James Jacob Dutton (Jake Dutton), disappeared June 15, 2012, Body found August 24, 2016, French Pete Trail, south of Cougar Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon.
Update: Dutton’s skeleton was found August 24, 2016, by a hiker about 100 feet off the French Pete Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness, about 4 miles from the trailhead. The discovery was made over four years after he disappeared. He was found near his backpack and two cans of bear spray in the steep, heavily forested area. His pants were still on, but his torso was bare. With no evidence of trauma or gunshot wounds, authorities suspect Dutton died of hypothermia. RIP Jake.
Hypothermia in June? Does this discovery raise more questions than answers? Paradoxical undressing caused by freezing temperature and hypothermia in the winter or spring but during the summer months even in Oregon? The French Pete Creek close to the trail is only at 4823 ft and the trail itself climbs around 1000 feet during its length. The average temperature in the Three Sisters Wilderness is a high of 21 degrees centigrade (70 degrees F) and low of 5 degrees centigrade (41 degrees F) in June. Link
James Jacob Dutton (Jake Dutton), aged 32, lived in Eugene, Oregon, and was a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and had completed studying alternative medical services for pain relief through physical therapy. He was an experienced hiker and camper.
Jake left for a hike on the French Pete Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon June 15th, 2012. The French Pete Trail and drainage are surrounded by massive Douglas-Firs and Western Red-cedars. There are numerous rocks, steep slopes and the terrain is generally rugged and dangerous. He was eventually reported missing, but a search didn't begin for nearly 6 weeks as he failed to leave any sort of itinerary with friends or relatives. The fact that he wasn't working and was single also delayed the missing persons reports.
He was last seen at this apartment on June 3rd, 2012. On Friday, June 15, Jake completed a U.S. Forest Service permit slip to use the trail, which indicated when he started and when he planned to end his hike. He indicated would return by June 18th.
His 1998, Blue, Nissan Frontier pickup truck was found on July 30, 2012 near McKenzie Pass on forest road 19 near the trailhead for French Pete, off Aufderheide Memorial Drive. Jake's backpack, inflatable boat and hiking boots were not in the truck and found in his apartment.
The family were frustrated that Forest Service officials didn’t use the permit to figure out that he had not returned from his hike and that his pickup was still at the trailhead. He had planned to take his 13-year-old nephew, CJ, camping later in June, after a family reunion in Seaside and it is believed that he went to the trail to scout campsites.
Jake had his cell phone with him, but there was no coverage in the French Pete area of the forest.
His mother, Cynthia Boucher, began to worry about her son in mid-June, when she called to remind him about his older brother Christopher’s upcoming birthday, and she could not reach him on his cell phone. On June 28, Jake had agreed to pick up his nephew at the Portland International Airport but failed to do so. Jake's brother subsequently went to the apartment and found no sign of him and informed the authorities and on July 9th a missing persons report was filed with the Eugene Police Department. Three weeks later, the report, which contained the description and license plate number of the pick up, caused the U.S. Forest Service to find the vehicle on July 30 at the French Pete trailhead.
Two searches, involving law enforcement personnel, volunteers and search and rescue dogs, took place on July 31 and August 5th. No signs of Jake were found on these searches.
Like Jake Dutton, Daming Xu, disappeared in the same area on November 4th, 2007, after summiting the nearby Mount Ollalie. His guidebook was found near the French Pete Creek, but his body or belongings were never recovered.
It is never recommended to go hiking in the wilderness alone, and certainly not in the French Pete Trail area of Oregon without leaving a detailed itinerary behind with friends or family.