They shared photos of him, created flyers, organized online groups to raise awareness of his story. The tips kept coming in. All attempts to identify the man came to nothing. Over the following weeks and months, tons of fellow hikers and trail angels came forward with pictures and stories about the kind, quiet man they knew as Mostly Harmless, who was thru-hiking the AT. Hed never seen snow before. His jokes were usually obscure, says a colleague named Keith Parent. How an idealistic community for exchanging free stuff tried to break away from Facebook, and ended up breaking apart. While these descriptors seem to hold true, the darker side of Vance Rodriguezs personality takes some reconciliation.But as Nicholas Thompson said in his recent article in Wired,The many people who met him didnt sense the dark, brooding, sometimes dangerous person who left Brooklyn.Maybe he did become someone different. It wasn't entirely the answer that the people who'd been working on his case wanted to hear. I started reaching out, first to Marie, then to other old friends and girlfriends. Thompson asked Godso, "All the people who met him on the trail describe them as friendly, amiable, easy to talk to, whereas all the other people who knew him in real life, describe him as a little distant, little bit of a loner. It reminded everyone that it is still possible to disappear. No, she said. I cant help but agree with the theory he had a bowel obstruction In the late stages it would explain the empty stomach as eating would have caused nausea and faecal vomiting.. His disease progression likely led to multi organ failure including the kidneys and potential urinary retention which would explain the full bladder.. Fairbanks was sure it was Mostly Harmless. Especially, that you had to learn about it this way. Has anyone tried to do a reverse DNA? He told people he was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and that he worked in tech in New York. While searching for the identity of Mostly Harmless, the online community that had come together to solve the case created their own image of who they thought he was: probably lonely, possibly depressed, and searching for something in the woods. A man was convinced the hiker had played in a hardcore punk rock band in New Orleans. His life was a mystery packed inside a tragedy. His eyes were wide open and he was looking right at me. The hikers quickly called 911. And they were ingenious. He previously hiked from New York along the Appalachian Trail (AT). It was the same person who had first sent the tip in August. "I'll give you a reason not to like me, Rodriguez had written on Slack, describing a kind of move in Screeps, two months before he went into the woods. Charges filed against homeowner in shooting of Black teen, U.S. diplomatic convoy fired on in Sudan as intense fighting continues, Ohio officers won't face state charges in fatal shooting of Jayland Walker, Family in mourning after deadly Sweet 16 party shooting in Alabama, Nikki Haley's first-quarter fundraising came in lower than campaign claimed, Justice Department to seek longest sentence in any Jan. 6 case so far, Poll: Most say congressional GOP should let Trump probes run their course, Ron DeSantis unveils legislative move targeting Disney, U.S. arrests 2 over alleged secret Chinese police outpost in New York, Solving the mystery of the Appalachian hiker "Mostly Harmless". You can read the article here: The Mystery of Deceased Hiker Mostly Harmless Is At Long Last Solved We enlisted the help of the Lafayette Parish County Sheriffs Office, which made contact with his family. He was handsome in a general, familiar kind of way. This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. You can read more about the DNA update here CCSO and DNA Lab Partner In Attempt To ID Hiker Mostly Harmless. The Unsettling Truth About the Mostly Harmless Hiker. He would ignore problems and sleep until it was gone.. They are here on TCS. WebMet Mostly Harmless hiking the Florida trail on March17 of 2018, near Paisley Florida. He was wearing, a beige shirt with green shorts and black Salomon hiking boots. Just a thought. February 24, 2018 Pine Log State Forest, FL. He pulled out a piece of paper with a map of Florida on it and a line drawn where the trail should be. To me, it seems he starved himself to death. He always donated blood afterwards, due to the large amount that he went through to stay alive afterwards. Hes got to be missed. It was located at a campsite called Nobles Camp in Big Cypress National Preserve (Collier County, Florida). A kind of astral Tocqueville taking a long, long trip to get a sense of the people and the planet, and when he was done, he wasted away and went back to Alpha Centauri. WebLater that summer, the agency posted a composite photo to Facebook. