MYSTERY WIRE — What started as a fun trip into the Colorado wilderness on a treasure hunt ends with one man dead and the other feeling the effects of exposure.
The two men were searching for an alleged $2 million treasure hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Michael Wayne Sexson, 53, and an unnamed 63-year-old man set out to Dinosaur National Monument last week in search for the treasure of Forrest Fenn.
According to the Denver Post, the two men rented snowmobiles on March 18. They brought only limited supplies and Fenn’s book. Lt. Chip McIntyre of the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office also said the men “were not dressed appropriately for the conditions.” At some point, the men ditched the snowmobiles and set out on foot.
Later that day, the person who rented the men the snowmobiles notified police when they didn’t return. The men’s truck was found two days later, the snowmobiles were recovered one day after that. The same day as the snowmobiles were found searchers found the men about a mile away from the snowmobiles. Sexson was dead and the 63-year-old was hospitalized but later released. “The survivor said at some point they’d tried to get out of where they were to call 911,” McIntyre said. “They knew they were in a bad situation.”
Sexson’s cause of death is still pending, though it is believed to be an accident. He is at least the fourth person to die in search of Fenn’s hidden treasure. “What happened was tragic,” Fenn told the Post. “My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends.”
The story of Fenn’s treasure is intriguing. The following is an entry on Wikipedia about the treasure.
Forrest Fenn was a pilot in the United States Air Force, obtaining the rank of Major and awarded the Silver Star for his service in the Vietnam War where he flew 328 combat missions in 365 days. He retired from the Air Force and ran the Arrowsmith-Fenn Gallery with his partner Rex Arrowsmith, which became the Fenn Galleries which he operated with his wife Peggy. The gallery was located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and sold a variety of American Indian artifacts, paintings, bronze sculptures, and other art, including forged copies of works by Modigliani, Monet, Degas, and other artists. The gallery reportedly grossed $6 million a year.
Before the treasure hunt, Fenn conflicted with authorities over Federal antiquities law. FBI agents raided his home in 2009 as part of an investigation into artifact looting in the Four Corners area. Items in his possession reportedly included pieces of chainmail from the Pecos National Historical Park, human hair, a feathered talisman, and buffalo skull, some of which were confiscated by federal authorities; however no charges have been filed. Two people targeted in the case committed suicide, and Fenn has blamed the FBI for their deaths.