The Associated Press
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Remains found by a hunter this month in the rugged outback of southeast Oregon appear to be those of an Oklahoma teenager who went missing last year after telling his parents he wanted to test himself against the wilderness, like in the movie “Into the Wild.”
Harney County Sheriff David Glerup said Friday that personal identification found with the remains indicated it was 19-year-old Dustin Self of Piedmont, Oklahoma.
“It was a matter of time,” Glerup said of the discovery. “I can’t even imagine losing a child. It can never be good.”
The skeletal remains were found Oct. 7 on the north end of remote and rugged Steens Mountain, about 7 miles from where the teen’s pickup and backpack were found in April 2013. The remains have been sent to a medical examiner for further identification. Glerup said there were no signs of foul play, and the teen probably died of exposure.
Self’s driver’s license, credit card and a key chain identified by his family were found, along with articles of clothing, Glerup said.
Glerup said the hunter who found the remains was crawling through an aspen thicket, stalking deer, when he stumbled on the skeletal remains.
“He said it ruined his hunting trip,” the sheriff said. “He packed up and went home the next morning.”
Self, described by his family as an urban child with little experience in the outdoors, left his family home outside Oklahoma City to explore the wild and check out a pair of Oregon churches that use a hallucinogenic tea as a sacrament. Glerup said at the time that in his last phone calls to his family and girlfriend, he sounded like he was hallucinating.
Self’s mother said at the time the last movie her son had seen was “Into the Wild,” which tells the story of a young man, Christopher McCandless, who gives up his worldly goods to live in the Alaska wilderness, only to die there, perhaps from eating wild potatoes.
Self’s two-wheel-drive pickup and backpack were found just off a steep dirt track miles from the nearest country road. After searchers on the ground and in the air failed to find him, there were sightings reported in towns hundreds of miles away in Oregon and Washington.
A storekeeper in the nearby town of Fields reported seeing Self sleeping in his truck and low on gas a month before his truck was found. Self said he had gotten lost following his GPS, and asked for directions to Lakeview, which would have taken him in the opposite direction from where his truck was found.