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America's Oldest Missing Teens Case: Bonita Bickwit & Mitchel Weiser


America's Oldest Missing Teens Case: Bonita Bickwit & Mitchel Weiser

In the vast riddle of cold mysteries, one case stands out for its enduring enigma- The case of two teens going missing and never traced.

In 1973, Mitchel Fred Weiser, 16, and his girlfriend, 15-year-old Bonita Mara Bickwit, vanished together. This mystery, etched in the past for over four decades, left families and the community bewildered.

This blog narrates the story of these young, in-love teens, exploring the events leading to their disappearance. With no trace or clues, the families have been in anguish, searching for answers.


Background

Bonita Bickwit and Mitchel Weiser shared a common background of love and warmth within their Jewish families. Hailing from Borough Park and Midwood in New York, respectively, they grew up in close-knit communities. 

These were neighborhoods known for their safety and community bonds. Their families, like any other, held dreams for their children, never anticipating that a routine day trip would lead to an enduring mystery that continues to baffle investigators even after more than four decades.


How Did They Come Closer?

Bonnie and Mitch first met at John Dewey High School, where their groups of friends became one big family. Their friendship turned into something special, and within a year, they were inseparable.

By the summer of 1973, they had been a couple for over a year. Even though they were young, their love was strong, and they secretly exchanged wedding rings. People who knew them said they often called each other husband and wife. The bond between Bonnie and Mitch grew fast, starting from the school halls to a commitment that went beyond their years.


After School Scenes

After school ended in June 1973, the summer sun painted the canvas of Bonita and Mitchel's lives. Mitchel clicked away as a photographer's assistant at Coney Island's Chelsea Booth, while Bonnie embraced a mother's helper role at Camp Wel Met, miles away in Narrowsburg.

As typical '70s kids, they yearned to groove at the famed Summer Jam festival. Excitement bubbled in their hearts, and the promise of a memorable summer hung in the air.


The Summer Jam: Change in Plans

The summer jam, known as the Summer Jam, was a huge music festival, boasting over 600,000 attendees and even securing a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest audience at a pop festival.

This mega-event featured iconic bands like the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead, making it a must-attend for music enthusiasts. Mitchell, armed with tickets, initially planned to go with his friend Larry. However, Larry's mom had a sudden premonition, leading her to cancel Larry's trip just days before the festival.

Now left with a spare ticket, Mitchell turned to Bonnie. Working away in Narrowsburg, Bonnie longed for a break to enjoy the festival. Unfortunately, her boss denied her request for time off, prompting Bonnie to make a bold decision. Frustrated and feeling exploited after working grueling 16-hour shifts, Bonnie quit her job on the spot, declaring she wouldn't tolerate such treatment any longer. As destiny would have it, Mitchell's change of plans and Bonnie's bold move would suddenly intertwine their fates.



The Hitch-hiking Plans

Bonita and Mitchel found themselves in a pickle – they had no way to reach the Summer Jam festival in Watkin's Glen, 75 miles away. Their only option? Hitchhiking was a common thing in the 1970s when people, especially young folks like them, didn't have much money or their own rides. It’s like travel by getting free lifts in passing vehicles.

Back then, hitchhiking was seen as a safe and cheap way to travel, even though it had its risks. Despite the concerns, Mitchel was set on going to the festival. When Mitchel's mom got wind of his plan to hitchhike, she got worried and asked him not to go.

But Mitchel, known for being stubborn, didn't change his mind. His sister, Susan, remembers a moment a few days before the concert when their mom tried to talk him out of it. Even when she offered money for another way to get there, Mitchel made a quick escape, running out of the house, determined to hitchhike to the Summer Jam.


Mitchel’s Journey Starts

The journey started with Mitchel boarding a bus to Narrowsburg, heading to meet Bonnie at Camp Wel Met. They planned to travel together to Watkins Glen for a festival.

Mitchel, with only $25, arrived at Bonnie's camp at midnight. Then he called up his sister Susan and told her, that all of his money was used up. Anxious about his funds, his sister Susan warned him not to go if he lacked money for the festival. Ignoring her concerns, Mitchel insisted he'd be back home on Sunday night before hanging up.

Unfortunately, this call marked the last time his family heard from him. The simplicity of their plan and the abrupt end to communication added an element to the unfolding mystery.


