Everett Ruess located!

The body of Everett Ruess, a young man who disappeared in the Utah desert SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, has apparently been identified. A witness allegedly saw a man chased and killed by some young Ute Indians, and he buried the body under rocks afterward. The story became public in 2008 after the witness’s family ‘fessed up. It’s said that DNA has confirmed the identification 10 billion to one, but it’s not really official until the National Geographic makes an announcement next week.

I am stunned. Frankly, I didn’t believe he would ever get found. This is the oldest resolved missing persons case I can think of, excepting the Romanovs. But they were a special case, being assassinated royalty and all.

It just goes to show you should never give up, because there’s always the possibility, however remote, that something will happen and you will find answers.

Additional articles:

The Oregonian
The Monterey Herald
The Salt Lake Tribune

8 thoughts on “Everett Ruess located!

  1. Anthony April 28, 2009 / 3:38 pm

    “Apparently” is the key word here; alleged DNA tests or no, it seems strikingly convenient that National Geographic Adventure has this all solved and ready to go for its 10th anniversary issue. How convenient, especially given the dissenting opinions of other experts in the case.

    Also in keeping with NG’s basic “noble savage/wild savages” premise down through the years is the alleged cause of death—yes, another blameless white man slaughtered by bloodthirsty redskins, with kin of the latter guilt-stricken for generations until they could confess their sins to white overlords.

  2. Meaghan April 28, 2009 / 3:57 pm

    It is a bit strange, but DNA is DNA.

    There are a lot of dissenting opinions about the Romanovs too. The Russian Orthodox Church has refused to accept that the bodies located were those of the Romanov family, despite DNA evidence to the contrary.

  3. Aimee April 28, 2009 / 4:34 pm

    Anthony Anthony, what a cynic you are.
    Although I do agree with oy about the rather fishy aspect of how this fellow met his end. “I saw a couple of Indians cahse him down and kill him, and they didn’t see me else I’d be dead too, but when they got done I buried the body…” Ooooo-kay.
    If I was going to hazard a guess I’d guess that he had some unglamorous accident in the desert, got lost, fell, got snakebit… Somebody fooling around in the desert can find plenty of troubles all on their own without there being a “Wild West Fest.”

  4. Anthony April 28, 2009 / 4:35 pm

    On the DNA front, the technology may be infallible—but the persons who utilize it are, being human, flawed and thus subject to error. And thus the technology is not infallible. The test results should always be peer-reviewed by an independent lab, to the extent of re-testing, especially in a case like this one, when legitimate doubts exist.

    Being a wee bit Native American I’m thus a wee bit suspicious of any “killed by Utes!” scenario; it’s not unlike, given the time-frame, having found a wealthy white man dangling from a tree and then blaming black sharecroppers for having lynched him. I’m not saying either is impossible, just that, sociologically (and logically, for that matter), both “solutions” are a bit suspect.

    • Meaghan April 28, 2009 / 5:28 pm

      I admit that I, too, am a bit leery of the story as to how Ruess died. But that doesn’t mean the skeleton they found wasn’t his. At this late date there’s obviously no point in conducting a murder investigation; people can continue speculating to their heart’s content.

  5. Kevin April 28, 2009 / 4:43 pm

    It seems that his nephew agrees with the results. Whatever happened is anybody’s guess. DNA is DNA. 1 in 10 billion chance. It may just add to the mystique of Ruess. Great books about him by the way, “On Desert Trails with Everett Ruess (rare)”, and “Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty” if you can locate them at the library or through Interlibrary Loan

  6. Aimee April 28, 2009 / 8:28 pm

    I wonder what the population of the canyon area was like at the time? Was Ruess really way out in the middle of nowhere? How many people were around? Was he on Indian land? Would they have objected to him being there? Would he perhaps have provoked some sort of confrontation, either on purpose or by accident?
    I guess we’ll never know now. And I guess it doesn’t matter that much in a practical sense: nobody alive to charge with anything, and I imagine all the people who knew and loved Ruess personally are all gone now too.
    But it is very interesting, and amazing that they could ID him after so long.

  7. The Yakima Kid November 20, 2010 / 7:34 am

    Apparently the family sought independent confirmation of the results from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory which determined that the remains were not those of Everett Ruess. At the time of the follow up article on October 21, 2009 the plan was to return the bones and artifacts to the Navajo Nation Archaeologist for disposition.


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