Searchers have just located what they believe to be the body of a man who set out to find a fabled gold mine in the Arizona mountains and disappeared three years ago.

Thirty-five year-old Jesse Capen of Denver, Colorado was fascinated with the legend of a gold-laden mine known as the “Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” located somewhere in the southwestern United States. Some believe it to be in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona, while others argue that it is actually across the border in Mexico. German immigrant Jacob Waltz supposedly re-discovered it in the 19th century with the help of a descendant of a Mexican family that mined it, but kept its actual location a secret to his death.

Capen had done his homework. He read many books on the subject, made dozens of detailed drawings and compared them against existing maps to try and determine the location. For more than 10 years, he worked at the night shift at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel keeping to himself and reading books on the gold mine.

Capen ventured into the well-known Lost Dutchman State Park in the appropriately-named Superstition Mountains at the end of 2009. He checked into a hotel and periodically spent three-to-four nights in the park searching for the mine. This wasn’t his first search for the mine–he had been to the area twice before to search for the mother lode.

Precisely what happened to Capen remains uncertain. He disappeared on one of his excursions to the mountains in late 2009, and rescuers located his deserted campsite with a copy of the book The Sterling Legend: The Facts Behind the Lost Dutchman Mine by Estee Conaster in his tent in December 2009.

Search operations took place regularly after his disappearance. Superstition Search and Rescue Director Robert Cooper believes his demise came about because he went into his expedition alone. Just like any other hike or camping trip, it’s not recommended to venture into the wild by yourself without telling anyone where you are. Capen seems to have found this out the hard way.

An autopsy on the body will not be conclusive for a few more weeks. A rescuer finally spotted a boot in a crevasse 35 feet off the floor, which was nearly impossible to see from any direction.

“He was in a tight spot and that’s why it took so long to find this young man,” Cooper told Fox News. Now, rescuers are waiting for final results from the coroner performing the autopsy, before they finally declare this case closed.

Image courtesy of Robert Cooper

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