Missing Grandfather From Arizona Found Dead
Yesterday, Southern Humboldt searchers located the body of Keith Olsen, the grandfather on his way from Arizona to his granddaughter’s wedding whose car was located on Zenia Mountain Road. Diana Totten, Aurora Studebaker, Kristal Gray, and Casey Odisio discovered Olsen’s body not far from where his car had been abandoned.
Diana Totten said, “There was no evidence of foul play.” Totten has been working on the case since Tuesday when she was introduced to the family of Keith Olsen. Totten said her team met with the family to narrow down where the search should start and their investigation led them to believe that with Olsen beginning to have dementia issues, it was most likely that he had gotten lost rather than been the victim of a criminal act.
“Without any evidence of foul play, we narrowed our search area to where the car was located,” Totten explained. “We profile the person and you kind of get into their mind. We try to understand what they would do if things start going wrong.”
Totten said the family was very helpful in providing important details. “Having worked on many missing person cases, we have learned to build a profile of the missing person,” Totten explained. “We do this by talking to family members and others to try to understand how the person became lost and what they would do…In this case, the family was able to give great information such as his state of mind, his way of dealing with stress and his clothing and shoes, the fact he used a cane and had trouble walking, and many more indicators including his age and possibly some slight dementia.”
On Wednesday, the tracking team went to Covelo. “We checked a lot of video footage [from surveillance cameras at businesses] in the timeline that he might have come through the area,” she explained. “We felt pretty strongly working with the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office that he had come through the Covelo area.”
The team passed out missing person flyers in hopes some locals had seen him. Eventually, they decided their next step was to search again around the area Olsen’s car had been located.
On Saturday, the team arrived at the scene to look around. “We started to search for signs of him around where the car was located but had been towed last week,” Totten explained. “Also, twelve days had passed and several rain storms had gone through our area.”
The cattle guard provided “a bit of boundary on the search area for us,” Totten explained. “We were then able to locate his tracks and we then were able to find his body.”
Totten said while they will probably never know for sure what happened, her team was able to make some good guesses.
She believes that somehow Olsen had gotten off of his intended path up I-5 and ended up on the wrong route. She said that it was likely dark and rainy when Olsen headed out what she called the “long, lonely road” between Covelo and Kettenpom. For some reason, she says, he stopped not long after going over a cattle guard. “He left his vehicle, he walked a short distance..It appeared that [Olsen] was disoriented…He took a wilderness deer trail and went further into the woods. This is a very rugged and forested area.”
Soon after Olsen took the wrong path, he stumbled, Totten said. According to her, his tracks showed that “he had fallen down a little hill and into a dry wash. He kinda crawled along through there….He got to a place that was a little flatter and laid down.” He didn’t get up again.
Totten said, “There doesn’t appear to be any foul play. Trinity County Sheriff’s Office will be investigating further.”
Totten is proud of her team. “Wilderness man-tracking is a very intricate and detailed discipline,” she explained. “Every case is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Totten said her team works hard to stay up on their skills so that they are “able to bring closure to families.”