Articles, Blog

John Doe, “Denim”/”Mostly Harmless”/”Ben Bilemy”, Collier County, 2018


If you have any information about the identity of the deceased in this video, please contact the above. On the evening of 23rd July 2018, sometime after 5 PM, a pair of male hikers came across a yellow tent in the Camp Noble site in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. After a long hike, the two hikers needed rest, and so called out to see if anyone was in the tent who could possibly aid them. After one of them called out multiple times with no answer, he went to go check the tent. He peeked inside, and the next thing he said to his friend was that he thought the man inside was dead. They called 911, and the first responders pronounced the man in the tent dead at the scene. The deceased man in the tent was carrying no identification and appeared to have been living within the National Preserve. This is not currently being investigated as a suspicious death and investigators believe that there was no foul play involved. It is thought that the man starved to death a few days prior to being found, either accidentally, as a result of an underlying illness, or in an elaborate suicide. Information found on the site Websleuths suggests that another pair of hikers had come across the tent sometime before the pair that discovered the body, and when they did not get an answer from the man in the tent they assumed he was just asleep and left him alone without investigating further or taking a look inside. It is unclear exactly when this was, if it did happen. The unidentified male was recognised by many other hikers as a man who went by the trail names of “Denim” and “Mostly Harmless”. The man also used the name “Ben Bilemy” to check into several hostels, and it is said that he wrote in all capital letters. The man calling himself Denim was Caucasian, and thought to be between 35 and 60 years old, standing at about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 83 lbs at the time of his death, having greying dark brown hair and a grey and black beard, blue or grey eyes, teeth that have been described as “perfect”, no tattoos, and a very faded indistinct linear scar on his abdomen. He was found wearing a beige shirt, neon green shorts with grey accents, grey Russel brand “performance” underwear in the size medium, and a “very dirty” Columbia baseball hat that was probably grey or white in colour. His black Soloman brand hiking boots were also found near his body, some think he may have left them out with the intent of drying his insoles. In his possession he had the yellow two-person tent he was found deceased in, a yellow sleeping bag, two hiking poles, a yellow and grey Isobutane 110 G fuel cartridge, a blueish-green Nalgene brand water bottle, and about $3,640 in cash. Inside the tent was also found a notepad in which programming had been written in a computer language. A detective stated that it looked like he had been writing a program for a game. Also in the notepad among the programming were several recipes for protein bars along with the macronutrients for said recipes. The man known as Denim had told other hikers that he started hiking in New York in April of 2017. Two hikers by the names of Chris and James recalled camping with him at a New York visitor’s centre in Unionville when he first started hiking. By June of 2017, Denim was doing a 2-week hike on the Appalachian Trail. He was encountered during his hike on the Appalachian Trail by a fellow hiker. Denim told this hiker that he had been working for a quote “big company” and had recently quit his job. He stated that he had been living in Bear Mountain Park for 2 weeks before deciding to hike on the Appalachian Trail. A hiker posting on the Mountain Crossings Instagram page said that they came across Denim at a church basement in Duncannon around June or July of 2017. Someone by the name of Andrew knew the man as “Denim” and claimed to have given him a ride in Pennsylvania. Another hiker claimed to have met him on the 28th July 2017 on the Appalachian Trail at the Raven Rock shelter in Maryland. In early August of 2017, he was seen hiking somewhere near Shenandoah in Virginia accompanied by an older woman with grey dreads. The earliest dated photograph of Denim was taken in September of 2017, though the photos I have already shown likely predate this one, which is shown on screen now. This is a photo of him reading the logbook in the Mountain Home Hostel in Front Royal, Virginia, taken by a hiker known as “Obsidian”, who he reportedly travelled 100 miles with. A Reddit user by the name of “fazzig” claimed to have met Denim in Daleville, Virginia sometime in September. On the 27th September, a different hiker met up with Denim whilst hiking the Appalachian Trail in Bland County, Virginia, near the Helvey’s Mill Shelter. Denim