6 Months After Disappearing, Treasure Hunter's Body Found

He is first to die searching for Forrest Fenn's loot
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2016 5:33 AM CDT
6 Months After Disappearing, Treasure Hunter's Body Found
In this March 22, 2013, file photo, antiquities dealer and author Forrest Fenn sits in his home in Santa Fe, NM.   (AP Photo/Jeri Clausing, File)

Randy Bilyeu thought he knew where Forrest Fenn's treasure was. But instead of being the first to find the $2 million haul of jewels believed to be buried somewhere in New Mexico, he ended up being its first victim. Police confirmed Tuesday that the remains of the 54-year-old grandfather from Colorado, who disappeared in January, were discovered along the Rio Grande west of Santa Fe by a US Army Corps of Engineers crew working in the area, the AP reports. Bilyeu, who quit his job in 2014 to search for the treasure, told a friend in early January that he had finally figured out its location, 5280.com reported in an in-depth look at the disappearance earlier this month. But Fenn, who says the clues to the location are in a cryptic poem in his 2010 memoir, says the treasure is in the Rocky Mountains, not Frijoles Canyon, where Bilyeu thought the treasure chest could be found.

Bilyeu was reported missing on Jan. 14, more than a week after he bought a raft and set out on his final search. His raft and dog were found the day after he was reported missing, but searchers, including family members, treasure hunters, and the 85-year-old Fenn, who chartered a helicopter to search the river for three days, could find no other trace of him. Linda Bilyeu, Bilyeu's ex-wife, tells the Albuquerque Journal that she now believes the father of her two daughters died looking for something that doesn't exist. "We're disappointed that he lost his life because of a treasure hunt," she says. "There's no treasure—it's not real. He lost his life for a hoax." Fenn says the treasure is real, and searchers should remember that it is hidden in a place that he was able to get to when he was 80 years old. (Last year, Fenn said the treasure hunt was "out of control")

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