Report From Saturday by Sacha…

January 30th, 2016




Today was a long, hard, rough, day.  Did I mention it was long?

This morning, I was greeted by some wonderful people at the animal shelter.  Some had been searching with us before, like Scott and Eric, but others were brand new, and a very welcomed surprise.



John B. is from Tucson, but that didn’t stop him from being at the animal shelter promptly this morning.  He drove all the way from Arizona, and slept in his van at a rest stop, just to be sure he was there on time.  John has never commented on this blog, but he is always here.

There were two Davids today.  The first David is known to some as NTMI.  He showed up in his orange Jeep, and saved me more than once from the muddy depths of the roads around Monteso.  David is such a nice guy, he offered to cook us all up some lunch on his mini rocket stove.

The other David was the drone operator for today.  He was fully equipped.  This David works at the Land Rover dealership in Albuquerque, on Alameda.  He took his drone into places they would never tell you to take a drone.  His maneuvers today were both bold and dangerous, especially for his drone.  His drone was the most valuable tool we had today, aside from the brute force of three men pushing my 4Runner out of the mud.


Kevin is new to the search, and hadn’t been hiking in a very long time.  He is also from Farmington.  But, that didn’t stop him from showing up to help today.  He worked just as hard and hiked just as far as everyone else, and you would never know he was ‘out of practice’.  I was very grateful he came today, as he kept me company in some very tight places.

Anthony was a surprise, as well.  He is younger than most of us, but he showed up with his camera prepared for a day of searching.  He hiked the longest route with Scott, and he was almost tipped sideways in the Jeep with me and David, but he never complained once. He was happy to help, and his attitude was just what we needed.

On top of my group, there were two others on the plateau today, that I knew of, and apparently one that I didn’t.


John Brown is an unstoppable force.  That man has searched more ground than any two of the rest of us put together.  Just before I arrived at the animal shelter, one of the other searchers saw John pick up his son and head out – long before most people were there.  He is a man on a mission.

I also had heard from DaisyMae.  She was out before anyone today.  She has a big job to do.  She brought Sean with her, who also doesn’t comment.  But, Sean did something today that was more helpful than we realized.

Slurbs was there today, as well.  This guy spent the entire day lost in the maze of muddy roads.  By the time he reached us, it was midday, and he was covered in mud.  He said he had to put tire chains on in the middle of a muddy road.


DaisyMae got permission from Randy’s family to closely inspect the raft, and its surroundings.  That job took her all day.  She navigated the same disastrous muddy ‘roads’ that we did, and she made it all the way to the rim.  She found the trail, and hiked all the way to the bottom, with her friend Sean.  They then spent an incredible amount of time inspecting the area, taking video and pictures, and even closely inspecting the items.  She did find that one of the oars were broken.  The handle came off completely, and broke the metal clean.  Now we know that it was broken.  She didn’t find anything as far as footprints, but she did find Leo’s ‘home’ that he had made.  He found a safe spot, underneath and behind a tree, where he had apparently spent some time, as it still looks like he lives there.

While Daisy and Sean were working on their task, the remainder of us searchers arrived to the same spot Daisy had parked.  This was the closest spot to our search area, but if you look on a map, it doesn’t look much like a road.  The trip in took almost 2 hours.  There were side roads everywhere, to avoid the bad roads, but it was all bad.  We had to stop twice to check our location, and make sure we took the correct fork in the road.  After the first hour, I had to abandon my 4Runner on the side of the road.  I could see the path ahead, and didn’t think she would make it.  I was proven right, when I was riding in David’s Jeep and it turned sideways, completely lifting the wheels on the driver’s side of the car 3 feet off the ground.  I could have kissed the ground if my window was open.


Once we all got unloaded, we headed to the canyon south of the raft.  We got so close to it with the trucks, we were able to spend all of our time investigating the canyon, rather than hiking to and from it.  David found a great spot right away and launched his drone within a few minutes.  We knew where we had to focus our efforts.

While David was droning away, I went to get a better vantage point.  I kept scooting further back and down the canyon, until I realized I had made it to the bottom.  Kevin followed, and down into the canyon we went.  I can say that no one has been in that canyon for a few weeks, except for a small bobcat.  The snow was deep and pristine, and showed no signs of being disturbed.  Kevin and I hiked down the canyon to the river.  We boulder hopped all the way down, as far as we could go.  Finally, we reached a sheer drop that went over 50 feet.  No one was climbing up or down that thing – not without professional climbing gear.  But, it was only about 50 feet from the edge of the canyon.

