Badger Creek Wilderness

Corey Fay - Strange disappearances from US Wilderness Areas

Corey Fay, disappeared November 23, 1991, West of Tygh Valley, Badger Creek Wilderness, Oregon.

Corey Fay disappearance

Corey Fay, aged 17, was a student at the Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon. On 23 November 1991 he asked Mark Maupin if he could accompany him and his friend elk hunting in the region west of the Tygh Valley on the fringe of the Badger Creek Wilderness in Oregon. Corey was a relatively experienced hunter and had been trained in outdoor survival, so he knew what to do in case of emergency in the wild. He was also well equipped with a compass, emergency solar blanket,  food, rifle and ammunition and a back pack on this particular trip.

They arrived at the wilderness and split up at around 6.30pm and agreed to meet back at the car. That was the last time anyone saw Corey. The weather was cold and the hunting didn't go well with Maupin later telling investigators that the area was well known for the presence of elk, yet inexplicably they didn't see any that day. When they arrived back at their vehicle, Corey wasn't there and so the group called the Wasco County Sheriff's Office.

Badger Creek Wilderness Oregon

The search and rescue effort was comprehensive with around 250 searchers and included helicopters, horse riders, hikers and seven of the best-trained search dogs in the world from the Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue based in Salt Lake City. They focused on twelve square miles for ten days and did not find one trace of Fay.

Badger Creek Wilderness Oregon

The press had the theory that he may have been accidentally killed by another hunter and buried but cadaver dogs never found a grave.The other theory was that Cory may have survived for a prolonged period, and one searcher thought they may have found a campsite with an old fire, but this was never confirmed. With such a big search effort it seems unlikely that he lived long after he initially disappeared.

The official search ended on December 1, 1991, but many volunteers kept searching for several weeks. The FBI was called in to help as the sheriff's office was baffled.

Nearly a year later, in September 1992, two hunters found Corey's backpack and rifle around 10 miles from where he was last seen. Corey's jacket was subsequently discovered a mile away from these other items on the same ridge at 6,500 feet. A quarter mile from his backpack searchers found small bone fragments and just one tooth. Importantly and most surprisingly, no pants (trousers), boots, or socks were found. Thirty people doing grid searches of the ridge line across a one and a 1/4 mile area failed to find any large bones normally associated with finding a skeleton e.g. rib cage.

The sheriff said that Corey would have been in snow up to his waist for more than five miles at the point that the discovery was made. An article in the Eugene Register on September 18, 1992, reported the following: "Authorities know the snow was deep there because a helicopter had spotted tracks during an intensive search for Fay last November. The tracks turned out to be animals but the snow was almost waist deep, and that was a good three miles from where the items were discovered yesterday." The article later states that searchers didn't believe Fay could have gone as far as he apparently did and it was strange that he was going uphill when he would have been trained to get to lower ground.

The Sheriff confirmed that in November 1991 his helicopter crews did see tracks on the ridgeline near where Corey's remains were found, at a point three thousand feet higher and ten miles from the point he should have been hunting with waist deep snow on most of the journey.

This is such an unusual case because of the strange circumstances and evidence.