Dennis Lloyd Martin went missing on June 14, 1969 from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. He was just six years old. The family lived in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Dennis was camping. He was last seen around 4pm playing hide-n-seek in Spence Field near the Appalachian Trail. He went to hide behind a bush in the area and then he vanished.
After five minutes, the Martin family started to search for Dennis. That search expanded to more than 1400 people include the National Guard and Special Forces. Despite all efforts, no traces were found.
The search was hindered by heavy rain and mist the next day. The rain could have washed away any traces and frankly, 1400 people may have disturbed any traces were there in the first place. The search was ultimately abandoned on June 29 and officially closed on September 14, 1969.
In this case, we have to keep in mind the words written by guest blogger Stephen Richey who covered the missing Beaumont Children in this post. “Without getting into anything too graphic, I should point out that at this point it is unlikely that a search and excavation – no matter how thorough – is likely to turn up what most people imagine when you say “skeletal remains”.
Ground water, the pH level of the soil, bacteria, fungi, the simple weight of the overlying soil all have had a very long time to alter the condition of the remains. It is hard enough on the comparatively denser and more robust remains of an adult let alone juvenile skeletal elements.”
Richey explains: “the remains may have been encountered at some point without being recognised as human. The skeleton of a child especially when incomplete and fragmented or weathered would be hard for most people to look at and go “That’s human”. Even elements that people would think of as obviously human [such as teeth] are not so clear-cut when dealing with young children.”
In other words, if Dennis died in the park there is a chance his remains do not have the obvious shape and form of what we think of as “remains.” He might have been found already or we never will as his remains deteriorated fast.
There is no dental information in the NamUs database but as he was just six years old, he mostly had baby teeth. The chance that his dentist had x-rays made of his jaws at this age is slim. There doesn’t seem to be DNA on file.
Dennis’s dad, William C. Martin, offered a $5000 reward for information about his son. This reward is not mentioned in NamUs so I am not sure if it still stands.
I have added an age progressed picture here. Keep in mind that it is just a guess what he might look like as an adult. Definitive progressive imaging is not possible.
If you have any information about Dennis Lloyd Martin’s case please contact the Tennessee Bureau Of Investigation at 615-744-4000.