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July 20, 2023

Remains of missing geocacher from South Jersey found in Louisiana woods, police say

Robert Owens Jr., 58, of Millville had recently retired and was an enthusiast of the scavenger hunting hobby, his family said

Investigations Missing People
Geocacher Found Dead Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Robert Owens Jr., 58, of Millville, New Jersey, was found dead in Louisiana on Wednesday after his family reported him missing, police said. Owens was on a geocaching trip.

Louisiana authorities located human remains believed to be a Millville man who was reported missing earlier this week. His family said he had been away on a geocaching trip and was devoted to the popular hobby, which involves using GPS devices to search for containers hidden in locations around the world.

The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office in central Louisiana began searching for 58-year-old Robert Owens Jr. earlier this week after deputies found his rental car parked in a wooded area, police said. The vehicle was located with the assistance of another geocacher.

Multiple agencies and civilian volunteers set out in search of Owens with accompanying K-9s.

Around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, police said they located human remains near a creek in a densely wooded area about half a mile from a trailhead. The remains were severely decomposed, but police said clothing found at the scene and other physical descriptions helped them identify the body as Owens. Official identification is pending the outcome of an autopsy, authorities said.

Owens' family had told KALB-TV in Louisiana that they were worried about him because he rarely brings water with him on geocaching trips, and the weather had been particularly hot and humid in Louisiana this week. Owens' daughter, Abigail, told the station that her father typically would send periodic messages home during his geocaching trips, but she noticed that the messages she tried to send were not being delivered.

In a video on her TikTok page, Owens' daughter said her dad had just retired and was striking off items on his bucket list. She said geocaching was his favorite thing to do. Commenters remembered Owens as a former teacher.

Geocaching grew in global popularity during the 2000s as handheld GPS devices became widely available. It has roots in similar hobbies including trailblazing and treasure hunting. There are now more than 3 million active geocaches placed around the world and millions of people who actively participate in the hobby. Caches typically are waterproof and contain logbooks where adventurers record their code names and the dates they located caches. Sometimes caches contain items like toys and trinkets.

The Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office said their investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information that may be helpful is asked to contact Detective Tamiko Paulk at (318) 473-6727.