Welcome to Robert Kyle's
On May 29, 1972, a 15-year-old African American boy disembarked from a Grand Portage, Minnesota-based ferry at Malone Bay along the southern shore of Isle Royale, Michigan in the northwest corner of Lake Superior.
Isle Royale was, and still is, administered by the U.S. National Park Service as Isle Royale National Park.
At the time Robert visited the island, he was incarcerated at the St. Croix Camp, in Sandstone, Minnesota. St. Croix was a privately-owned youth corrections facility under contract with the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
Along with counselors and nine to 15 other youths (accounts vary), Robert was scheduled to hike from Malone Bay to Windigo at Washington Baya distance of 35 milesover two days.
After shouldering his rucksack at Malone Bay about 2:30 p.m. on Monday, May 29, the 5-foot, 5-inch tall youth reportedly struck off ahead of his group. They quickly lost sight of him in the wilds of the island.
When his group arrived at the campground on Lake Desor, their day's objective for the two-day hike, Robert was nowhere to be found.
Counselors leading the group backtracked their route but were unable to find him.
Robert was never seen or heard from again.
Tuesday morning, the group finished their hike to Windigo deep in Washingtion Harbor.
On Wednesday morning, the group boarded the Voyager ferry for their return trip to Minnesota, with one counselor remaining behind at Windigo, checking groups for Robert as they emerged from the interior of the island.
At the time he went missing, Robert was reportedly wearing a black hat and a blue work jacket. He was also thought to have had two days worth of provisions in his pack.
For his age, he was considered to be very self-reliant, able to fend for himself.
In the days and weeks after his disappearance, some felt Robert had become lost and suffered a debilitating injury that prevented him from seeking help.
Rumors also persisted he was still at large on the island, eluding Rangers and living off the land.
Still others felt strongly that Robert had quietly slipped off the island, unbeknownst to officials, and was hiding out on the mainland.
National Park Service search-and-rescue efforts included aerial flights, trail patrols, surveillance of isolated emergency caches, etc.
For weeks after his disappearance, backcountry visitors to the island underwent briefings upon arrival, and debriefings prior to departure, in an attempt to locate Robert or any evidence of his whereabouts.
39 years later...
MiBSAR first learned about this mysterious case on November 18, 2008, when Michael Neiger was contacted by an Isle Royale Ranger inquiring about joining Team MiBSAR.
MiBSAR subsquently spent two years investigating Kyle's caseincluding running down leads, contacting current and retired park officials and wildlife biologists, combing through old reels of microfilm for newspaper accounts, writing letters, making phone calls, searching the Internet, etc. Along the way, it hit dead ends, found files missing, and learned witnesses had aged out.
However, despite the pasage of 39 and 1/2 years since he went missing, MiBSAR was able to prove that Robert Kyle did not perish on the island, as many had feared.
MiBSAR accomplished this by establishing Robert was alive and well in Minnesota in 1974, two years after he was reported missing on Isle Royale.
While we will likely never know what transpired on Isle Royale in May of 1972, Robert apparently eluded island rangers and corrections counselors long enough to quietly slip off the island, unbeknownst to anyone, and escape to the mainland.
With Robert Kyle alive, two years after his disappearance on the island, one of the great, modern-day mysteries of Isle Royale is no longer a mystery.
Cold case solved.
Continues for Lost Boy on Isle Royale
Unsolved Cases Still Persist
Royale Search for Youth Ends
Boy Still Missing
Island Search for Kyle Boy
purser says isle unit still looks for boy
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