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Society

Treasure Hunters Die Looking For Gold In Desert (Photos)

| by Sean Kelly

A second treasure hunter has reportedly died after going to a New Mexico desert to search for treasure rumored to be buried there by author Forrest Fenn.

The first death as a result of the treasure hunt came in July of 2016. Randy Bilyeu, a Colorado man, was found dead along the Rio Grande after going to heading to Santa Fe to search for treasure. Bilyeu was reported missing on Jan. 14, 2016, 10 days after the last time he was seen.

Bilyeu was hunting for more than $1 million in gold, artifacts and jewels that was allegedly buried in the desert by Fenn. The author's 2010 book "The Thrill of the Chase" reportedly included clues to the location of the treasure, and interest in it grew rapidly. 

Linda Bilyeu, Randy's ex-wife, told the Albuquerque Journal that she believes the treasure is fake.

"We’re disappointed that he lost his life because of a treasure hunt," she said. "There’s no treasure -- it’s not real. He lost his life for a hoax."

Colorado pastor Paris Wallace became the second to die while searching for the treasure. Wallace was missing for a week before what authorities believe was his body was discovered. 

Fenn told the Daily Mail that he was troubled to learn Wallace had gone missing.

"It is terrible news that the man has gone missing. I pray that he will be found safe and well," he said. "If I were 10 years younger I would be out looking for him myself. It is unfortunate that hundreds of hunters and hikers are lost each year in our forests and waterways."

Following Wallace's disappearance and alleged death, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas said he planned to call Fenn personally to ask him to call off the hunt.

"He's putting life at risk," Kassetas said.

Fenn said in a July 19 interview that he was considering calling it off the search but hadn't made a decision.

"Forrest has said many things which people should pay attention to, [including] don't go anywhere a 79- or 80-year old man can't go, the chest is not hidden in a dangerous place, and don't search alone in the mountains, yet people still look in the Rio Grande," a friend of the author told Daily Mail. 

"They feel they need to check out cliff faces using mountaineering skills and they try crossing raging, ice cold mountain rivers. There is no need for this. Forrest intended this treasure hunt to get kids off the couch and away from their video games."

Sources: Albuquerque Journal, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Roger469/Wikimedia Commons, Daily Mail 

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