Nearly thirty years have passed since Keith Reinhard walked away from Silver Plume, Colorado. He still hasn’t come back.
Unwittingly or not, Reinhard left behind a tangled series of questions that has given birth to a story of legend in the tiny mountain town of Silver Plume.
Sorting through the known facts and theories, each boil down to three central topics: mountain, murder, and Mexico.
Keith Reinhard foolishly decided to hike to the top of Pendleton Mountain on the evening of August 7, 1988 and succumbed to some unknown accident. Perhaps he fell on the way up? Or did he have a heart attack? Or maybe he was killed by a wild animal? Despite an extensive search of Pendleton Mountain in the weeks following Reinhard’s disappearance, no trace of Keith has ever been found.
Members of the Reinhard family and close friends still believe that Keith may have been digging too deeply into the disappearance of Tom Young, a Silver Plume bookseller who vanished the year prior. By all accounts, Keith was fascinated with Tom’s case and went about questioning local residents who knew Young as a basis of research for the novel he intended to write that summer in 1988. Might he have stumbled upon information that made someone in town uneasy? Or was Keith abducted on his way out of Silver Plume that day by some mystery assailant?
Many people in Silver Plume believe Keith purposely disappeared to start a new life, leaving behind an intentional trail of questions to throw the initial investigation off the track. It’s been alleged that Reinhard announced his hike up Pendleton to numerous Silver Plume residents, many of which he did not personally know. He also apparently gave conflicting accounts of which direction he was actually planning to hike. These details, as well as the subsequent plane crash and death of pilot Terry Leadens during the official search for Reinhard, have led many local residents to suspect Keith may have chosen not to return. Might he be living in a foreign country somewhere?
All of this begs the question: what is the state of the case today with local investigators? Was anything discovered that was unreleased to the public? Was the case active within the department or collecting dust in a file cabinet somewhere?
The answer turned out to be somewhere in the middle.
My team and I approached the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office in 2016 with the desire to revive the case within the department itself.
News of a documentary being produced about Reinhard’s case certainly had spread fast throughout Silver Plume. We were surprised to learn the Sheriff’s Department was already aware of our film prior to us reaching out. That’s right. It’s a very small town.
We were connected with Lieutenant Steve Gremillion, the current investigator assigned to the Keith’s case. Not surprisingly, it seemed we knew more about the case than the current department did. However, there were intimate details within the original case files that provided some crucial clues for developing our opinions of the case.
With Gremillion’s assistance, we spent hours digging through the case files for both Keith Reinhard and Tom Young, making copies of everything we could get our hands on.
Lt. Gremillion requested that we begin the process of collecting DNA samples from the Reinhard family for unidentified remains comparison. Over the years since Keith’s disappearance, several sets of skeletal remains had been discovered throughout the county. The tantalizing possibility that any of one these bones could possibly belong to Keith was an avenue that absolutely had to be explored.
With the help of both the Clear Creek County Sheriff and Pasadena Police Department, we collected buccal swab samples from Reinhard’s son, daughter, and ex-wife, the mother of his children.
The samples were then sent to NAMUS, the national missing and unidentified persons system, where they were entered into CODIS and compared to thousands of DNA profiles.
So far, there have been no hits.
With this being established, I’m lead back to my initial feeling - that Keith Reinhard perished on Pendleton Mountain that day in 1988.
But, you know what’s interesting? Many in Silver Plume would strongly disagree with me. Whispers, rumors, and nearly thirty years of conjecture have blossomed into a unique and fascinating myth within the town. Rampant speculation has given way to a form of true crime folklore in the tiny town of Silver Plume.
These psychological observations lie at the core of Dark Side of the Mountain - the human desire for answers when none exist.