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Theodore Kampf crime scene (aerial)

A 61m aerial view overlooking the North Klondike River by a locality known as North Fork Dam east of Dawson City, Yukon.  This case involves the disappearance of Theodore Kampf, whose remains & identification decades later would open up a complex cold case.  I am highly certain this is the scene of where Theodore Kampf's remains were found based off a posted black & white photo provided by the RCMP - I have marked by a red "x" by the site of the crime however a lot has changed in the span of four decades.  The current road ends at the river across the way, however a former bridge once crossed & the road looped around, but the bridge has long washed away.  By the "x" there was a former two-track road leading to a secluded campsite w/ river beach access though everything has faded & grown in.  The river has also changed course, eating away towards this direction to where the banks are practically next to the old faded roadbed.  More about the case below:


On July 6, 1981, Theodore Frederick Kampf (46) left his Oaklyn, NJ residence for a long drive to Vancouver, BC to visit a friend he met who owned land in Dawson City, Yukon.  He was driving his recently purchased 1980 brick-brown Chevrolet pickup truck, mounted with a camper shell & had converted $5,000 into traveler's checks. It was the last time he was seen by his parents. His friend was a landowner in Dawson City.

Theodore Kampf, known as Teddy, was the son of Theodore Sr. and Mary Kampf, who had lived in Oaklyn for 20 years. Teddy was an ex-serviceman who worked for several major electronics firms in the years before he went missing. He was described as a "longtime worker with Bell Telephone." Recent (2021) RCMP investigators speculated that Teddy "was in between jobs, and this was part of a bigger vacation... He may have wanted to do a couple things on this trip, [and] coming up here was one of them. He seemed like he was on an adventure, I suppose.” His parents described him as "a bit of an egghead" and someone who "never thought people were bad."

His family received correspondence from him until July 11, five days after he departed. On July 13, he called his parents and said he was in Mount Vernon, Washington and going to cross the border into Canada. This was the last time anyone heard from him. At first, his parents were not concerned due to an ongoing Canadian postal strike during the summer.

Unbeknownst to Teddy's parents at the time, soon after some of Teddy’s traveler’s checks were cashed at a British Columbia bank. The checks had forged signatures, though the bank tellers who cashed the forged travelers' checks did not question the signatures and none could recall the person who presented the checks. A camera used to photograph customers at the bank was broken on the day before the person came in.

On July 27, Teddy’s truck was involved in a fender bender in Boise, Idaho. The driver identified himself as Teddy. The other driver, Christine Christenson, seeking insurance information, wrote Kampf's parents to say she'd been involved in a traffic accident with their son. When Teddy's parents phoned her, she provided a physical description of the truck driver - a tall, thin man in his 20s. Teddy was in his 40s and this obviously did not match his description.

In August, also unbeknownst to Teddy's parents, more of the traveler’s checks were cashed in North and South Dakota by someone other than Teddy.

In October, the family alerted the police who opened up an investigation on October 7. The police then found out about the use of forged checks as mentioned above. The FBI, who did not routinely work on missing persons cases, stepped in when the presence of the forged checks were known. "We're not worried about the damn checks," Teddy's father complained. The Canadian authorities also stepped in, as the checks cashed in BC were indication that Teddy made it to Canada.

On October 29, Teddy's truck was found in a ravine at Granite Ghost Town State Park outside Phillipsburg, Montana by two hunters who later winched it out, three months after Teddy initially disappeared.  They were using it as a DPW vehicle.  The Montana authorities only reported it to Oaklyn police on February 22, 1982. By then, the truck had been handled by so many people it was useless as evidence.

Both Christine Christenson and the friend that Teddy was supposed to visit was questioned but there were no notable information presented in the media.

Meanwhile in the far north of Yukon, Canadian authorities had their own case of an unknown individual whose remains were found on May 21, 1983 by a family collecting firewood.  They had discovered "the remains of a man with hairy legs... buried several metres from a road by woodland brush". The body, then nicknamed "Dawson City John Doe", was found buried at this location by what was known as the North Fork Dam and Dempster Highway, 40 km east of Dawson City, Yukon. Though partially destroyed by animals, the remains were buried in “an apparent attempt to conceal” the remains.  Found alongside was a camper stove & hemmed jeans of American manufacture.  Authorities did not disclose a cause of death. The case of this "Dawson City John Doe" was identified as a homicide.


Of course the two cases in both countries were related.  What finally connected investigators on both sides of the border was DNA evidence, which wasn’t first used in a criminal case in the United States until 1987, and until 1989 in Canada.


Investigators in Oaklyn had been trying to confirm Kampf’s identity through dental records, only to discover that Canada didn’t use the same charting that America does.


When forensic DNA technology became more widely available, however, Jones began working with Kampf’s surviving relatives, including cousins on both his mother’s and father’s sides of the family, to collect an ancestral sample that could be run against data in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).


Meanwhile, Canada had established a National DNA Data bank (NDDB) under the management of the RCMP in 2000, but DNA profiles of missing people weren’t entered into it until 2018. The Yukon RCMP historical case unit was established a year later, but connecting the information in the Canadian and American systems proved to be an inter-jurisdictional challenge that took even more time to resolve.  Yet finally in February 2021, Theodore Kampf's remains were positively identified as the Dawson City John Doe via genetic geneology of relatives.  Family members & friends would be informed of the news on September 13, 2021 after 40 years.

Authorities in Canada believe Teddy was killed shortly after arriving in Dawson City in July 1981. Investigators believe the person who drove Teddy ’s truck and left it in Montana has a connection to Montana, and possibly to mining. RCMP investigators said the Dawson City area is known for gold deposits and mining in the early 1980s, and the area Teddy’s truck was found is also known for mining. RCMP investigators are looking for information on anyone from Montana or the Granite County area who may have gone to Dawson City, possibly to mine in the Yukon or on the way to Alaska. They believe that it was the work of “a number of people.” They also noted that “In 1983, gold prices were quite high... There were numerous foreigners who’ve come up through [Dawson City]."

Teddy's father died in 1995. Mary died in 2002. Her obituary wrote that she was the mother of the "late" Theodore Jr., it appeared that she (rightfully) presumed Teddy was deceased, before her death.  Teddy's killer remains at large today & investigation remains open.



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Copyright: William L
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 18800x9400
Taken: 22/07/2023
Uploaded: 22/07/2023


Tags: theodore kampf; dempster highway; north fork; north klondike river; dam; yukon territory; woods; aerial; unsolved; unknown; murder; homicide; crime scene; cold case; dawson city; john doe; solved; missing; disappeared
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