Real Name: Thomas "Tom" Young
Case: Suspicious Death
Location: Silver Plume, Colorado
Date: September 7, 1987
Details: Tom Young owned a bookstore in the small town of Silver Plume, Colorado. By 1987, he had done so for about a year. On September 7, he closed it up and then disappeared along with his dog, Gus. He had told people that he was going on a trip to Europe, so three weeks went by before anyone suspected that his absence was suspicious.
In June 1988, forty-eight-year-old Chicago sports reporter Keith Reinhard began a three-month sabbatical in Silver Plume. His goals were to get in shape by mountain climbing, overcome his fear of heights, and begin writing a novel. His old friend, Ted Parker, ran a café in Silver Plume. During his sabbatical, Keith wanted to try running an antique store geared towards summer tourists. If it was successful, he hoped that he and his wife, Carolyn, could relocate there permanently.
Keith and Ted had grown up across the street from each other and had known each other for about forty years. Ted felt that their relationship was similar to that of brothers. According to Ted, Keith was both apprehensive and excited about turning fifty. He had come to Silver Plume to finish out the last of his forties in the way that he had dreamed of. According to his son, Sven, he had felt that he was going to get old soon and wanted to enjoy the last years of his "younger" life without any regrets. He also wanted to do certain things in his life before he became too old to be able to do them.
Keith's antique store was located on Main Street, across the street from Ted's café. He soon learned that the building it was in used to be Tom's bookstore. He became obsessed with his mysterious disappearance. He began talking to everyone in Silver Plume who had known him. He decided to base the novel he was going to write on him. When he began the novel, he created a character named "Guy Gypsum" who was a composite of himself and Tom. Sometimes it seemed hard for him to tell the difference. His daughter, Tiffany, recalled that he was very interested in Tom's disappearance and talked about it all the time. She noted that writers like to "live the story" that they are writing about and get a feel of it so that it is easier for them to write about it. She speculated that he may have wanted to feel what it was like to disappear so that he could write about it.
On July 31, 1988, ten months after Tom vanished, two hunters exploring on Republican Mountain, just 1.5 miles outside Silver Plume, found the remains of him and Gus. Each had died from a bullet wound to the head. A revolver was also found at the scene. In subsequent investigation, police found out that Tom had purchased a gun approximately four days before he vanished from Silver Plume. His case was later closed; it was ruled a suicide, both by the coroner's office and the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Department.
One week later on August 7, 1988, Keith closed up his store at around 2:30pm. Throughout the afternoon, he walked through Silver Plume and told several residents that he was planning to climb to the top of nearby Pendleton Mountain. Most did not take him seriously, knowing that he had a fear of heights and disliked climbing alone. At 4pm, he went to Ted's café and told him that he was going to make it to the top of the mountain. He also said that if he did not come back, he should "call on the rescue". He then said goodbye and left. Ted also did not take him seriously.
Keith was last seen walking toward Pendleton Mountain. It was 4:30pm, much too late to begin a difficult hike that would normally take six hours. He had no jacket, only a flannel shirt. He also carried absolutely no supplies. That night, he did not return. The next day, helicopters were called out to search Pendleton Mountain. On the ground, more than 125 men and a dozen trained dogs combed the difficult terrain for seven days. Searchers felt like it was the proverbial "needle in a haystack", with the latter being 3,000 vertical feet of 60-degree slope. It was about as difficult a search terrain that they had ever covered. They were also at a disadvantage because Keith had gone into the mountains wearing no more than blue jeans, a flannel shirt, and tennis shoes. He had no backpack or equipment for them to look for; overall, he had left behind no clues for them.
In thirty years of operation, the Colorado Alpine Rescue teams have found every single person they searched for. However, they could find no trace of Keith. Friends later found a newspaper next to his computer. The headline was: "Tom Young's Body Found". Still in the computer were these words, part of his unfinished novel: Guy Gypsum changed into some hiking boots and donned a heavy flannel shirt. He understood Tom now and his motivation. Guy closed the door, then walked off towards the lush, shadowless, Colorado forest above.
Could these words imply that Keith, like Tom, had decided to take his own life? Carolyn did not think that he would have considered suicide because he was a very optimistic, upbeat person. His advice to her was always: positive mental attitude. With his type of personality, she felt that he would not have committed suicide.
Another theory suggested that neither Keith nor Tom committed suicide, but instead were victims of foul play. First, ballistics could never prove that the bullet that killed Tom came from his own gun. Second, both rented exactly the same space to run their shops. They both might have come across information someone did not want them to have. Tiffany believed that foul play was involved and that Keith had stumbled upon something. Sven does not believe that they will find out the truth until Keith or his body is found.
A final theory was that Keith planned his own disappearance. Carolyn does not believe that he would have left at 4pm for a long distance hike with a far destination in mind. At that time of day, she believed that he would have gone for a walk up the mountain as far as he felt comfortable, and then turned around and came back down. She thought it was odd that he did not take either of his cameras with him. He was in the habit of carrying his camera, especially with the scenery there.
Police noted that Keith was possibly having a midlife crisis, was frustrated that he could not make it off his antique store in Silver Plume, and had told so many people that he was going for a hike. They are not sure why he made the point with so many people that he was doing so. It also did not make sense why he would climb to the top of the mountain by himself if he had vertigo and a fear of heights. They noted that Tom left a false trail surrounding his disappearance. They wonder if Keith did the same thing.
Carolyn, however, does not believe that Keith would walk away from his life. He loved the people in his life and loved keeping in touch with them. She does not believe that he would have left them all behind. However, she hopes that if he is still alive, that they could work out whatever reasons he had for disappearing. Realistically, she has prepared herself for the possibility that he is no longer alive.
One interesting footnote to this case was that Keith had told several friends shortly before his disappearance that he had wanted to visit West Virginia. Also, the night before he vanished, he had attended a party where he had spent a great deal of time talking to a woman named either "Greta" or "Gretchen" who was from Denver. Police believe that she may have information on his disappearance.
As of yet, authorities have been unable to determine what truly happened to Keith. Although Tom's case is considered closed, many wonder if his death is related to Keith's disappearance.
Suspects: Keith and Tom's family and friends believe that they discovered something related to the building that they shouldn't have discovered and that they were murdered as a result.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 30, 1990 episode.
Results: Unresolved. Both the police and the coroner's office consider Tom's death a suicide. However, there is still speculation that he and Keith were both murdered.
- Unsolved Mysteries joins mountain search for writer - June 8, 1989
- Mystery lingers five years after writer vanished - August 9, 1993
- No trace of writer after 10 years - August 7, 1998
- Mystery of missing Daily Herald writer still has life in mountains - January 5, 2010
- Colorado Semi-Ghost Town...Silver Plume a town with a ghostly tale and a modern mystery with a twist - July 17, 2015
- 30 years after vanishing, sport writer's fate a mystery - August 7, 2018
- Still No Clues In Cold Case Of Man Who Went Missing 30 Years Ago - August 7, 2018
- Keith Reinhard disappearance investigated on new Travel Channel series - January 9, 2020
- Dark Side of the Mountain Website