DECEMBER 29, 2009
Dear Agent Perez,
I received your letter (copied below for clarification) and the evidence video titled Evil Things, concerning the missing persons who disappeared this past January in New York. I assume you thought I could help due to my ever-growing “expertise” concerning these sort of videos, consisting of footage that was found after some sort of crime or incident. And not to make light of the fate of these five young folks, but I must say, after watching the DVD you provided, I was relieved to discover that they did not seem to have been the victim of any sort of paranormal activity or local legend, and thus I was engaged by their plight far more than I had initially expected.
In fact, I often felt I was watching one of the slasher films that make up a hefty portion of the content on my website, instead of someone’s videotaped account of a non-fictional ordeal. I am no psychologist or anything, but I think it might be good to talk to the friends and family of Leo Pugliese to discover why he would seemingly have such little concern for his predicament. At around 50:00 or so into the evidence footage, the group watches a video that the perpetrator had left on their door, and while the others are noticeably (and understandably) upset, Mr. Pugliese just watches the video in silence and also keeps swiveling the camera around in order to show his friends reacting. Maybe this was just his way of dealing with the situation, but all I know about him is what is on this tape. If any other footage of him exists that might help clarify this aspect of his personality, I think it should be included the next time this evidence file is sent out for someone’s insight.
On that same note, I was a bit puzzled by the inclusion of a film score. It was chilling music indeed, but I think the families of the victims might find it a bit crass to have a “Hollywood” type element playing over the last known footage of their children. Said music also drowns out some of the subjects’ voices at times, and thus may be obscuring a vital clue such as a description of the perpetrator’s appearance.
But I must say, this sets a fine example for the notion that true life is scarier than any Hollywood movie. I literally had chills running down my spine on several occasions (particularly the last onscreen moment for Mr. Schaefer), and was fairly unnerved during many other moments. There was a bit of levity (thank you for including these moments - I know they won’t help anyone provide further information, but they did make me like these people a lot more and thus I am more driven to help solve their disappearance) where one of the young ladies mocks Mr. Pugliese’s mother, and he was shooting the camera in a way that kept some windows in the background always in the frame. I found myself watching these windows throughout the entire clip, worrying that the perpetrator would appear.
Or should I say perpetrators? I noticed something interesting after Mr. Schaefer disappears, the rest of the group runs and then a flashlight is shone in their eyes from the other direction. I don’t think it’s possible for one man to have gotten around to the other side of the house in the time depicted. Another possible clue I noticed was that they receive the perp’s footage on a VHS tape, but his footage seems to be in the 16:9 format that is characteristic of digital video. If I am correct, he would have to have had access to editing equipment nearby, which means he resides or at least has access to a facility nearby. It’s a lot of trouble for him to go through, but as he seems to get off on filming those who are filming things themselves (per the final moments in the “film” - where did this footage come from?), I can see why he wouldn’t want to just give them a DV tape as that would mean Mr. Pugliese would have to stop filming in order to play the tape back.
Incidentally, several aspects of this case remind me of what happened to five cheerleaders in Tennessee a couple years back, where they were chased for reasons unknown as they drove home in the darkness, and ended up getting lost and attacked. But this case is far more upsetting, due to the fact that the subjects in this case are far more likable and tolerable (between you and me, I was hoping the killer in that case would have killed them all after about ten minutes). I was also reminded of the case from 2000 in which a group of college students (also in an isolated cabin during the winter) were videotaped for a reality show that turned out to be a hoax. But again, these kids struck a chord with me that those others failed to, which resulted in my being far more engaged and interested in their story. The evidence file is short (74 minutes) but it was long enough to really care about the group and not want to see them fall under any harm, and it is a shame that they apparently have.
Speaking of the length of this particular evidence file, a trusted source claims that the video was about 94 minutes in length when they saw it in London this past August. I am wondering if this is correct and if so, why the change? I must say I wouldn’t have minded a few more minutes with the group at the beginning, prior to their first altercation with the person or persons in the van. I wasn’t even aware that there were five people in the car until Mr. Pugliese began swiveling the camera around (this young man has got a hell of a career as a filmmaker himself should he be found unharmed, and I had to chuckle at the sight of his seatbelt buckled behind him - I do the same when I don’t want to be restrained but also don’t want to listen to the chime of the car reminding me to put it on).
I hope your investigation has been fruitful thus far, and I think the best chance you have to solve this case is to get this evidence into as many hands as possible. The case is far more interesting than several others that have pre-occupied several of my fellow journalists’ time (like the story out of Los Angeles where the building was quarantined with some infected persons - obviously a hoax perpetrated by some individuals with no concern or respect for the victims of the legitimate case in Spain that occurred some years before. You might not have heard of it until after the Los Angeles story broke - long story). At any rate, I hope my insights have been helpful, and I look forward to reviewing the case again in the coming year.
P.S. What say you?