17-year-old, Corey Fay, was a student at the Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon. On 23 November 1991, he agreed to go elk hunting with a friend of his Dad’s Mark Maupin and probably Mark’s son, in the region west of the Tygh Valley, on the fringe of the Badger Creek Wilderness in Oregon. Corey’s father, the owner of the Northwest investment cars showroom, decided not to accompany them on the trip that day.

That day he vanished and his remains were discovered over a year later, 10 miles away from their vehicle, and up a steep slope in an area with waist-deep snow at the time of the disappearance. What happened to Corey in the Badger Creek Wilderness?

The hunting trip to Badger Greek Wilderness

Corey was a relatively experienced hunter and had been trained in outdoor survival techniques, so he knew what to do in case of an emergency in the wild. He was also well equipped with a compass, emergency solar blanket,  food, rifle and ammunition, and a backpack on this particular trip.

The three men arrived at the Wilderness and split up at around 6.30 pm and agreed to meet back at the car after an hour or so. There was CCTV footage of the group going through a McDonald’s drive-thru around 6 am or so in a nearby city of Hood River so they were definitely together. But was the 6 pm time misreported and was it actually 6.30 am? Sunset at that time of the year was around 4.40 pm so it was unusual to be hunting that late after dark. In many states, it can actually be illegal to hunt after dark.

The disappearance of Corey Fay

The weather was cold and the hunting didn’t go well. Mark Maupin later told investigators that the area was well known for the presence of elk, yet inexplicably they didn’t see any that day. When they arrived back at their vehicle, Corey wasn’t there. They searched the area for signs of Corey and when they found nothing, the group called the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office to report him missing.

The search

The search and rescue effort was comprehensive with around 250 searchers including helicopters, horse riders, hikers, and seven of the best-trained search dogs in the world from the Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue based in Salt Lake City. They focused on twelve square miles for ten days and did not find one trace of Fay.

The official search ended on December 1, 1991, but many volunteers kept searching for several weeks. The FBI was called in to help as the sheriff’s office was baffled. It is highly unusual for the FBI to be called in for a case of disappearance, so foul play was likely suspected.

Discovery of remains

Then, nearly a year later, in September 1992, two hunters made the shocking discovery of Corey’s backpack and rifle around 10 miles from where he left the others in the group to go hunting.

After a more thorough search of the surrounding area, Corey’s jacket was subsequently discovered a mile away from these other items on the same ridge at 6,500 feet. A quarter-mile from his backpack searchers found small bone fragments and just one tooth.

Most surprisingly, no pants, boots, or socks were found. Thirty people doing grid searches of the ridgeline across a one and a 1/4 mile area failed to find any large bones normally associated with finding a skeleton e.g. rib cage.

The sheriff said that Corey would have been in snow up to his waist for more than five miles at the point that the discovery was made. An article in the Eugene Register on September 18, 1992, reported the following: “Authorities know the snow was deep there because a helicopter had spotted tracks during an intensive search for Fay last November. The tracks turned out to be animals but the snow was almost waist deep, and that was a good three miles from where the items were discovered yesterday.” The article later states that searchers didn’t believe Fay could have gone as far as he apparently did and it was strange that he was going uphill when he would have been trained to get to lower ground.

The Sheriff confirmed that in November 1991 his helicopter crews did see tracks on the ridgeline near where Corey’s remains were found, at a point three thousand feet higher and ten miles from the point he should have been hunting with waist-deep snow on most of the journey.

If the group was hunting in this area, this is the reason why the group nor the searchers never saw an elk, because the terrain was too rough and it was not a common elk hunting ground.

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