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Thirty-two years ago, Billy Graham was preaching in central California about broken homes, human wickedness, and the "necessity of a rebirth in Christ."

Four young men attended his Fresno crusade, then climbed into a rented 1959 Piper Comanche for their return flight to Sacramento—and were never seen again.

On August 7, near the rim of Stubblefield Canyon in the northern part of Yosemite National Park, a trail worker's discovery ended the three-decade-old mystery concerning the disappearance or Alvie Taylor, 26; Ben Amegin, 27; Nick Lokteff, 17; and Paul Sokol, 23.

"Ben wanted to be a minister," Glen Taylor, the pilot's brother, said. "He begged my brother to take him to see Billy Graham."

Wanting to help friends who had recently emigrated from Russia, and to get some more hours in his favorite airplane, Alvie Taylor agreed. That was the last time Glen Taylor saw his brother.

"The family was always waiting, waiting for them to come back, [hoping] that somehow they would come back alive," says Nina Amegin, who married Ben's brother Tony.

Investigators and archaeologists called in to study the crash doubt whether they will ever know what happened. The crushed fuselage confirmed the airplane's serial number. Flight gear, records, and Sokol's laminated immigration card offered more verification.

Nina Amegin, whose family worships at First Slavic Baptist Church in Sacramento, says the family's faith has not been shaken by the disappearance. "God gives just so much time to live

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In the Magazine

October 3, 1994

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