Jon Truscott Haynes, age 18, vanished from Boulder, Colorado on July 24, 1981.
He’d just moved there two days ago from Orinda, California to attend college at the University of Colorado. He contacted his father on July 23 from a pay phone at a 7-11 at 28th Street and Baseline in Boulder, asking for some money during the call. His father instructed him to obtain a PO Box and call back with the number, so he could send a check there. Jon called a friend sometime on July 24 from the small town of Nederland, but never contacted his father as promised. The call to his friend was the last time he was heard from.
It’s been reported that Jon stayed at a KOA campground in Boulder alone on his first night in Colorado, though I’m not sure how this was known. It’s possible he mentioned it to his father during the July 23 phone call.
On July 26, a police officer spotted Jon’s beige 1981 Subaru on a county road in Nederland, Colorado. At this point, Jon had not yet been reported missing, and the car was left there without incident. The officer noted that it was raining and the car windows were down.
When police went back to check on the vehicle a few days later (some reports state only one day later), the car was gone.
Many sources state that Jon had picked up a hitchhiker en route to Colorado. While it is true that he gave someone named Danny Torres a ride, this had been arranged through an acquaintance beforehand. He wasn’t just a random person with his thumb out on the side of the highway, so I prefer the term “passenger”. Danny told police that he had witnessed Jon attempting to buy marijuana when they arrived in Boulder. Danny is not considered a suspect in his disappearance.
Some have speculated that his disappearance was drug related based on Danny’s statement, while others have considered a cult that was in the area may have recruited him.
Some reports state that Danny has been cleared of any involvement in Jon’s disappearance. I have no reason to believe he is guilty of anything, but am admittedly curious as to how he was cleared. His statement about Jon wanting to buy marijuana is a bit odd to me, and possibly a little too convenient. It’s not unheard of for a suspect to throw drugs, affairs, mental illness or illegal activity into the mix. It not only diverts attention away from themselves, but it also can cause indifference on the part of investigators. As with many cases of missing adults, especially with such ties, police primarily focused on the idea that he had left voluntarily. His family and friends, however, were split on whether Jon would leave his life behind. His father strongly believed Jon was the victim of foul play.
Jon had previously struggled, but turned his life around when his father offered him a new car and tuition to the college of his choice, if he improved his grades and behavior. He’d gone from a D student to Valedictorian in response. Some of his friends considered that he may have wanted to return to his previous ways, while others say he would never leave his family.
Jon has been declared legally dead, and his car, with California license plate 1CPK105, has never been recovered.
In my opinion, leaving voluntarily, whether to join a cult or otherwise, doesn’t seem likely. Would he have abandoned a brand new car that he’d worked hard for? Plus, his father had agreed to send him money that I think he would have waited for if he planned to disappear. I also think a drug deal gone bad is unlikely, as he had only been in Colorado a mere couple of days, and it just doesn’t seem that he could have gotten into that much trouble over marijuana in that time. That leaves me leaning toward foul play that is not necessarily drug related, or perhaps an accident. The town of Nederland, which is where he called a friend from as well as where his car was seen, is a mountainous area with cliffs and ravines. I do think it’s possible that Jon himself had temporarily parked the car where it was seen, and ran off a road at some point afterward, but the car was seen 3 days after Jon last spoke to his father, and he was supposed to call back at a specific time the following day. In fact, his father, back home in Orinda, told his family that he had a bad feeling when Jon’s phone call was ten hours late.
Jon was the middle child, with an older and younger sister. His father was an attorney. Jon and his sisters were born in San Francisco, but the family had relocated to Orinda, California, where Jon graduated from high school. He was an avid skier, and looked forward to joining the skiing team in college.
Jon’s family has set up a Facebook page in his memory and still hope to learn what happened to him.