Remains Found in Colorado May Solve 40-Year-Old Mystery

Remains Found in Colorado May Solve 40-Year-Old Mystery

( – According to FBI estimates, the number of unsolved cases grows each year, leaving many families without closure and perpetrators that remain free. Some cold cases involve homicide or assault, while others involve missing loved ones who never find their way home.

On November 4, officials from the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado announced the remains of a missing person found in August 2020 likely belonged to a mountaineer who disappeared without a trace in early 1983.

Rocky Mountain Mystery

Experienced winter explorer Rudi Moder from West Germany set out on an adventure over Thunder Pass into the National Park for a multi-day excursion on February 13, 1983. After six days, his roommate reported him missing when he didn’t return to his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. From there, the search ensued with crews, trained dogs, and helicopters scouring the area looking for the man.

Unfortunately, a fresh snowfall erased any traces of footsteps that may have led rescuers to Moder’s location. Many park officials also had to abandon the search early due to wildfires at the time.

Still, many people spent four long days searching the area and avalanche debris for clues about Moder’s whereabouts. All they found was his food cache and a snow cave full of his camping gear, but no one could locate the explorer. Officials still didn’t give up that year, returning in the spring and summer to continue the search to no avail. Larimer County Search and Rescue manager Don Davis said he remembers the day very well. At the time, he suspected that Moder was caught in an avalanche.

The Moder case remained a mystery until a hiker found remains near Skeleton Gulch, which authorities said likely belong to the missing man. Although dental record analysis was inconclusive, local authorities now consider the case closed.

The Fate of Cold Cases

With nearly 40 years passing, Davis hopes that the mountaineer still has family in Germany to receive the news and some long-awaited closure. Although many cases remain cold, the Moder case wasn’t the only file closed in 2021. Several others finally saw a conclusion, including the 1984 murder of Virginia Hannon in Massachusetts. That case remained cold until 2018, when investigators retested DNA evidence and matched it to her killer after his death in 2020, announcing the find in March.

One other case concluded this year from Texas in 1966 when an unidentified woman known as Pecos Jane Doe drowned in the Ropers Motel pool right after checking in. In the interest of identifying the victim, police exhumed her body to obtain a DNA sample. After running the markers through a DNA ancestry database, the family identified her at last as 17-year-old Jolaine Hemmy of Kansas. Her killer’s identity remains unknown.

Mr. Moder’s case and these others are examples that show old mysteries don’t always remain unsolved. With a bit of luck, it’s possible to bring closure to loved ones who still remain.

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