Vanished while camping: The disappearance of Madison Scott
For many people, camping is a fun, relaxing activity. Spending a night or two in nature can make you feel in touch with it — or give you a chance to unwind away from the stress of everyday life. But every now and then, you’ll hear stories of camping trips that took a turn for the worse. Let’s talk about Madison Scott, who vanished from a campground a decade ago and hasn’t been seen since.
Madison Scott — or Maddy, as she was usually called — was born on April 29, 1991 to Eldon and Dawn Scott. She also has a brother named Ben and a sister named Georgia.
Maddy grew up in Vanderhoof, a town in central British Columbia, Canada. She was described by her loved ones as independent, witty, smart, creative, social and athletic. She loved photography, dirt biking, swimming and making movies. In a town of less than 5,000 people, she probably stood out (in a good way) and seemed to be well liked. But all that changed one weekend in late May of 2011.
Late on the afternoon of May 27, 20-year-old Maddy left with her friend Jordy to attend a birthday party at Hogsback Lake, about 24 1/2 kilometers (or 15 miles) south of Vanderhoof. The party was only supposed to go on that night, but Maddy and Jordy planned on camping there overnight so they wouldn’t have to drive home drunk
Word of the party spread via Facebook, and at least a few dozen people who weren’t initially invited showed up. From there, things got a little bit out of control. When Jordy hurt herself after two people in a fight accidentally knocked her into a fire, she decided to leave the party and go to bed. She said she asked Maddy to come with her, but Maddy wanted to stay. Jordy left the party around 1 am, leaving Maddy alone with the four or five people still attending the party. Maddy was last seen between 2:45 and 3 am.
The next morning, Jordy returned to the party area around 10 to help Maddy pack up her things. But Maddy wasn’t there. Her tent was a mess and her rings, which she never took off, were outside. Her truck was also still at the campsite. Jordy returned home later that day. That night, there was another big party with about 150 people. None of them reported seeing Maddy there. (Maddy’s keys and phone were also missing, but I’m not sure if anyone realized this at the time.)
Dawn Scott tried to call her daughter Saturday, but it went straight to voicemail. At the time, she wasn’t too worried, knowing that phone service at the lake was spotty. She figured if Maddy needed anything, she’d figure out a way to get through. She never did.
Sunday morning, when they still hadn’t heard from Maddy, her parents drove to the lake to see what was going on. They talked to several people there, many of whom were friends of Maddy, but none of them had seen her. So her parents called the police.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police — or RCMP — got to the lake around 12:30 Sunday afternoon and began their investigation. The campground and lake were searched multiple times by helicopters, dogs, boats and hundreds of local volunteers. Several cabins and another, nearby lake were also searched. At some point that year, a reenactment video was also released.
The official search was suspended on May 31, but volunteers didn’t stop. When an area had been searched thoroughly, they marked it with a wooden post, and Maddy’s missing persons posters were put up all over the province.
Police also looked into a few people, including everyone who had been at the party Friday night. Jordy was questioned and police seemed suspicious of her. However, she was eventually cleared as a suspect.
Police also looked into a man named Fribjon Bjornson, who said he knew what happened. Fribjon was described as a friend of Maddy’s, but the article I found that in implied that they could have been more. I have seen other people online say they were dating, but nothing to confirm that. Fribjon had a history of drug abuse, and there has been speculation that Maddy was killed to intimidate or punish him over a drug deal gone wrong. He was cleared as a suspect, but found murdered a couple of weeks after Maddy’s disappearance. The two cases are believed to be unrelated.
Maddy’s family and friends have never stopped looking for her or raising awareness about the case. They started a website with tons of information, blog entries and photos, and held an annual poker ride for years to raise awareness and to do searches. The 2020 ride was cancelled due to covid, but they did hold a virtual ride in 2021. People attending the virtual ride were still encouraged to visit the site where Maddy was last seen, look for clues and use social media to spread awareness.
So what happened to Madison Scott? There are a few theories I want to go over that I’ve seen people talk about online.
The first isn’t necessarily a theory, but I have seen a couple of mentions of the so-called “Highway of Tears.” Highway 16 is just up the road from Hogsback and has been given this nickname due to the high volume of missing and murdered girls and young women in the area. I’ve seen estimates as low as 18 and as high as 43. Since Maddy disappeared about 10 miles from the highway, most people I came across talking about it didn’t seem to think her case was connected. But I did think it was worth mentioning.
There’s also a theory that Maddy’s friend Jordy had something to do with her disappearance — or at least knows more than she’s telling. Online speculators thought it was weird that Jordy would just leave Maddy alone with a bunch of strangers, especially when she’d probably been drinking. Someone else thought it was weird that Jordy came back the next day, saw Maddy’s stuff there but not her and didn’t get suspicious or tell anyone. A few people speculated that one of the women had a boyfriend the other didn’t like, and that started a fight. At least two people I came across said Jordy and Maddy actually hadn’t been friends for awhile and that Maddy’s other friends were surprised they were going to this party together. I didn’t find anything about this in any official sources, but it’s possible that something was posted on the website or another social media page and I just didn’t see it.
However, several people speculating about this case also pointed out that Jordy easily could have just been a drunk person making bad decisions — something drunk people often do. She could have nothing to do with Maddy’s disappearance and regret the decisions she made that night.
The next theory is that Maddy was killed by a stranger. One online speculator to be from Prince George, a couple of hours down the road from Vanderhoof. According to this person, there was a rumor going around Prince George that Maddy was killed by what they referred to as “gangster wannabes.” This person also believed Maddy’s body is buried somewhere in the woods near Hogsback. I have seen a few other people suggest she wandered away from the campsite and was kidnapped or killed by someone in a crime of opportunity.
The last theory I want to talk about actually covers a broad range of possibilities, and that is that Maddy died accidentally. A few people wondered if she might have drowned in the lake, since it was nearby and, as Reddi userSamsonFox put it: “experience tells me that alcohol and water don't mix very well.” Other people thought she might have been using drugs and accidentally overdosed, or got injured and killed when someone knocked her over during a fight, and the few people still left at the party agreed to hide her body and cover it up.
Today, police do suspect foul play and hope someone will come forward with previously withheld information. Said Sergeant Matt MacLeod in a 2020 article:
“We believe that something criminal may have occurred between 4 and 8:30 a.m. on May 28, that led to her disappearance, we do not believe she simply walked away. We know someone out there has information that can help us find Maddy or identify the person(s) responsible.”
Madison Scott was 20 years old when she was last seen at Hogsback Lake in Vanderhoof, British Columbia, Canada in the early morning hours of May 28, 2011. Madison is a white female who was 5 feet 4 and 160 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with auburn hair and hazel eyes. She has a bird silhouette tattoo on the inside of her left wrist, and her ears and of her nostrils are pierced. She goes by the nickname Maddy and was last seen wearing a black t-shirt and blue jean capri pants. Also missing are her phone and keys, the latter of which might be on a black lanyard. If she were alive today, she would be 30 years old.
This is another case where the person seems to have vanished during a camping trip with very little evidence left behind. This obviously leaves it open to a lot of speculation. Hopefully Maddy will be found one day and her loved ones can have answers.
If you have any information about the disappearance of Madison Scott, you can contact the Vanderhoof RCMP at 250-567-2222. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). With Crime Stoppers, you can stay anonymous. There is a $100,00 reward for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect.