SANTA FE – A Pennsylvania man arrested for burglarizing Forrest Fenn’s New Mexico house told police he believed the famed art and antiquities collector’s treasure would be there, according to authorities.
Robert Miller of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, was arrested Friday and charged with residential burglary, breaking and entering and criminal damage to property after he used an ax to break into Fenn’s Old Santa Fe Trail home.
Online court records don’t list a defense attorney for Miller who could comment on the allegations.
Miller told a Santa Fe police officer that he flew there because he believed the treasure chest that Fenn says he’s stashed somewhere in the Rocky Mountain region, said to be filled with gold coins and other valuables worth more than $1 million, was at the house.
Fenn announced in a 2010 memoir that he had hidden the treasure and included a poem said to hold clues as to its whereabouts.
Miller said he needed the treasure to get out of a dire financial situation.
“Mr. Miller told me he and his wife only have $130 in their bank account, and he wanted to find the treasure to change his families (sic) financial future,” the criminal complaint against him said.
The 88-year-old Fenn said he hid his treasure as a way to tempt people to get into the wilderness and give them a chance to launch an old-fashioned expedition for riches.
Fenn said that while he had called 911 on three previous occasions when strange people were milling about outside his property and possibly trying to get in, it was the first instance when someone forcibly accessed his residence.
“I’ve said 100 times that the treasure is not on my property,” Fenn said. “It’s north of Santa Fe.”
Police were called to Fenn’s home for a burglary in progress around 5:30 p.m. Friday, according to the complaint. When an officer got there he saw Fenn, Miller and a woman holding a revolver. She was later identified as Fenn’s daughter.
At least four people have died searching for the treasure. Others have depleted life savings, spending thousands of dollars seeking the fortune.
Fenn, when asked on Monday if he would call off the hunt to deter such potential threats and diminish the chance for personal harm, repeatedly shook his head “no.” He said even if he wanted to, at his age he’s no longer in physical shape to retrieve the treasure.