Identified! FL - Big Cypress Natl Preserve, Male Hiker, Denim & “Mostly Harmless” Jul'18 - Vance Rodriguez #5

For those of you who can catch it, there with a CBS Sunday Morning feature on this case. More information here: This week on "Sunday Morning" (February 21) - CBS News.

We will post a clip to the episode for those that miss it!

If you are impatient, here are some good links:
DNASOLVES: Mostly Harmless is Identified!
FORENSIC MAGAZINE: Public, Social Media, Genealogy Crucial in Identification of Deceased Hiker
WIRED: A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack

That was great! Wonderful, balanced positive piece!
Congratulations again Othram and all those who helped give him his name back!
 
A different article from today, which mentions the family interactions with the lead detective on the case. It is pretty clear that the family was surprised and did not expect Mostly Harmless to be Vance.
 

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A different article from today, which mentions the family interactions with the lead detective on the case. It is pretty clear that the family was surprised and did not expect Mostly Harmless to be Vance.
Hey @othram what publication is this from, I would love to read the whole article.
 
Not criticizing you, JudgeJoe, but i am speaking in general because it is always brought up. In most of our other identification cases, the families do not give official statements to the media. Some say something personal in the PD press conference but many prefer not to. Having media savy family members like the sisters of Jolaine Hemmy and the siblings of "Princess Blue" is really rare.

VR was estranged from his family for a decade or longer, why is everybody on social media harping on the fact the family has not stepped into the media spotlight?
His sister indeed made a few short posts on social media to dissolve some false rumors (e.g. that nobody claimed VRs body, which is not true). I think the family has every right to privacy and silence.
 
Not criticizing you, JudgeJoe, but i am speaking in general because it is always brought up. In most of our other identification cases, the families do not give official statements to the media. Some say something personal in the PD press conference but many prefer not to. Having media savy family members like the sisters of Jolaine Hemmy and the siblings of "Princess Blue" is really rare.

VR was estranged from his family for a decade or longer, why is everybody on social media harping on the fact the family has not stepped into the media spotlight?
His sister indeed made a few short posts on social media to dissolve some false rumors (e.g. that nobody claimed VRs body, which is not true). I think the family has every right to privacy and silence.
Yep. Read an article that said he was estranged. My question was not meant to imply that family should make a statement; If they had, I wanted to read it. To clarify...
 
The guys from the Criminology Podcast did a episode on VR. I don’t believe there’s new information, but thought they did a good job summarizing everything we have come to know.

I have flagged my post as I’m not sure if they are approved on WS.

‎Criminology: Mostly Harmless on Apple Podcasts


Criminology has now been approved as a podcast source for Websleuths.
Thanks for checking!
 
@othram I'm interested in whether the timeline from receiving the sample (sometime around July 2020) to getting the DNA profile and biogeographical analysis to the point where you could give LE some good tips (October 2020) was particularly fast for your cases?
 
@othram I'm interested in whether the timeline from receiving the sample (sometime around July 2020) to getting the DNA profile and biogeographical analysis to the point where you could give LE some good tips (October 2020) was particularly fast for your cases?

We generally tell agencies 12 weeks. So this case fits in what the typical timeline would be. Sometimes it can be faster. We had a case go from evidence to leads in 5 weeks. That was exciting!
 
Long-time WS member here, although I comment infrequently.

I somehow just stumbled on the story of Mostly Harmless this week, after seeing him referenced on Facebook in another missing person case I was following (James Wiggins). I never saw his photo shared when he was still UID.

I came to WS and read all of the MH threads, from beginning to end. I had a feeling that he had been identified by now, but I read them in order anyway (and didn’t Google).

I am so ... everything. Relieved that he was identified and that his family knows what happened to him. Happy to learn that all of those stories he told on the trail were true, after all. Thankful he was able to have that year. And so very sad for everything he went through.

I know that he hurt people, and I can hold space for that. But mental illness is so tricky, and consuming. And I think he knew. I think he just walked away, thinking he would go out into the woods and die (like he implied to someone). But then he found friendly faces who didn’t know his backstory, and maybe found some peace in hiking, and for a while, he was happy.

I think he did have plans to see his sister, and plans to hike again/more, but then he got to Florida and was alone and conditions were miserable, and it was all just too much again. I wish he had been able to signal for help again. I wish he had gotten the help he needed even before he was that 15 year old boy in the field... or in all of the hard times after that. But since he didn’t, I hope he finally felt hopeful and happy and loved, at least for some of those days on the trail. And I hope he can rest in peace now.
 
Long-time WS member here, although I comment infrequently.

I somehow just stumbled on the story of Mostly Harmless this week, after seeing him referenced on Facebook in another missing person case I was following (James Wiggins). I never saw his photo shared when he was still UID.

I came to WS and read all of the MH threads, from beginning to end. I had a feeling that he had been identified by now, but I read them in order anyway (and didn’t Google).

I am so ... everything. Relieved that he was identified and that his family knows what happened to him. Happy to learn that all of those stories he told on the trail were true, after all. Thankful he was able to have that year. And so very sad for everything he went through.

