The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation Friday afternoon after a body was discovered south of Emma, Undersheriff Ron Ryan said.
Deputies reportedly used an all-terrain vehicle to gain access to the body in an isolated part of federal lands known as the Crown. One team tried to access the site Friday afternoon from Hooks Spur Road. Other deputies in vehicles worked their way toward the site from Prince Creek Road, at one of the main access points to the Crown.
A rancher discovered the body and notified authorities, according to Ryan. Authorities wouldn’t release information Friday evening on the gender of the body or other details. However, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed the body was a female.
While there are numerous cycling trails and roads on the Crown, the body was discovered in a more isolated part of the massive, low mountain located between the valley floor and Mount Sopris. The most extensive trail network is on the Carbondale side of the Crown. The body was discovered on the Emma side of the mountain. A hiking route known as Nancy’s Path is in that general vicinity.
Authorities declined to speculate on the identity of the dead person. The site is several hundred feet above the valley floor.
The base of the Crown, in that area, is about 2 miles from El Jebel, the last confirmed site where a missing Silt woman was spotted. Claudia Ruiz, 44, boarded a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus in Glenwood Springs at about 9 a.m. on May 17. Video from a surveillance camera on the bus confirmed she exited at El Jebel that morning, according to her family.
Friends, family and members of the missing woman’s church searched extensively on foot and by vehicle in the midvalley this week. They put numerous fliers up in public places in El Jebel and Basalt.
Authorities upgraded the case Friday from an “attempt to locate” to a missing-person case. Ruiz was listed in a national missing-persons database, and Office Depot printed 600 posters for distribution along Interstate 70.
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent contributed to this report.