Missing 53 Years, Emotional Closure for Montana Hunter’s Family
When do you stop wondering? When do you give up hope? When does it stop hurting?
Chances are, "never" is a pretty common answer to all three questions when dealing with the disappearance of a loved one. My good friend Brett French, Outdoor Editor of the Billings Gazette, took me on a heart-wrenching journey as he recounted the discovery of human remains that were identified as a bowhunter with ties to Montana, who had been missing for 53 years.
His name was Raymond Jones. He was an avid hunter, angler and adrenaline junkie who flew planes and raced stock cars. He left his family roots in Miles City to run a gas station in Salmon, Idaho.
It was a bowhunting trip in Idaho's Lemhi Mountains in 1968 that presumably led to Raymond's demise, and where he remained missing until last month. Though declared legally deceased in 1970, his family never gave up hope that someday there would at least be something that would help ease the pain of all those years of grieving. Although no body had been found to bury, a gravestone with his name, next to his parent’s plot, was placed in Miles City.
That "something" finally came in the form of human remains discovered by a fellow bowhunter on a rocky mountainside, solving a mystery that had long haunted Raymond’s family.
Poking through that rocky terrain were two weathered black boots. The hunter who made the discovery said he could tell that even though what he found had been there a long time, the soles of the boots showed little wear, sticking out from under a boulder. Hopefully that means that Raymond didn't suffer long, lost in the wilderness.
The remains were easily identified by the discovery of some of Raymond’s belongings, including a credit card with his name on it.
There's lots more in the emotional backstory that Brett French so eloquently details. We are happy for the family of Raymond Jones, and may the surviving members be comforted by this closure.
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