I know that he hurt people, and I can hold space for that. But mental illness is so tricky, and consuming. And I think he knew. I think he just walked away, thinking he would go out into the woods and die (like he implied to someone). But then he found friendly faces who didn’t know his backstory, and maybe found some peace in hiking, and for a while, he was happy.

I think he did have plans to see his sister, and plans to hike again/more, but then he got to Florida and was alone and conditions were miserable, and it was all just too much again. I wish he had been able to signal for help again. I wish he had gotten the help he needed even before he was that 15 year old boy in the field... or in all of the hard times after that. But since he didn’t, I hope he finally felt hopeful and happy and loved, at least for some of those days on the trail. And I hope he can rest in peace now.
Lovely post. :)
 
I think he did have plans to see his sister, and plans to hike again/more, but then he got to Florida and was alone and conditions were miserable, and it was all just too much again. I wish he had been able to signal for help again. I wish he had gotten the help he needed even before he was that 15 year old boy in the field... or in all of the hard times after that. But since he didn’t, I hope he finally felt hopeful and happy and loved, at least for some of those days on the trail. And I hope he can rest in peace now.

I have been waiting for the right time to post this...

So....according to some sources who knew him, he had a very rocky past with inter-personal relationships and getting along with others.

Part of me wonders if he took off on this journey and discovered a new-self, a happier disposition, and basically re-created himself into practically a new person.

With the new confidence, I wonder if he started to reflect on his past relationships and wondered what this new-found persona could do to try and patch things up.

So, he decides to call or get in touch with someone from his past (reminiscent of the "12 steps" apologizing to those you did wrong).

BUT....the responses are far from what he expected, new persona and all. Just makes me wonder if he reached out to his sister or his ex, and they basically laid into him and told him how much they despised him, etc.

This could have lead to his deep, dark depression that but him in the comatose state that several of is friends described when he was severely depressed.

I personally would be completely heartbroken if I had found peace and happiness, trying to make amends and completely getting destroyed with my new found confidence and upbeat outlook on life.

There's more I would like to say, and I am not sure all of that came out completely like I wanted it to.

Much of his story reminds me of myself, in many ways.
 
I have been waiting for the right time to post this...

So....according to some sources who knew him, he had a very rocky past with inter-personal relationships and getting along with others.

Part of me wonders if he took off on this journey and discovered a new-self, a happier disposition, and basically re-created himself into practically a new person.

With the new confidence, I wonder if he started to reflect on his past relationships and wondered what this new-found persona could do to try and patch things up.

So, he decides to call or get in touch with someone from his past (reminiscent of the "12 steps" apologizing to those you did wrong).

BUT....the responses are far from what he expected, new persona and all. Just makes me wonder if he reached out to his sister or his ex, and they basically laid into him and told him how much they despised him, etc.

This could have lead to his deep, dark depression that but him in the comatose state that several of is friends described when he was severely depressed.

I personally would be completely heartbroken if I had found peace and happiness, trying to make amends and completely getting destroyed with my new found confidence and upbeat outlook on life.

There's more I would like to say, and I am not sure all of that came out completely like I wanted it to.

Much of his story reminds me of myself, in many ways.
It's a nice thought, the second half of your post. But I think not. I don't think his maladies were something he could work through by himself. I believe one of his ailments required medication. You don't just grow out of something like that. I feel like he would have been identified much earlier if he had reached out to somebody and was rebuffed. He would have told them about his journey and certainly a quick Google would have turned up information about an unknown found on the trail and the connection would have been made. Or, after he was named, word would have leaked out that he had contacted a former friend or loved one from the trail since this group of people was questioned by many people, journalists and the police. JMO of course.
 
I have been waiting for the right time to post this...

So....according to some sources who knew him, he had a very rocky past with inter-personal relationships and getting along with others.

Part of me wonders if he took off on this journey and discovered a new-self, a happier disposition, and basically re-created himself into practically a new person.

With the new confidence, I wonder if he started to reflect on his past relationships and wondered what this new-found persona could do to try and patch things up.

So, he decides to call or get in touch with someone from his past (reminiscent of the "12 steps" apologizing to those you did wrong).

BUT....the responses are far from what he expected, new persona and all. Just makes me wonder if he reached out to his sister or his ex, and they basically laid into him and told him how much they despised him, etc.

This could have lead to his deep, dark depression that but him in the comatose state that several of is friends described when he was severely depressed.

I personally would be completely heartbroken if I had found peace and happiness, trying to make amends and completely getting destroyed with my new found confidence and upbeat outlook on life.

There's more I would like to say, and I am not sure all of that came out completely like I wanted it to.

Much of his story reminds me of myself, in many ways.


I wondered, too, if maybe he reached out to his sister, since that was his plan for at least the previous few months. If he just stopped somewhere and called her, there’s no way she would have known what had transpired that past year. The WIRED article said his family was in disbelief when they were notified... everything about MH was so far from the VR they knew, that they couldn’t even fathom it.

If that’s what happened, I really hope she can find peace now that she knows the whole story. I can’t even imagine. :/
 

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