Notebook yields new clues in case of Flat Tops remains
Investigators hope a possible goodbye note written to someone named “Lib” might help shed light about the identity of a man found dead a year and a half ago in the Flat Tops.Garfield County sheriff investigators on Wednesday released new information related to the case of a man whose skeletal remains were found Sept. 8, 2004, by bow hunters in a remote area north of Glenwood Springs.The Colorado Bureau of Investigation recently was able to recover text from a deteriorated notebook found with the remains.Investigators hope going public with the notebook findings and other evidence from the investigation might cause someone to come forward with a new lead in the case.A letter in a recovered page in the notebook starts out with “Dear Lib,” possibly a nickname. “I should write in case my situation doesn’t improve. This may be the end of my journey,” the note continues.
While increasingly difficult to read, it apparently goes on to ask someone to claim the man’s body, and then makes a reference to services and cremation, said sheriff detective Don Breier.The pocket-sized, spiral notebook has a green cover with hand-drawn artwork depicting a heart and some figures inside the heart, including what appears to be a cat, Breier said.The skeleton revealed no cause of death and the sheriff’s office has been assuming it probably was natural. But Breier noted that there’s no way to know whether the man sustained a soft tissue injury.Forensic examiners say he suffered some discomfort from degeneration in his back and neck. He was a white male, about 6 feet tall, and probably in his late 40s to late 50s, but could have been anywhere from 35 to 65.The man was found in a tent in a wooded, remote location. His trousers had rotted away, but the date of currency found at his campsite indicates he apparently had been there no longer than five years.Among other evidence found there were a map of the Flat Tops, numerous packs of Camel cigarettes, a lighter, whistle, bell and some pepper spray.
The notebook was wet when found, and the Sheriff’s Office sent it to documents specialists in the CBI’s Denver office to see if they could open it and recover what was inside. But Breier said only a few people do such work for the CBI, and they are kept busy with higher-priority cases that could involve killers on the loose or people who are missing but may be alive. So the CBI was able to finish its work on the notebook only in the last few weeks.Specialists also recovered a few other pages in the notebook with some readable writing, “but basically it’s just a few words here and there,” Breier said.Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario hopes the new information might lead to a break in the case.”Now that we have the notebook, now that we have a few more clues in terms of the skeletal remains, maybe something will spark somebody’s interest,” he said.Breier said the notebook’s drawing might have special meaning that a friend or relative would know about, or the handwriting might be recognizable to someone.Vallario said the letter leaves open the possibility the man was suicidal, although there is no reason to believe he killed himself. Breier said perhaps he was terminally ill and chose to take his life.
In the past, Vallario has observed that the survival items the man carried wouldn’t seem necessary if he had planned to commit suicide, but it’s possible they just happened to be in the pack he carried.The man also could have succumbed to unexpected illness or injury while on an outing in the Flat Tops.Authorities received lots of calls and leads early on about the possible identity of the man, but only ended up resolving some other missing person cases instead.”We found a couple of people out of this case but they had nothing to do with this case,” Breier said.In one instance, a man from the East had vanished without contacting his family, who said he had traveled through western Colorado. Garfield investigators were able to locate him where he was living just a few miles from his family.In another instance, someone from Denver was trying to track down her missing brother. Breier learned he was still alive.
“I ended up getting a location and a recent contact information from a local police department over in Denver,” he said.He said investigators may decide to have a facial reconstruction done on the Flat Tops remains as another means of trying to learn the man’s identity.Sheriff investigators have several open cases of unidentified remains. They had a facial reconstruction done in the case of remains found on Red Mountain above Glenwood Springs in 2003, but it didn’t produce a break in the case. They also continue to look for clues to the identity of the person whose remains were found in the Colorado River that same year.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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