The badly decomposing bodies of three people were found in a remote Rocky Mountains camp in Colorado, and they may have been lying there since late last year, authorities said.
A hiker discovered one of the bodies late Sunday and notified the authorities, who found the other two after arriving at the campsite Monday, Gunnison County Sheriff Adam Murdie said.
Two of the bodies were inside a small, zipped-up tent and the other was outside in the camp, which was in a remote wooded area where hikers typically wouldn't pass by, he said. There were personal belongings and tarps at the scene, and a lean-to built from local logs over a firepit.
"This is not a typical occurrence anywhere, by any means," said Murdie, noting that his department doesn't think the discovery implies any risk to hikers or campers in the area.
The sheriff's department is looking for missing persons reports that might shed light on the situation, but they haven't found any yet, he said. The coroner won’t release the identities of those deceased until the next of kin has been notified.
Based on the “fairly mummified” and advanced decomposition of the bodies, they were likely there through the winter and possibly since last fall, Murdie said. Because of the degradation, the autopsies will be difficult and will take at least three weeks, he said.
“Whether they froze to death in the winter or the combination of starved or froze, that’s what it sure seems like,” said the sheriff, noting that the actual causes of death won't be known until the autopsies are completed.
Murdie said it's more common for campers or hunters to die of carbon monoxide poisoning by using heaters in enclosed spaces, but that this appears to be different because of how the bodies were found and the remoteness of the camp.
Investigators are trying to “determine what they were actually doing there and why,” said Murdie.
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