Man's 'Quest for Discovery' in National Park Isn't Ending Well

Rodrick Dow Craythorn pleads guilty to digging up Yellowstone cemetery for Forrest Fenn prize
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2021 7:24 AM CST
Treasure Hunter Pleads Guilty to Digging in National Park
This undated photo shows Fort Yellowstone Cemetery, in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.   (National Park Service via AP)

A man accused of digging up a Yellowstone National Park cemetery in his search for a famous buried treasure has admitted to his crimes. The New York Times reports that, nearly four months after he was indicted by a federal grand jury, 52-year-old Rodrick Dow Craythorn of Utah entered a guilty plea on Monday after being charged with excavating or trafficking in archeological resources, as well as causing more than $1,000 in damages to federal property—in this case, Fort Yellowstone Cemetery, where prosecutors say he dug between October 2019 and May of last year. "The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case it led to substantial damage to important public resources," Mark Klaassen, the US attorney in Wyoming, says in a release.

Thousands of people searched for years for Fenn's buried treasure, including two who died in their quest, after the author and antiquities dealer mentioned it in a 2010 book. Before he died in September, Fenn announced someone had found the chest filled with $2 million worth of gold, jewels, and other valuables, though he didn't say who. The lucky guy, 32-year-old Jack Stuef, revealed himself to the world last month. The not-as-lucky Craythorn, meanwhile, is due to be sentenced on March 17. If convicted, he could see up to 12 years behind bars and be hit with a fine of up to $270,000. "The defendant let his quest for discovery override respect for the law," Klaassen notes in the release. (More Yellowstone National Park stories.)

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