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Everyone liked him. Rodriguez had not been reported as a missing person. He checked out the next days since the hostel was closed for Thanksgiving on the 23rd. "I even offered to him to take his winter clothes off him and mail them back to him, but he declined," Gormley says. That was my thought he new he was ill but just wanted to go off the grid and explore nature. As of July 22, 2020, the identity of Mostly Harmless is still unknown. David Hurm, a detective with the Collier County Sheriff's Office in Naples, Florida, said. Jenny Odell Can Stretch Time and So Can You. When it was over, the woman he had dated wrote on her Facebook page, Apartment 950 a month / bills 300 a month / Standing up to the monster that beat you up emotionally and physically for 5 years? Still, months went by with no positive ID. CCSO reached an agreement with Othram to potentially discover a relative for the hiker and close the case following widespread public interest. However, there was nothing in his possession that would reveal who he was. A few phone calls later and it was clear the lead was a red herring. CCSO detectives first sent samples of Mostly Harmless DNA to the University of North Texas. WebOver the following weeks and months, tons of fellow hikers and trail angels came forward with pictures and stories about the kind, quiet man they knew as Mostly Harmless, who ", "Sounds like you thought he was kinda handsome?". The mystery of the identity of Mostly Harmless was finally solved in January 2021, thanks to a combination of DNA testing, crowdfunding, and public outreach. His poor family just finds out and now everyone has his name. Im trying to look at them, but it seems as though theyre based out of Vancouver which isnt close to New York, where its rumored he was from and they dont appear to have any US offices. Eventually, he started work at an ecommerce company based in Baton Rouge called Shoppers Choice, where he was recognized by many as the most talented engineer on the team. He met hundreds of people on the trail, and seemed to charm them all. What's the difference? He was a long time friend, roommate ans travel companion who we had lost contact with. In the sketch, his mouth is open Ex-girlfriends also described a pattern of abuse and emotional instability from Rodriguez, who would often detach from his problems by shutting down emotionally and physically. I asked K this question. "If he was trying to stay anonymous, that would be one giveaway. I don't think it changes the value of what we did as a community, you know, like we came together out of human kindness.". Search for Albert Rodriguez in Pellerinfh. At one point he locked me out of our apartment after I got out of the shower without clothing because we started arguing about something I can't even remember. They had a bead on a user named Vaejor. He told Kelly that he had started in New York and was heading down to Key West. I and others worked to confirm his identity, with the first press story about Rodriguez appearing in late December in Adventure Journal. If this is the case, why does a photo show only $66.00 in evidence? I never found him.. We stand in the vastness of nature, remember how small we are, and everything slows down. There are dozens of surgeries that could have resulted in that scar. He raised his hand weakly and a passing truck saw him and pulled over. Then in March 2020, after DNA was extracted and compared to national databases of missing persons, it was determined after several searches that there were no hits, meaning no one had reported Mostly Harmless missing and uploaded his information to these databases. Yet its hard not to look at this story with anything but sadness. And why, when things started to go wrong, didnt he walk out?, Rodriguezs friends have a theory about the second question. Ill talk to the detective again tomorrow and ask. And his friends in Louisiana just thought he was in a long-ass outage, as Marie puts it. I want him to have a redemptive story, like Jesse Codys, because I like happy endings and because it better justifies all the time I spent researching bowling alleys in Newport News. However, his identity was a complete mystery. He left his apartment in anger. Police were able to confirm that he had also used the alias Ben Bilemy to register at several hostels whilst hiking. Thats not Daryl, she said. Fairbanks took a few pictures of him. A police sketch of the unidentified hiker. All attempts to identify this man failed. If he had been trying to escape something, it was himself. Or, 'Could it be that person?'" A genomics company, Othram, had taken his DNA and started to do cutting-edge genetic analysis to identify him. Everyone knew that he had started walking south on the Appalachian Trail from New York a year and a half before. Im sketching in details in the half light. She is a trail angel- someone who helps thru-hikers by offering them showers and meals, or anything else they can for hikers. Mostly Harmless told people along the way that he started hiking in New York in April, and this is where his trail name Denim came from. The breakthroughs and innovations that we uncover lead to new ways of thinking, new connections, and new industries. He was thin, but nowhere near 83 pounds. Even if he was in remission, perhaps he didnt want to ever go through that again and figured hed go out, living his best life! The process of mapping a family tree can take days, weeks or months to produce a possible, distant relative. Reddit