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A writer disappears while writing a novel about another man’s disappearance.
The tiny village of Silver Plume, Colorado–population 200–lies in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. On September 7, 1987, Tom Young closed up his bookshop on Main Street, and along with his dog, Gus, disappeared. Nine months later, a new resident of Silver Plume, Keith Reinhard, opened an antique shop at exactly the same location. On August 7, 1988, Keith closed up his shop for the day. Less than two hours later, Keith Reinhard also disappeared. There were just too many coincidences. Keith Reinhard and Tom Young both rented the same store. They both left town promising to return. Strangest of all, Keith was writing a book about Tom’s disappearance, when he too suddenly vanished.
Keith Reinhart moved to Silver Plume from Chicago with three goals: to get in shape by mountain climbing, to overcome his fear of heights, and to begin writing a novel. During his sabbatical, Keith wanted to try running an antique shop geared toward summer tourists. If it was successful, he hoped he and his wife could relocate there permanently. Keith’s old friend, Ted Parker, ran a café in Silver Plume at the time of Keith’s disappearance:
Nine months earlier, Keith’s antique shop had been a bookstore. Tom Young, the man who mysteriously disappeared with his dog, had run the store for about a year. Tom had told people he was taking a vacation to Europe. Three weeks went by before anyone became suspicious about his absence. Keith Reinhard became obsessed by the unexplained disappearance and began talking to everyone in Silver Plume who had known Tom. Eventually, Keith decided to base his novel on Tom Young. When he began to write, he created a character named Guy Gypsum, a composite of himself and Tom. According to his daughter, Tiffany, sometimes it seemed hard for Keith to tell the difference between fact and fiction:
On July 31, 1988, ten months after Tom Young disappeared, two hunters found the remains of Tom and his dog in the mountains near Silver Plume. Each had died from a bullet wound to the head. Dave Dauenhaur of the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department, was one of the first investigators to arrive on the scene:
One week after Tom’s body was found, Keith walked through Silver Plume telling everyone he saw that he was going to climb to the top of nearby Pendleton Mountain. One of his stops was Ted Parker’s café:
Keith was last seen walking toward Pendleton Mountain at 4:30 in the afternoon, far too late in the day to begin a difficult six-hour hike. That night, Keith Reinhard did not return..The next day, helicopters were called to search the mountain. On the ground, more than 125 men and a dozen trained dogs combed the difficult terrain for seven days.
Charley Shimanski headed the Alpine Rescue Team:
In thirty years of operation, the Colorado Alpine Rescue Teams had found every single person they searched for. However, they discovered no trace of Keith Reinhard. Some have concluded that Keith Reinhard and Tom Young were murdered, noting that both men rented the same space to run their shops. Perhaps, they both came across information someone didn’t want them to know.
Another theory is that Keith planned his own disappearance. However, Carolyn Reinhard disagreed with that theory:
Some of Keith Reinhard’s friends recall that he was fascinated by the idea of visiting West Virginia. Also, Keith attended a party the night before he disappeared. Witnesses say he spent a good deal of time talking to a woman named Greta or Gretchen, who is probably from Denver. Police would like to talk to her. They hope she can remember something he said that would yield a clue to his whereabouts, if indeed he is still alive.