Hiking at a Murder Scene

Last year, we spent a long weekend in Estes Park, Colorado, a town just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. We did a couple of day hikes, including the always popular Deer Mountain trail. It was a beautiful hike, but since the trail was partially covered in snow at the time, there were a few areas where it was difficult to follow the trail. At one point when the trail switched back, we continued hiking forward for about 10 minutes before realizing we were no longer on the official trail. It seemed like this was a common occurrence since it was clear that we were not the first people to have made this mistake. Not to mention, the views from this false trail were some of the best we experienced on the entire hike. There were a few exposed cliffs overlooking the valley below and the 14,000 foot peaks on the other side. Make a mental note of these cliffs; they will become relevant again very soon.

Deer Mountain
Views from the Deer Mountain trail

Fast forward a couple of months and we are ensconced on our couch after work with a tray of nachos watching TV.  One thing leads to another and we find ourselves watching an episode of 20/20 (probably more like 5 episodes but who’s counting). In this particular episode, a man named Harold Henthorn, took his wife to Rocky Mountain National Park, and since this was 20/20, it was a foregone conclusion that he would murder her there. As the episode progressed, we started to recognize some of the photos to have been taken on the Deer Mountain trail. It was the same feeling you get as a Massachusetts native when you watch Good Will Hunting and you see the characters walking through Harvard Square and you’re like “hey I know that place.” It’s cool for about two seconds and then you sort of just move on with your life and keep watching the movie. However, as the show went on, we realized that not only were they hiking Deer Mountain just like we did, they also hiked on the exact same false trail that we mistakenly followed. Remember those cliffs? Well, this monster of a human being, Harold, pushed his wife off the edge, and then called 911 acting as though an accident had occurred. Long story short, he was found to have murdered a previous wife and was eventually sentenced to life in prison which is exactly where he belongs. More details on the story here, and here.

The whole story is an absolute tragedy, but it was wild seeing that they were at the exact same place on that mountain that we were right before the murder took place. We probably spent 20 minutes just sitting on the edge of those cliffs, not having a clue what had occurred in that exact spot only a few years prior.

Photo source: The Telegraph

Here’s Harold on the edge of the cliff…


Photo source: The Denver Channel

And here’s Laura on the exact same cliff (photo from different angle).


Luckily for us we had only been married for about 6 months, so we hadn’t quite reached the point where we wanted to push each other off a cliff. Also, as far as we know, neither of us have a $6 million life insurance policy, so there was no financial motive.


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