Man sentenced for treasure cemetery dig in Yellowstone


Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest. Image courtesy of The Fen Diagrams,

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – A judge in Wyoming has sentenced a man to six months in prison for digging in a Yellowstone National Park cemetery in pursuit of a famous hidden treasure.

Wyoming U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl also ordered Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Syracuse, Utah, on Wednesday to serve six months of home detention and two years of probation, and to pay $31,566 in restitution.

Craythorn dug 17 holes and damaged a grave in the Fort Yellowstone cemetery in late 2019 and early 2020, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly in a statement called it “the most significant investigation of damage to archaeological resources” in the park’s recent history.

The cemetery listed on the National Register of Historic Places has at least 54 graves from 1888-1918, when the U.S. Army stationed soldiers in the area to protect the world’s first national park.

Craythorn pleaded guilty in January to illegally excavating or trafficking in archaeological resources and to damaging federal property.

Craythorn was seeking a treasure chest containing coins, gold and other valuables that Santa Fe, New Mexico, art and antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn stashed in the Rocky Mountain backcountry. Fenn published a book with a poem containing clues to where the treasure could be found.

For a decade, thousands of people roamed the Rockies in search of the treasure estimated to be worth at least $1 million.

Fenn announced in June the treasure had been found. He died in September at age 90 without saying who found the chest or specifically where.

A grandson of Fenn confirmed in December the finder was Jonathan “Jack” Stuef, 32, a medical student from Michigan. Fenn said before his death the treasure was in Wyoming but neither Stuef nor Fenn’s relatives have specified where.

Fenn hinted the treasure was north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains of either New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. Several treasure seekers had to be rescued from precarious situations and as many as six died.

Craythorn has taken full responsibility for his actions, his attorney, Chris Humphrey of Cheyenne, said Wednesday.

“To the National Park Service, the people of the United States and my family, I am truly sorry. I was motivated by the thrill of possibly finding a treasure, and my obsession clouded my judgment,” Craythorn said in an emailed statement.


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