Christine Vance, 41, Rebecca Vance, 42, and Rebecca’s 14-year-old son — whose bodies were found in July — were reported missing in October 2022
Autopsies conducted by the Gunnison County Coroner’s office and released this week revealed that Christine Vance, 41, Rebecca Vance, 42, and Rebecca’s 14-year-old son, who has not been publicly identified, died of malnutrition and hypothermia, according to The Colorado Sun and the Associated Press.
The Colorado Springs residents were first reported missing in October after informing family members about their intention to live in the wilderness, per the Sun.
The trio’s bodies were “heavily decomposed” when they were found near Gold Creek Campground in late July, Gunnison County Undersheriff Josh Ashe said in a previous statement.
Gunnison County coroner Michael Barnes previously said the group used a tent for shelter and survived on canned food while living “off the grid,” according to The New York Times.
The 14-year-old boy weighed just 40 lbs. before he died, the Sun reported. He was also found with a rosary that his stepsister Trevala Jara gave the group prior to their disappearance, per the AP.
“I do not wish this on anybody at all,” Jara told the outlet. “I can’t wait to get to the point where I’m happy and all I can think of is the memories.”
The Gunnison County Coroner's Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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Jara was one of numerous family members who learned about the group’s plan to “live off the land,” according to the Times.
Rebecca had grown increasingly concerned about the state of the world after the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of politics in the United States, the newspaper reported.
Christine originally did not plan to go with them, but Jara said she ultimately tagged along “because she thought that if she was with them, they had a better chance of surviving.”
“We tried to stop them. But they wouldn’t listen,” Jara previously told The Colorado Gazette. “Their minds were made up.”
A hiker found the trio’s camp in July, according to the AP and the Sun.
Two of the bodies were discovered inside a small tent while the third was outside the camp, Gunnison County Sheriff Adam Murdie previously said, per ABC News. All three bodies were “fairly mummified” when found, he added.
“They weren’t crazy. Becky wasn’t crazy,” Jara told the Gazette. “She believed she was doing what she needed to do to save her son.”
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