We could not see the object we were looking for, so David brought his drone down into the canyon, and launched right from that point.  There was only about a 3ft by 3ft space for him to launch from, but he is very good at what he does, and that was more than enough space for him.  He was able to get to everything, and even drop the drone down very low to get better shots of the objects we needed to see.


What we didn’t know, is just before we got down there, John Brown and his son had hiked down to the raft, headed south, and then hiked up the mouth of that same canyon, to the same waterfall drop.  They inspected it thoroughly, and were able to determine that nothing had been in that alcove for a while.  They also determined no one was climbing up that.

After we were done with the drone, and the battery was almost completely dead, we hiked out of the canyon.  When we got back to our cars, we discovered that we parked right at the top of the path that leads down to the raft!


Scott and Anthony had headed this way before we got to the drone search.  They knew John Brown and Daisy were both around somewhere, and wanted to inspect the rim and try to locate the others.  They hiked all the way from the southern canyon to the one just North of where Randy’s raft was found.  They didn’t find much, but they did find a pair of canvas yard work gloves, which didn’t look too old.  We don’t know that these are related to Randy, but we haven’t put them out of our mind.

As we waited for Scott and Anthony to rejoin us, we all looked down to the river to see how the scouting mission was going.  The people looked barely bigger than ants down there.  But, we saw something very interesting.  We watched a man wade across the Rio Grande – all the way across – both ways.  It turns out that this man is Sean.  Sean waded from Randy’s raft, across to Frijoles Canyon, and back.  The water never got higher than his waist.  He said he could have done it half asleep.

randy12 at 9 min 8 sec

We scoured every inch of the canyon south of where Randy’s raft was found.  We found no trace of Randy.  He is not the object in question from the drone footage.  Sadly, the footage does not do a good job of showing scale.  It is far too small to be a person.  It is just a play on snow and shadows, on two jagged edges of the same rock.  I know that is hard to believe, so you will all be given the link to the footage from today, and you can see for yourselves.  It is not Randy, even though we all very much wished it was.

I watched 12 tired, sore and hungry searchers come in from the search today.  Some were covered in mud – literally – from head to toe.  Some were drained and slightly sunburnt from an entire day in the canyon combined with the hike in and out.  Every one of them came in and greeted me with the same smile they were wearing this morning.  They are all amazing people, and vowed to return for the next search, if they are able.

There were some important things I learned today.

1.       Randy is not in the canyon on the east side, south of the raft, with a 99% certainty.
2.       If Leo ever left the raft, he didn’t go far.  The cactus carpets the landscape so effectively that my shoes were filled with the needles.  Leo’s paws would have been destroyed by all of it.
3.       The water in the Rio Grande, at that point, is so low that a man can walk across it and the water won’t reach above his waist.
4.       The trail to the top of the canyon is almost IMPOSSIBLE to find from below.  John Brown and his son could not find it, and once they made it back up, they had to go back down and mark the trail for Daisy and Sean so they could make it out safely.

We didn’t find Randy today, but we did find where he wasn’t.  He wasn’t in the canyon to the south.  He wasn’t stuck in the water in front of the raft.  He wasn’t on the trail up to the rim.

The weather is going to keep us from searching again for several days.  In the mean time, we will work on the next plan of action, and keep you guys posted.


Thank you so much for all of your help, ideas, theories, pictures, well wishes, prayers, thoughts, and sympathies.  It is what is keeping this pack of searchers going.



From the Edge on Friday…

January 29th, 2016

 BY Forrest


Here is Cynthia’s now photo of Roger Craddock (Radcrad).


They hiked down from Bandelier on the west side of the river to a spot above where the Randy’s boat is on the east bank. They will zoom photo that whole area looking for Randy. It was 5 miles in to the river, and they are about to start the two hour hike out. It is sunny and warm. Wish I were there with them. f

Plans for Saturday…

January 28th, 2016



This Saturday (January 30th), we are planning to do another on the ground search for Randy.  The weather will turn on us next week, but this Saturday calls for sunny and clear skies, and warm temperatures.

We will meet at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, again.  I will be there by 8 am, and hope to get the group out by 9.  The address is: 100 Caja Del Rio Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87507.

This time, we will focus on the area north and south of Diablo Canyon, close to the Rio Grande, but not focusing on the edge.  This is rough terrain, and is not your average gentle hike.  Aside from the muddy road in, it will require hiking miles of hills and canyons.

If you want to help, you can meet us there.  Bring your selves, drones, ATVs, and even your dogs, but be aware there is cactus everywhere.

