Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Damaging Yellowstone Graveyard
A Utah man on Monday pleaded guilty in federal court to damaging the historic Fort Yellowstone Cemetery while searching for the famed Forrest Fenn treasure, according to news releases from the park and the Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office.
Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Syracuse, Utah, pleaded guilty to excavating or trafficking in archeological resources, and injury or depredation to United States property, during a hearing before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl in the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Court House, 118 S. Durbin St., in Casper.
Skavdahl accepted Craythorn’s plea and scheduled his sentencing on March 17 in Casper.
A federal grand jury indicted Craythorn on Sept. 16, and he pleaded not guilty on Oct. 22, according to federal court records.
The indictment alleged that Craythorn was found digging in the cemetery between Oct. 1, 2019, and May 24, 2020, inside the park.
“The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case it led to substantial damage to important public resources,” Wyoming U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen said. “The Defendant let his quest for discovery override respect for the law.”
Conviction of excavating or trafficking in archeological resources carries a potential penalty of up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, and one year of supervised release.
Conviction of injury or depredation to U.S. property carries a penalty of not more than 10 years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Fenn, who died in September, was an art dealer and author from Santa Fe, N.M., who hid a treasure chest with gold, rare coins, jewelry and gemstones somewhere in the Rocky Mountains a decade ago. Fenn left clues to finding the treasure in a poem in his memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase.”
Treasure hunters used clues from his writings to look for the fortune, and some died in their efforts.
In December, a grandson of Fenn confirmed a medical school student from Michigan found the chest in the wilds of Wyoming.
Shiloh Forrest Old wrote a website dedicated to the treasure that 32-year-old Jonathan “Jack” Stuef found the treasure in June.
Stuef had met with Fenn soon after finding the treasure.
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