Police say a body they discovered on Sunday might be a Christian pastor who was reported missing last week after he embarked on an apparent search for hidden treasure.
Paris Wallace, 52, of Grand Junction, Colorado, reportedly told his family that he’d be heading out on a journey to find a hidden chest that was placed somewhere in the Rocky Mountains in 2010 by millionaire Forrest Fenn, CBS News reported.
Fenn, an author and art collector, appeared on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” that year to announce some cryptic clues — told via poem —surrounding the whereabouts of the treasure.
But he warned at the time that the chest is heavily concealed and that safety is paramount in searching for it, the outlet noted. It’s unclear what’s in the treasure chest and how much it’s worth, but there’s speculation that it could be quite valuable.
The millionaire responded to news of Wallace’s death by expressing his condolences in a statement to “CBS This Morning,” saying, “My heart and my prayers go out to his family and his church … It is such a tragedy.”
Fenn told the Huffington Post something quite similar on Monday, saying the depth of his compassion “cannot be measured in words” and that his prayers go out to the pastor’s wife, kids, friends and congregation.
Police reportedly discovered a body after finding Wallace’s 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe, receipts and a torn rope.
Wallace’s family members hadn’t heard from him since last Tuesday and his wife reported him missing on Wednesday; police discovered his truck on Thursday. Wallace was the pastor at Connection Church in Grand Junction, KDVR-TV reported.
“Please pray for our Lead Pastor Paris Wallace. He went to New Mexico and was to be home yesterday,” a June 15 Facebook post read. “He went hiking and has not been heard from for 42 hours. His things are still at the hotel and his car has not been found. … Please pray he is located quickly and pray for his family.”
The last update from the church on June 18 notes that New Mexico State Police had recovered a man’s body “near Pilar in the Rio Grande Gorge area on Sunday afternoon,” but that an identification of the body had not yet been made.
Officials have said they expect to have a definitive answer about the body’s identity on Monday. The church is asking for continued prayers for the Wallace family.
Another treasure hunter named Randy Bilyeau, 54, was found dead on the Rio Grande back in 2016. He was reportedly searching for the very same treasure.