Something unnatural protruded from the clearing up ahead. Alec and Joe carefully approached and thoroughly investigated the twisted piece of metal, praying no one was still within.
Their eyes were drawn to the wreck, but thankfully, nobody was there. Where did it come from? At that moment, Joe notices something bright blue.
It began just like any other normal evening for Alec Yanisko and Joe Del Vecchio. The two teenagers had known the woods behind their homes in Lackawanna County all their lives. They often went ATVing, hiking, and fishing there.
However, on this excursion, they stumbled on something that would turn out to be the clue investigators were searching for. They had no idea that their woodland playground would never be the same afterward.
Joe and Alec were different from most teens in their neighborhood. They loved adventure and looking for new and exciting activities to do.
What they loved most was something they didn’t talk about much to others. They kept it to themselves as they knew it was something that scared the townsfolk. The boys’ hobby would turn out to be dangerous and mysterious.
What the boys loved the most was hunting cryptids, or Bigfoot, to be specific. They would call it “squachin”, a short term for the word Sasquatch. They had been squachin in the dense woods, looking for any signs of the elusive creature.
They were convinced that it inhabited the woods of Scranton as there had been previous reports and “evidence” of footprints. As they were going about their hunting, they would come across something even scarier.
They had brought along everything they needed for the hunt. Basic hunting and hiking gear. Flashlights, rope, a camera (in case they caught a glimpse of Bigfoot), and hunting knives.
They didn’t really expect to see anything just yet as they admitted that driving on their ATVs was making a lot of noise and bigfoot would “make a run for it”. But the boys didn’t know that they would spot something terrifying all the same.
Joe and Alec decided to go to a corner of the woods in search of adventure, but the pair didn’t know that adventure had already found them.
They found the car far from the road, and all signs pointed to something sinister. The boys immediately knew something was very wrong. The car in the woods just didn’t make sense.
The boys said the reason they found it odd that the car was there was because “it was not a place for regular cars” when they saw an SUV stuck on a log in the woods.
It was a densely wooded area, and they would come out with ATVs if they weren’t hiking. Little did they know, the SUV belonged to a very important person.
There were no signs of movement inside the abandoned car, but the windows had all been smashed. Joe and Alec peered inside but didn’t find a soul. Everything was eerily quiet.
The curious teenagers started to look around the car in search of more clues. How had the car gotten so far into the woods? And what had happened to the passengers?
Joe began to search for anything that might solve the mystery. He opened the car and looked for signs of what had happened. And that’s when he found a Sam’s Club retail card. Did it belong to the driver?
The two boys didn’t put two and two together until later. The name on the card was Edwin Kosik, and the name sounded vaguely familiar.
The Sam’s Club card was the first piece of the puzzle. Joe and Alec typed the name into Google and Facebook. What they found online left them wide-eyed in disbelief.
When the teens saw who the card belonged to, they wasted no time. They ran as fast as they could out of the woods. However, time was running out.
The man to whom the Sam’s Club retail card belonged was none other than ex-federal judge Edwin Kosik. He was a much-loved figure in the community.
The 91-year-old had been missing for two days. And the teenagers were the only ones who had the slightest clue about his whereabouts. They couldn’t believe what they had stumbled upon.
The police had taken to the news and even social media to encourage anyone with information to come forward. Time was of the essence for the federal judge.
The police feared that an elderly man would not survive exposure to the freezing cold — the winter temperature had plummeted overnight. Alec and Joe immediately searched around the abandoned car again, to no avail. There was no sign of the missing man.
Joe and Alec raced home and told their parents about the mangled car and the missing judge when their search for Kosik became futile in the growing darkness.
The boys’ parents immediately called the police, who asked the teenagers to take them to the scene in the woods. They arrived equipped with flashlights and a K9 unit. The search party looked for the missing man deep into the night.
“I didn’t think they’d find him alive,” Alec admitted in an interview later, “I was a little scared.” But, unbeknownst to the boys, a massive investigation was already underway.
The media was involved and took to social media and the news in hopes of finding their beloved community member. They had even put up billboards in the hopes that someone had some information.
Kosik suffered from memory loss and stopped hearing cases a month prior. He had been on medication for memory issues. He disappeared from his home in northeastern Pennsylvania while out driving.
That sparked an intensive search for the judge involving U.S. Marshals Service, state police, and the FBI. But would they find Judge Kosik alive?
Judge Kosik’s son was especially concerned about the situation. He believed that his father’s disappearance had something to do with his memory loss problems.
He thinks his father simply forgot where he was and wandered outside alone. Kosik’s son was also very worried about the cold weather and the conditions his father might have been in.
Officials asked the local residents for help in finding the judge. Electronic highway signs flashed news of the judge’s disappearance. State police searched the area via helicopter.
Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner issued a statement saying the court was “very worried about our dear colleague” and was “hoping for a quick and safe return.” The police would see just how much the community cared.
The residents of the town had even assembled search parties of their own. “I’ve gone up the mountain, Aston Mountain, checking the back roads and stuff, just seeing if he made a wrong turn somewhere and got lost!” one volunteer said.
Everyone was worried about 91-year-old Kosik, and the tension grew as the hours passed, and there was still no sign of him.
Judge Kosik had been a federal judge for over 30 years and was well-known and loved by the community. But what had happened to him?