Tomorrow, I will go to the San Idelfonso Pueblo, which owns most of the area we would like to search, and will make sure we have permission to access these areas.  If by some chance we don’t get permission, we can still search other areas in the Monteso Peak area, but these can be just as bad with the mud.

I will update everyone after I have spoken to someone in the tribe and have ensured we have access.

In addition to our search, I have heard there will be a crew rafting from Buckman to Cochiti, on Saturday.  The ice has been melting, and rumor has it that there is a clearing through there now.  Let’s wish them luck, and hope for them to have a safe trip.

Also, everyone wish Cynthia luck tomorrow.  I don’t envy her task, but I admire her heart for doing it.  And a big Thank You to Radcrad for promising to accompany her on her trip.  I think he is one of those stout-hearted men that Forrest once spoke of.  When she asked him to go with her, there wasn’t even a pause before he said yes.





Plans for Friday…

January 28th, 2016



Sacha and Forrest
I just left the Bandelier visitor center. I talked to 2 rangers who showed me how to get to the west rim of white rock canyon and be on the south side of frijoles. I told them I wanted to be across from where the raft was found and take pictures using my zoom lens of the entire eastern side including shoreline and side of canyon up to the mesa top. I want to do this both north and south of the raft but more on north.

I just confirmed Roger Craddock. I will meet him in Santa Fe tomorrow morning at 0700 so we can be on foot by 08. The Rangers approved this for me and Roger only as a back-country hike tomorrow only.
The lady ranger said I’m talking about a 10 mile round trip hike from the visitor center. 😄



Cynthia and Roger are like two over-charged Energizer bunnies. They are taking the search for Randy beyond what anyone could expect or hope for. If their back packs tomorrow are a little heavier it is because the respect and admiration of a thousand other searchers and well-wishers are going with them.


Mesa top along south-side of Frijoles Canyon where Roger and I will hike to access West Rim of White Rock Canyon and then continue along mesa top south to raft.


From White Rock Overlook, Buckman Road Put-in using normal vision


Standing at same place but zoomed.


I want to shoot a grid of photos on east side both north and south of Randy’s raft. I can zoom even more than this photo.

Missing Randy Facts Page…


Age: 54 years old
Hair: Grey
Eyes: Green
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 200lbs
Home: Thornton, Colorado

January 2nd – Randy arrived in Santa Fe.
January 3rd – Checked out of the Motel 6.
Scouted the Rio Grande area from the east side Mesa
January 4th – Purchased the raft from Big 5 Sporting Goods in Santa Fe, NM.
January 5th – Randy’s SUV was spotted by a security guard at end of Beckman Rd.
35.835979, -106.160753
Google Map showing location of where Randy’s car was found:

It was on this day that his friend Tom began to call him assuming that he left on the 4th. Randy’s phone went directly to voicemail. There is no cell service in the canyon.
January 6th – 13th – Tom continued to call Randy’s phone
January 13th – Tom contacted Linda Bilyeu that evening
January 14th – 7am Linda Bilyeu filed a missing person’s report. SFPD found Randy’s SUV
January 15th – Santa Fe Police Department requested assistance from TriState Careflight to run their helicopter through the canyon and look for signs of Randy. Dog and raft were spotted from the air on east side of river at coordinates: 35°44’55.7″N 106°15’29.9″W. There were no signs of any human presence. There was no campfire, food wrappers, personal belongings other than the raft which was upside down and reported to have some sort of rip or tear, (possibly on bottom), foot pump and two paddles, (one slightly broken at telescopic connection). Dog was noted to be traumatized, survived frigid temperatures, wearing a sweater, lost significant amount of weight and had a raw paw. It took Erin Johnson (TriState Flight Nurse) approximately one half hour to get the dog to eat food (crushed granola bar). The pump was not connected to the boat when it was found. Raft was a good distance from rivers edge and appeared to have been placed there rather than to have blown there or washed there. The river distance from Randy’s car to where the raft and Leo were found is about 9.2 miles.

Google Map showing the location where raft and Leo were found:

Hiking boots, jacket, wallet, maps, dog bed, dog toy, half eaten sandwich.
Map that appears to show where Randy was headed.
Receipt showing purchase of a raft, a compass and wetsuit.

Blue day pack

NM Search and Rescue reported a set of boot prints and dog prints were found going into Rito de los Frijoles and out again. These are assumed to be Randy’s and Leo’s.

