We'll Never Know the Whole Story

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Area=Columbia River Drainage Basin

City=River Cabin

"BODY FOUND IN MOUNTAINS"

Posted 07-13-7022 10:42AM

By BETTY JONES, River Cabin Gazette

The body of a man was discovered last week in mountainous terrain east of River Cabin. Ron Preston, Site Director for Carter Developments, said the body was found when construction equipment cut into the top of a small cave while working on the new Cascading River Estates development. Jim Roberts, sheriff of River Cabin, was called in to investigate.

"Looks like the fellow froze to death," Roberts said. The body and personal effects were brought to Dr. Smith's office for examination and determination of cause of death. Roberts said, "I'm not aware of anyone missing from around here, but I will post the description on LawNet so maybe some other agency can match him up and identify him. The body's in purty good shape, probably hasn't been there too long. It shouldn't take long to find out who he was and what he was doing up in those mountains." Though unfortunate, discovery of the body will not halt construction of the upscale housing community which is slated to be ready for occupancy by next spring.

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"FROZEN MAN DIDN'T DIE RECENTLY"

Posted 08-25-7022 1:28 PM

By STEVE BOND, Seattle Times

The body discovered near River Cabin last month has turned out to be something of a mystery. Local authorities originally believed the man had probably died within the last few months, but have not been able to identify him. When local LawNet files failed to return a match, the search was expanded until it eventually reached galactic parameters without getting a hit. Law enforcement authorities say they can find no record of any missing person matching his description.

The body was sent to forensic doctors in Seattle for examination. Dr. Rudy Sanchez, Chief Medical Examiner for the Seattle Law Department, says that death was clearly caused from exposure to the elements. "The right tibia and fibula were both broken in several places, and the left kneecap showed peri-mortem damage as well," Sanchez said. "It appears that whatever he was doing in those mountains he broke his leg and couldn't walk out. He must have taken shelter in the cave and frozen to death; winter temperatures up there can be very bitter." No phone was found in the man's effects.

However Dr. Sanchez also reports that the corpse is far older than originally thought. "In addition to the fact that there are no records of a missing person matching his description, the man's clothing was out of place," Sanchez said. "What initially appeared to be a standard business suit turned out on closer examination to be cut in an unknown style and made from natural fibers. That got us curious, so we ran tests that determined the body to be approximately 5,000 years old," Sanchez adds. "That area is one of the last on this continent to be intensely occupied, and the rough terrain could easily conceal a body for that length of time." The body and everything found with it, including a large amount of synthetic fabric, will be sent to the Archaeology Department of Denver University for further study.

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"ANCIENT CORPSE A MYSTERY"

Posted 10-9-7022 6:52 PM

By JESSICA ARCHER, Science Writer, Denver Post

A frozen corpse found in the mountains near River Cabin a few months ago has archaeologists at Denver University mystified. "The man is full of surprises," says Dr. Julia Nguyen of the school's Archaeology Department. "He is dressed totally inappropriately for the environment in which he was found - and he had some strange items with him."

To begin with, Dr. Nguyen verified the findings of Dr. Rudy Sanchez, Chief Medical Examiner for the Seattle Law Department. The body is roughly 5,000 years old. Its right leg was badly broken before death, as there are faint signs of healing present. Pollen found on the man's clothing came from plants that bloom in the very late Fall or early Winter in that region, so the temperature was probably very low and it could have been snowing. The combination of pain, blood loss, and exposure to the elements were what did him in.

But what was he doing in the mountains in the first place? Dr. Nguyen says that our ancestors were known to go into the mountains for the purpose of "communing with nature", possibly a religious practice. But part of the experience included dressing in rough clothing and taking along useful tools. This man was wearing thin clothing which couldn't possibly have protected him from the hazards of nature or the cold. His footwear was made from animal skin, barely covering the feet. A small folding knife was found in a pocket of the clothing, but no other tools were found.

The other artifacts found near the body are equally strange. Some broken shards were identified as a petroleum-based synthetic material Dr. Nguyen called "plastic". When assembled, they appear to be some form of eye shield. Then there's the box. It's long and flat, made from thin wood covered in animal skin; inside were a hollow metal cube, some wire, and several wooden rods with a few bits of red paint still clinging to them. Equally confusing is the large amount of fabric of an unknown but clearly man-made nature in which the body was wrapped.