threads, Facebook groups, and online forums dedicated to solving cold cases popped up all over the internet. But his real name remained a mystery. Become a member of for exclusive content, See the latest Exclusive members-only articles on,,,,,,,,,, Tagged: The disturbing death of the hiker Mostly Harmless, denim death cypress national preserve, Ben bilemy death cypress national preserve, mostly harmless identity, mostly harmless death, Vance Rodriguez identified as Mostly Harmless, Mostly harmless hiker identity, Vance Rodriguez is denim and mostly harmless, Terms of use/Cookie notice/Privacy Policy, Sign Up for a one-off fee to read many exclusive member-only articles, The puzzling disappearance of Saeed Emadi at Strawberry point, The strange hiking death of Jason Chase in New Zealand's Tamaki Reserve, The disturbing death of the unknown hiker, Mostly Harmless, in Cypress National Preserve, Exclusive members-only articles on, The disturbing death of the hiker Mostly Harmless, Ben bilemy death cypress national preserve, Vance Rodriguez identified as Mostly Harmless, Vance Rodriguez is denim and mostly harmless, The mysterious disappearance and death of Nicola Bulley in Lancashire, The strange disappearance of the YouTube Survivalist Finn Creaney in the Scottish Highlands, The shocking disappearance of Theresa Ann Bier, The strange disappearance of Daniel Robinson from Buckeye in Arizona, The bizarre deaths of the Gerrish family in Devils Gulch, The strange death of Lucas Renoud at the Hrisson waterfalls in the Jura Mountains, The disturbing disappearance of Daylenn Pua from Hawaiis Stairway To Heaven walkway, The puzzling disappearance of ex-paratrooper Gilbert Gilman from Olympic National Park, The Dead man who saved Brandon Day and Gina Allen on Mount San Jacinto, The strange disappearance and death of Geoff Hague in the Great Smoky Mountains, The weird disappearance of Garrett Bardsley from Cuberant Lake in Utah, The bizarre death of Cullen Finnerty in the Michigan wilderness, The puzzling disappearance of Barbara Bolick from the Bitterroot Mountains, The strange disappearance of Mike Hearon from the Great Smoky Mountains, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) report June 2021, The bizarre disappearance and death of Adrienne Quintal in Michigan, The strange disappearance of Fern Baird from the Prairie Peak Trail in Idaho, The strange deaths of David Horesay and Frederick Hardisty in the Northwest Territories, The disappearance of Steven Kubacki in the Lake Michigan Triangle, The lucky survival story of Chris Staff in the White Mountains - hallucinations, bugs and hunger, Mysterious UFO phenomena begins to be acknowledged officially by the US Military, The mysterious disappearance of Michael Bryson from the Hobo Campground in Oregon. Can anyone explain this to me? Updated February 2021 - Vance Rodriguez identified as Mostly Harmless, Warning: The article contains some disturbing images. He was depressed and moody his whole life, Godso recalls. Others dug into Da Vinci Codelevel clues. It's a postscript to the strange story of Mostly Harmless: an effort to give names to the nameless. In the years since, the life and death of Mostly Harmless have captured the imaginations of many. "He just seemed like a super nice person, he had such kind eyes. He was a brilliant computer programmer whose notebooks, found in the tent where he died, were filled with computer code. That search didn't pan out. You can email if you would prefer. Dr James Craig poisoned his wife Angela to death with cyanide (allegedly), Reagan Hancock (22) has died after her friend Taylor Morton cut her baby from her womb, The unsolved murder of 'Crimewatch' host Jill Dando. That scar is consistent with an exploratory laparotomy, usually for trauma (see self-inflicted gunshot wound comment below). It was through this genealogy research that Othram determined that the man was likely Cajun and had family in Louisiana. his notebook has been transcribed and is public. Two hikers found a man dead inside that tent. Maybe thats what hed been seeking. The boy who raised his hand to get help from a passing truckand whose body still bore the scar of that Louisiana fieldhad grown into the man who didnt seek help as he died in a Florida swamp. . This summer, with help from online crowdfunding, investigators were able to hire an outside DNA analysis company who determined that Mostly Harmless had Creole ancestry. No phone, no ID, no credit cards; there was his hiking gear, a notebook, and $3,640 in cash. According to friends who saw the photographs of him on the trail, he looked healthier than ever. When his landlord gained access to his apartment eight months later, he found unopened food as well Rodriguezs passport, wallet, and credit cards, suggesting that Rodriguez left in a hurry with little advance planning. 