Last summer, a Colorado Springs family of three decided to live “off the grid” in the Rocky Mountains. One year later, authorities recovered their ” decomposed and partially mummified” bodies. Now, their relative is warning people about the importance of education and experience before taking on that lifestyle.
A hiker discovered the bodies of Rebecca Vance, 42, her 14-year-old son, and her sister Christine Vance, 41, on a campsite on July 9. According to The Washington Post, the discovery included one body lying in front of a tent while the other two lay inside it.
Coroner Michael Barnes of Gunnison County identified the bodies on Tuesday (Jul. 25). Their cause of death is still being determined–awaiting toxicology reports. However, Barnes speculated in an interview that the trio might’ve died from starvation, malnutrition, freezing temperatures, or carbon monoxide poisoning from trying to make a fire, per NBC News.
Stepsister Seemingly Suggests Family Was Ill-Prepared For “Off The Grid” Lifestyle
Trevala Jara, a stepsister to the Vance sisters, spoke to The Washington Post about her family’s lifestyle decision. She said she was aware of their desired change.
However, she says the stepsisters and her nephew were not upfront about their Rocky Mountains location with any family. And despite Jara’s alleged attempts to stop the family of three, “they wouldn’t listen,” she said.
“[Rebecca] didn’t like the way the world was going, and she thought it would be better if her and her son and Christine were alone, away from everybody,” said. “She didn’t want influences of the world to get to them. she really thought she was protecting her family.”
Jara claims Christine did not plan to join her sister and nephew in their lifestyle change. However, she allegedly believed they’d have a better chance of survival with her there. Jara says Christine “didn’t want them to be alone.”
In her interview with The Washington Post, Jara seemingly insisted the family was not prepared for the sudden switch. She claims the last time her stepsisters had been camping was “when [we] were kids.”
In an effort to help prepare them, Jara says she offered an RV and a generator for practice and had a friend with a similar “off the grid” lifestyle give them survival tips.
But her stepsisters decided to rely on their own limited preparation, including online research and watching YouTube videos about the lifestyle. Before they headed up the Rocky Mountains, Christine gave Trevala Jara their parent’s possessions, including her mother’s urn.
Despite the family promising to call if trouble hit, Jara didn’t hear from Rebecca, Christine, or the teen again.
Local Sheriff Says It’s “Rare” For People To Die In That Rocky Mountains Area
Coroner Barnes revealed the family has “a lot of literate with them about outdoor survival and foraging,” but findings at the scene suggested they “supplied at a grocery store.” Authorities reportedly believe they survived on “canned food, soup, and prepackaged items, per the Colorado Springs Gazette. Investigators found a single package of ramen at the campsite, per Barnes.
The family of three settled about 30 miles northeast of Gunnison near Gold Creek Campground. According to Sheriff Adam Murdie of Gunnison County, it’s not uncommon for people to camp where the Vance family had. However, he clarified that it’s “rare” for them to die there, per The New York Times.
Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office believes the Vances passed away during the winter–which was “significantly harsh,” per Barnes.