an acting Nome police chief said in 2009:

“I have yet to hear anybody with the theory that aliens are taking folks out of the region.” (3)

Eventually the FBI stepped in and analyzed the different murder and disappearance cases. The FBI came to the conclusion that excessive alcohol consumption and the harsh winter climate was the common denominator in many of the cases.

Due to a history of alcohol abuse amongst native Alaskans, under the state’s system of local referendums, many communities choose to restrict alcohol consumption. As a consequence of these restrictions so-called “wet towns” in the area, such as Nome, attract heavy drinkers.

There seems to be little “concrete” evidence to back up the FBI’s conclusion that binge drinking and bad weather was responsible for the 24 disappearances in Nome. However, there is plenty of confirmation that Nome’s binge culture is causing intense problems in the town.

As USA Today writes, some consume excessive alcohol and pass out in the sub-zero temperatures and never make it out of Nome alive. As Greg Smith, head of the Norton Sound Health Corp’s outpatient substance abuse program told USA Today:

“The level of alcoholism is intense. The most dangerous pattern of drinking is binge drinking and it is firmly entrenched here. It’s been built into the drinking culture.” (4)

Some Nome residents, however, seem to be unconvinced by the FBI’s conclusion that drink is the primary cause of the strange disappearances and deaths.

nome, alaska

Multiple Theories, No Conclusive Evidence

Delbert Pungowiyi, whose uncle flew to Nome in 1998 to buy a snow machine but never came home, believes that foul play claimed his uncle. Pungowiyi rejects the FBI’s drink and climate-related conclusion and suspects that the deaths and disappearances are racially motivated.

As Top Secret Writers wrote in 2012, the FBI determined that there was no real reason to suspect a serial killer, but many locals suspected that there was a serial killer involved. If we analyze the case of Delbert Pungowiji’s uncle who never returned home after visiting Nome, the fact that his body has ever been found hints toward the possibility that something more sinister than excessive alcohol was responsible for the strange disappearance.

When asked his thoughts about The Fourth Kind’s alien theory, Pungowiji replied:

“Oh my god, that is ridiculous.” (2)

As one reader of writes in the comments thread, there’s something fishy going on in Nome, like the authorities are trying to cover up the cases so that the public won’t know the truth.

What are your thoughts on the unresolved mystery of the missing people in Nome? Aliens, drink, a serial killer, police corruption, or maybe something entirely different?

References & Image Credits:
(1) DeveionPhotography via photopin cc
(2) Anchorage Daily News
(3)Juneau Empire
(4) USA Today
(5) Wikipedia: Nome Gold Pan
(6) Nome, Alaska Aerial

Originally published on

  • Seamus Coogan

    Great article and how dare people turn this into some UFO crap. These are real people with real family members missing!

  • Homey

    Well there is no proof of Alien abductions and no recovered bodies and no body seen anything………hmm.
    The region is isolated, cold, dark and dense in vegetation which could lend plausibility to a perfect place for some far off intergalactic species to conduct there research or whatever. No ones going to believe this little town on the edge of the continent its perfect why hell we can even snatch 2 or 3 a week with no problems! This area is the new wild f***’in west!……………….perhaps.
    I think if I was living there I would start placing time-lapse cameras all over the place to capture any “unusual” events that might take place to remove the doubt.
    What do you think?

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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