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Image courtesy of the Collier County Sheriffs Office. He was always very introverted, kept to himself. He had perfect teeth, which suggested good dental care as a child. We know that he started out in NY, hiked the AT all the way to the FT. Sarasota and Ft. Meyers are not part of the FT and completely out of the way. Can you say that much? ", Othram received some of Mostly Harmless' DNA from the sheriff's department and went to work. Ive came across some info on fb. So he had enough cash to buy supplies if needed. He also included some new photos. I didnt so much care about his name as his story. It's believed he started walking the Appalachian Trail sometime around April of 2017. He must have been smart. Yeah, Im just not sure how much Im allowed to say. She knew him as Mostly Harmless, his trail name. There were no signs of drugs or excessive alcohol use. giardiasis? Six months after that, in southern Florida, hikers made a terrible discovery at the Big Cypress National Preserve, in Florida's Alligator Alley: A dead body had been found curled up in a yellow tent at a camp site. He told Gormley he was headed toward Key West with a 50-pound pack on his back in Florida's mounting heat, and the Trail Angel became concerned. Detectives even have clear photos of him along the way. This If youre asking me if he is the guy who shows up at the party in a clown suit blasting things out of a cannon, thats not him, says a former colleague named Corey Tisdale. Who was Ben Bilemy/Mostly Harmless/Denim? Snapper and Sugar Rush were walking down 98 and entered into Aucilla Wildlife Management Area. Mostly Harmless was officially identified today as Vance John Rodriguez, two and a half years after his body was found in a tent in a Florida national park. A picture was taken of Mostly Harmless at Mountain Crossings. Gradually, the dreary relationship got worse. I remember faces exceptionally well. And this reality has struck the many people who hunted for Mostly Harmless before he was known to be Vance Rodriguez. She knew him as Mostly Harmless, his trail name. Meanwhile, a woman named Sahar Bigdeli had arranged for one of the countrys leading isotope analysts to study the hikers teeth in hopes that clues could be discovered about where he had lived. Two minutes later my phone rang. There was no cellphone, ID, credit cards and apart from his hiking gear, just two notebooks (with coding notes) and critically $3,640 in cash. That wasn't the only time he locked me out., On a Saturday night in September 2016, K was injured when a terrorist set off a bomb on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. It might have some clues of technologies he worked with or something like that which could be helpful. The man called himself Mostly Harmless because it was said he enjoyed the work of Sci-Fi Writer Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. He told trail angels and other hikers that he was coming from Brooklyn and that he spent a decade in the tech industry and was working on a hikers app. A man took a picture of Mostly Harmless when they met at Salem Church Road, which is the first road crossing on the Pinhoti south of the AL/GA state line. They do. Like Rodriguez, Cody had struggled in his twenties and thirties. Vance John Rodriguez, a k a Vaejor, was born in February 1976 near Baton Rouge. And there, in the woods, he figured out how to tame his demons. A man was harmed and maybe harmful. How did that happen? We know where hes been. "And there are a lot of them. I cant wait to see what they could be. I don't think I was committed to Vance as a human. "Yeah. In mid-December of 2020, as photos of Mostly Harmless continued to circulate online, a group of friends in Baton Rouge recognized Mostly Harmless as Vance Rodriguez and got in touch with the Collier County Sheriffs Office. I first learned of the man called Mostly Harmless this past August. On July 23, 2018, hikers found a deceased man in a tent at a campsite called Nobles Camp in Big Cypress National Preserve located in Collier County, Florida. He attended Dragon Con. Please, for the love of god, do not contact, hassle, or share information about/and or to his poor family. "And so, being that funding was the only bottleneck, when we encounter that situation, we open it up for crowdfunding. Rodriguez spent the next 15 months hiking south and shedding all remnants of the man hed been. But then, as he lay bleeding to death, he decided to live. She still moved out that winter. A camper at Pine Log State Forest said she met Mostly Harmless at the Sand Pond Campground. From a state park in New York, he hiked south and, about a thousand miles and 10 months later, crossed into Florida. He also declined her offer to a shower and a place to stay. Rodriguez was estranged from his family; had troubled, even abusive, romantic relationships; and he'd sometimes disappear on his friends. There is at least one photo of the family at a table that I believe Vance is in (back, right). *Im not sure if the part about staying with his sister to be true. His sister wrote back, My family has no comment., After graduating from high school, Rodriguez enrolled at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Enter the online sleuths: "There was a dedicated group of folks that really wanted to see this case moved forward," Mittelman said. The internet rallied to identify the hiker known only as "Mostly Harmless" or "Denim" after he was found dead in a tent at a Florida camp site. She