After interviews with Murphy's wife and a review of his laptop, authorities believe Murphy was searching for Forrest Fenn's treasure, which is estimated to be worth $2 million.
An Illinois man fell to his death in Yellowstone National Park previous year, according to a recently released report from the park, marking what may be the fourth person to die while searching for Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure.
Reporters at KULR 8 filed a Freedom of Information Act request and discovered that Yellowstone officials were aware that Murphy had emailed Fenn in the days before his death, confirming a link to the seven-year treasure hunt that has allegedly drawn many thousands of people.
Erica Murphy said Monday she didn't blame Fenn for her husband's death and that Jeff wouldn't have either.
He loved anything that caused him to use his brain, she said, and he loved being out in nature.. The man who invited people to look for his chest of gold and jewels in the Rockies was very concerned about Murphy, and also offered to help pay for a helicopter to find the missing man.
In light of the deaths, Fenn has faced calls to end the hunt.
As with deer hunters and fishermen, there is an inherent risk that comes with hiking the canyons and mountain trails, Fenn said.
Fenn has advised against going on the treasure hunt during the winter and previously said that "no one should search in a place where an 80-year-old man could not hide it".
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Five dog teams, eight hiking teams, and four horse teams all assisted in the search for Murphy.
Grandfather and Colorado resident Randy Bilyeu vanished in January 2016, while scouring the wilderness of northern New Mexico for Fenn's treasure. The 53-year-old from Batavia was found June 9, a day after his wife reported him missing.
Officials later said he fell almost 500 feet and ruled his death an accident.
About a month later, 31-year-old Eric Ashby died after his raft capsized while traveling through the Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River.
Fenn told the Park Service he'd never been to the area where Murphy fell, according to KULR. The antiques dealer wrote a 24-line poem in his 2010 memoir that he claimed led to the treasure.
In other news, I'm now searching for flights heading to Colorado.