Yellowstone Cemetery Treasurer Hunter: “I’m Guilty.”
Written by Andrew-Rossi on January 5, 2021
After initially pleading not guilty to federal charges, the would-be treasure hunter admitted his guilt in digging up the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery.
52-year-old Rodrick Dow Craythorn of Syracuse, Utah changed his plea in a U.S. District Court on Monday, Jan. 4. He was charged with excavating or trafficking in archeological resources, and injury or depredation to United States property.
Excavating or trafficking in archeological resources carries a potential penalty of up to two years
in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, and one year of supervised release. Injury or depredation to
United States Property carries a penalty of not more than ten years imprisonment, up to a $250,000
fine, and three years of supervised release.
Between October 1, 2019, and May 24, 2020, Craythorn was discovered excavating in the historic Fort Yellowstone Cemetery located at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.
The Fort Yellowstone Cemetery contains the graves of U.S. soldiers and their families who were stationed at Fort Yellowstone. Over 50 burials occurred there from 1888 to 1957.
Craythorn initially pled not guilty to the charges but was indicted by a federal jury on Sept. 16, 2020. Now, he will be sentenced in the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Court House in Casper on March 17.
The reason for Craythorn’s reckless excavation was the Forrest Fenn Treasure. Following the cryptic poem that Fenn penned to lead people to the cache of gold, jewels, and valuables he hid in the Rocky Mountain Region, Craythorn decided its location was the historic cemetery.
“The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case,
it led to substantial damage to important public resources,” said US Attorney Mark Klaassen. “The defendant let his quest for discovery override respect for the law.”
Fenn confirmed the treasure was found in an undisclosed Wyoming location shortly before his death in 2020.