Decomposed Bodies Belong to Sisters Trying to Live Off-Grid

Remains of Rebecca and Christine Vance and 14-year-old boy were found in Colorado
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2023 11:12 AM CDT
Colorado Family Dies in Attempt to Live Off the Grid
Stock photo of forested land.   (Getty Images/deineka)

Three decomposed bodies found earlier this month at a remote Colorado campsite have been identified as those of two sisters and a teenage son from Colorado Springs who sought to live "off the grid." A hiker came across one of the bodies in the Gunnison National Forest, located about 100 miles west of Colorado Springs, on July 9, and Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes told CNN at the time that it appeared the trio had arrived in summer "and attempted to stay through the winter."

That checks out: The New York Times reports one of the victims, identified as Rebecca Vance, 42, had told her family she believed she could farm and gather the food she and her son would need to survive in a place that protected them from "the news, the viruses, the politics of modern-day America," as the paper puts it. Barnes on Tuesday identified the other adult as Christine Vance, 41; relatives said she was concerned about how her sister and 14-year-old nephew would fare and decided to join them to help. They left in July 2022 with the intention of permanently living near Gold Creek Campground.

Toxicology tests are pending, so a cause of death hasn't been established, but Barnes suggested they may have been killed by exposure, malnutrition, or carbon monoxide poisoning from a fire. He noted the bodies were emaciated, and the only food that remained on-site among the empty food cans was one package of ramen. He also noted they'd been going to the bathroom near a tree just feet from the tent they were staying in. That suggested they were "cold and not wanting to venture far from the tent. Otherwise you'd probably do that elsewhere."

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Barnes added that it looked like a "lean-to" type shelter was under construction but not completed. "I wonder if winter came on quickly and suddenly they were just in survival mode in the tent," he said, per the AP. "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."

(More Colorado stories.)

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