Tuesday, July 31, 2012


To continue with our perusal of the blog written by Jack Gordon's neighbor John, let me offer another interesting selection. The middle of July 2008 was a sad time for John Busby (aka John Robert Fureigh).  His longtime four-legged companion Chief was hit and killed by a truck passing by his house on Luke Road.

My Chief

July 13, 2008 6:27 PM
Today I was working on the fence out by the road and Chief was lounging around in the truck like he usually does when I leave the doors open. A truck came down the road so my Chief wanted to see what or who that was and the driver of the truck was too busy looking at my house to see my dog standing in the road and Chief got hit.

I don't know whether this incident had anything to do with the events a scant two months later.  Was Busby (aka Fureigh) angry at inconsiderate drivers along Luke Road?  Jack Gordon drove by Busby's (aka Fureigh's) house every time he went out to his building site.  Was he the driver who hit Chief?  Only John Busby (aka John Robert Fureigh) would be able to enlighten us in that regard.  Perhaps someday he will be willing to talk with the Sheriff about that summer.  We would sure like to hear his side of the story, but his blog went inactive the day Jack Gordon disappeared and the blogger known as John Busby (aka John Robert Fureigh) never made another blog entry at that site.  Not surprisingly, his blog was de-published a short time later, as you can see if you try the link.  And he reportedly has not returned to the San Luis Valley since that day in October 2008.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


We've been reading some excerpts from the blog of the neighbor John Busby (aka John Robert Fureigh).  See the previous post here, and the blog can be found here.

On the afternoon of June 5, 2008, Jack Gordon's neighbor John tried to take a nap, but was interrupted, resulting in this reaction on his blog:

Friday, July 27, 2012


This week we are going to get to know the neighbor John a little better. According to the 2010 Denver Post article, The Mystery of Two Men's Disappearance on the Same Day, John Robert Fureigh was living in the Fort Garland area under the assumed name of John Busby, taking the last name of his mother's current husband.

Fureigh, using an alias, wrote a blog in which he often groused about trespassing neighbors disrupting his solitude, including an entry four days before Gordon's disappearance in which he complained that a neighbor woke him in the afternoon to ask for water after his well went down.

We'll get to that particular entry at a later date. Busby groused about a lot of things on his blog, entitled Alpine Acres. Let's go back in time a little and work our way up to the days surrounding Jack Gordon's disappearance. I will give you some sample excerpts over the next few posts, and let you draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


   In the aftermath of the movie theater shootings in Aurora this past week Governor John Hickenlooper attempted to reassure the public at a press conference, saying,
"This is the act apparently of a very deranged mind. This is a safe city, a safe state, and a safe country. We have to recognize that we can't allow people that are aberrations of nature to take away the joys and freedoms that we enjoy."

   As anyone who has experienced a violent crime can attest, it was safe right up until it no longer was safe.  The cinema in question had a "No Guns Allowed" policy. In Colorado this does not mean it is illegal to carry a firearm into the theater. It does mean...

Saturday, July 21, 2012


In March 2011, the Alamosa Valley Courier printed a follow-up article summarizing the status of several missing persons cases from the region, including Michael Rust and Casey Berry.  Jack Gordon merited a brief mention.

"Jack N. Gordon, 77, disappeared Oct. 2, 2008. Gordon is described as 6’2” tall and weighing about 235 pounds. He is described as a Caucasian with brown eyes and hair that would be gray or partially gray. He was last seen in Ft. Garland."

Thursday, July 19, 2012


     To wrap up our week of wild animals, we need to consider the other major potential predator in the Colorado Rockies, the black bear.

     Here's a nice review of fatal black bear attacks in the U.S. and Canada from the Journal of Wildlife Management, entitled "Fatal attacks by American black bear on people: 1900–2009", authored by Stephen Herrero et al.  The full article is pay-walled, but the abstract is available.
The key interesting facts:
  • From 1960 to 2009 (49 years) there were 54 fatal black bear attacks (slightly over one per year).
  • More fatal attacks occurred in Canada and Alaska (49) than in the U.S. (14), despite higher human and black bear populations in the U.S. and by implication more potential for human-bear encounters (although that was not elucidated in the study)
  • 92% of fatal bear attacks involved adult or young adult males, tending to refute the commonly asserted notion that mother bears with cubs are the most dangerous.
     The article does not address the more dangerous Alaskan brown bear, grizzly bear or polar bear.
     Contrast the bear numbers with the occurence of fatal lightning strikes according to About.com.   In 2006 there were 47 fatal lightning strikes in the entire U.S. (5 in Colorado alone)- close to the annual average of 44.
     Simple mathematical comparison of the bear versus lightning numbers means you are roughly 43.5 times more likely to be killed by a lightning strike in the U.S. than by a black bear.

