You can hear the terror in James Rankin’s voice as he videotapes the scene that he found a few days ago while hiking in some secluded woods on Long Island, N.Y.
“I’ll cut right to the chase because I might die,” he says in the expletive-laced video. “Look what these (bleeping) are.”
He zooms in on a something taped to a tree. It’s a “missing” poster with the picture of a pretty young woman named Jennifer Kesse, last seen in Florida in 2006.
Attached to the trees nearby are two dozen more “missing” posters from around the country.
“What the (bleep) is going on in here?” Rankin says.
He posted the video to Facebook, where it quickly went viral and gained international attention. Some people wondered if Rankin had found the lair of a serial killer.
It looks like “The Blair Witch Project,” said others.
The video grabbed attention on Reddit, too, where some users started posting information about some of the people on the posters, according to Newsday.
Rankin reported his discovery to police who investigated and said the posters were hung as decorations for an upcoming Halloween party, according to Fox 5 New York.
Rankin thought he was hiking through Long Island’s Berkeley Jackson County Park, but police said he had walked onto private property.
His discovery caught the attention of the parents of 20-year-old Lauren Spierer, an Indiana University student who went missing in June 2011.
One of her posters hangs on one of those trees.
“We have seen the video comprised of many missing persons’ posters, including Lauren’s, placed in the woods,” her family wrote on Facebook.
“I cannot comprehend what would compel someone to find this amusing or entertaining. Clearly they are not a family member of a missing person.”
Rankin is unconvinced the posters are part of some Halloween-themed display.
“I’ve been told through the grapevine that supposedly the residents of the adjacent property will soon be erecting fences and posting ‘No Trespassing’ signs,” Rankin wrote on Facebook.
“What I wanna know is, if these were Halloween party decorations, why have they been hanging there for weeks or months? Because it was plainly obvious that the stuff had been there for quite a while, and not set up recently.”
One person on social media said they knew the property owner who, in fact, threw a summer Halloween party in August. The posters and everything else Rankin found at the site — including a camp with what he described as a “collapsed handmade wooden cage surrounding a filled-in hole” — were all props, the commenter said.
“Gotta wonder just what sort of person thinks it’s OK to use real missing persons posters of people’s lost loved ones as party decor,” Rankin wrote.