Illinois man who died in Yellowstone was looking for buried treasure, report finds

By Ray Downs  |  Feb. 21, 2018 at 12:40 AM
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Feb. 21 (UPI) -- An Illinois man who fell to his death in Yellowstone National Park last year was looking for buried treasure, according to a report by park authorities.

Jeff Murphy, 53, was found dead on June 9 near a 500-foot cliff and "it appeared he stepped or hopped into the chute from the less steep slope above," according to the report, which was obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by KULR-TV.

The report concluded that Murphy was in the park to look for a trove of valuable collectibles believed to be worth $2 million known as Forest Fenn's hidden treasure, named after the Santa Fe, N.M. art dealer who said he hid the treasure.

Murphy's widow, Erica Murphy, confirmed the report to the Albuquerque Journal and said her late husband was enjoying a hobby when he lost his life.

"It was his pastime," Erica Murphy told the paper. "He loved anything that caused him to use his brain, and he loved being out in nature."

At least four people have died looking for Fenn's treasure in Yellowstone National Park since 2013 when the then 80-year-old published an autobiography with a poem that gives clues to where he hid the fortune.

Authorities have asked Fenn to call off the treasure hunt, but he refused.

"As with deer hunters and fishermen, there is an inherent risk that comes with hiking the canyons and mountain trails," Fenn told the Journal. "The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous spot and I have said that no one should search in a place where an 80-year-old man could not hide it."

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