Navajo family helps solve 75-year-old disappearance
A Navajo Nation family helped solve the 75-year-old disappearance of Everett Ruess, a young artist who was last seen in 1934.

In the early 1970s, Aneth Nez told his family that he witnessed a murder in the 1930s. He said he saw three Ute boys kill a non-Indian man on the Utah portion of the Navajo reservation.

Nez's grandchildren, Daisy Johnson and Denny Bellson, decided to follow up the story last year and went to the area where the incident occurred. They found the remains of a man but didn't know his identity.

Navajo tradition then connected with modern science and researchers were able to confirm the remains belonged to Reuss. The research is documented in the April/May issue of National Geographic Adventure.

"If this were going before a court of law, you'd want to build a case," Dennis Van Gerven, a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said in a press release. "That’s what we've done here, with Navajo oral tradition, the forensic analysis and now the DNA test. We can be certain that this is Ruess."

Get the Story:
Press Release: After 75 years, National Geographic ADVENTURE solves mystery of lost explorer (National Geographic 4/30)
A Mystery of the West Is Solved (The New York Times 5/1)