“Do your parents know where you are?” she asked as the small, towheaded boy—adorable with a toddler’s chubby cheeks and determined brow—zoomed by with his blue suede sneakers fiercely pedaling. No time to answer—he was on a mission. Dad was off to gather firewood for the campsite and would surely need his help. The shiny, red tricycle sped by 12-year-old Lou Ellen Hanson. Her eyes followed the boy up the dirt road, and with a shrug and quiet laugh to herself, she made her way back to camp. 

It was just past 10:30 that morning. The campground was stirring with families cleaning up after pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Round two of coffee just coming to a brew over the fire. And the day’s sun was just starting to burn off the heavy mist that lay over the two nearby ponds. 

Though it was Labor Day weekend 1975, Natanis Point Campground, small and remote, past Rangely, and set just five miles beneath the Quebec border in Chain of Ponds Township, is maybe just an hour too far for most Portlanders. The 58 campsites were reserved mostly by families and friends, a good many from the area, all celebrating the end of another classic New England summer. And for the first few hours, it seemed as though all was right—the biggest concern of the day being who would catch the first trout.

But that picture-perfect morning, set in the deep, green, remote North Woods of Maine would soon become two parents’ worst nightmare. And 12-year-old Lou Ellen would replay her encounter with the little boy on the shiny, red tricycle pedaling by on the dirt road that morning over and over again.

I’m Kylie Low, and together with researcher and writer Olivia Gunn, we’re looking into a 46-year-old North Woods mystery that would lead to one of the largest searches in state history and to this day baffle even Maine’s most seasoned wardens.

This is the disappearance of 4-year-old Kurt Newton. Press play for the full episode.