Have you heard the tale of Forrest Fenn? Be careful, because once you do, it may lead you on an inadvertently deadly journey, one that’s just claimed its latest victim.
Fenn, a former military pilot turned millionaire antiques dealer, claims that in 2010, he concealed some treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains between New Mexico’s Santa Fe and the Canadian border. This bronze chest, filled with valuable paraphernalia, jewelry, archaeological wonders and gold coins, has been estimated to be worth several million dollars, and the only way to find it is by using the clues in a short poem found within his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase.
Is this genuine, or a hoax? To several, they can only accept the former as they’ve set out in vain attempts to locate it, and at least four people have died in their quests.
As noted by the Washington Post, one died in early 2016 during a search, and their body was pulled from the Rio Grande. A pastor from Colorado died last summer in a similar fashion, and another adventurer perished along the Arkansas River around the same time.
The latest victim, 53-year-old Jeff Murphy, died last spring, and a Freedom of Information Request by KULR8, a news network in Montana, revealed that he was also on the hunt for the elusive chest of wonders. His body was found on July 9, and it appears that he accidentally fell more than 150 meters (500 feet) from Turkey Pen Peak in Yellowstone National Park.
Although his death was known for some time, the FOIA request threw up new tidbits, including that he was seeking Fenn’s treasure, and that he’d even corresponded with Fenn while undertaking his journey. According to KULR8, Fenn was the one who alerted authorities that Murphy had gone missing, and he even offered to help pay for a search helicopter.
Although not willing to comment on the unfortunate man’s demise, it doesn’t look like Fenn will go as far as telling people to stop searching. Instead, in the past, he has advised caution.
“We don't want to get anybody else lost. Be prepared. Take a GPS. Take at least one other person with you. And wait [until] the snow and the ice melts,” he told NPR back in 2016.
Since its original publication, additional clues have reportedly emerged as to the treasure’s location, including that it’s at an elevation of around 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) – but no one has yet claimed the prize.
It’s unlikely the latest death will put any willing thrill-seekers off. In fact, despite the sometimes fatal extents to which people are seeking out the goods, Fenn suggested to ABC News, that the treasure hunt will “give some people hope” in light of the Great Recession.