CASPER, Wyoming — A fanciful fortune hunter has pleaded guilty after being caught digging in a cemetery in Yellowstone National Park in search of a fabled hidden treasure.
Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Syracuse, Utah, was searching for a treasure chest containing coins, gold and other valuables left somewhere in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago by Santa Fe, New Mexico, art and antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn, who published a book with a poem containing clues to where the treasure could be found.
The Fenn legend has led dozens to search for the treasure — estimated to be worth as much as $1 million — but has resulted in several rescues of people who got stuck in dangerous situations. Six deaths have been attributed to the hunt.
“The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case it led to substantial damage to important public resources,” Wyoming U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen said Tuesday.
Craythorn admitted digging within the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery in Yellowstone National Park on two separate occasions in Oct. 2019 and May 2020. Prosecutors say he caused more tham $1,000 in damage.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in Casper, Wyoming to illegally excavating or trafficking in archaeological resources and to damaging federal property. He faces up to 12 years in prison
Fenn died at age 90 in September, three months after announcing the treasure had been found. A grandson of Fenn confirmed in December the finder was Jonathan “Jack” Stuef, 32, a medical student from Michigan.
Fenn said before his death the treasure was in Wyoming but neither Stuef nor Fenn’s relatives have said where exactly
Fenn for years hinted the treasure was north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains of either New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana.