Colorado man disappears in search for gold mine
PHOENIX – Arizona authorities are searching for a Colorado man whose mother says disappeared while searching for the storied Lost Dutchman gold mine.
The Marcicopa County Sheriff’s office has been organizing searches for 35-year-old Jesse Capen since hikers discovered his Jeep near Old Tortilla Ranch on Dec. 20 but have found no trace of him in the desert near the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix.
“It’s a pretty desolate area. It looks like you stepped on the moon,” said Don Roughan, a sheriff’s deputy.
The hikers who found Capen’s Jeep said his wallet, backpack, cell phone, food and sleeping bag were also in a tent nearby. About 100 people, dogs, and helicopters searched for Capen Saturday and have covered a 10-mile radius near his tent.
Capen’s mother, Cynthia Burnett, said her son was obsessed with the Lost Dutchman mine and had more than 100 books and maps about it. He arrived in Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, on Nov. 22 to begin looking for the mine, Burnett said.
“This is beyond obsessed,” she said.
Burnett said she fears her son may have been bitten by a rattlesnake or injured in a fall and then attacked by a bear. She described her son as a “gentle giant” – about 6-foot-4 and more than 200 pounds – who went into the desert unarmed in search of the gold mine, which has been the subject of movies.
She said her son planned to return to Denver by Christmas.
Capen had been working as a bellhop at a hotel in downtown Denver for the last 11 years.