Fourteen-year-old who died in ‘off-the-grid’ Colorado campsite weighed just 40 pounds

The average weight for a 14-year-old boy is 112 pounds, meaning he was at just over a third of the norm

Kelly Rissman
Friday 01 September 2023 15:01 BST
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The 14-year-old boy who died is pictured, left, along with Rebecca Vance, Trevala Jara, Christine Vance and Ms Jara’s husband days before the trio left for the Colorado wilderness
The 14-year-old boy who died is pictured, left, along with Rebecca Vance, Trevala Jara, Christine Vance and Ms Jara’s husband days before the trio left for the Colorado wilderness (The Gazette / Trevala Jara)

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A 14-year-old boy who was found dead at a remote Colorado campsite in July along with his mother and aunt weighed only 40 pounds at the time of his death, according to an autopsy report.

Rebecca Vance, Christine Vance and Rebecca’s son, whose name has not been released due to his age, all died from malnutrition and hypothermia, autopsy reports obtained by the Colorado Sun revealed.

According to the CDC, the average weight for a 14-year-old boy is 112 pounds, meaning he weighed just over a third of the average weight for males of his age.

None of the three suffered from injuries, the reports also said, but they were all very thin.

Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes previously said the trio had been surviving on soup and other prepackaged items and had cited malnourishment as a possible cause of death. Mr Barnes also hypothesised that the harsh winter conditions could have led to their deaths.

The three were found wearing several layers of clothes and necklaces with crosses, the autopsies noted, adding that Christine Vance’s necklace included a whistle as well as a wooden cross.

The trio had set out to live an “off the grid” lifestyle in a mission that was led by Rebecca Vance, according to her stepsister Trevala Jara in an interview with the New York Times.

None of the three had outdoor survival experience, according to the The Colorado Springs Gazette.

Rebecca, however, was so “discouraged with the state of the world” that she was set on living in a remote destination away from modern stressors, according to Ms Jara.

She explained that Rebecca “thought she was protecting her son and our sister, Christine, because she didn’t want them to get wrapped up in what the world was coming to in her eyes.” The Covid-19 pandemic only intensified her uneasiness with the state of the world, Ms Jara said.

Christine ended up joining the mother-son duo “because she thought that if she was with them, they had a better chance of surviving,” Ms Jara added.

Gunnison County officials came across three “heavily decomposed” bodies at the Rocky Mountain campsite after a hiker noticed one of the corpses. One body was in a wooded area that hikers don’t usually explore, Sheriff Adam Murdie previously told CBS News, adding that the other two bodies were found in a zipped-up tent. The authorities thought they may have been there for a year, since the bodies were “fairly mummified”.

Ms Jara told the Times that the trio had left last July to permanently live in a tent near Gold Creek Campground, which is an hour’s drive from Gunnison, Colorado.

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