Three decomposed and partially mummified bodies discovered in Colorado’s Gunnison National Forest earlier this month have been identified as two adults and a teenager who tried to “live off the web,” according to Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes.
As previously reported by USA TODAY, hikers in the Rocky Mountains alerted authorities after stumbling upon a tent with a body outside on July 9. When the sheriff’s office investigated the scene the following day, two more bodies were discovered zipped inside the tent.
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The bodies have since been identified as those of Christine Vance, 41, her sister Rebecca Vance, 42, and Rebecca’s 14-year-old son, who has not been named because of his age. All three came from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Gunnison County Undersheriff Josh Ashe previously told USA TODAY that the bodies were significantly decomposed at the time of discovery and had been dead “for a significant period of time.”
While an official cause of death cannot be determined until toxicology reports are completed, Barnes told USA TODAY that he suspects the three died from exposure to the elements and/or malnutrition.
According to Barnes, evidence suggests the trio left Colorado Springs in July 2022 to try to “live off the grid”. It appears that they attempted to winter at their campsite, which was in a secluded area about 350 feet down the road from Gold Creek Campground. The site was about nine miles from the nearest population center in Ohio City, Colorado.
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While the exact date of their deaths has not been determined, Barnes believes they died sometime during the winter, when the weather in the area is generally harsh, cold and snowy.
Empty food cans, books on outdoor survival and foraging, a bathroom area and a semi-finished shelter was also found at the campsiteaccording to a report from the AP.