A man is found dead four years after his car was abandoned in Wyoming.
In November 16, 1982, an SUV was found in the middle of the desolate Wyoming prairie, its doors open, the engine running, and clothes scattered all over the highway. The owner of the car, 35-year old Don Kemp, was nowhere in sight.
Four years after he disappeared, Don’s body was found just a few miles from where his Blazer was abandoned. The sheriff believed Don froze to death in a blizzard three days after he was lost. But Don’s mother, Mary Kemp, is not convinced:
Don Kemp was a promising young advertising executive in New York City until he was severely disabled in a traffic accident. After he recovered, his sister, Kathy Dobe, said that he chose not to return to Madison Avenue:
In September 1982, Don sold almost everything he owned and began a long drive West. His destination was Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he planned to write a book about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The day before he disappeared, Don was seen at a museum in Cheyenne. He wandered through the small galleries for two hours, speaking to no one. When he left, Don apparently forgot his attaché case. In it were his traveler’s checks, diaries, and his driving glasses.
The next day, November 16, l982, at 10AM, highway patrolman Randy Teeters came upon an eerie sight. Don’s abandoned car, in the middle of nowhere:
When he found the car, Patrolman Teeters noticed a single set of footprints leading from the roadside into the empty, lonely prairie:
The local sheriff’s department concluded that Don had wandered off alone. But Don’s mother believed he was abducted:
Sheriff C. W. Ogburn said he believed Don was not well mentally:
Deputy Rod Johnson flew over the area for two hours. He could see for miles over the open terrain. But he said there was no trace of Don:
Later that day, Johnson and two other deputies found a duffle bag lying near the single set of footprints. In it were laundry soap, clothes, and a teapot, all belonging to Don.
Tracks in the snow led searchers to a barn six miles from the highway. Inside was a pile of sticks arranged to start a fire, and three of Don’s socks. Three days after he disappeared, a blizzard made it impossible to continue the search.
Three years later, a group of hunters discovered Don’s remains just a few miles from where his SUV was abandoned. According to Sheriff Ogburn, an autopsy showed no signs of foul play:
This is where the case of Don Kemp should have ended. But Mary Kemp has been haunted by two clues that just don’t fit: a sighting of Don and a number of mysterious phone calls.
Five months after Don supposedly died in the blizzard, he was seen 150 miles away in Casper, Wyoming. Not once, but twice. He was reported to be at a traveling exhibit of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia and at a local tavern. Mary Kemp talked to a bartender who distinctly remembered serving Don.
There were other clues that pointed to the town of Casper. Around that time, one of Don’s closest friends returned home from vacation. On her answering machine, she found six different telephone messages from Don. She asked that her identity not be revealed:
Telephone records prove that the calls were made from a trailer in Casper, Wyoming. The young man who was renting the trailer at the time said the phone company must have made a mistake. Capt. Mark Benton of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department interviewed him several times:
Unsatisfied by the man’s story, Mary went to Wyoming to conduct her own investigation:
Three weeks after he was questioned, the young man moved out of the trailer and left Casper. Capt. Mark Benton:
Mary Kemp doesn’t believe the young man:
So what really did happen to Don Kemp in the vast Wyoming prairie? Sheriff Ogburn thinks he died in the blizzard, but can’t explain the phone calls. Mary believes Don was abducted, taken to Casper, and murdered. But then, why was his body found just three miles from his abandoned Blazer? His death remains a mystery.