A Colorado treasure hunter who disappeared earlier this year while searching for an author’s cache of gold and jewels in the New Mexico wilderness was confirmed dead by authorities Tuesday after his remains were discovered west of Santa Fe.
Santa Fe Police spokesman Greg Gurule says the remains found along the Rio Grande River north of Cochiti Lake were those of 54-year-old Randy Bilyeu of Broomfield.
Bilyeu disappeared in early January while searching for a $2 million hoard of gold and jewels reportedly hidden by author Forrest Fenn.
Fenn announced several years ago that he stashed a chest containing the small fortune somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and since then, thousands of hopeful treasure seekers have searched in vain through countless remote corners of the West.
Family and friends say Bilyeu bought a raft and set out on January 5th. After he hadn’t been heard from in more than a week, his ex-wife filed a missing person’s report. His raft and his dog were found the next day along the Rio Grande.
No other evidence of Bilyeu’s whereabouts were turned up after that and authorities suspended the official search in January, but his friends and family continued the search on their own and were even joined by the 85-year-old Fenn.
Santa Fe Police have not yet confirmed the cause of Bilyeu’s death and say the investigation is still active.