CODY, WYO: A search for a famous treasure ends with the death of a man inside Yellowstone National Park.
The previously undisclosed fatality and park investigation were discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to the documents, park officials began searching for 53-year-old Jeff Murphy on June 8, 2017. Murphy had hiked up the Rescue Creek Trail near Mammoth Hot Springs the day before.
The park’s investigative report says Murphy was searching for the Forrest Fenn treasure. Fenn, an art dealer, has reportedly hidden gold and jewels worth about a million dollars somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. A poem is supposed to be filled with clues on where it’s hidden.
Yellowstone investigators say Murphy’s wife told park authorities he was searching for the treasure.
Murphy’s body was discovered the next day, on June 9. He fell about 500 feet from Turkey Pen Peak. The incident report says it appears Murphy “stepped or hopped into a chute from a less steep slope above.”
The report says the fall was an accident.
Reporter Penny Preston spoke to Murphy’s wife. She did not disagree with the findings.
Other details included in the report are emails from Murphy to Forrest Fenn in the days before his death. Yellowstone officials also emailed Fenn.
Fenn expressed concern for Murphy and offered to help pay for a helicopter for the search. He also told officials he had never been to the area where Murphy fell.
Murphy’s wife also emailed Fenn during the search. She said, “I hope your quest won’t be adversely affected by these current events.”
Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin declined an interview for the report but did earlier confirm that Murphy’s death was associated with the search for Fenn’s treasure.
Forrest Fenn also declined to comment.
-Penny Preston reporting for NBC.