     Both of these are dwarfed by the chance of being purposely killed by another human-- 16,400 murders reported in the U.S. in 2008, the year Jack Gordon disappeared (data from the U.S. Census Bureau).  You do the math!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


To follow-up on our last post, regarding the possibility that a wild animal killed Jack Gordon, what about mountain lions? There certainly are mountain lions in the area.  Mountain lions are basically loners, with an individual lion ranging over a territory of many square miles.  Fatal mountain lion attacks are exceedingly rare but not unheard of.  According to Topanga on-line:
"Mountain lion attacks on people have increased dramatically since 1986. For example, in California, there were two fatal attacks in 1890 and 1909, and then no further attacks for 77 years, until 1986. From 1986 through 1995, ten verified attacks occurred, an average rate of one per year. That average rate has continued through 1999. Attacks are now numerous enough that there is a support group for attack victims, called California Lion Awareness (CLAW; Outside, 10/95). Since 1970 there has been an average of 14 cougar attacks per year on people in the entire U.S."
By "increased dramatically" they mean that they are still verrrry rare.
A scientific review of records on attacks by cougars on humans in the United States and Canada from 1890 through 1990 indicated there were 53 cougar attacks on humans during this period. There were nine attacks that resulted in 10 human deaths, and 44 non-fatal attacks.  A striking majority of attacks are on children or slightly built adults, often out hiking or jogging on mountain trails. Mountain lions generally drag their kill to a spot near the attack and remain in the area, often for several days, feeding on the carcass.
We have seen mountain lions in the area. In fact, in 2011 I found the partially decomposed head of a mountain lion while hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  No body- just the head!  Boiled it up, made a nice soup and mounted the skull.
(Just kidding about the soup!)

More harrowing tales of mountain lion attacks, lethal and otherwise.  WARNING- Not for the faint of heart:

List of Confirmed Cougar Attacks In the United States and Canada  1890 - 1990
(six fatal attacks in the U.S. during a century)
List of Confirmed Cougar Attacks In the United States and Canada 1991 - 2000
(five fatal attacks in the U.S. during the decade)
List of Confirmed Cougar Attacks In the United States and Canada 2001 - 2010
(three fatal attacks in the U.S during the decade)
List of Confirmed Cougar Attacks In the United States and Canada 2011 - 2020
(no fatal attacks in the U.S. yet this decade)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


One of the theories put forward by the "The-Neighbor-Had-Nothing-To-Do-With-It" camp was that perhaps Jack Gordon was eaten by a wild animal.  In this part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains there are only two possible candidates for this theory; mountain lions and black bears.  That is, unless you consider the alligators....

Friday, July 13, 2012


      One of the problems that families encounter when working with law enforcement is that there tends to be compartmentalization of information about missing persons. There are numerous on-line missing persons databases- some run by private groups or individuals, some by state or local law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Cross-communication among these many sites is not good. As families try to get the word out about their missing family member, it is tempting to try to "register" or enroll in all of these data bases. It is difficult to maintain accuracy and to update information on these sites once the initial submission has been made.  In recent years there has been an attempt to coordinate some of these activities. Probably the best centralized repository for data on missing persons is NAMUS- the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. The structure and functions of the organization are summarized in this publication.  

      Launched in 2009, NAMUS provides a systematic way for local law enforcement and families to upload their information, while filtering to some extent. As a clearing house it allows better avenues for matching unidentified bodies or remains with actual missing persons, with options for uploading dental records or DNA information. Members of the public can submit cases, but they are not made available on the site until verified by the local investigatng agency. Check 'em out. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Posting will be light this week due to demands of my real job.  More to come in days ahead.

Monday, July 9, 2012


          In order to understand why we refer to Jack Gordon as the "real" Seamus Muldoon it helps to understand who Seamus Muldoon was.  Here is an excerpt from the book, "The Curious Disappearance of Seamus Muldoon"...

          Whether it was a bad play on words, a tale of petrified rocks, dumpster diving behind the Wal-Mart, a scheme to become a castle inspector in the “Old Country” or a riff on Seamus’ new commercial dietary supplement product “Gas Away”, an afternoon with Seamus was an afternoon well spent. The sheer joy and playfulness of Seamus was infectious. So, who in the hell is Seamus Muldoon? I think the best way to sum him up would be to describe him as a unique literary character in the oral tradition. Jack brought Seamus to life many years ago in stories to his young daughters, and kept him alive throughout the years that I knew both Jack and Seamus.

