3 ‘fairly mummified’ bodies found at Rocky Mountains campsite baffle police – National

3 ‘fairly mummified’ bodies found at Rocky Mountains campsite baffle police – National

Police are mystified after finding three “fairly mummified” bodies at a remote campsite in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Authorities believe the bodies may have been there since last winter, possibly since the fall, due to the extent of the decomposition.

A hiker came across one of the bodies late on Sunday near the Gold Creek Campground in Gunnison National Forest. The hiker notified police, who went to the campground on Monday and discovered two more bodies.

The manner in which the bodies were found has left police scratching their heads. One of the bodies was in a wooded area that hikers don’t often explore, Gunnison County Sheriff Adam Murdie told CBS News on Wednesday. The other two bodies were still inside a small, zipped-up tent.

Undersheriff Josh Ashe added that investigators found no weapons or signs of violence, and “didn’t observe anything on-scene that makes us believe that there was crime involved in this.”

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“This is not a typical occurrence anywhere, by any means,” Murdie said, though the department doesn’t believe the discovery of the bodies implies any risk to hikers or campers in the area.

“Whether they froze to death in the winter or the combination of starved or froze, that’s what it sure seems like,” the sheriff speculated.

He noted that the official cause of death won’t be known until autopsies have been completed, which may be difficult and time-consuming given the advanced stage of decomposition.

Ashe told the Denver Gazette that evidence at the campsite indicates the three people were attempting long-term, off-grid living. The campsite was found particularly developed, with personal belongings, tarps and a lean-to constructed from local logs overtop a fire pit discovered at the scene.

Gunnison County coroner Michael Barnes added that it appears the three started camping there sometime in mid-to-late July of 2022 and the campers may have had plans to live at the spot permanently, including through the winter months.

He noted that snowfall and extremely low temperatures were abundant in the area at the beginning of 2023, which would have been hazardous circumstances for the campers. Barnes suspects the three died from malnutrition and/or exposure during the winter, though he has not completed the autopsies yet.

The coroner is still in the process of identifying the bodies, and the sheriff’s department is looking for missing persons reports that might lead them to the victims’ identities.

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