Case XIII: Chapter 4: Gold Diggers, Perhaps?

Chapter 4: Gold Diggers, Perhaps?


Matthew Dudley and Isabella Duncan were sitting in the Main Lobby of La Vida Aureo discussing the recent Community Assist Team meeting.

“We have always prided ourselves in the quality of our Staff“, said Isabella.  “It was perhaps the most challenging aspects of our start up.  But, I am pleased our initial investment paid off and I believe we have perhaps the best Staff of all the similar facilities in the State, even Santa Fe!”


As they rose to leave, Larry Blackburn and Don Orley entered and were smiling broadly.

“It looks like you had a pleasant time out shopping”, offered Dudley.

“It is always an experience to go to the Apple Store”, said Blackburn.  But, this afternoon was particularly so. I had to resist considerable pressure from one of their Geniuses to buy the new iPhone.  It is a truly amazing device, but $1,000 seems a bit steep for me. I doubt that I would ever get that much value out of it, even if I ever learned how to access all of its new features.”

“I have to be careful about what I say in front of Isabella about smart phones, but I still miss my old flip phone!”

“But, that wasn’t the most interesting part of our shopping excursion”, suggested Orley. As we were walking to the car, we ran into a guy selling information leading to a Fortune of Gold!”

“Really?  Someone must have heard you both talking about the Lost Padre Mine!”

“I hope not.  No.  This guy was smartly dressed and selling Leaflets which he claimed contained an authentic map to something called the Forrest Finn Treasure.  Are you familiar with that one?”

Dudley smiled. “Well, that one is more recent, but perhaps even more mysterious than Father La Rue’s Mine.  There are numerous articles written about this situation and I strongly suggest you do some reading before you embark on this particular and somewhat suspicious quest.”

“We weren’t taken in by this guy in front of the Apple store, but is there anything to his story?”

“The so-called Forrest Finn Treasure is the brainchild of a man who is an art dealer in Santa Fe, which in my opinion should be a warning to the credibility of this story.  The story is that Mr. Finn, in a gesture of true altruism, buried a chest containing a variety of gold items and gems with an estimated value of $2 million.  He said he buried this chest “somewhere in the Rocky Mountains” and wrote a poem which is purported to contain sufficient clues to locate his treasure.  He wrote two books and even published a map which includes virtually every Rocky Mountain State, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana!’

“Wow! That’s a lot of territory.  I assume no one has found the treasure?”

“No.  According to various reports, thousands have tried and several have died.  There was another death in this past year.”

“Is this just another in a long history of New Mexico-based legends about gold?

“I believe, because this is much more recent and Finn was alive to be interviewed, its credibility grew.  He was interviewed often, even including the New York Times and NPR, and provided additional hints each time.  In one interview, he is quoted as saying his treasure is hidden above 5,000 feet and at least 8.25 miles north of Santa Fe.”

“That sounds pretty specific to me.”

“Or it might simply be a way to encourage people to come to Santa Fe and stop in his art gallery while you’re in town.  Pardon me for being a bit cynical, but I worry that people are too easily fooled.”

“Well, Doc, maybe P.T. Barnum was right, after all!”


“Now that I have the new Operating System on my iMac, laughed Larry, I can check that out.  But, I suspect I’m going to need several hours to figure everything out.  I’m off to the Library.  Promise me that you guys won’t head off to Santa Fe in search of fame and fortune without me!”

“Not to worry”, replied Don. “I have some things I need to tend to as well.  Based on Doc’s comments, I doubt that I’ll be headed that way soon either. But, I think it would be interesting to drive to Las Cruces and visit some of the historical sites. I spent a lot of time in the southern part of the State, but was usually too busy with work to search for gold!”


As the three men were leaving the Lobby, a well-dressed young man entered and approached.  “I’m looking for a Mr. Donald G. Orley.”

“I’m Orley.”

The young man produced a large manila envelope from his bag and thrust it toward Orley.  “Consider yourself served, Mr. Orley!” With that, he abruptly turned and walked out.

Don Orley stood there, stunned by what had just occurred.

Dudley felt very uncomfortable and unsure about what he should do. Dudley reached out and touched Orley’s arm.  “Is there anything I can do, Don?”

“Thanks, Doc. “I have no idea what this is all about, but, if you would sit here with me while I open this envelope, I would certainly appreciate it.”

“Not a problem, Don.  I’d be happy to.”

They took two of the large comfortable chairs near the picture window overlooking the courtyard.  Dudley sat as Orley opened the envelope and began to read. He watched as Orley’s expression grew increasingly grave.

Finally, Orley looked up and said, “I don’t understand.  This is a lawsuit filed on behalf of my daughter Esme claiming that I sexually abused her as a young girl.”

Dudley remained quiet.

“It is certainly not true. And, I have no idea where this came from.  I will admit that Esme has had her share of problems, but this makes no sense to me.  I can’t think of anything in our entire relationship that would cause her to say things like this. I never even spanked either daughter and can think of only a handful of times when I even raised my voice. I’m stunned.  I don’t know what to do.”

“I am willing to do whatever I can to help, Don. I believe there are some things you should probably do as a result of this action.  Does this document require you to respond or do anything specific?”

“Apparently, there is to be a preliminary hearing here in Albuquerque in approximately sixty days and this requires me to be present.  I assume I should have a lawyer with me, but I’m not sure how to go about finding the appropriate person for this type of situation.”

“I suggest we talk to Isabella.  Her husband is a lawyer and well respected in the State. I’m sure she can point you in the right direction.  Is there anything else in the documents that would help finding the best person to represent you?”

“Don’t laugh, but my daughter is seeking $10 million in damages for all of the so-called pain and suffering I’ve caused her throughout her life.”

“Sounds like she’s found a real Doozy of a lawyer.”

“Or, someone found her!”

“Let’s go talk to Isabella.”


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