Jesse Capen Missing: Remains Could Belong To Man Who Sought Legendary Lost Dutchman Mine

11/30/2012 01:25 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2012

Human remains found outside Phoenix could be those of a Denver bellhop who ventured into the desert in 2009 to find the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine.

Hikers scouring the Superstition Mountains for Jesse Capen discovered remains in a crevice on Saturday, Fox News reported. The remote spot was about a half mile from where the 35-year-old's jeep and campsite were found almost three years ago, according to the Associated Press.

Capen, who worked at a Sheraton hotel in Denver, hiked into the wilderness pursuing the Lost Dutchman Mine, an alleged reserve of immense value. It's been the subject of folklore since the mid-1800s, and Capen had become obsessed with the legend, having searched for it at least two other times.

Capen's mother said he amassed a library of more than 100 books and maps about the Lost Dutchman, convincing him that vast riches lay hidden somewhere in the rugged peaks of the desert.

"This is beyond obsessed," his mother Cynthia Burnett told the Denver Post in 2010. "This was like research for a Ph.D. This is a classic case of a man's search for treasure."

In December 2009, he commenced yet another expedition and took the risk of exploring the area alone.

The Maricopa County sheriff's office retrieved the bones on Sunday and will send them for testing to confirm the identity. The Superstition Search and Rescue group claims its members made the discovery. Their members have looked for Capen every week since he disappeared, the Phoenix New Times reported.

The Lost Dutchman story goes that a Mexican family named Peralta unearthed a fortune in gold from the mountains but were nearly all killed by Apaches while trying to return to Mexico. A man named Jacob Waltz, called the Dutchman even though he's German, returned to the mine with the help of a Peralta descendant. He allegedly hid the gold he mined with a partner. Waltz died in 1891 and though he's rumored to have described its location to a neighbor who cared for him, its exact spot remains a mystery.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the name of the desert in Arizona containing the Superstition Mountains. We regret the error.

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