Jaryd Atadero

Thousands of backpackers, hikers, and campers frequently travel to Colorado’s Big South Trail, which spans 11 miles and 7,000 acres of lakes, trees, and mountains. The trail is in the Roosevelt National Forest and features moderately challenging trails with steep inclines and rocky areas. The trails are challenging for hikers of all skill levels.

Black bears, elks, moose, mountain goats, bobcats, and mountain lions are just a few of the animals that live in the national forest.

Jaryd Atadero, then 3 years old, his father, Allyn, and sister Josellin, then 6 years old, all resided in Belleview, Colorado in 1999. The resort by the mountains that Allyn and his brother owned was where the single father of two lived with his two kids.

Allyn joined a Christian Singles Network group that same year in search of a dating partner. In exchange for a few nights at the lodge, 11 of the group’s members offered to help Allyn get the lodge ready for the upcoming winter by October of that year. He agreed.

The group decided to go to a hatchery two miles from the resort on October 21. The Atadero kids begged their father to let them join the group. Allyn reluctantly concurred because he did believe the others in the group, but he would later come to regret that choice.

A Hike on Big South Trail

The visit to the chicken hatchery went without a hitch. The group then made the decision to continue to the Big South Trail for a hike without Allyn’s permission to bring the young children.

On the trail, the 11-person group dispersed, with the slower individuals lagging behind the faster ones. The group was led by Jaryd, Jocellyn, and another adult. The children had fun while hiking and playing. Jaryd ran ahead of the group about a mile and a half into the hike. When he came across two fishermen, he inquired about the presence of any bears.

Jaryd took on down the trail after this conversation.

An hour later, the group heard a scream. Jocellyn decided it sounded like someone was getting attacked. The adults in the group realized Jaryd was missing.

Where is Jaryd?

The group spent about an hour looking for Jaryd. Several of the group returned to the lodge to alert Allyn that his son was missing.

Allyn set out to look for his son, angry but worried about him. Following his unsuccessful search for his son, Allyn dialed 911. More than 60 people had gathered by 6:30 o’clock to look for the young child.

Above the mountain, a helicopter that was looking for Jaryd crashed. Despite the fact that the passengers lived, two of the five sustained serious injuries. There were several days of searching without finding Jaryd.

The team assumed that one of the cats had attacked Jaryd after discovering mountain lion tracks and remembered the screams they had heard earlier that day. Attacks by mountain lions are incredibly uncommon. Since 1915, there have been only 14 fatal attacks in the US and Canada.

On October 28, the search was put on hold.

Although there were many competing theories, everyone agreed that Jaryd was not likely still alive at this point. Some people speculate that Jaryd may have been the victim of an animal attack, fallen into one of the lakes, or that other sinister activities may have caused Jaryd to vanish. Some believed Jaryd had been abducted, possibly by the two fishermen who had spotted him that day as he was running ahead of the group on the trail.

Years passed with no sign of Jaryd. On that day, people assumed that the young boy’s remains had been discovered by wildlife and that they would never be found again.

Remains Found

Then, about 500 meters off the trail, on May 6, 2003, two businessmen hiking in the forest discovered a child’s shoe and a brown fleece jacket. The condition of the shoe was nearly perfect. There appeared to be punctures in the jacket. The men continued their hike and came across a second shoe and a pair of worn-out, inside-out blue jeans belonging to a child. The jeans’ leg on one side was almost completely torn off.

The clothes were sent by the police to Allyn, who confirmed they belonged to Jaryd. Police discovered a child’s skull and molar tooth when they resumed their search.

The tooth and skull belonged to little Jaryd for more than a decade before DNA finally proved it.

Even though forensic testing revealed there were no mountain lion hairs, blood, or DNA, everyone assumed Jaryd had been attacked by one. The boy would have been attacked in the abdomen region, which was completely intact on Jaryd, according to mountain lion experts, and his clothing would have been taken to use for their nests.

More than 20 years on, the death of Jaryd remains a mystery and no one knows what happened to the precious little boy -and likely never will.

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