The mysterious double disappearance of Keith Reinhardt and Tom Young (11 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
24 May 2024

Tom Young and Keith Reinhardt were going through a midlife crisis. They both rented the same retail space in Silver Plume. They both disappeared into the Colorado Rockies within a year of each other. Oddly enough, Keith became deeply involved in Tom's life and wrote a novel about him.


Silver Plume, Colorado

Silver Plume is a quaint, historic town in Clear Creek County, Colorado. The first settlers hoped to find gold here, but found only piles of grayish ore, which they considered worthless. In fact, prospectors found silver ore. In 1987, only about 200 people lived in this tiny town when one day local resident Tom Young took his dog for a walk. Neither he nor his pet ever returned.

Nine months later, in June 1988, local Illinois sports journalist Keith Reinhardt was experiencing something of a midlife crisis. He was soon to turn 50 years old, and he wanted to achieve certain heights before old age loomed on the horizon.

Besides, life in Chicago was beginning to tire him. The stress took its toll and he began to gain weight. He began to lose concentration and thought about what awaited him in the future. Even though he had a decent job and was married for three years with two children, there was a void in his soul that needed to be filled.

The Adventure of Keith Reinhardt

Reinhardt had an old friend, Ted Parker, owner of the K.P. Cafe. in Silver Plume. Ted often talked about the slow pace and quiet life. This interested Reinhard, and he told his wife Carolyn that he wanted to spend some time alone and work on a novel. He also hoped to get in shape and overcome his fear of heights by hiking in the mountains. Despite the fact that at first she was wary of this idea, the wife reconciled herself and agreed for her husband to fulfill his dream.

Reinhardt took three months leave and went to Silver Plume. He settled here and found an empty store next to a café on Main Street that he rented to sell antiques and old photographs. Shortly after his arrival in the sleepy town, someone mentioned that the previous tenant of the premises had disappeared without a trace just a year ago. Reinhardt thought this was the perfect story to tell and began researching the Tom Young case. Curiosity quickly turned into obsession.

Unfortunately, Reinhard ran into problems. Business at the store was not going well, which is understandable for a small town like Silver Plume. Besides, he had run out of inspiration. Reinhard may have been a little disappointed with the way things were going, but he loved hiking in the nearby Rocky Mountains.

Tom and his dog

Tom Young

On July 31, 1988, local hunters were patrolling the mountain wilderness about an hour from Silver Plume when they discovered a skeleton leaning against a tree. Nearby lay a backpack, a pistol and the skeletal remains of a dog. It was Tom Young and his dog Gus. Both had a gunshot wound to the head. This find helped reveal additional details. A few days before his disappearance, Young bought a gun. The police regarded it as a simple suicide, but others were not so easily convinced. Young loved Gus very much, and local residents saw no reason for the man to kill his pet. According to Unsolved Mysteries, ballistics tests were unable to match the bullets to the gun.

Keith Reinhard goes to the mountains

Remains of Tom and his dog

A week after Young and Gus were found, Reinhardt closed his store for the day. Evening was approaching, and Reinhard, walking around the city and stopping at a cafe, told everyone he met that he was going on a hike to Mount Pendleton. Those to whom he told this believed that he was playing a joke on them: a round trip hike up the mountain would take about six hours.

The gun found next to Tom's body

Sunset in Silver Plume in August occurs around 8:00 pm, and very few people are experienced enough to undertake night hikes in the Rocky Mountains. Wildlife such as mountain lions and bears can also pose a threat. When Reinhard was seen heading towards the base of the mountain, he had no training, no suitable mountain equipment, and no supplies. However, this was not his first attempt. Friends recalled that the previous one ended when he began to show signs of dizziness. Reinhardt set his return time for 10 pm and set off at 4:30 pm. This was the last time he was seen in the city.

Rescuers arrive

Keith Reinhard

When the next morning arrived, Keith Reinhardt was still missing. A Colorado rescue team launched a massive rescue operation involving helicopters, search dogs and volunteer citizens. A week later, authorities still hadn't found anything. Everyone understood that the rescue operation would not be easy. The search was finally called off on August 12, 1989 when, unfortunately, the Cessna plane carrying the two searchers crashed. Only one of them survived.

Coincidence or conspiracy?

The disappearance of two men under strikingly similar circumstances in a small town like Silver Plume, within a year of each other, appears to have been more than just a coincidence. Friends of both men were at a loss, unable to explain any of this. A strange discovery was made in Keith's house. Next to his computer was an open newspaper article about Tom Young. The unfinished manuscript of his novel remained on the computer. It contained a passage about a man named Guy Gypsum. It read:

Guy Gips changed into hiking boots and put on a thick flannel shirt. Now he understood all this and his motives. Guy closed the door and walked towards the lush, shadeless Colorado forests.

According to friends, these were the last words written by Reinhard. Had he really set the stage for his own disappearance? Reinhard did something else. A week before leaving for the mountains, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Herald newspaper, where he worked in Illinois, and said that upon his return he wanted to become a journalist for the Chicago Bulls. In this case, the disappearance would certainly appear random.

Lady at a party

Almost immediately after his disappearance, everyone began to speculate about possible reasons. Among them is the idea that Reinhardt had no intention of returning, that this was all, of course, a set-up on his part. The night before his disappearance, Reinhardt was at a party and was seen actively chatting with a woman named Greta or Gretchen, who was believed to be from Denver. Could she have something to do with his decision to run away? In this case, the last passage he wrote can be seen in a different context.

Formation of character

In the lead-up to his own disappearance, Reinhardt showed a clearly unhealthy interest in Tom Young. Maybe Keith Reinhardt wanted to become the next Tom Young? He may have had problems with life in general, but no one admitted that he had any desire to die. There is also no record of him ever owning a firearm. Authors, as a rule, try to “live” the characters they create in order to get a feel for their character. And perhaps that is exactly what Reinhardt was doing.

Perhaps his lack of preparation ended up costing him dearly; an unexpected injury could prove fatal. The mountainous terrain is treacherous at best, deadly at worst. The problem with this idea is that not much time passed between the disappearance and the search efforts. Perhaps it was some kind of publicity stunt that ultimately didn't go as planned. The fatal plane crash may have caused him not to appear again and prefer to go into hiding. Afterwards, Reinhard was allegedly seen several times by different people in different places.

Tom and Keith's Store

There is another possibility. Besides the disappearance, both men had another thing in common. The store itself. Some people attach great importance to this fact. Did they learn something about the store that put them at risk? If so, is there foul play involved? If both assumptions are correct, then someone must have had access to the store. If Reinhard really died on that mountain, then this means that one of the local residents was to blame for both deaths.

Did something happen to Tom Young and then Keith Reinhardt? Could the same criminal have struck twice? Although there has been much controversy and speculation surrounding the case over the past three decades, no one has come any closer to an answer.

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