Forrest Fenn joins search for missing treasure hunter near Santa Fe

Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Updated: 01/21/2016 10:02 PM
Created: 01/21/2016 7:45 PM

Plenty of people have searched for Forrest Fenn's infamous hidden treasure over the years. But it was Fenn doing the searching Thursday afternoon for a Colorado man who went missing trying to find the treasure near Santa Fe.

Fenn chartered a helicopter after New Mexico State Police called off their search for Randy Bilyeu earlier this week after reaching a dead-end.

KOB flew along with Fenn's chartered helicopter Thursday afternoon as it swept over the steep, rocky banks of the frigid Rio Grande west of Santa Fe.

"It's terrible," Fenn said. "We're doing everything we can to alleviate the situation. I don't know. We'll see."

Bilyeu vanished nearly three weeks ago on a quest to find Fenn's hidden treasure.

"We've been unsuccessful for the last 4 or 5 days but we're going out today and hope to have some better luck," Fenn said.

Last Friday, search and rescue teams found Bilyeu's raft along the banks of the river with his dog right beside it. But there was no sign of Bilyeu on the ground, not even footprints.

Still, search and rescue volunteers are cautiously optimistic he might still be alive.

"We think he went into the water quite honestly," said Tom Cremeens, the flight paramedic who found Bilyeu's raft. "Our impression is that there was an event where he collapsed and drowned. We can't find any evidence of him on the ground anywhere. So what we're doing now is just trying to do an over-fly and some ground searching to see if we can confirm some of our theories. But we really don't know if he's still alive or not."

Over the past five years, tens of thousands of people have ventured out in search of Fenn's treasure, a chest full of gold and jewelry said to be worth about $2 million.

Fenn says he's hidden it somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe but has always warned adventurers hoping to find it not to search during the winter.

"The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place," Fenn said. "I've said many times not to look for the treasure any place where an 80-year-old man couldn't put it."

Fenn and his team searched for four hours Thursday afternoon but found no new signs of Bilyeu.

"We had 8 eyes searching. I wish I had good news to report, but I don't," Fenn wrote in an email to KOB.

KOB welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the rules of conduct set forth in our Terms of Use. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Use.