is a trail angel- someone who helps thru-hikers by offering them showers and meals, or anything else they can for hikers. His death was not suspicious, and he likely died a few days before. Maybe thats what hed been seeking. Read more about what went into identifying Mostly Harmless and the life of Vance Rodriguez in Adventure Journal and Wired. He again mentioned that he was from, or at least started in, New York. Featured image via Collier County Sheriffs Office. We just wished him happy trails and sent him on his way. This friend, who asked to be referred to by her middle name, Marie, told the detective that she knew who the hiker was. Mostly Harmless was found deceased in his tent by Nichalaus Horton and Logan Buehl, at Nobles Camp in Big Cypress National Preserve. His bowels were unremarkable, as were his kidneys. redemption church pastor; apartments and houses for rent in bowling green kentucky; madison county election results 2022 Most of the women do," she laughed. His body was kind of twisted. The handwriting was familiar, and the coding style too. Teasley said. We see a faint shape and we add the lines and shadows we want. Still, why had it taken so long to identify him? I think it made him even more lonely to be in a place with so many people and no one to connect to, K recalls. He had money, though, and he was just a few miles from a major highway. His trekking poles let me know that he was a hiker. If he Truly starved to death and the cachexia was caused by an underlying condition? Honestly, he could have had cancer, no? WebI first learned of the man called Mostly Harmless this past August. Priceless. After Rodriguez was identified as the hiker, the womans mother commented on Facebook, This man was so abusive to my daughter, he changed her., His colleagues from that time, learning of his story now, seemed saddened. Seems like his intestines were all there, Id have to look and see if the appendix was intact. He reached out to Godso, who remembers worrying that Rodriguez would commit suicide. Marie, who lived with him as a friend for several years in his twenties, says he was angry that his parents had institutionalized him after the near suicide. Someone else met Mostly Harmless on the FT, near Paisley, Florida. When he was about 15, according to friends, Rodriguez headed off into a field with a gun, intending to kill himself. Sen. John Fetterman on depression, recovery, and "making up any lost time", one that Thompson wrote for Wired Magazine, NamUs: National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. She should take her time and call me back whenever, if she even wanted to. Here's the statement from the the sheriff's office. This has been long expected. After the case was solved, and after some of the dark things about Rodriguez had come to light, I corresponded with Sahar Bigdeli, the woman whod tried to get his teeth analyzed. WebWhen the department posted a composite photo to Facebook, fellow hikers sent in dozens of photos and reported meeting him. He was 58 and weighed just 83 pounds. I began searching for details to validate the tale. They had been lighting candles in an effort to bring someone back to his familyonly to learn that he had completely cut himself off from them. Meanwhile, the dedicated Facebook hunters kept going. Id love to know what kind of person he was, what was his life like. Youre about to get bombarded so prepare. He was trying to escape a medical diagnosis. "Even if you've given up that they have friends and family, they have friends and family.". Companies are diving to the bottom to scoop up metals essential for our EV-driven future. Brandon Lawson The 911 call that led to a mysterious disappearance. Please enter valid email address to continue. They also included what he was wearing, a beige shirt with green shorts and black Salomon hiking boots, and the type of tent he was found in, a yellow Brooke-Range 2-person tent. Im sorry you lost your friend. I told her that I was sorry to have broken such terrible news so suddenly. Members of the group lit candles for him. As soon as I seen it, I knew who it was. "We had a white male, we had no electronics, no identification, no wallet, no personal information. ", "He just had a really kind aura about him, and he was joking and laughing with me. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement and Your California Privacy Rights. We have decided to not release anything further. And there wasnt anyone looking for him. The festival presents one more screening at 6 This matched what Mostly Harmless had told people on the trail, that he was from Louisiana. A conversation with the writer and artist on her new book, collective burnout, and ways to live off the clock. He had long, dark hair almost down to his waist. Learn how your comment data is processed. This article appears in the March 2021 issue. AlphaBay was the largest online drug bazaar in history, run by a technological mastermind who seemed untouchableuntil his tech was turned against him. ", "It's not really a difference; it's a difference in when you're talking to him,'"he replied. ethel hedgeman lyle cause of death, magnetic door stop for heavy doors,