To Watkins Glen

As they set out for the final destination on Saturday, July 28, 1973, Bonnie and Mitchell left their camp, catching the eye of friends. Bonnie wore a peasant blouse, a bandanna, and blue jeans, carrying a borrowed sleeping bag and a backpack.

Mitchell, with his slicked-back ponytail, opted for a T-shirt, jeans, and boots. Together, they walked down State Route 97, hoping for a ride. Their friends last saw them with a cardboard sign reading 'to Watkins Glen.'

Despite decades passing, investigators remain puzzled about what happened next! The details surrounding their journey, from the borrowed sleeping bag to the homemade sign, remain vital pieces in the enduring puzzle of Bonnie and Mitchell's mysterious vanishing act.


The Families' Reaction

The families' reaction was a mixture of confusion, worry, and disbelief. Come Sunday night, Mitchell's family waited anxiously, hoping he would walk through the door as planned, but he never did.

Meanwhile, Bonnie's parents returned from vacation to a puzzling phone call asking if Bonnie had arrived home. She was supposed to be at camp, but they learned from Mitchell's family that she had quit days ago to attend a festival with him.

Concerned, Bonnie's family rushed to her Summer Camp in Narrowsburg, only to find neither teen there. With no word from them, the worried families promptly reported Bonita Bickwit and Mitchel Weiser missing to local authorities. The uncertainty surrounding the disappearance deepened, leaving both families in a state of anguish and searching for answers.


Investigation

Initially, law enforcement viewed Bonita Bickwit and Mitchel Weiser's disappearance as a typical runaway scenario, a trend in the rebellious 70s. The police, thinking they were just two young teens in love seeking freedom, didn't treat the case seriously at first.

This initial perception, coupled with Bonnie's pre-concert letter expressing her desire for independence, strengthened the belief that they had voluntarily left.

Unfortunately, this early dismissal and lack of serious consideration hindered the investigation's progress. The absence of urgency allowed precious time to slip away.


Maurice’s Revelations

Amid the mystery of Bonnie and Mitchel's disappearance, a psychic named Maurice Schickler came into the picture with some surprising insights. Maurice claimed he had visions leading him from the camp to a rock quarry near a cemetery, guided by the numbers 23 and 34 in his mind. Driving on Route 23, he said he found the mysterious location after hours of wandering.

Maurice suggested a grim scenario involving a Vietnam War veteran in a nearby town. According to him, the veteran, who was interested in Bonnie, saw Mitchel as a problem. Due to their small stature, especially with Mitchel being 5 foot 7 and Bonnie just 4”11, Maurice believed the couple had little chance against an armed person.

In Maurice's story, after Mitchel's unfortunate end, Bonnie was kept in a different place for several days, adding another layer of mystery to the already perplexing situation.


Lead From Allyn Smith

In 2005, a big break came in the Bonita Bickwit and Mitchel Weiser case when a man named Allyn Smith shared his story. Seven years after Maurice's revelations, Smith told a surprising tale.

Back in 1973, at the age of 24, Smith was hitchhiking to a summer festival, too, when a Volkswagen camper van offered him a ride. Inside, he found Bonnie and Mitchel, the missing teens. Smith remembered details like their talk about the girl's summer camp and what they were wearing. Things took a tragic turn when they stopped at a river.

According to Smith, the girl struggled in the water, screaming for help. The boy tried to save her, but both got swept away. Smith said the driver promised to call the police, but there's no record of it.

While police believed Smith, they wondered why, as a fit Navy Veteran, he didn't try to help. Smith explained the water current was too strong to help.

Unfortunately, he couldn't remember where the river was, and the Volkswagen bus driver was never found. The mystery deepens, and investigators face a challenge with an unconfirmed yet intriguing story.


Decades Later

Fast forward to 2024; it's been 50 years since Bonnie and Mitchel disappeared, and the mystery is still unsolved. They would be 66 and 67 now. The families are upset about what they see as a 'perfunctory investigation' back then.

Imagine, they could be grandparents today. To remember them, a tree-planting ceremony was arranged at their high school, where their friends and family gathered. There's a plaque by the tree now, telling the story of the young couple who left for a summer day but never came back. The pain hasn't gone away!

Their age progression photographs show what they might look like today. The mystery is like a puzzle without all the pieces, still waiting to be solved, reminding everyone of the lasting question about where Bonnie and Mitchel went.


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