told this hiker that he was headed for Georgia. Another hiker posting in the Mountain Crossings Instagram page claimed to have hiked with Denim for a week in October of 2017. The next photos of Denim were taken on the 9th October by a hiker by the name of Kristin that met him on the 7th in Virginia, who noted that the pack Denim was carrying on his back seemed very heavy. Kristin weighed the pack on some scales and it showed up as weighing 53 ½ lbs, which is abnormally heavy for someone to be constantly carrying on their back. She and Denim stayed at Woodchuck’s Hostel in Damascus for 2 days due to a hurricane hitting the trail, he checked into this hostel using the name “Ben Bilemy”. Another hiker who recalled meeting him in October of 2017 said that when asked, he told her his real name was “Ben” but didn’t give a surname. A hiker by the name of MJ claimed to have met him three times in Virginia in October. MJ recalled that he walked much slower than most thru-hikers, which in hindsight meant he may have been ill, didn’t share much personal information other than he was from New York City and had started hiking in New York, and seemed to have plenty of money. MJ also recalled him having prominent dark circles around his eyes. Denim was next sighted in November at the Tray Mountain shelter on the Appalachian Trail, where he told another hiker that he did IT work in New York City and was headed for Florida. He and two other hikers stayed at the Top of Georgia Hostel on the 22nd November, where he checked in using the name “Ben Bilemy”. The hostel closed on the 23rd for Thanksgiving, but reopened the next day on the 24th, and Denim/Ben stayed there again on the 24th, 25th, and 26th. On 2nd December, a photo of Denim holding maps was posted on the Mountain Crossings Instagram page. He reportedly purchased these maps to hike the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama and told the owner of the store in which he bought the maps that he was heading for Key West in Florida. On 4th December, a GoPro video was captured of him at Springer Mountain, which will play on screen now. (The voices of the people in the video are hard to hear, but from what I can tell, the cameraman is talking about something his brother did) (Denim is even quieter since he’s further from the camera, but seems to be answering all the cameraman’s questions. His accent, as far as my British self can tell, is American) (I think the cameraman asks Denim “Is there enough storage along the route for you to hitchhike again?”) (Denim seems to ask the cameraman a question, and the cameraman replies with “yeah”) (I think Denim says “let’s go straight up” or “[you have to] go straight up”) (The cameraman seems to be talking about the area they are in, mentioning a river) (Cameraman says “[something unintelligible] that’s the one thing I never got a picture of but I wish I had”) (I think the cameraman starts talking about burgers and different food establishments, I hear “$6 burger” at one point and then “you get french fries on top of that”) A user on Reddit going by the username “DarkBirdIsHome” claimed to have met the man at the Springer Mountain Shelter in December of 2017, who was still calling himself Denim. DarkBirdIsHome claimed that the two of them chatted about their shared enjoyment of the TV show Doctor Who, and noted that they both grew up with abusive fathers. They also stated that Denim, quote “loved sci-fi and fantasy”, and was calling himself Denim due to the fact that he wore denim jeans for his first two weeks as a hiker. The same Reddit user recalled that Denim mentioned having an ex-girlfriend, and also thought that he may have mentioned having a sister. They also claimed that Denim mentioned having worked in IT, and that he did not speak to his parents because of his abusive father. On 5th December, Denim was photographed with his hiking poles in front of the bronze plaque on the summit at the end of the Appalachian Trail. The next photo of him was taken on the 29th December, where he is pictured standing in front of a Nisan Frontier truck on Salem Church Road. While still calling himself Denim, a hiker by the name of Brandon ran into him. Brandon said that Denim mentioned having three large hard drives filled with movies that he had left at his home. Brandon also recalled that Denim enjoyed shows such as Doctor Who and The Lord of the Rings. On 24th January 2018, a hiker named Kelly posted two photographs of him on Instagram, stating that she had met him earlier that day in Crestview, Florida, on Highway 90. Kelly knew the man as “Mostly Harmless” and said that he had started hiking in New York. A hiker named Paul claimed to have met the man now going by the name “Mostly Harmless” on the Pinhoti Trail in January, and recalled that he stated he was only hiking 10 miles a day. Paul described him as “a nice guy”. On the 24th February, a hiker met him at the Sand Pond Campground in Pine Log State Forest. He told the hiker that he had been staying with his sister in either Sarasota or Fort Myers, and had started hiking in that area, contradicting his earlier claims that he had started in New York. He also spoke to this hiker about some health problems that he had, and stated that he wanted to do this hike while he still could. Another hiker named Andrew claimed to have met Mostly Harmless in February, and when asked, he said he did not have a phone. He seems to have told multiple people that he did not own a phone. On 22nd February, he was encountered by two hikers known as Susanne and “Sugar Rush” near the Aucilla River. He was hiking southbound without GPS or any detailed maps, which worried the other two hikers who thought that he may get lost. In March, another hiker met him on the Florida Trail near the Aucilla River section. He was hiking South, and said that he planned on reaching the southern terminus sometime in July. He told this hiker that he had started on the Florida Trail in Blackwater, again contradicting his earlier claims. Later in March, he was seen one hour South of the 88 store by another pair of hikers. He spoke to them, and said he was from New York and travelling without GPS or maps, and also mentioned his pack and how heavy it was. He was heading southbound on the Florida Trail, and seemed to be healthy and in good spirits. A Reddit user going by the username “whyhaveuforsakeme” met Mostly Harmless on 17th March near Paisley in Florida and took this photo of him. They stated that he talked about hiking without maps or a phone. He also stated that he was from New York and had started on the Appalachian Trail and then continued onto the Florida Trail, and that he planned on hiking through the Keys and then heading back northbound. The last confirmed sighting of him was in mid-April at the Big Cypress National Preserve, where a Trail Angel named Mike ran into him. Mike said that he talked to Mostly Harmless for 20-30 minutes. He described Mostly Harmless as “really nice”, “well-mannered”, and “polite”, and said that he had mentioned that he was intending to hike to Key West. On 23rd July 2018, he was found emaciated and dead in his tent just a few miles from where he was last sighted in April. Despite the large number of people having met this man, and all the photographs taken of him, he remains unidentified and the exact manner of his death is unknown to the public. A hiker by the name of Kris stated that he met the man, though exactly when he does not mention, and said that the unidentified man stated that he was a computer programmer from Baton Rouge with, and I quote, “a bunch of handwritten code in his backpack”. Another hiker by the name of Hayward also mentioned having met Mostly Harmless, who said he was from Baton Rouge and living in the New York City area. He was described as, and I quote, “cheerful, funny, considerate, witty, and a really nice guy”. He also did not have any sort of recognisable regional accent, other than just American. Some have also said that he carried around computer coding in his pack, and another hiker seemed to recall him once having written coding on his arm. It should be noted that his pack is not mentioned as being found with or near his body, though it is possible that law enforcement simply neglected to state that they had found the pack, as one of the men that discovered the body stated that he saw the pack hanging from a nearby tree. Mostly Harmless often hiked without GPS or any form of a map, and may have told other hikers that he was divorced and from either Baton Rouge or Brooklyn. Investigators believe the unidentified man had ties to New York and/or Louisiana. A number of missing people have been officially ruled out as being this decedent, please check the description for a list of these rule-outs. If you have any information whatsoever about the identity of the deceased man in this video, check the beginning of the video again for the correct agency to contact.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 thoughts on “John Doe, “Denim”/”Mostly Harmless”/”Ben Bilemy”, Collier County, 2018

  1. This case has always puzzled me since I heard about it not quite a year ago. Someone has to know this guy's identity and what in the world was he doing in the woods if he had over $3,000.00 in cash? Maybe he was trying to find himself or figure things out. Prayers for his family and friends. Hope he can be identified soon

  2. How can these people not know his name when they actually know him? I mean, they went camping with him.

  3. 12:58 he looks like Jeremy Bechtel. https://66.media.tumblr.com/2b57069310f8d185d3cc535a45ab417e/tumblr_pdd70qeyne1wis8gho2_250.jpg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *