The high cost of Yellowstone treasure hunting

After pleading guilty to federal charges of Yellowstone treasure hunting at Fort Yellowstone Cemetery related to the Fenn treasure, Rodrick Dow Craythorn was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay $31,566 in restitution.

In addition, Craythorn was sentenced to an additional six months of home detention, followed by two years of supervised release, for his Yellowstone treasure hunting.

The Syracuse, Utah resident pled guilty to charges of excavating or trafficking in archeological resources, and injury or depredation to United States property in U.S. District Court on January 4, 2021. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 16, 2020 for his damage to Fort Yellowstone Cemetery in 2019 and 2020

Craythorn was in search of a chest of gold, silver, and gems buried in the western United States by Santa Fe, N.M., art dealer Forrest Fenn, who then left a clue-filled poem to solve its location. Craythorn had done extensive research on the Forest Fenn treasure and documented his efforts to family and friends. The treasure was later found elsewhere, far from Yellowstone National Park.

“Yellowstone is one of the country’s most popular national parks and we must do everything in our power to investigate and prosecute those who damage and destroy its natural and cultural resources. A national park is no place to stage an adult treasure hunt motivated by greed. The harmful actions of Mr. Craythorn, no matter the reason or intent, destroyed valuable archaeological resources that cannot be undone,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray in a statement. “I am pleased with the results of this case. The teamwork between Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Hambrick and the rangers and special agents with our National Park Service resulted in the successful prosecution of a crime that a sentence of imprisonment is rarely imposed. Craythorn deserves time in a federal prison, no matter the length. Yet this case really serves to remind those enjoying our national parks the importance of respecting and preserving it for the whole of America.”

“This is the most significant investigation of damage to archaeological resources in Yellowstone National Park’s recent history,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “I want to sincerely thank law enforcement officers, special agents, archaeological staff, the Department of Justice District of Wyoming and the U.S. District Court Judge for their outstanding work on this complex case.”

Case file photo by NPS Investigative Services Branch.

RELATED STORIES: Fenn treasure hunter pleads guilty to Yellowstone cemetary vandalism; Fenn treasure hunter indicted in Fort Yellowstone Cemetery ransacking; Yellowstone Hiker Fatality Last Summer Linked to Treasure Hunt

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