The "heavily decomposed" bodies of three people were found in a remote Rocky Mountains camp in Colorado and they may have been there since late last year, authorities said.
A hiker discovered one of the bodies late Sunday and notified authorities, who found the other two after arriving at the campsite Monday, Gunnison County Undersheriff Josh Ashe said.
Two of the bodies were inside a small, zipped-up tent and the other was outside in the camp, which was in a remote wooded area where hikers typically wouldn't go, Gunnison County Sheriff Adam Murdie said.
There were personal belongings and tarps at the scene and a lean-to built from local logs over a firepit, he said.
"This is not a typical occurrence anywhere, by any means," said Murdie, noting that his department doesn't think the discovery implies any risk to hikers or campers in the area.
Asheinvestigators "didn't observe anything on-scene that makes us believe that there was crime involved in this," including no weapons or signs of violence.
The areas is completely open to hikers, he said.
The sheriff's department is looking for missing persons reports that might shed light on the situation but hasn't found any yet, he said., adding that the coroner won't release the identities of the deceased until their next of kin have been notified.
Based on the "fairly mummified" and advanced decomposition of the bodies, they were likely there through the winter and possibly since last fall, Murdie said. Because of the degradation, autopsies will be difficult and will take at least three weeks, he said.
"Whether they froze to death in the winter or the combination of starved or froze, that's what it sure seems like," said the sheriff, noting that the actual causes of death won't be known until the autopsies are completed.
Murdie said it's more common for campers or hunters to die of carbon monoxide poisoning by using heaters in enclosed spaces but that this appears to be different because of how the bodies were found and how remote the camp was.
Investigators are trying to "determine what they were actually doing there and why," said Murdie.
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