Police chief pleads with author who hid treasure to ‘call off the hunt’ after 2 die searching for riches

The New Mexico State Police chief is pleading with author Forrest Fenn to call off a treasure hunt he created that authorities say has resulted in the death of two people.

“I want Mr. Fenn to retrieve the treasure or call off the hunt,” Pete Kassetas, the chief of the New Mexico State Police, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. “It’s solely based in the interest of public safety.”

Kassetas said he “felt compelled to take a stance” on the treasure hunt after a body was recovered earlier this week in the New Mexico wilderness that police believe is Paris Wallace, a Colorado pastor who went missing after telling family members that he was searching for treasure hidden by Fenn.

Kassetas said they are still awaiting final confirmation from medical investigators that the body is Wallace, but told ABC News, “we’re very sure its him, unfortunately.”

Last year, the Santa Fe Police Department announced they found the remains of Randy Bilyeu, a 54-year-old man who also embarked on a quest to find the chest of gold and gems that Fenn, a Sante Fe author and antiquities dealer, says he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

“I knew when it happened that my brother was not the first one and that he would not be the last,” Bilyeu’s sister, Kathy Leibold, told ABC News. “My brother thought he was on to something and he was focused on the New Mexico area.”

Fenn told ABC News in a 2015 interview that the chest contains 265 gold coins — “mostly American eagles and double eagles, hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs, ancient Chinese carved jade figures, pre-Columbian gold animal artifacts, lots of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds and other things.”

Santa Fe New Mexican via AP
Forrest Fenn at his home in Santa Fe, N.M., July 4, 2014.

In Fenn’s self-published 2011 memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase,” he includes a poem with clues as to where to find the treasure. Part of the poem reads, “Begin it where warm waters halt / and take it in the…

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