          Seamus Muldoon disappeared along with Jack Gordon on the first Thursday of October 2008. Seamus Muldoon was Jack Gordon and Jack Gordon was Seamus Muldoon. But while we believe that Jack Gordon is gone forever, Seamus Muldoon lives on!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Jack Gordon and Casey Berry are not the only two men to disappear from the San Luis Valley during that timeframe.  On April 2, 2009--six months to the day after Jack disappeared--a man named Michael Rust was reported missing under suspicious circumstances from his home on rural property near the town of Saguache. The Alamosa Valley Courier has run several articles on the case. This version, from March 2010 gives a good case summary.
Sometime after 7 p.m. on Tues., March 31, 2009 Mike Rust went missing. He had gone to the store and bought groceries earlier in the evening and when he returned to his remote home something made him think his home had been broken into. He called a friend, [redacted] of Salida and told her he thought someone had broken in. Within an hour he called her again and said he had seen someone and was going to follow their tracks. Investigators believe the first call was made from Rust’s car, and then later he called from his cell phone from within his home and then left on a red and white colored Honda CRF 250 Enduro motorcycle that belonged to his friend [redacted], looking for whoever may have broken into his home. 
That was the last time anyone saw or heard from Mike Rust. Some physical evidence was found during the investigation...

Friday, July 6, 2012


In no particular order
  • Nonhuman predators
  • Who is Seamus Muldoon anyway?
  • The investigation
  • Yet another missing man in the San Luis Valley

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Lay of the Land- Part 2

Let's zoom in for a little closer look at the terrain surrounding Luke Road. (NOTE: Refer to the Lay of the Land- Part 1 and  Search and Rescue for a wider frame of reference.) If we swing around to the north and look back in a south by southeasterly direction we can see the main portion of Luke Road as viewed by Google Earth:

I have cobbled together an amateurish photographic panorama of this same view from almost the same perspective:
To the left (east), you can see the cul-de-sac with Jack's roofline and Big Bear's place across the way.  Back toward the right (west) you see the neighbor John's place and the mid-portion of Luke Road.

Here is a closer look at the cul-de-sac:
Jack's house is on the left of this view, Big Bear's to the right of center. Between those two is another neighbor's house.

And here is a close-up of Jack's rough-hewn house, sitting atop a small knoll surrounded by pinon pines and sagebrush:
This is about the stage of completion it was at when Jack disappeared.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Of aliens, radioactive boots and abduction

The San Luis Valley and UFO's have been linked for decades. The first and possibly most famous incident involved Snippy the horse (sometimes referred to as "Skippy") in 1967.  Here's a nice summary of the case.  It seems Snippy was found dead and strangely mutilated with absolutely no blood remaining in the body or nearby. Investigation revealed some other strange things:
The horse's owner, Nellie Lewis, accompanied by Harry King, visited the spot where Snippy had been found. She reported finding a flattened bush and what seemed to be exhaust marks. She also said she smelled a strange, sweet odor, "like incense." She picked up a piece of the horse's mane and felt it burn her hands. Later she reported her boots were found to be radioactive. She remained convinced that extraterrestrials had done this to her horse.
Some however, remained skeptical, including Dr. Robert Adams, a pathologist and member of the University of Colorado's Condon Commission on UFO's, who performed an autopsy on Snippy and reached a different conclusion.
“I know it's going to pop the bubble, but the horse was not killed by a flying saucer.” Dr. Adams said his findings at this point are speculative, but there was some evidence that severe infection had been present in the right flank area.

Since the incident of Snippy the horse, UFO sightings have been commonplace throughout the eastern end of the San Luis Valley from San Luis in the south to Poncha Pass in the north. There is a UFO observation deck (public access for a fee, complete with geodesic dome and gift shop) north of the small town of Hooper, and only a short distance from the Great Sand Dunes (Short video highlighting the UFO observation deck).

Animal mutilations under strange circumstances have also continued sporadically.  More recently, in November 2009, several calves were found dead and mutilated in Costilla County. The Pueblo Chieftain reported on the incident:
Rancher Manuel Sanchez has had four calves mutilated over a three-week span in a pasture he leases near Los Vallejos, just southeast of here, with the most recent victim coming on Nov. 16.  In each case, Sanchez found his calves with skin peeled back and organs cleaned out from the rib cage.
 The local sheriff's office investigated:
Sgt. James Chavez, who serves as the public information officer for the Costilla County Sheriff's Office, said a deputy and an undersheriff went to the pasture to investigate one of the killings.  Chavez said the investigation revealed no indications of a predator attack and the lack of blood at the site made it highly unlikely that a person butchered it.  "I've butchered a cow before and I know what kind of a mess it leaves," he said.
Now, the reason that I mention these incidents is that during the course of the initial search for Jack Gordon, a bystander mentioned in all seriousness the possibility of an alien abduction. And, as if it wasn't surreal enough, the investigating officer for the cattle mutilations (Sgt. James Chavez) was the same as for the Jack Gordon case. Go figure...