Indiana Dunes National Park is near the coast of Indiana on Lake Michigan. It has a long and interesting past, and its 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) of sand dunes, woodlands, prairies, and wetlands make it a famous place for birdwatching and fossil hunting.
Even though Indiana Dunes National Park is very pretty, many people have gone missing there in the last few decades. In this list, ten people who went missing in or near the park are looked at. We will be looking at the details of some disappearances that have happened at this beautiful and complex park, from people who haven’t been seen since going missing to the famous case of three young women who went missing in 1966.
Missing Person Cases at Indiana Dunes National Park
1945 Porter County Jane Doe
A shooter found Jane Doe in Porter County, Indiana, in 1945. She was in a thicket about 0.5 miles south of U.S. Highway 6 and 1.5 miles from the line with La Porte County. Jane Doe, who was 5’6″ tall and thought to be younger than 60, was wearing a bluish-gray coat and nylons. Her teeth were filled with gold. The fact that only partial skeletal remains were found suggests that the woman had been dead for about a year before they were found.
Martha Nehring Pilnok
On January 15, 1944, in Valparaiso, Indiana, Martha Nehring Pilnok went missing after being gone for about twenty minutes from Indiana Dunes National Park. When she went missing, Pilnok lived on a farm with her father, husband, and children. Pilnok is thought to have been a white woman who was 5’2″ tall and weighed between 130 and 150 pounds. She may have also gone by the name Martha Lena Pilnok sometimes. In 1965, Martha’s daughter went to the police and said she hadn’t seen her mother in more than 25 years. This means that Martha’s daughter would not have seen her since 1940, which is a long time before Martha went missing.
Johnice “China” White
Notes from park rangers show that a girl was last seen at her home near Indiana Dunes National Park on August 7, 1995. The girl’s dead body was found in Gary, Indiana, the next day in a remote part of the park. According to the incident notes, the park was ready to work with the Gary police to look into what happened. In the guard notes for Indiana Dunes National Park, nothing else is written about the death or disappearance.
The 22-year-old man from Indianapolis, Bryce Dunfee, was last seen when he fell through Lake Michigan ice while visiting West Beach, Indiana, with some friends. West Beach is close to Indiana Dunes National Park. Dunfee went to New Haven High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and graduated. He had lost a brother before. After Dunfee went missing, police looked for him even though the weather was bad. For example, high winds and waves meant that boat searches had to be put off for a while.
Mary Jo Klen
Mary Jo Klen went missing in 2000, and no one still knows what happened to her in 2023. Klen was last seen in Valparaiso, Indiana, which is in Porter County and close to Indiana Dunes National Park. She was 40 years old at the time. There hasn’t been much new information about Klen’s case in the last twenty years, which makes it even harder to figure out what happened.
Michael Steven Bickel
The last time Michael Steven Bickel was seen was in Portage, Indiana, in March 2012. He then went missing while on a trip to Lake Michigan. After Bickel went missing, his Subaru was found and taken away. Strangely, Beckel wrote two suicide notes. One note said that Bickel swam from Portage Lakefront Park to Chicago’s Navy Pier, which is 30 miles (48 kilometers). Later, the police said Bickel drowned while swimming in Lake Michigan. One of the notes also said that Bickel might have planned to kill himself.