Less confusing in some ways is the bag full of pieces of green paper. Though they are very fragile, the markings are legible - they are money. Dr. Nguyen told me that people of that era routinely used paper as an exchange medium. More ancient cultures used metal which was in itself valuable. "'Paper money' was a step up, it was actually a promise that it could be redeemed for precious metals and was easier to carry," Dr. Nguyen said. Each piece of paper is marked with "Twenty Dollars", a dollar being the financial unit of the issuing government of "The United States of America" which controlled the area at that time. The money in the bag totaled 194,000 dollars, which Dr. Nguyen assures me would have been a small fortune to an individual of the time.

The man carried some other things in his clothing, the most interesting of which appears to be some kind of identification papers. A small animal-skin folder contained a deteriorated "plastic" card with a picture of a man, presumably the corpse. Writing on the card is probably the man's name and domicile location, though it's so badly damaged that the only words that can be read are the name "John" and a few numbers. There was also a piece of heavier paper in the pocket of the man's coat - at the top the words "North West Orient Air" are readable, and lower down is a partial name "Cooper". Dr. Nguyen is at a loss to say what the paper might have been used for.

Research is continuing. Dr. Nguyen and her colleagues are confident they can solve some of the mysteries and learn a great deal about the lives of people so long ago. "But I don't know that we'll ever figure out what this man was doing in those mountains," Dr. Nguyen said, adding "We can't even make any good guesses." A mystery, indeed.

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"ICE MAN: THE REAL STORY"

Posted 01-24-7023 3:12 PM

By LESLIE NAGUMBI, Science Media Ltd.

[Narrator Peter Charles] The Ice Man of River Bend has caused much discussion since his discovery last year. The simple story is that he is one of our ancestors who died in the mountains and whose body was preserved by the cold climate for some 5,000 years. But there is much more to the story! The frozen body and its associated artifacts present a number of seemingly-unsolvable mysteries. We here at Science Media Ltd. have spoken to many experts and believe we can now explain many of these mysteries.

The body was discovered last summer by a construction crew building a new housing development near the top of the Cascade Mountains. Their machinery broke into a small cave and found the body wrapped in a large piece of fabric. Initially it was thought the death must have been recent, but local law enforcement were unable to find any record of a missing person that matched his description. The still-frozen body and the artifacts found with it were eventually sent to the Archaeology Department at the University of Denver.

Tests have determined that the body is about 5,000 years old. The man died from a combination of trauma caused by a broken leg and exposure to cold.

[Dr. Jessica Olsen, Medical Examiner, St. Trinity Hospital] A broken bone begins to heal immediately, and the rate of the healing process is well-known. We can see here on the scan, this white area, where the two broken ends had begun to grow back together. They were not set back into place so it's only this small area that has had a chance to bond. We can tell from the amount of mending that the process had only been going on for a few days, a week at the most. Had he lived, he would have walked with a limp without medical treatment.

[Dr. Manuel Simpson, Paleobotanist, College of Taiwan] Pollen found on the man's clothing and the mass of fabric wrapped around him were from a plant that still grows in the Cascade Mountains. It only blooms in the late Fall, though of course dried plants could still be on the ground into the Winter season. I found a great deal of pollen on the fabric, suggesting the man must have dragged it along the ground behind him. I should think it would have been too bulky and heavy to carry in any case. But the point is, if he were walking through the area even in early Fall the plants wouldn't have been in bloom yet, and they would've been covered by the first snow of Winter. In either case there wouldn't have been any pollen to adhere to the fabric. So we can narrow the time of death to about a 6-week period in November/December.

[Survival Expert Josh Simpson] It appears the man must've fallen from some height, landing badly on his right leg. It then buckled so that his left knee hit the ground hard and sustained some injury as well. It would be easy to take such a fall in those mountains, especially in winter. Most likely he was climbing along a steep drop-off and missed his footing. The shoes he was wearing weren't made for this kind of activity and the soles would've easily slipped on wet ground or rocks. But what puzzles me is that he was found close to the top of the mountain, so he must've climbed back up after the accident. It would've been an extremely difficult and painful task with a broken leg. Why would he do that? It doesn't make sense.

[Narrator Peter Charles] The Ice Man's clothing is another mystery. At first it was assumed to be a man's dark business-style suit, though when fully uncovered it proved to be cut in a completely unknown style.

