Officials identify human remains


By Randi Pierce

Staff Writer

The human remains found last week in western Archuleta County have been identified as those of a man who went missing in the area weeks prior.

Last Thursday, Coroner Carl Macht announced that the remains, found in the area of Beaver Meadows on Sept. 11, were those of David Bruce Ritchie, 59, last seen on Aug. 3.

The identification was made through dental remains and records.

A missing persons report was filed in early August for Ritchie, last seen Aug. 3 in the Beaver Meadows area along U.S. 160, near the Archuleta-La Plata county line.

The remains were found the afternoon of Sept. 11 by ranchers whose stock dogs alerted them to the evidence while they were looking for cattle.

The remains were found in a rugged area north of U.S. 160, approximately seven miles up Beaver Meadows Road and almost four miles off-road through rugged terrain, Macht said.

Macht said the ranchers called both the Archuleta County and La Plata County Sheriff’s Offices to report the finding, not sure which county the remains were in.

The call came to Macht at about 10 a.m., and personnel were on scene by about 3 p.m. Personnel on scene included Macht, Det. Rich Valdez of the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Lewis College anthropologist Dawn Mulhern.

Mulhern was called in to help determine if the remains were human, Macht said.

As of Sept. 12, Macht estimated the remains had been at the site for, “perhaps three weeks to a month,” mentioning variables such as environmental factors and creatures that can make estimates difficult.

Also found at the site were pieces of clothing that Macht indicated were consistent with those Ritchie was last seen wearing.

Because of the circumstances, Macht does not anticipate being able to determine a cause of death.

But the search for Ritchie’s remains is not over.

Macht said last week’s six-person search began at the site where remains were found by the ranchers and expanded outward in a circle in a detailed search that lasted about four hours. The coroner said he would like to expand that area.

On Tuesday, Valdez  said he is in the process of finding a K-9 team to search the designated area.