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This undated photo shows damage to the cemetery at the Fort Yellowstone National Historic Landmark in Yellowstone National Park. Rodrick Dow Craythorn, a 52-year-old man from Syracuse, was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Wyoming in connection with the damage, which authorities say Craythorn caused while searching for a cache of buried treasure.

National Park Service

Utah man sentenced to 6 months after digging for treasure in Yellowstone cemetery

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Posted - Mar. 31, 2021 at 3:36 p.m.


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CASPER, Wyo. — A Utah man who pleaded guilty to digging for buried treasure at a historic cemetery in Yellowstone National Park has been sentenced to six months of incarceration, authorities said Wednesday.

Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Syracuse, was sentenced to six months of imprisonment, as well as six months of home detention followed by two years of supervised release, according to a news release from the National Park Service. Craythorn was also ordered to pay $31,566 in restitution, the release said.

Craythorn was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Casper, Wyoming, by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl, the news release said.

Craythorn was found digging in the cemetery at the Fort Yellowstone National Historic Landmark in late 2019 and early 2020, authorities said. Park officials found seventeen instances of illegal excavation, including damage to a historic grave, according to the release.

The cemetery, in the northwest section of the park near Mammoth Hot Springs, is an archeological site with historical human burials, the park service said. At least 54 people, mostly civilian employees of the U.S. Army and relatives of military personnel, were buried there between 1888 and 1916. The Army was dispatched to the park in 1886 to protect it, and established Fort Yellowstone there until the Army left the park in 1918.

Investigators determined that Craythorn was likely searching for treasure buried by New Mexico art dealer Forrest Fenn, the news release said. Fenn buried a cache of coins, gold and other valuables in the western U.S. and published a poem with clues on where to find it. The treasure was thought to be worth at least $1 million.

Craythorn had done extensive research on Fenn's treasure and had documented his efforts to find it to his family and friends, the park service said.

Fenn died in September at age 90, three months after he announced the treasure had been found in Wyoming, the Associated Press reported. A family member of Fenn's said in December that Jonathan "Jack" Stuef, a 32-year-old medical student from Michigan, found the treasure. At least four people died in the search for Fenn's treasure and others had to be rescued while hunting for it.

"Yellowstone is one of the country's most popular national parks and we must do everything in our power to investigate and prosecute those who damage and destroy its natural and cultural resources. A national park is no place to stage an adult treasure hunt motivated by greed. The harmful actions of Mr. Craythorn, no matter the reason or intent, destroyed valuable archaeological resources that cannot be undone," Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray said in the news release.

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