[Susan James, Expert on Ancient Clothing] The clothing is damaged, but was kept fairly intact because of the wrapping. It is made from natural fibers, and the evenness of the stitching indicates it was done by machine. Little details lead me to believe the clothes were mass-produced - see, here is a thread-end left untrimmed, this seam doesn't quite match up, and that button wasn't securely attached. Of course the button could have been pulled loose later, the fabric under it is in bad shape so it's hard to see if it had been stretched or not. And look at this strange metal closure on the trousers - I've never seen anything like it! The fabric is called "wool" and is made from the fur of sheep. It's surprisingly warm for its weight, but of course nothing like the fabrics we have today. Even 5,000 years ago people had much better cold-weather clothing available to them, so I can't explain why this man was wearing these clothes. They would've sufficed for a few minutes in the cold, so if he knew he was going into the wilderness in wintertime why didn't he dress in warmer clothes?

[Narrator Peter Charles] There were a number of artifacts recovered with the frozen body, and presumably belonging to the man. What were they, and can they explain why he was in the mountains?

[Survival Expert Josh Simpson] A small folding tool was found in the man's trouser pocket. Though the metal is corroded, it appears to include a few basic tools; a small knife, a screw-driver blade, a tiny pair of scissors, and a curious hook. The knife is approximately 10 centimeters long, which wouldn't have been very useful for either defense or cutting anything large, like trees. The screw-driver and scissors might have been quite useful in an urban setting, but virtually useless in a natural area. I have no idea what the hook might have been designed for, but again it wouldn't have been helpful to him here. I would say it was a tool designed to be easily carried and handy when doing work around one's domicile, and that he habitually carried it with him rather than deliberately brought it along on this occasion.

The "plastic" eye protector would make more sense in this situation. The light is quite bright in the mountains, as there is less atmosphere to absorb it at those heights. It would also protect the eyes from being poked by branches and keep some of the wind and dust out of them. But it wouldn't be an asset at night, as the dark lens would have made it more difficult for him to see. If he was wearing the shade while walking at night the restricted visibility could have contributed to his fall. Everything taken together - the clothes, lack of tools, possibly inappropriate use of the eye protector - points to a high probability that this man either didn't know how to function in a natural mountainous environment, or he hadn't expected to be there.

[Carolyn Armstrong, Archaeologist, Tuscan College] The box found with the Ice Man is quite interesting. It's wide but flat, with a hinged lid and a handle. Clearly it was made to be easily carried, but as it couldn't hold much it must have been designed for small items of high value. Its contents are curious: a metal cube, some wire, and a few sticks of wood, once painted bright red. The cube was hollow and inside we found traces of lead and sulfuric acid. This is almost certainly a 'battery', an ancient method of storing electrical power; we've found many similar items in other places. The wire would be necessary to connect the power cube to an electric-powered device. In this case the wire was stuck into the ends of the wood sticks, which seems pointless. I think the wood must have been intended to represent an electric device for some reason. Perhaps this was an expensive item that people considered a status symbol, and he wanted other people to think he owned one.

[Narrator Peter Charles] What about the meters of fabric that was found wrapped around the corpse? It was important enough to him that he dragged it along with him as he walked, but what was it?

[Eric Fieldman, Owner/Instructor, Fieldman's Extreme Sports Academy] This pile of fabric is definitely a parachute - a way to slow a fall from a great height. This one is less sophisticated than the ones we use today at the Academy; the material is heavier, but it would have worked reasonably well. Basically you attach lines from the parachute to a body harness and instead of a terrifyingly fast fall you get a peaceful, slow, controlled fall. But it's a fall nonetheless, and landing can be dangerous even for an expert. I don't think there's any question that this man parachuted onto the mountain, and broke his leg during the landing. That would explain why he was found at the top of the mountain, too. We know that primitive aircraft existed 5,000 years ago, and jumping from one would be about the only way he could have ended up where he did. Why he did it is another question.

[Narrator Peter Charles] Our frozen friend had printed identification in his pockets. Unfortunately they didn't survive the years as well as his body, but can we learn anything from them?

