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Missing Person

Iduna

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019
#1
Hi Everyone,

Since 20-21-22 February, Jos Brech has been missing from Basecamp Old Crow in the French Vosges. Old Crow is located west of Saint Marie Aux Mines, in the middle of the woods.
Jos was manager on the site of Old Crow.

This is a timeline of events and below the current status of the search.
(It's a long story, but it's important to read it!)

Early 2018:
Jos makes plans for a long hike of 3 weeks. He regularly talks about his intention to walk to Germany, a route of 140 kilometres one way.
He knows that his mother's health is in a bad state, and indicates that he returns after 3 weeks and continues to the Netherlands for 1 week or perhaps longer.
He also indicates that he may end his trip earlier if he has to return to the Netherlands. He will therefore have regular contact with his family.

14 February:
Jos sends his sister an e-mail, I also receive an e-mail with pictures, an overview with coordinates of the huts in the area and a map with layout and plant list for the possible addition of natural edible vegetation of Old Crow.
This was his last e-mail, sent from a PC of the friend of the former owner of Old Crow and close friend of mine and Jos. This could also be seen on her PC that the mail was sent from there.

16-18 February:
A group of German friends of Jos is visiting Old Crow. They discuss his journey and they hear his potential route. His plan is to walk from Old Crow in the direction of Wissembourg, via the GR53, GR531 and GR532.

19 February:
Jos sends me a last SMS with the notification that he leaves the next day for his Hike. This message came at 17:16.

20 February:
Presumably Jos left Old Crow today. There are still SMS messages sent to him on February 26 and 27, but he will not receive them anymore.
He has deliberately left his phone on Old Crow.

22 February:
His sister sends him a message by email, there is no answer.

22-27 February:
Through a group of hikers who travel through the area we know that it was extremely cold in the Vosges with temperatures around -20 degrees. Jos will have a hard journey and need to use cabins at night. His equipment is probably not suitable for such cold weather, but there are often wood-burning stoves in the cabins.

23-26 February:
Normally Jos would have to do some shopping now, he usually took 3-4 days of food with him and then visited a town or village to buy new supplies. We would expect him to check his email as well. A response to his sister's mail would be normal.
Jos, however, did not pin money at a shop and did not send a response.

Because of this, there is now a feeling that Jos did not get any further than 6 days walk from Old Crow.

1 - 5 March:
I visit Old Crow to make a short hut tour in the area honouring the old manager. We would have done that together, but unfortunately he passed away in 2017. So I make the trip on my own.
There is no one at Old Crow when I arrive on Thursday evening. I leave on Friday morning and after me a visitor comes a weekend with his son who left again before I return at the end of the day on Sunday. Jos has not been there all weekend. But no one has paid attention to it either, because we would not yet expect him to return from his hike.

During my hike I encountered tough conditions and very slippery paths full of ice and snow. It was not an easy hike and required a lot of walking through deep snow and over ice-covered paths. Jos will have had the same circumstances.

1 March:
His sister sends him another email, there is no answer, as well as all the other emails that both I and his sister have sent in March and April. Because Jos really has to do some shopping now and would have come to a larger town repeatedly. So you would also expect to receive a message by e-mail.

option: it is possible that he has read the e-mail and stepped directly on the train / bus to the Netherlands, without reacting. That chance is small, but it is possible.

20 March:
Because I know that Jos likes to travel without a mobile phone, and I know that he would be on the road for 3 weeks, followed by a visit to his sick mother for about 1-2 weeks, I am not very concerned. He was not to return until 20 March at the earliest. Maybe he has stayed a week longer...

Unfortunately, I, and no one in my network, have an idea of exactly the name of his family and where they live. Also no phone numbers or email addresses known.

22 March
We send several SMS and emails in March to Jos, there is no response. The text messages don't arrive anyway, it turns out that his mobile phone is left behind on Old Crow, we hear today from the friend in the Vosges. She finds it in Old Crow.

2 April:
I am sending Jos another email, marked Urgent, with an emergency appeal to contact. He is now 6 weeks gone and does not respond to any messages or e-mails about the foundation we jointly manage Old Crow.
Jos also knew that there were a lot of demands to visit Old Crow and knew we were planning a working weekend. I'm actually quite angry at that moment, that he doesn't let us know anything. Comprehensive on the other hand, because his mother was in a poor condition. Maybe he is feeling very troubled by her or she even passed away and Jos is busy with the problem.
I decide to wait another week.

9 April:
No reaction from Jos. I decide to escalate this and warn the friend in the Vosges, who is already planning to go to the Gendarmes. I report it to the police in the Netherlands and indicate that I have to find his family. On Facebook I post a search message with photos of Jos and I contact many people in the BushCraft world and the Vosges.
Eventually I find his sister by chance, by calling a telephone number from an address that I find somewhere in the documents of the foundation. This is bull's-eye!
Unfortunately, she is as worried as we are... Jos has never arrived at her or their mother's house. Their mother is unfortunately in the last phase of her life, so Jos will have to come quickly. I report this to the police in the evening.

10-11 April:
We work hard with many people on tips, ideas, possible trails, contact with police, contact with people in France, GPS maps, coordinates, bank details, PIN details, tracking possibilities, scenarios etc. etc.
Also, geocache owners in the region will be emailed to check their cache to see if Jos has logged there.

The police scaled it up to a disappearance that later even became urgent. Jos is now the subject of an international report.
Unfortunately, they cannot do much more than that. It makes more sense to take action locally in France.

FOLLOW-UP:
From the 12th till the 15th of April I visit Old Crow with a number of people and there will be some familiar local people.
We will:
- Combine the surroundings of Old Crow (circle of 1km around)
- Driving the first part of a most logical route with a 4x4
- Visit and search all the huts on that route.
- Leave flyers in huts in the area.
- Visiting huts in another part where Jos very much liked to come.
- Checking the logs in the cabins
- Visit an auberge/farm on the hike and leave flyers.
- Have contact with the Gendarme to encourage them to work harder on the search
and make a plan to find him.
- Going over geocaches (Jos had this as a hobby and may have logged in a cache)

After this we hope to have more leads or to have found him. After this we can look, after consultation what the Gendarme can organize, at whether we can scale up to a large search.

However, the trail of Jos together is 280 kilometres long. Jos also likes to travel off-trail. That makes it a total area of hundreds of square kilometers where he could be. A needle in a haystack...

Hopefully next Thursday he will just sit by the fireplace in Old Crow to see if there is nothing wrong...

WHAT WE KNOW FOR SURE:
- He left on 20-21 February.
- He does not wear a mobile phone.
- He carries outdoor equipment.
- He is carrying a GPS.
- He is skilled and experienced in the field of Bushcraft and Outdoor.
- He is familiar with the environment and conditions in the Vosges.
- He knows many huts and caves in that area.
- He has not pinned money since February 14th. At that day he bought groceries for 25 euros in Saint Marie Aux Mines. Even before his trip.
- Jos has not been to OId Crow anymore, there is no trace of it in any way.
- Jos still felt like doing a lot in the future on Old Crow and had some nice plans and projects going on.
- His route cannot be found on the PC he used to upload his GPS and check his e mail. It does not contain any usable data at all.
- Jos was known as OakleafNL on various Bushcraft forums, and as Gillwell on Geocaching sites.
- Jos is 56 years old (born 29-10-1962).
- Jos is slim, fit and strong but does not look strong and 1.75 heigth (5 ft 9).

There are a few found documents on his computer which point this way.

If there are any tips please contact me.
So I can contact the right person!
Thank you!
 

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