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Discussion Starter #1
Thanks again to those of you who last night encouraged me to go ahead and make this thread. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can look at the "Real-Life, Outdoors-Related Mystery" comments.

Anyway, I would be gratified to see a wide participation on this one, with everyone placing their own stick on the fire. Guess we'll see. I think we've got some pretty bright guys on the forum.

It involves a genuine Colorado outdoors mystery. I expect some of you are familiar with it, but it remains unsolved. Has always intrigued me. I'll 'chunk' it up a bit, and break it into two somewhat shorter posts rather than one essay-length one. Here goes:


Background to the Discovery:

On the afternoon of September 8th, 2004, a father and son were bowhunting together in a remote area of Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness, in the White River National Forest (Garfield County). They were about 12 miles north of Glenwood Springs (by trail), tracking an elk along a southern drainage of No Name Creek at about 9,700 feet elevation when the son made a gruesome find. “Dad, did you ever find a dead man in the woods?” he called. Not knowing what to make of this question, the father made his way over to where his son was standing – a hollow in the ground surrounded by underbrush and tall trees. When he got there, his son took his foot and rolled the skull on the ground before them over. Immediately the father saw a gold crown on a tooth and knew beyond doubt that the remains were human. They backed away from the body, marked the coordinates on their GPS, and went to notify authorities. The experience left the father and son with an unsettling feeling; and while they still hunt together each fall, they have chosen not to do so in the Flat Tops.


What Sheriff Investigators Found at the Scene:

When investigators arrived at the location, they found a well-stocked campsite (see next post for a complete listing of items) with the skeletal remains of the man in his sleeping bag, underneath a collapsed dome tent. Though his trousers had rotted away, he was found to be carrying currency (again, see post below) dated as late as 1999, seemingly giving a timeframe within which the man must have met his demise. Unfortunately for investigators, the man did not leave his name on any of the items found. There appeared to be no sign of struggle, trauma, or other obvious cause of death, and the sheriff’s office has assumed it was probably natural (admitting, however, that there would be no way to know at this point whether a soft tissue injury might have occurred).


The Deceased:

Besides what can be learned from the items listed in the post below, forensic examiners have released the following information:

The man had had extensive dental work done, including gold work, crowns, bridges, and fillings in almost all of his teeth. (This has suggested to many that he had money.)

The man’s back and neck showed signs of advanced degeneration, making it likely that he suffered severe pain in those areas.

White male.

His approximate height was 6’0”.

His age is estimated as most likely late 40’s to late 50’s, but anywhere from 35-65 is possible.
 

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Re: "DEAR LIB": From the Flat Tops into Obscurity (A Colorado Mystery)

Complete Listing of Items Found at the Campsite:

If I (Hop) might be permitted a quick observation at this point … If there is one thing that stands out above all others to me in terms of making this such an unusual and intriguing case, it is that we have so much material left behind, and yet have not been able to solve it. I watch a fair amount of true-life forensic shows, and having such a wealth of items with which to make an identification of a John Doe is almost unheard of. It just seems like we really should be able to close this one! But what do I know? I would love to hear what those more experienced and wiser than I on CF.com feel can be gleaned from the clues this mystery man left behind.

I’d like to refrain for a bit from posting my own thoughts and questions pertaining to the following list and give ‘a fresh set of eyes’ the chance to digest what it tells us, without being influenced by my own impressions. Also, perhaps it would be instructive (just throwing this out) to note what items were not found at the campsite as well (?). Anyway, here were the items recovered:

2 moisture-proof National Geographic trail maps of the Flat Tops with a route drawn across them to the area where the remains were found (note: I do not know at this time the exact nature of this drawn route -- e.g. its starting point, course, etc. I have not seen an image of it, if one has been released. The YouTube video below seems to indicate that he began on the Marvine Lakes Trail, far to the north of where his body was found -- but I don't know where the video's maker got this information.)

6 $100 bills, 1 $10 bill, 1 $5 bill, 5 $1 bills

Green Eureka dome tent

Parts of a brown Slumberjack sleeping bag

Fragments of a sleeping cushion

Green camping pillow

Pair of size 9M Timberland brown-and-black hiking boots

Compass

Sweetwater water-filtration kit

2 green plastic military-style canteens

Round red-and-blue canteen

Butane stove with 2 fuel cans

Aluminum cooking pot

Spoon

2 drinking cups

Fragments of blue backpack

Blue-and-black Jansport backpack

Black belt with clinging long underwear fragments

Yellow-green plastic poncho

Silver Sharper Image binoculars

Pepper spray

Tent repair kit

2 plastic zipper bags

Magnifying glass

20 packs of Camel unfiltered cigarettes

8 multicolored butane lighters

Empty Tylenol bottle

Roll of duct tape

Pair of blue wool socks with duct tape around the toes

Pair of sunglasses

Pair of reading glasses

Pocket-sized Battleship game

"4 in 1" Radio Shack game

Blue hairbrush

Fingernail clippers

Pair of tweezers

Package of razor blades

Bell

Package of foam earplugs




But I've saved the most intriguing item of all for last ...


