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Crime News Missing Persons

New Details On Human Foot Found In Yellowstone Geyser That's Been Linked To Missing 70-Year-Old Los Angeles Man

Il Hun Ro's car was found abandoned at Yellowstone on July 31, and DNA linked him to a lone foot found floating in the park's hydrothermal Abyss Pool more than a week later.

By Christina Coulter
West Thumb Geyser Basin in Wyoming

Investigators have released more information about the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose foot was found floating in Yellowstone National Park's West Thumb Geyser Basin last summer.

A park official reportedly spotted two shoe soles — sized 9 or 10 — floating in the park's Abyss Pool on Aug. 8 and 12.

A black shoe was then spotted, bottom-up, by a park visitor on Aug. 16, who reported it to a tour bus driver, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. He reported it to a park ranger, and a supervisor — who'd previously recovered the two shoe soles — went to retrieve it. While removing it from the water, he thought it felt too heavy to be a shoe and then noticed what he believed to be human remains in the footwear, which was missing its sole.

He cleared the area, only to discover one car remained unclaimed: a Kia Niro SUV belonging to Il Hun Ro of Los Angeles. Investigators found his laptop computer, a wallet containing his driver's license and $447, a photo album, notebooks and poems with handwritten notes in another language. 

West Thumb Geyser Basin in Wyoming

The poems were written in a foreign language that was redacted in the report. Investigators using Google Translate did not find any content resembling a suicide note. All other names and identifying information were redacted from the document.

A Maryland man who heard the news later said that he'd spotted a shoe floating sole-up in the park's Abyss Pool on Aug. 11 and sent a picture he'd snapped to park officials, according to CBS.

Officials said at the time that the foot was believed to belong to a man involved in an "unwitnessed incident" at the pool on July 31. 

RELATED: Elementary School Principal Plunges To His Death At Disneyland After Being Charged With Battery, Child Endangerment

The National Park Service announced in November that DNA had determined the foot belonged to Ro, according to L.A. news station KTLA.

One of the missing man's family members reportedly gave detectives a DNA sample and, according to testing done by the Wyoming State Laboratory, the DNA from the foot showed a very strong association to the family DNA, with the chances of error greater than one in 15 million.

Investigators also discovered that Ro had stayed an hour's drive north of the basin at The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on July 30.

No other remains were found after drone and searches on foot, according to the report, but "fatty tissues" floating in the pool were reportedly sampled by investigators. 

Yellowstone officials didn't immediately return an email on Thursday asking about further developments in the case. Park officials said earlier that they did not suspect foul play in Ro's death. 

"Based on a lack of evidence, the circumstances surrounding the death of Ro remain unknown," a statement released by the park read.

"This investigation has concluded, and the park has no additional information to share."

Located west of the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, Abyss Pool is one of Yellowstone's deepest at 53 feet deep and the temperature is about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, park officials said.

According to the National Park Service, 22 people have died from burns after falling into hot springs since Yellowstone was established in 1872, although it is not clear if that tally includes this most recent death.

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