During the spring of 2017, a 53-year-old man fell to his death in Yellowstone National Park. Tragic but not unheard of, what is unusual is that his is the fourth death in two years connected to the hunt for treasure reportedly hid in the Rocky Mountain region by author and antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn in 2010.
Jeff Murphy, 53, of Batavia, Ill., is the fourth man in the past two years to die while reportedly looking for an antique chest containing gold, coins, jewelry and other rare artifacts that Fenn says he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountain region in 2010.
Murphy was found June 9, 2017, a day after he was reported missing. His widow confirmed to the Journal a report by a Billings, Mont., television station that Murphy died while in search of the treasure, estimated to be worth $2 million or more.
Fenn has rejected calls to end the treasure hunt after prior fatalities among people looking for the hidden loot. State Police Chief Pete Kassetas is among those who have called for Fenn to stop the hunt because of the fatalities.
“As with deer hunters and fishermen, there is an inherent risk that comes with hiking the canyons and mountain trails,” Fenn has said. “The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous spot and I have said that no one should search in a place where an 80-year-old man could not hide it.”
Strangely, the details surrounding Murphy's death were kept under wraps by park officials and only came to light after a report on the incident was released via an FOIA request by Montana TV station KTMF.
The report concludes that Murphy died as a result of an accident while he was on the Rescue Creek Trail near Turkey Pen Peak.
“It appeared he stepped or hopped into the chute from the less steep slope above,” the incident report says, according to the TV station.
Jeff Murphy's widow said he bought Fenn’s “The Thrill of the Chase” memoir, which contains a poem that Fenn says contains clues about the treasure’s whereabouts, in a Santa Fe bookstore when they were on vacation about five years ago.
The poem advises, “Begin it (the hunt) where warm waters halt,” which some Fenn enthusiasts interpret to be Madison Junction within the boundaries of Yellowstone and south of Mammoth Hot Springs, where the Firehole and Gibbon rivers come together to form the Madison River.
Last June, the body of Paris Wallace, a 52-year-old pastor from Grand Junction, Colo., was found several miles downstream from where his car was parked at the Taos Junction Bridge over the Rio Grande near Pilar.
About a month later, 31-year-old Eric Ashby died after his raft capsized while traveling through the Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River. A friend said Ashby had moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., specifically to search for the treasure, and his sister has confirmed that he was “intrigued” by the search. But Fenn denied assertions that he had been in contact with Ashby.
In 2016, 54-year-old Randy Bilyeu of Broomfield, Colo., went missing while searching for the treasure on the Rio Grande near Santa Fe. His body was found months later nine miles downstream near Cochiti Lake. Fenn chartered a helicopter to help with the search after Bilyeu disappeared.
Source - Albuquerque Journal
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