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Everett Ruess is Still Missing

And they’ll never find my body, boys
Or understand my mind

– Dave Alvin

So it turns out that the bones found by a reporter and brought to the University of Colorado for forensic examination weren’t the remains of Everett Ruess after all. National Geographic Adventure magazine, which has been trumpeting the finding as its own discovery for the last few months, at least this morning hasn’t corrected its story.

Dorothea Lange's photo of Everett Ruess

Dorothea Lange's photo of Everett Ruess

Kenneth Krauter, a CU professor in molecular, ellular and developmental biology department, told the Camera, “We still don’t know exactly why, but it’s my fault,” after a re-examination of the DNA findings originally conducted by CU researcher Dennis Van Gerven concluded that the remains were not those of Ruess, the young wanderer who disappeared near Escalante, Utah, in 1934 and whose writings have inspired environmentalists ever since.

It was a great story, but an even harder lesson that reminds us that even DNA evidence isn’t unassailable if it’s done incorrectly. And I really feel for Ruess’ family, which has had to endure an emotional roller coaster ride.

The original “discovery” changed Dave Alvin’s song about Ruess, an account of the young Californian’s life written in first-person style. It concluded with a chorus that reflects upon his early death and provides a wonderful commentary on the aging process.

You give your dreams away when you get older
Ah, but I never gave up mine
And they’ll never find my body, boys
Or understand my mind.

And I guess that the Twitter feed that appeared after the “re-discovery” will probably go dormant again.

1 comment

1 Everett Ruess And The Reliabilty Of DNA Evidence | Islandlaw Constitutional Rights Pages { 11.02.09 at 4:29 am }

[...] National Geographic announcement in April that his bones had been discovered, and the subsequent revelation that the DNA test results were [...]

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