David Robert Sampson, age 21, went missing from Seattle, Washington on March 1, 1977.
He was a student at University of Washington, and left the school abruptly, following evidence of a major personality change due to a recent religious conversion. He has never been seen again.
He had a green hiking pack, a blue sleeping bag, extensive survival gear, a bible, and religious materials when he vanished. He wore a blue or green ski jacket, blue jeans, and hiking boots. His interests included botany, ‘alpine survival hiking’, and environmental concerns.
I can’t find any mention of ‘alpine survival hiking’ on the internet, and have no idea what it means, unless it was an indication that he’d wanted to go hike on the Swiss Alps.
I thought the religious conversion, the abrupt departure from his college, and the interest in environmental concerns may suggest he’d joined a cult, although research of some of the more well-known cults didn’t seem to mesh with bible-toting. There are several that promoted environmentalism, however. Hare Krishna was probably the most well-known.
So I researched some religions – the first being Jehovahs Witnesses, because of the mention that he’d been carrying ‘religious materials’ in addition to his bible. They didn’t, and still don’t, seem to have a strong stance on environmentalism. I couldn’t find a solid link from the 1970’s between any religion and environmentalism. Some have stated that environmentalism WAS viewed as a religion, although that appeared to be long before environmental issues became associated with liberals in the 1970’s.
If anyone has any experiences with religions, cults, hiking groups, or environmentalist groups that might have an idea of how this all might play together, I’d be very interested!
That said, I have no reason to believe he’s deceased. But since I always browse through the unidentified files when researching a case, here are a few that are possible, although not exactly convincing:
This is the best timing compared to David’s disappearance, found about six months later. The victim was found in a landfill along with trash that had been brought from Seattle. The height is off by about 4″ (victim listed as 5’8″ while David is listed as 6’0″). The dark brown/black hair color matches that of David.
This one was found in the woods in 1978, and was believed to have died between 1975-1979. (huh?! Seriously, that’s what it says.) His hair was brown, and braided. He wore a metal braided ring. The height is exactly right.
Lastly, this one was found in 1983 and he is believed to have died between 1970-1981. He was found at the mouth of an animal den near 42003 SE 166th St in North Bend, Washington – same county as Seattle. Age at the time of death cannot be determined, nor can height and weight.
David was born in the Bakersfield area of California. His case never got any mainstream media publicity, that i can find, until very recently, when he was featured by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in a slideshow of Washington’s cold case missing persons. It only repeats the information that is on NamUs and doesn’t offer any clues as to where he might have gone.
Lastly, I wanted to mention that there seems to be something unique about David’s mouth in the photo posted above. I’m not sure if it’s a result of smeared ink, or if someone tried to draw in part of the lips with a pen, or if there actually is something unusual about his upper teeth and/or lips near the corner of his mouth.