Report From Forrest on Tuesday…

January 26th, 2016

by Forrest


Still aloft

We flew out of the Santa Fe airport again today. Three of us in the plane. Doug and I were the main eyes while Glenn held the camera in the back seat moving from side to side to get the shots he wanted. He was in awe of the geography, and he kept shaking his head.

We searched around the boat, and up and down the banks, and on the ridge, and in the fringe canyons, and the near-by mesas.

Cochiti Lake is half void of ice now, and we used a few minutes to look in the deep water,  I asked Doug to head back up river.

We took our time flying low up Frijoles canyon, looking hard at the sandy creek bed. No one could climb the sides of that canyon. The waterfall is one of the most compelling places I’ve seen. I kept thinking that beautiful place was trying to tell us something. But what? No buzzards, crows or ravens, no tracks in the sand, no sign of a fire being built, and no Randy Bilyeu.

We have thoroughly searched the places that looked most promising to me, and those that were suggested by searchers who are familiar with the area, or had good hunches.

Later, Sasha, Cindy and I discussed our next plan. After ten hours of searching that 15 mile area from 100’ up, we have exhausted all of the places where we think Randy could be, maybe it’s time to start searching the places where we think he isn’t. But where are they?

Inside Edition…

January 26th, 2016

by cynthia


I was almost relieved this morning when I received the email from Forrest that he’d canceled his helicopter ride and interview with Inside Edition…Santa Fe had received a couple inches of new snow, so searching for Randy with a news crew would have to wait. I went about my morning… time to complete some sorely needed chores.

As I pulled out of my driveway, my cell phone rang…it was Sacha excitedly telling me the interview would take place after all. It turns out Inside Edition had already sent their Houston correspondent to Santa Fe, as well as a team including the cameraman and sound guy. They even said they’d pay for the helicopter…

Forrest asked us to meet them at 11:30 am in the Jet Center at the airport. Not only does it take me an hour to drive there, I needed to shower, etc.
Sacha and I talked briefly while I hurried to get ready…I could make it there by 11:45, but she’d be a bit later since she too had changed her morning plans for child care.

As I pulled into the parking lot at the Jet Center, Forrest was walking from his car, and the Inside Edition folks were carrying their equipment inside. While they waited for the helicopter and pilot Doug, Jocelyn the Producer/Reporter unofficially interviewed Forrest from the waiting area. Glenn the cameraman and Zach the sound guy were busy preparing their equipment.


Doug arrived right on schedule at noon…Glenn the cameraman grabbed the big TV camera and accessories and Zach grabbed his case with the sound equipment…the official TV interview began on the tarmac.


Eventually, the ground interview finished and Forrest went up in the air with Glenn and Zach. I think Jocelyn stayed back because only 2 folks could fly with Forest and the pilot. By that time, Sacha had arrived and we began discussing the next move for creating another group ground search for Randy. The hour the guys were in the air flew by…before I was ready, they were walking through the door from the tarmac. I was busy most of that time downloading photos of Randy from the Sept book-signing at La Fonda, as well as some photos from our boots-on-the- ground group searches for Randy for Jocelyn to use for the show.

The next part of the interview took place at Forrest’s home in his office. Sacha and I were told to accompany them there…which we did.


There’s a lot of hurry up and waiting when it comes to making a professional production, even when the footage of Forrest’s interview which airs could be just a few minutes. It took awhile for Glenn to place the lights and Zach to set the microphones. Again, Jocelyn spent time chit- chatting with Forrest and taking notes, while Sacha prompted her and sometimes Forrest for the right question or topic.

Eventually the equipment was satisfactorily placed, and it was time for everyone to take their seats. Sacha’s and my favorite part of the day was Glenn the cameraman applying makeup to Forrest…now we know why Forrest is such a handsome devil…he wears makeup!


Finally, it was time to say lights, camera, action…But first, Zach the sound guy reminded us all to turn off our cell phones…these guys are professionals, and there can’t be any arbitrary sounds in the background. The interview started…it seemed to be going well. Soon, Glenn hollers “Cut”…there was a “ding”…oops, Forrest’s laptop dings each time he gets an email. Sacha jumped up, disconnected ff’s laptop from the power cord, and took it out of the room… the interview proceeded.

Five minutes later I realized I’m holding my laptop on my lap beneath my jacket and phone which I had powered off when told to silence it. I thought, oh my God, my laptop dings, too, if I get a message. I swallowed and prayed no one would text me. After a minute or so, I nonchalantly turned it off but for some reason decided I too should move it to another room. I knew to be exceedingly quiet because the shotgun microphone on the camera would pick up any little sound. I knew the camera was a closeup on Forrest and that I was out of camera shot. So I got up and silently tiptoed out of his office to the foyer where I set it down. As I re-entered the room, I heard Glenn yell “cut” once more…my body moving across the lights created a moving shadow on camera. Jeeze…this movie making stuff was a lot harder than I anticipated.