Fears grew that something nefarious was afoot, as the judge had no doubt made some dangerous enemies over the years. Then, the first clue was found on a camera’s security footage.
U.S. Marshal Martin Pane says authorities haven’t ruled out foul play. Kosik was not immune to a possible crime against him. He was last seen entering a store near his home and seen driving away.
He sent two corrupt judges to prison for roles in a notorious juvenile justice scandal known as “kids for cash”. Was this the reason for his disappearance?
The legal community of Scranton also shared their views and astonishment at the judge’s disappearance. Chris Powell, an attorney who argued in front of Kosik for decades, said: “We want to know what happened to him.
“It seems everyone has their opinion, as lawyers, among themselves. I was just in court this morning, and it’s on everyone’s mind.” The whole community was worried and prayed for his safe return. Would Judge Kosik be found, and if so, would he be alive?
Kosik could be seen on the CCTV recording 24 hours before the police had realized he was missing.
He was wearing jeans and a blue coat in the early hours of the morning as he tried to enter Bill’s Shoprite, which was closed due to the hour. He then got into his car and drove off. But what had happened to him?
Madison County resident Georgia Fisch said: “I’m completely shocked. I’m very upset because he’s a great man, and we don’t want anything happening to him.”
Even people who never knew Edwin was worried because of the whole situation. Georgia Fisch was one of the people who knew Edwin; she even drove around town on her own to help in the investigation. But then, the police made the breakthrough discovery in the woods.
With the new evidence of the car in the woods, the police soon found Kosik. The dogs quickly found his scent and led the police to where he had been lying — just 100 meters away from the abandoned car.
The boys had passed over him numerous times as they searched in the dark, but was he alive?
Kosik was barely conscious and had been too weak to call out, and he had no idea where he was. Alec and Joe were shocked to learn that the judge had been lying so close to where they first discovered the abandoned car.
“I can’t believe we missed him. He was there the entire time. We’re just relieved he was finally found. I can’t imagine how cold it was out here,” Joe said.
When they found him, Kosik was just lying on the ground. Even though he had spent days in terrible conditions, Kosik was still able to communicate with the officers coherently.
He even noticed that one of the marshals had cut his hair recently. But everyone wanted to know what had happened to him. What forced Judge Kosik to spend days outside, lying on the ground of the woods?
Kosik was immediately taken to the hospital and treated. His son, who had been sick with worry since he had gone missing, shed tears of relief.
He then told the hospital to watch out for old injuries that may have been hurt by Kosik’s accident. Surprisingly, the hospital declared him to be in “fair condition”. It was truly a miracle!
During an interview for a news channel, the police said that the old man had likely spent two days alone prior to being found. “I don’t know exactly how long he was in this state, but it’s very possible he was there the whole time.
At the time Kosik was found, he was wearing the same jeans and winter jacket he had worn two days earlier when he was last seen.
The police officers came to a logical solution to the mystery. It was most likely that Kosik had suffered memory loss at the moment he was driving the car.
He ended up crashing the car into a log, and since he couldn’t remember where he was, he immediately became disoriented. After wandering for about 100 yards from the car, he collapsed and stayed there for two days.
Alec has said that this was truly a chance encounter. “It was going to rain that night, and Joe and I weren’t even going to go out. But we had nothing to do, so we planned something and went out with our ATVs.
“It started raining, and we pulled over. We then spotted the car and found the identification. We went to Joe’s house and told his parents, and they called the police.
If the two teens, Joe and Alec, hadn’t stumbled upon the car and the telltale club card, Kosik’s story may not have had a happy ending, and the beloved judge is alive and well, thanks to their quick thinking and curiosity.
US Marshal Martin Pane heaped praise on the boys. He was especially grateful for their bravery.
Dunmore Mayor Patrick Loughney said, “These two boys are being called heroes in the borough. They were in the right place at the right time.”
“Fortunately for Judge Kosik, they did not walk away from this potentially tragic situation. They used good judgment and did some work on their own. They acted quickly and responsibly.
“We’re very thankful to these two young men that they saw this vehicle, happened to be in this area, fortunately,” Pane told Fox News.
But the boys shrug off all the praise, and Alec says: “We’re glad he’s okay, glad that we could help out.” But that wasn’t the end of the interaction between the grateful judge and his saviors.
Joe and Alec visited Kosik in the hospital to make sure he was okay, and Kosik was even present when they received an award for their bravery, saying: “It was an honor to watch them receive their award. I am sitting here today because of them.
“I can’t thank them enough for their persistence and bravery in trying to locate me. They both have great skills, and I wish them all the best in their bright futures,” Judge Kosik said of the boys.
The boys received a hero’s welcome when they went back to school. There was a reception of classmates at Dunmore High School the day after Judge Kosik was found.
“The kids at the school were great,” said Alec. “They’re calling us heroes and saying that we saved the judge. It was amazing!” But the boys were to get more than they expected.
Alec Yanisko and Joe Del Vecchio were awarded the prestigious title of Dunmoreans of the Month in their town. When contacted by The Dunmorean, Alec said, “I don’t know for sure if you can consider us heroes, but we were at the right place at the right time.”
Alec is an honor student and lineman on the Dunmore Bucks freshman football team. He hopes to study plumbing and heating at the Johnson School of Technology. Joe, also an honor student, hopes to attend Penn State and wants to become a State Trooper.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.