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  • Writer's pictureSteve McAtee

October 21, 2014

Updated: May 6, 2020

First, our family wants to reiterate our appreciation for the incredible care and love that you have shown us during this difficult time. Without you, we would’ve fallen flat on our face weeks ago. With you, we continue the search, and we remain hopeful that Jack is going to eventually emerge and come back onto the grid.

Today marks the 32nd day since Jack’s disappearance from Frisco, Colorado, on September 19. His missing status remains unchanged.

In my journeys throughout Colorado and Utah, I reread Jack’s favorite book, “Into the Wild,” wanting to rediscover the thought process of Christopher McCandless, the central character in the book, when he decided to vanish into the wilderness. Truth is, Jack and McCandless share many similar character traits. The difference is that Jack comes from an exceptionally close family and has always remained very tight with all of us.

The myriad of stories that have come as a result of this investigation from Jack’s many friends who knew him well in Breckenridge substantiate something we’ve always known: Jack, like McCandless, has incredible character. One key difference is that Jack has a very confident view of life through the eyes of Christ. Only this can explain the incredible antic adventures Jack embarked on while living in Breckenridge. Things like climbing Mount Baldy near Breckenridge in the middle of a horrific snowstorm at midnight on skis with climbing skins with another adventurous friend and then skiing down in the darkness through the deep powder. Things like swinging through the Corona Arch in Moab, Utah, on a bungee cord that Jack himself tied to the top of the arch. I will never forget standing on the runway of the Spirit of St. Louis Airport watching Jack fly solo at age 16. Later that year, Jack joined a group of pilots, including my brother Tucker, and spent 18 days flying throughout Alaska in formation with a group of military pilots. Having done this myself numerous times, I can only express that the wonder of flying low and fast over the glaciers in and around mountains as spectacular as Mount McKinley was fuel for Jack’s soul.

But beyond that, Jack’s fearlessness stems, I think in large part, from what he knows about his destiny in terms of heaven. With each unspeakable adventure, it’s almost as if he was giving God an open invitation to invite him there sooner than later.

Jack’s landlord called me to tell me that whenever it was extremely cold and Jack would find someone on the streets there who was really down on their luck, he would bring them back to the apartment and let them sleep in the loft. Jack, at times on his days off, would sometimes go down to Denver with several close friends from his church and serve food in shelters there. This is Jack’s heart.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, quite frankly, because many of you have reached out to me and have wanted to know more about Jack. If you have followed the story, you know that we have been very purposeful in our search for Jack, utilizing the website The website has had almost 15,000 hits and is approaching 2,000 Facebook shares. People are very aware of this. However, Jack, if he’s still alive, is off the grid here.

What I would like to do now is to ask you to direct a link to this website to anyone you know who lives in a small town in Colorado. Truth is, there are many places where one can just go off the grid here in the state. And I pray that is what the case is now with Jack. And there is a subculture of people here that just lives out in the wilderness area. There are many shelters, for example, in areas that are very far away from the major cities. Shelters that just open themselves up to people who are wanting to vanish into anonymity. So this is our hope – that even though Jack left Frisco on that day with $64 in his pocket, he managed to find a place where people will be willing to protect him from outside contact. These circles of people are very difficult to reach, since indeed they are off the grid. In many cases, they have no telephone, no Internet, no TV, no outside communication with the world.

I have become very proficient in a short period of time at sizing up small towns and figuring out who is the right person to speak with. I have found that the local libraries are an excellent source of people who are willing to make the link available on their webpages and ask others to do the same. But if we can get this link onto Facebook pages in small towns across Colorado and eastern Utah, asking each person you may know there to post it on their Facebook page and request that their friends post it on their Facebook pages, this could be very helpful at this point in time.

Hunting season here in Colorado remains in effect until approximately December 1. We feel relatively confident that most hunters by now are aware of Jack. So far, we have had no leads from hunters. In any event, this is good news, because it leads us to think that he is in Colorado off the grid, protected, perhaps, in a shelter somewhere.

So Jack, this is for you should you be reading this. We, all of us, want you to know how much you mean to each of us. We love you. We admire your faith. And we want you to know that you should not feel bad about giving us a call. It’s time now to come home. We can start over. You are an incredible human being with incredible talents and an incredible heart for God. Your story and life are a light to many. As you may have forgotten, God has a great plan for you. Love, Dad.

And to our dear friends, the countless miles of shockingly bright yellow aspen stands are so evident in my mind. As I drive through them, I think of all the wonderful people who have been so helpful during this time. Thank you. In the not-too-distant future, I will be returning to St. Louis to resume my responsibilities at work. We will continue to use the website creatively to help us in our search for Jack. Many friends have been made along the way, and many remain vigilant. All we can say is thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your prayers, love, and support.

And even though at times it’s easy to look at life through shrouds of darkness while going through this, in the end, the reality is that we know that Jack’s fate is sealed. This is the peace that we speak of that we know and that we feel because of you and because of Him. And, quite frankly, because of what happened at Calvary.

With much love,

The McAtee Family

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