Context: The following copy was written for a YouTube channel as a script for a video on ‘Mountain Mysteries’. All content was created by Kate Weaver.
Rico Harris was destined for the NBA. He was supposed to have his name in lights alongside the likes of Lamar Odom and Magic Johnson. He moved from Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington in order to start a life and a family with his long-time girlfriend.
Instead, he vanished without a trace.
Rico Harris was born and raised in Los Angeles, California in 1977. He grew up with a talent for basketball and had the height to show for it. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches, Harris was destined for the life of a pro-athlete. After attending a community college in the Los Angeles area, he continued his athletic career at California State Northridge, which had a newly formed yet perpetually losing Division I basketball team. The coaches there hoped that Harris would turn their losing streak around and propel them to the top of the college basketball brackets. His career there was short-lived however, as he suffered from multiple injuries and was frequently disciplined by the coaching staff for his hard-partying ways. After college, Harris was asked to join the Harlem Globetrotters due to his immense skill with sinking three-point shots from seemingly impossible distances. He prospered for awhile, but was again sidelined due to injury, and he was forced to end his once-illustrious basketball career for good.
The end of an era led to an increase in personal problems for Rico. He suffered from alcohol and drug abuse and efforts made by his family to get him “clean” were of no use. At one point, he was seen begging on the streets for money to buy his next “fix.”
One final attempt made by his family to get him sober resulted in him successfully completing a rehabilitation stint in Los Angeles. When he finished the program, he met and fell in love with Jennifer Song, a visiting insurance broker who lived in Seattle. His life seemed to be getting back on track at long last, and they made plans to move in together and start a family in Seattle. But the happy ending never came.
Rico Harris decided to make one last trip to his mother’s house in Alhambra, just outside of Los Angeles, before driving up to Seattle the next day. Apparently, he and his mother had a disagreement of some sort, and Harris ended up leaving for Seattle in the late hours of October 9th, 2014. Heading north on Interstate 5, Harris was last seen at 10:45am on October 10th, at a gas station just outside of Sacramento, California. He had previously called his girlfriend Jennifer that he was going to “rest” in the mountains, despite having a job interview in Seattle scheduled for that same day. He was never heard from again.
Several days after his disappearance, investigators found his black Nissan Maxima parked in the lot of a county park in Yolo County, California. Harris’ credit cards were inside the vehicle, none of which had any charges made after his disappearance. His backpack was later found on the banks of a nearby creek. It contained his phone and phone charger. Investigators looked through the contents of his phone and found videos and selfies that Harris had taken the night of his disappearance, but they all showed Harris displaying happy, unconcerning behavior, like singing along to some songs and remarking on the beauty of the scenery around him. A full-scale investigation was launched, with area police using cadaver dogs and aircraft outfitted with thermographic cameras to scan the heavily forested terrain.
Apart from his car and backpack, there was no evidence of Harris anywhere. Investigators were baffled. How could a man so large (6’9 and nearly 300 pounds) disappear without a trace? And without motive?
It’s been nearly seven years since Rico Harris seemingly vanished into thin air, and there has been no trace of him since.
Steve Fossett loved the extraordinary. Born in 1944 in Tennessee, and raised in Southern California, Fossett developed an aptitude for extreme sports. A financial adviser by trade, Fossett used his massive fortune to fund his many record-breaking, continent-crossing and death-defying flights, sailing adventures and hot-air balloon circumnavigations. He was a friend of billionaire Richard Branson, who frequently funded Fossett’s extreme adventures under his Virgin Global brand.
But Fossett’s life wasn’t brought to a close during one of his headline-grabbing world record attempts. Instead, Steve Fossett met his end during a routine, relaxed, solo flight on September 3, 2007.
Fossett took off from a private airstrip near Smith Valley, Nevada, in the early morning hours of September 3rd, 2007. He piloted a single-engine Super Decathlon light aircraft that he had flown many times before without issue. However, six hours after take-off, flight controllers sounded the alarm with the relevant authorities that Fossett had not returned as scheduled.
A massive search commenced, covering nearly 20,000 square miles of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The Sierra Nevada’s are known for being extremely rocky and inaccessible in many areas, so most of the search had to be done by federal aircraft dispatched by the Federal Aviation Authority and local law enforcement. Richard Branson donated funds to aid in the search, as well as hotel magnate Barron Hilton, who owned the airstrip that Fossett had taken off from. The search spanned multiple law enforcement agencies as well as private volunteer groups and was estimated to have cost nearly two million dollars. At the time, it was the largest federal recovery effort launched in the history of the United States. Despite the magnitude of the search, Fossett was never found and was legally declared dead mere weeks later.
However, nearly a year to the day of Fossett’s disappearance, a hiker camped out in a remote area of the Sierra Nevada range stumbled upon what looked to be identification cards. Upon further inspection, the cards turned out to be Fossett’s drivers license and his Federal Aviation Authority identification. An air search was quickly launched with planes scouring the area within hours of the hikers’ discovery. Steve Fossett’s plane was found about 750 yards away from where his I.D’s were found, with investigators confirming the plane as Fossett’s based on the tail-fin numbers of the plane. A search and rescue team made their way on foot to the site and eventually located two large human-appearing bones at the crash site. Forensic analysis would later conclude that the bones did indeed belong to Fossett, and the case was closed.
So why would a crash like this happen to such an experienced pilot during a routine flight? Meteorologists would later conduct simulations of the weather patterns that were forecasted for that fateful day in September and concluded that excessive downdrafts around the mountain ridge were too powerful for the small prop plane to handle and forced Fossett’s plane to smash into the side of the ridge, just below the peak of the mountain top.
Perhaps one of the greatest mountain mysteries of all is that of the burial site of the fabled warrior-Emperor of China, Genghis Khan. Khan is known for being the founder of the Mongol Empire, which, at its height, covered most of the Eurasian continent. His great success has often been shrouded in dark tales of the methods employed by his armies to conquer entire cities and countries in one fell swoop. It’s estimated that millions of people fell at the hands of Khan the Conqueror and his reign was stained with the blood of the fallen for all time.
When Khan himself met his end, though, he made his wishes to be buried in an unmarked grave known to those closest to him. This was quite the departure from the Emperor known for exalting himself as a god among men. This was in line, however, with the practices of the tribe he was born in to.
Khan met his end on August 18, 1227 (est.). He had lived to the very old (for the time) age of 65. While the manner of death is disputed, the date is not. After he died, his body was returned to his birthplace in Mongolia near the Khentii mountains. The Onon River runs through this area and many historians have theorized that Khan was buried under the river so that his tomb would never be found. This would align with the legends of Kings before him, like the Sumerian King Gilgamesh. The real tragedy (and mystery) however, is the sheer amount of people who were chosen to “go with him” on his journey to the afterlife. These sacrifices were made to ensure that no one alive would ever know where the Emperor was buried. Horrific tales were told of the slaves who built the tomb and how they were then forced to “join” Genghis Khan in the same tomb that they had constructed. Additional legends tell tales of entire armies of men sent to protect his tomb also meeting their untimely end when their watch was concluded, in an effort to protect the location of the Emperor’s body.
The Genghis Khan Mausoleum, located in Northern China, was constructed many years later to offer those wishing to worship the Great Conqueror a place to do so, and to dissuade future attempts at finding his final resting place.
– Copy written by Kate Weaver, 3/17/2021.