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Autopsy inconclusive on treasure hunter Randy Bilyeu's death

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Posted at 12:57 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 14:57:48-04

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- The family of a Colorado man who went missing while searching for a $2 million hidden treasure in northern New Mexico has no plans to give up looking for answers to what may have led to his death.

Randy Bilyeu disappeared in January while searching for an author's cache of gold and jewels in the New Mexico wilderness. His remains were discovered west of Santa Fe, N.M.

Autopsy results show Bilyeu had no broken bones or other injuries, but medical investigators were unable to determine what caused his death due to the few clues gleaned from his skeletal remains.

The report notes the possibility that he could have succumbed to hypothermia, the effects of dehydration or even something like a heart attack.

Bilyeu's ex-wife, Linda Bilyeu of Florida, said Thursday that the 55-year-old father and grandfather was brave enough to face the odds in an endeavor that he felt confident about and that some kind of unfortunate event cost him his life.

She says Bilyeu's mishap should serve as a reminder that accidents can happen no matter how prepared a person might be.

Bilyeu was searching for antiquities dealer and writer Forrest Fenn's $2 million trove in northern New Mexico.
 
Fenn dropped clues about the treasure in a cryptic poem in his 2011 memoir, "The Thrill of the Chase." The self-published work spurred tens of thousands to search for Fenn's loot.
 
An eccentric 85-year-old from Santa Fe, Fenn has inspired a cult following since his announcement that he stashed a small bronze chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Amid the craze, he has tried to dissuade people from searching in the winter, saying the treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place.
 
He also tells followers not to look "any place where an 80-year-old man couldn't put it."
 
Treasure hunters have searched in vain through remote corners of New Mexico, Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere in the mountains. They share their experiences on blogs and brainstorm about the clues. The mystery has been featured on national networks, igniting even more interest.
 
Family and friends say Bilyeu, who would have turned 55 in February, bought a raft and set out on Jan. 5 after scouting for two weeks along the river west of Santa Fe. He had a GPS device, a wetsuit and waders. He brought along his little white dog, Leo.

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