Sheriff's office

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s coroner’s office are investigating the recent discovery of human remains in the Redstone area. 

Human remains were discovered by a bow hunter in steep backcountry terrain outside of Redstone last week and later recovered by a team headed by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

The hunter notified authorities about the discovery on Sept. 11, according to Pitkin County Undersheriff Alex Burchetta. “The hunter said he found what he said were human remains,” Burchetta said.

A search team that included four deputies, two deputy coroners and two dog teams went into the field on Sept. 14 and located the site with help from GPS coordinates provided by the hunter, Burchetta said. They confirmed that the remains were human, he said.

The bones that were recovered were sent by the coroner’s office to a forensic anthropologist in Fort Collins, according to Audra Keith, Pitkin County chief deputy coroner. From there they will go to a forensic odontologist who will try to make a positive identification through dental records. There is no estimate on how long it will take to complete the identification, she said.

The discovery was made in the East Creek area, where Carbondale resident William Worley was believed to have disappeared more than 12 years ago, Burchetta confirmed. Worley, 61 at that time, was reported missing on July 30, 2010.

His vehicle was found five days later at the East Creek Trailhead and an extensive search was launched involving helicopters, ground crews from the sheriff’s office and Mountain Rescue Aspen as well as canine teams. They failed to locate him.

Burchetta said there is an “obvious coincidence” in finding the remains in the same area where Worley was believed to be, but the sheriff’s office and coroner’s office must complete their investigations.

“It certainly lines up but we’re keeping all options on the table,” Burchetta said.

The search was initially undertaken in a 50-square-mile area within and adjacent to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. It was narrowed down to about 2 square miles of steep and densely vegetated terrain, according to authorities.

Various backcountry trails and the higher elevations of East Creek, Gift Creek, Big Kline Creek, Little Kline Creek, Avalanche Creek, Hawk Creek, Lily Lake, Hawk Peak and numerous lesser peaks were searched on foot, by plane and by helicopter, authorities said at the time.