[Dan Jong, Author, "Deciphering North American Nuclear Age Documents"] Several small pieces of paper were found in the folder in the man's pocket. Some appear to have been pictures, though so much of the paper had rotted away it's difficult to tell what they once depicted. There was one paper that had been covered in a clear hydrocarbon-based substance, presumably for protection, so it must have been important. It states that it is a "Driver License", which is an authorization to operate personal transportation. It contains a photograph of a man which does highly resemble the face of the corpse, so I think we can safely assume the license belonged to him. You can barely make out a physical description, height, weight, etc., in this area, here. Moisture has gotten under this edge of the coating, destroying the paper beneath. But I can read enough to tell you that it undoubtedly listed his name and domicile location. This type of paper, with the photograph and personal information, would have been used as a means of identification in those days. His given name was "John", but there's not enough left to be able to read much else, just a few random characters.

The paper in his breast pocket is in far worse condition, and I think would be far more interesting if we could read it. It appears to be an admittance pass to something, perhaps a theatrical performance, as I can see the words "row" and "seat" with identifiers beneath as if for assigned seating. The name at the top, Northwest Orient Air, could possibly refer to a local open-air theater specializing in Chinese performances.

It's easy to assume that everything he had with him was specifically connected to his reason for being in the mountains, but it's quite possible he'd attended a play weeks before and had simply forgotten he'd left the pass in his pocket. Perhaps he'd taken a lady friend who asked him to hold her pass, as this partial name doesn't appear to have anything in common with the name on the driver license. I can make out a surname of "Cooper" followed by the initial "D" on the pass, but neither of the two legible letters in the surname on the license are found in that name. I think this is an interesting bit of trivia that doesn't even belong to this man.

[Narrator Peter Charles] Then there's the money. Banks were a well-established institution, even at that time. Why did he have a significant amount of money with him, and why bring it to a remote mountain?

[Elisabeth Stone, Historian, Bank of Switzerland] Banks had been widely used for several hundred years before this man's time. A bank would have provided a much more secure and safe place to keep any sum of money, but we do have old records of people who mistrusted banks and refused to utilize their services. Early banks were individually owned, and poor financial decisions could result in the loss of everyone's money. I know that sounds strange with today's strict accountability, but it did happen back then. It's possible this man didn't trust banks, but I think there are better solutions.

For one thing, the economic situation of 5,000 years ago was quite variable. There were some dramatic ups and downs which make it difficult to know whether the amount of money found with the corpse would have been considered large or average. If we could pinpoint the year of his death a little more closely we could put the money into better context.

But I can tell you this. That bag of paper money was large and bulky, not easy to carry around, and quite obvious. It would make more sense that he would hide most of the money in some safe place in his domicile and carry with him just what he needed each day. It's possible that perhaps he intended to hide the money somewhere on the mountain, although that would make it very difficult to retrieve later.

Here's something else to think about. 'Paper money' was essentially untraceable, and any transaction made with it would be as well. It was common for people of that era to make such transactions since they didn't have our sophisticated electronic methods. But even at that time the banks would have been suspicious of a large amount of money being deposited or withdrawn without proper documentation and would have alerted law enforcement. I think whatever he was doing with the money was definitely illegal. It's possible that he was planning on buying or selling something, but if he was meeting the other person in a very out-of-the-way place the transaction must have been decidedly nefarious. When he was injured he either couldn't meet the seller, or couldn't get off the mountain with the money."

[Narrator Peter Charles] So here's what we do know. Approximately 5,000 years ago this man, named either John something or D. Cooper, parachuted onto a mountaintop in the early Winter. There is every appearance that he hadn't intended to land there, but probably somewhere much lower. He brought a large amount of money with him. In the process he broke his leg, crawled into a small cave for shelter, and eventually died there. His body was preserved by the cold and we are left trying to understand what really happened.

The amount of money, the fact that it was untraceable, and the remote location seem strong indicators that he was up to no good - and if that illegal act led to his death some might consider it a just punishment. Modern science can tell us a great deal, but we can only guess at what he intended to accomplish. Oddly, there is another case very similar.

[Carolyn Armstrong, Archaeologist, Tuscan College] There is an old museum in the Alps that also has a frozen corpse. He is called "Ötzi" and, like this man, was the cause of much research and guesswork. We know approximately when he died - and how, a stone arrowhead is lodged in his shoulder. But why he was there and what he did to warrant being shot still remains a mystery.

[Narrator Peter Charles] In the end the big questions remain unsolved. Who was he? Why was he in the mountains? Did he leave behind friends and family who searched for him, never knowing what happened to him? Was his disappearance 5,000 years ago an unsolved mystery to which we now have the answer? We'll never know.