A body found in the Uncompaghre Wilderness in northern Hinsdale County on July 2 has been positively identified as Winston Churchill, 41, a former Silverton resident who disappeared last fall.
“Winston passed away in a remarkably beautiful valley in the Uncompaghre Wilderness in late 2008, probably between mid-November and mid-December,” said Hinsdale County Coroner Jerry Gray.
On July 2 a body was discovered by hikers in Porphyry Basin above the Middle Fork of the Cimarron River in northern Hinsdale County. The Hinsdale sheriff and deputy, search-and-rescue members, coroner and a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent responded to the location July 3.
“Most of those present had participated in the search around Lake City for Winston in the fall of 2008,” Gray said. “Having spent the winter and spring under the snow pack, and having only recently melted out, the body was essentially mummified.”
Gray said items in his pack included an extensive journal which was unfortunately unreadable due to the ink bleeding from being wet.
At autopsy on Monday, an expired Silverton Mountain ski pass with photo ID was discovered in one of his jacket pockets, “virtually confirming his identity,” Gray said.
“We will proceed to make positive identification through dental records or DNA but the sheriff and myself are 99.9 percent certain this is Winston,” Gray said.
Churchill was found lying on his back next to the cabin below. He had not gained entrance into the cabin; probably either because the snow was already too deep or because he was too weak from starvation and exposure when he arrived, Gray said.
Churchill had operated the Mobius Café in Silverton.