In November 16, 1982, an SUV was found in the middle of the desolate Wyoming prairie, its doors open, the engine running, and clothes scattered all over the highway. The owner of the car, 35-year old Don Kemp, was nowhere in sight.
In September 1982, Don sold almost everything he owned and began a long drive West. His destination was Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he planned to write a book about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The day before he disappeared, Don was seen at a museum in Cheyenne. He wandered through the small galleries for two hours, speaking to no one. When he left, Don apparently forgot his attaché case. In it were his traveler’s checks, diaries, and his driving glass.
The next day, November 16, l982, at 10AM, highway patrolman Randy Teeters came upon an eerie sight. Don’s abandoned car, in the middle of nowhere:
When he found the car, Patrolman Teeters noticed a single set of footprints leading from the roadside into the empty, lonely prairie:
“I have no idea what would inspire anybody to walk out through that prairie in the middle of winter. We considered possibly someone under medication that didn’t know what they were doing due to the medication, or being out of the medication, possibly that would affect him to the point of where they would just walk out into the middle of nowhere.”
Deputy Rod Johnson flew over the area for two hours. He could see for miles over the open terrain. But he said there was no trace of Don:
“I felt the guy was disorientated, and I felt that he didn’t want to be found. If he would’ve wanted to be found, he would have heard the aircraft, could have waved his arms, got our attention, gone up to a ridge, anywhere, and been sighted.”
Later that day, Johnson and two other deputies found a duffle bag lying near the single set of footprints. In it were laundry soap, clothes, and a teapot, all belonging to Don. Don’s mother doubted he placed the bag there:
“I believe it was put there to make it look like my son had walked out there. And I don’t believe my son did.”
Tracks in the snow led searchers to a barn six miles from the highway. Inside was a pile of sticks arranged to start a fire, and three of Don’s socks. Three days after he disappeared, a blizzard made it impossible to continue the search.