A 3-inch-by-5-inch green spiral notebook , in which the man apparently wrote (in all caps) about his final circumstances leading up to his passing, as well as his desires concerning what was to be done with his body should he not survive his ordeal. It is written to a “Dear Lib”, who has never come forward. (“Lib” or “Libby”, while not common, is sometimes short for “Elizabeth”). It begins poignantly:

DEAR LIB,

I SHOULD WRITE IN CASE MY SITUATION HERE DOESN’T IMPROVE. THIS MAY BE THE END OF MY JOURNEY.



Here is a picture of the pocket-sized notebook’s first page:



Unfortunately the notebook was wet and badly degraded by the elements when found, but the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has done their best to restore what little they can from its deteriorated pages. After the first weathered page, the next four or five pages are increasingly difficult to interpret, but the message seems to be a request for someone (probably “Lib”) to claim the corpse, cremate it and conduct a service. He even seems to evidence a sense of humor when he mentions the option of dispersing his ashes from a glider, saying, “I promise not to get sick on you.” One other snippet seems to say “my …s are going”, with the letters before the “s” unreadable. Some have felt the sentence probably originally read “my eyes are going” (i.e. his eyesight was beginning to fail).

So, CF.com detectives, apply those razor-sharp minds of yours. You're on the case. What really befell our poor John Doe of the Flat Tops? What leads you to your theory? Why has his identity remained a mystery all these years? Why has no one come looking for him? Or if they have, why have authorities not been able to match him with any missing persons report? Why has "Lib" never surfaced? And how would you suggest that law enforcement authorities proceed from here? Perhaps finally ... If you had to lay your bet, do you think this case will ever be closed?

I thought this YouTube video was a pretty good recapping of the case, and adds a visual dimension for you to consider.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UOgHe1IHu4


Lastly, I’m not trying to turn this man’s tragedy into a trivial game for us wannabe detectives. I really would love it if, against all odds, the collective wisdom of the outdoorsmen on this site led to the solution of this traveler’s mysterious end . . . and eventually to his identity. Hey, stranger things have happened. Such might even bring great relief to someone who has been missing this man for many years, wondering what ever became of him.

I’ll check back in later. Thanks, everyone. Successful sleuthing!
 

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Re: "DEAR LIB": From the Flat Tops into Obscurity (A Colorado Mystery)

he was a robber/drug dealer...that robbed a small store/running away from the law...trying 2 hide in the mountains was his getaway n died of starvation/cold days...overtime...the weather made his tent collapse...sounds like the dude had grillz :D
 

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The first page, addressed to "Lib," begins, "I should wait in case my situation here doesn't improve. This may be the end of my journey."
"Would like for you to claim the body . . . services or memoreal. Cremation."

The CBI found the next section illegible, although individual words such as "I" and "thought" and "favor" or "flavor" could be made out.
On another page, more text could be discerned, but the CBI analysts said the writer's point is not clear. That sections reads, "Third choice take them up in a glider (I promise not to get sick on you," before becoming illegible. Some common words - "this," "you" and "not" - are identifiable.


On yet another page, the writing apparently goes, "ar on the . . . would you call her...d have it sent...you because I . . . want it to . . . where." Analysts also interpreted a recovered fragment to read, "be . . . er . . . my . . . s are going."

Rather than my eyes are going...A thought..."be where my ashes are going." Wanting the item to be retrieved to be placed where his remains are placed?
 

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Couldn't they get any DNA off the teeth or bones? Maybe off the hair brush?
He had long hair, or he would use a comb.
I think he planned on this as his death bed. No food wrappers or cans. Unless he was going to live off the land.
He went there in the summer-no heavy clothes. Maybe in 1999 or 2000 as the coins were from that date. New coins are quite common.
Why did he have $600+ dollars in his pockets?
He wasn't a hunter on this trip, no license or gun, bow or whatever.
More than likely from that general area he went in from the north. Out of Glenwood would have been a very difficult trek for someone with a bad back. I've tried and failed to get too the area he was found in, it's hard because of the super steep terrain. One of my old hunting areas so I know about this. PK
 

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He came in from the north, but where did he join the trail he had marked? Had he trekked the entire 5-7day hike and that was the end? Did CBI retrace the the trail looking for evidence he had been there?
 

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I read on some of the other discussion boards that maybe "Lib" was with him they got in trouble and she went for help. Maybe she got lost and died out there as well. That would explain the 2 drinking cups. Who brings 2 drinking?

Still doesn't explain no missing persons report.

Either this person came from really far away or he doesn't have anybody that would miss him????

Where is his car? Nobody just walks out of there house and hikes into the mountains. They normally drive to a trailhead and start the hike from there. That actually freaks me out a little......where's his car guys? Could be some foul play involved......

He could be a homeless person but most homeless guys don't have $600, nice gear, or extensive dental work.
 

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Every summer there seems to be some people around here (glenwood) that show up looking to live free, or have that wild Colorado experience. You see them coming up from the hobo baths or hanging around grand ave. Although they are "homeless" you see them wearing high-end gear and packs. Similar to the "into the wild" story, rich kids, trust funders all looking to get away from mom and dad.
 

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He could have taken the train into town, then hitched a ride to the trailhead. I'm not sure why he would have 2 cups, but if the second one was for someone else wouldn't there be double of other things also?
 

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Doesn't appear to me to be a suicide, or a last hike into the wilderness to die situation..I also wondered about the lack of a car...

He was well prepared, although maybe not familiar with the Colorado wilderness...considering he had bear spray and bear bells...Not something I'd consider necessary in Colorado...Montana...Wyoming...maybe..

So...was he hiking cross country..? Traveling through more states than just Colorado? Could explain no car...the bells, and having a stash of cash on hand. Also might explain why a smoker would have two cartons of cigs, and several lighters. That's a lot of cigs for even a week to ten days for a heavy smoker, and a ton of lighters. Might also explain having the games... Fingernail clippers and a hairbrush..

As far as food....Canned goods aren't good for backpacking...and with his concern for bears...I'd think he would have hung his food away from the campsite.

I believe the maps were his...Why have a compass without a map...It would then seem as if he'd come in from the north.

He had a camper's pillow and a mat...which makes me think that he's backpacked before, and with his condition had opted for a pillow....He also evidently had orienteering skills...He also had a whistle...used to save one's life...not end it. Strange no knife or leatherman was found...

I know a lot of the note can't be read, but his concern seemed to be with his funeral arrangements. I didn't hear the words good bye...or tell so and so I love them..Curious.

"In case my situation here doesn't improve.." His words seem to suggest that something happened...Blizzard..Altitude sickness...Injury???

"This may be the end of my journey." His words again...Maybe not so deep as an end to life's journey...Maybe simply the end to this journey he'd planned and shared with Lib? Maybe both?
 

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He also seemed to be an experianced backpacker ...He wrapped duct tape around the toes of his socks to prevent blisters...Also suggests that he was walking a lot of miles...and alone..

He also had ear plugs..suggesting he's been caught in a tent in torrential rains before...and wanted to minimize the noise.

Someone may know him from a backpackers forum...or club..Although I'm not too sure that forums were that widespread in1999.
 

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Like others, I'm as curious about the stuff he didn't have as the stuff that was found with him. No knife, no parachute cord, no fishing stuff, etc. No insect repellent--The Flattops are notoriously mosquito infested. Suggests to me that the guy was from someplace else. The lack of heavy weather stuff makes me think he went in during fair weather--Not a hunter on a scouting trip in September.

There was enough duplicate stuff at the site that it leads me to suspect that he wasn't alone the entire time there.

In 1978 when I was leaving Fairbanks, I caught a ride down to Glacier Park in Montana with my cousins who had come up to Alaska in a van on a shoestring budget. One of my cousins stayed to backpack, fish, and camp around Montana with me while the rest drove back to Michigan. I had about $800 of travel pay in my wallet. My cousin hitchiked back to Michigan, and I thumbed it down to Globe, Arizona to visit relatives. Done there, I hitchhiked back up to Las Vegas to see a friend, then flew to my next duty station. So it doesn't strike me as terribly strange that no abandoned car was found.

Altitude sickness is a possibility, especially if the guy was an out of state flatlander.
 

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I love this stuff!! Im gonna start a thread about some unsolved serial killings.
 
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