Long Island Hiker Discovers Creepy 'Shrine' To Missing Persons In Woods -- Hoax Or Halloween Prep?

While hiking through a wooded area in Suffolk County, New York, a man came across a scene straight out of The Blair Witch Project -- but there might be a rational, albeit peculiar, explanation for what he found.

As reported by FOX 5 News, Huntington resident James Rankin claimed to have come across a collection of "missing person" signs attached to trees inside of Berkeley Jackson County Park on October 3. Additionally, he also discovered a bunch of branches compiled into strange patterns in the middle of the forestation. Quickly taking out his phone, Rankin then shot several minutes of fear-filled footage to display to others on his Facebook page and on Reddit. He also pulled out a knife for protection, which he is seen wielding in the clip.

"Deada** creepiest sh*t I've ever seen," he tagged in the post.

The two-part clip can be seen below. Please be advised that there is NSFW language included in both visuals.

After users of both social media sites advised him that he might have stumbled into something illegal and possibly murderous, James wisely chose to share his footage with neighboring law enforcement, who started an investigation into the matter. Within hours into their look, however, it turned out that Rankin had surprisingly been gravely mistaken -- at least, according to the person who supposedly was the mastermind of the grisly scene.

A spokesperson connected to the Suffolk County Police says that what James actually discovered was nothing more than a nearby neighbor's extravagant set-up for Halloween.

"The man [accidentally trespassed] on private property [that] the owners had set up for Halloween," they explained to Snopes, while adding that the people on the signs were indeed actual missing persons.

However, no evidence was uncovered to prove that the decorator had meant any offense or guilty intention.

Understandably, Rankin found that reasoning a little too easy to swallow, mostly due to the signs of weathering that the posters seemed to have.

"The police have told me that the homeowner of the adjacent property is claiming this was set up for a "Halloween party,'" he expressed in a Facebook post, "and that it would be taken down after Halloween."
"What I wanna know is, if these were 'Halloween party' decorations, why have they been hanging there for weeks or months, because it was plainly obvious that the stuff had been there for quite a while, and not set up recently.

"That's clearly the case as seen in the videos. Seems to me they're just using the time of year as an excuse (just my opinion). Also, [you] gotta wonder just what sort of person thinks it's OK to use real missing persons posters of people's lost loved ones as party decor."

Incidentally, the family who claimed the set-up to be a joke have since promised to close off the area to stop anyone else from taking the scene as something else entirely.
"I've been told through the grapevine that supposedly the residents of the adjacent property will soon be erecting fences and posting 'No Trespassing' signs," James continued.

Suffolk County Police have since shut down the investigation after finding no evidence of cruel or unusual behavior from the residents who put together the spooky display.

In a related story, several cities throughout the U.S. are banning clown costumes this coming Halloween, despite the fact that many have treated the strange outbreak of clown sightings as an elaborate hoax.

As noted by the Gothamist, the New Haven Public School District of Connecticut has asked parents to refrain from dressing their children up as the circus figures this year. Additionally, police in Roselle Park, New Jersey, have also given a similar decree following the arrest of a 13-year-old Washington Township girl after she made "clown threats" on social media.

[Featured Image by RED_SPY/iStock by Getty Images]