Darwin Vest missing 18 years

A relative asked me to profile the disappearance of Darwin Kenneth Vest, who disappeared 18 years ago as of June 2. He sounds like a really interesting guy, an internationally known entomologist and expert in hobo spiders and poisonous snakes. He testified about them in court and even worked with the FBI and the CIA sometimes.

Whether Vest’s work had anything to do with his 1999 disappearance seems to be up in the air, though personally I doubt it. The man, who was unmarried and childless but had a loving extended family, vanished off the face of the earth while walking home late one evening after his weekly trivia game with friends.

Vest had been drinking that night and it’s possible he simply stumbled into the Snake River — he vanished from Idaho Falls, Idaho. But his family doesn’t think so cause that’s not on his usual route home, and they think foul play was involved.

If he is ever found as a John Doe, his distinctive belt buckle and watch — both with spider decorations — might help identify him.

8 thoughts on “Darwin Vest missing 18 years

  1. Gypsy June 6, 2017 / 8:37 pm

    I remember this very well. I live in Idaho Falls and I was almost 20 when this happened. He was very well known in town, as well, it happened on my husband’s birthday.
    There was a report of a body in the river the following morning, but by the time poloce got there it was gone. No one knows if the body was real or just someone’s imagination.
    There has been a lot of rumors in the years following. Everything from, him leaving to start a new life, jealously over lover or his work, someone wanting his information, or him seeing something that he shouldn’t have.
    Idaho Falls is a small town. We don’t have a lot of crime, but when something big does happen our police are not adept to respond. It isn’t that they dont try, but they don’t know how and hardly have the man power.
    I remember when Mr. Vest disappeared many people were afraid.
    I hope our town and his family have answers soon.

  2. Kat June 7, 2017 / 11:37 am

    I wonder if this had any affect on the cases he testified as, in terms of appeals and all. This guy was something else, and I mean that in the best way. I wonder if you could be self educated like that today and be able to have a successful career. Those circumstances have always struck me as odd, maybe he was targeted? For such a big name, I don’t recall seeing so much publicity about his vanishing.

    • Gypsy June 7, 2017 / 7:16 pm

      I don’t know about nationally, but locally it was and is big news. Here in town they often run a story in the newspaper on the anniversary of his disaperance.

  3. Kat June 7, 2017 / 8:42 pm

    Really? That’s awesome, to keep him in the light and all. But I would have thought he would have gotten bigger coverage. Just me, it seems like people with his skills would be in short supply.

  4. Frank Will August 13, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Darwin was my cousin. We grew up together. We spent every summer growing up in Island Park Idaho where my Grandmother, Vion, Darwin’s father’s sister,had a cabin. We would hunt and trap several animals using a Hav-A-Heart trap and sell them to pet stores. He even talked me into trapping and then milking rattle snakes in the Arco desert. We all still miss him but I have my own opinion of what happened to him. I believe it was all about what he was researching at the time –I will leave it there.

    • Kenda Vest Jones January 11, 2018 / 3:54 pm

      Good day, Frank…..I am Darwin’ first cousin also. What exactly was he “researching”? your “still miss him but” comment is troublesome….please expand.

  5. Doug Carothers March 18, 2018 / 11:55 pm

    Darwin and I used to be friends and caught many snakes together. I have a thought about this – but won’t share it online.

  6. RW Gless September 15, 2019 / 7:49 pm

    Last time I spoke with Dar he said he was looking at going to South America where they have some big Spiders, or so he said … I met Dar over the phone as a reporter working on spider bites that the local doctors were calling unknown Bug Bites… many looked like Recluse bites but some could have been Hobo or other Unknown Venomous creatures … I wouldn’t doubt it if he is working 10 stories under for the Company developing nasties … he seemed a bit worried about those two legged creatures who lived down on the Farm and slithered around down at Camp Swampy … I hope you are still out there Dar.

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