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Coder on Brink of Riches Before Mysterious Death

'Wired' looks at life of Jerrold Haas, found in an Ohio field
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2019 4:04 PM CST
Updated Nov 17, 2019 6:43 AM CST
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(Newser) – He was a troubled man but a "virtuoso coder," writes Brendan I. Koerner in a profile of the late Jerrold Haas for Wired. The 44-year-old's skeletal remains were found in the woods of Ohio in 2018, seven weeks after he was reported missing. Haas apparently died while sitting on the ground against a tree. His thigh bone was broken, but the cause of death is not known and probably never will be. One wrenching part of the unexplained death is that Haas, who had struggled with drugs and jobs his entire life, had been on the brink of making it big, both professionally and financially, through his coding for a startup called Tessr in Columbus. The company would use blockchain technology to streamline data in the field of higher education, and Haas and a co-founder would become fabulously rich if it took off.

Haas' death meant the end of Tessr, too, however. As Koerner recounts, Haas was last seen at a gas station in southern Ohio, when he apparently abandoned the friend who'd been driving him and headed into the woods with his trusty backpack crammed with computer gear. He had been talking recently of people being out to get him, and his mother continues to think he was murdered. But Koerner's best guess is that Haas' fragile mental health cratered under the pressure of his work at Tessr, and he dealt with it—as he had done previously in his life—by running away. He apparently survived in the woods for weeks before suffering his femur injury, perhaps after falling from a tree. Click to read the full story, in which his business partner, his girlfriend, and an older friend—the one who last saw him—figure prominently. (Read more Longform stories.)

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