A Hiker Died in a Tent Full of Cash, and the Mystery Began

The internet has so far been unable to identify the man who went by 'Mostly Harmless'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2020 7:00 AM CST
A Hiker Died in a Tent Full of Cash, and the Mystery Began
Stock image of the Big Cypress National Preserve.   (Getty Images)

Over the summer, a Houston company that conducts DNA analysis and forensic geneaology to solve cold cases got a tip on its tip line: A Facebook group that had been working to track down the identity of a mysterious Appalachian Trail hiker wanted Othram's help. And as Nicholas Thompson writes in a lengthy piece for Wired, the group managed to raise the $5,000 needed to fund Othram's work, and investigators in Collier County, Florida, shipped the bone fragment needed for the DNA extraction. The earliest they'd likely have an answer is next month, so in the meantime, Thompson paints a picture of a 2020 oddity: despite the internet, that Facebook group, amateur detectives, and photos, the hiker still has no name—other than "Mostly Harmless," the name he adopted sometime after beginning his AT hike in the spring of 2017.

Here's what else is known: He's thought to be between 35 and 50 and carried no ID or phone. He said he formerly worked in the tech industry, and he kept a notebook on the online programming game Screeps. He carried a thick wad of cash and talked to plenty of people along his way south, even posing for photos. By the start of December he was in north Georgia, where he bought a map that would lead him to the Florida Keys. On July 23, 2018, two hikers in Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve came upon Mostly Harmless' yellow tent. The hiker was dead inside. But the mystery went deeper than that of his identity. How or why he died remains unclear: There was only ibuprofen and an antihistamine in his system, no sign of foul play, more than $3,500 cash remained in his tent. "He had food nearby, but he was hollowed out, weighing just 83 pounds on a 5'8" frame," writes Thompson. (Read the full story for more on the mystery.)

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