After 30 minutes or so, they said they had enough footage so I thought the interview was over. No, they wanted to tape Forrest behind his desk, reading and answering his emails. More preparation, new locations for the camera and microphone, more waiting. This time the filming was much shorter and no one was talking.


In the meantime Peggy and Zoe returned home. I chit-chatted with them in the foyer while the Inside Edition folks moved here and there, gathering their equipment, putting some away and re-positioning others.

Again, I found the day was not over. They wanted Forrest to walk through the heavy double doors between his office and kitchen carrying his book Too Far to Walk. He was instructed to walk up the steps, go to the table, sit down, and open the book to the map of the four states inside the back flap.

While Forrest sat at his desk catching up on emails as they set-up, Peggy entered his office through the same heavy wooden double doors, carefully holding onto the railing as she descended the three steps into his office. He gently looked up at her and sweetly asked “do you want me for something?”…her sweet reply, “I always want you for something.” I swear, I wish I could have captured the look on his face…after 62 years of being married to Peggy, I think he is still smitten…I felt like I’d just witnessed a beautiful young girl tell her boyfriend for the first time that she loved him…it was the highlight of my day!

The next scene was finally shot of Forrest going up the steps into the kitchen and displaying the map. Finally…the Inside Edition interview was almost done. They requested Sacha provide a sound bite. I followed them outside, along the south side of his house to the pond…it was a beautiful setting. I watched as they placed the microphone on her lapel, brushed her hair, and got set. Her interview began…she was a pro. I mean, this girl needs to be a TV news anchor…I was truly impressed. Jocelyn asked her to elaborate on Randy’s fate. Sacha had the integrity to say it wasn’t appropriate for her to speculate. She talked nicely of Randy…it could have been any of us….she made me proud to be one of us…this close knit community of Fenn treasure hunters.


This episode of Inside Edition is scheduled to air tomorrow. The network and time varies depending on where you live. Jocelyn said it’s scheduled to air on KOB-TV at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon. That is a New Mexico station. Please, everyone check your own TV times., and recheck this one here in NM as well.

I have a possible small warning: Sacha and I listened to the entire interview…there is a segment where I think Jocelyn asked Forrest three times if he feels responsible for Randy’s death. The third time she repeated this question, I formed my hand into a gun and pretended to aim at her because I was pissed off. But then I realized, this is her job…this is what she does for a living… Inside Edition tends to sensationalize the news they report. So go easy on her and the show…
And go give someone a hug…

Peace be with you, Randy…



This story is scheduled to air around the country on Thursday, January 28th. To find out what station near you and what time click here:

The video clip is now available on the Inside Edition website:



Drone Footage Links…

January 26th, 2016


Katya just posted the links to the drone footage. Please review.

Photos From Jeff Burch on Tuesday…

January 26th, 2016


Jeff Burch and Titan went out to the search area to see if they could help. Jeff sent the following photos from the area where Randy and Leo put-in with their small raft.

We may have to wait for Jeff to return before we can get complete caption information.

If you click on a photo it will open up to the full size I received from Jeff.

Jeff sent this comment:

The photos were all taken from around Randy’s car where he put in, and down river from there. I can’t tell you how many steps but the dog and boot tracks were after the rough water and fast water rapids, down river from the launch. The pictures are from the banks, both below and up high after we crawled out on the end. Maybe searchers will find something in the photos.  Thanks JB and Titan

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You can see all of Jeff’s pics and read the whole story, where he posted them…Here


Report From Forrest on Monday…

January 25th, 2016

by Forrest


We searched for 2 ½ hours today and again I am not happy with the results. John Pearson was with me. We circled the boat where Leo was found, flying at 100’ for 30 minutes looking at the banks a thousand feet around. I think I can say that Randy is not there. Lots of trees, brush, and large rocks. We went up Frijoles Canyon all the way to civilization and back. Cochiti Lake has very thin ice. I am not as optimistic as I was a few days ago, but I just don’t feel like we should stop looking. The weather is good with almost no wind. I’m thinking about trying again tomorrow.


Below are a few pics from Cynthia as Forrest and John prepared for their search.


Forrest and John at the airport previewing their search area prior to departure



Thanks Cynthia