The three partly mummified bodies that were found at a campsite in the Rockies earlier this month have been identified as a 14-year-old boy, his 42-year-old mother Rebecca Vance, and his mother's sister, 41-year-old Christine Vance.
The three victims were from Colorado Springs and had set off on their adventure last July, determined to living off the grid and get away from civilization — even after their stepsister, Trevala Jara, tried to stop them.
"[Rebecca] was fearful of a lot of things with the way she thought the world was going. … She was actually trying to save her son, and our sister," said Jara, who had a bad feeling about the trip, according to The Gazette.
"We tried to stop them, but they wouldn't listen. Their minds were made up," added Jara, who says she was the only person who knew about their trip. "You can't go on the internet and watch videos on how to live off the grid, and then actually do it, if you have no experience," Jara said. "You just can't do that. They died of starvation because they weren't prepared."
From the Gazette:
In a last-ditch effort to increase their chance of survival, the Jaras offered the use of a remote property they own in Hartsel.
"There's an RV there, and we have a generator, and there's a general store not far away," Jara said. "We offered it to them so they could at least practice before going out there on their own."
Christine seemed inclined to take them up on their offer, "but Becky didn't want to," Jara said. …
"When I got the call, I didn't want to believe it," she said. "I didn't want to believe they were gone."
Jara remembers her sisters as "wonderful people" with markedly different personalities. Christine was more lively and outgoing, while Rebecca was quieter and more guarded, with a tendency to brood.
"Ever since we were kids, she did not like to be around people," Jara said. "She was a huge introvert. She didn't trust anybody. She liked to be by herself — and with Christine."
From NBC News:
Their bodies showed signs of malnourishment, with two in the tent and one outside. Though a cause of death has yet to be determined while authorities wait for toxicology reports to be processed, the group may have succumbed to starvation, freezing temperatures or carbon monoxide poisoning from trying to make fire to stay warm, Barnes said.
The three likely started camping in July 2022 and died sometime over the winter. Family members told Barnes that the group embarked on a trip last summer and planned to live "off the grid."
After a hiker found a body outside the tent earlier this month, deputies began investigating the site to identify the bodies. At the campsite alongside the bodies were empty food cans, books and a restroom area, Barnes said. It appeared they had begun to build a "lean-to" type shelter but not finished by the time last year's harsh winter began, he said.
"I wonder if winter came on quickly and suddenly they were just in survival mode in the tent," Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes said yesterday. "They had a lot of literature with them about outdoor survival and foraging and stuff like that. But it looked like they supplied at a grocery store."
Although officials have identified the hikers and the approximate time of their demise (winter), the exact cause of their death is still under investigation.