Falling Rocks
We purchase meteorite collections and meteorites for sale

I hate to bother the meteorite community with this, and please just ignore this page if you'd prefer to avoid drama. But the recent allegations made by a fellow list member here, buried in a "trip report" amongst several photos as long caption on his website, unfortunately require some response. Based on my experience with the person I will respond to below, I have little doubt that what I say will be denied or disputed. And there are far too many points and details within (and versions of, for that matter) his story that differ from what we've heard or directly know to be true that it would be impossible to address all of that here. That said, I'm sure it will be too long anyway and I have no plan to say anything publicly about it further...

Robert and I arrived in Battle Mountain, Nevada, last week one day after a well-known meteorite hunter from the southwest had arrived and started a search to confirm Marc Fries' speculation that a meteorite had fallen there. We stopped to say hello to him and someone we assume is a new hunting partner of his, and he soon asked if he and I could put the problems with a meteorite hunt in Georgia over three years ago behind us. I told him I'd done that long ago, and that the only problems I'd had with it was his ongoing insistence that I had been involved with some sort of conspiracy theory to get him into trouble there, which I had not been in any way, shape or form - with the possible exception that a reward I posted for the recovery of that meteorite did come into play in his court proceedings as a possible motive, contrasting somewhat from his then-expressed "love of the hobby" and desire to simply "hold something in his hand that fell from the sky."

The next day we ran into each other again, investigating one of Marc's targets on the mountain. This time he launched into an attack on a fellow list member for having allegedly divulged the location of a strewn field he found somewhere else in Nevada. I asked the hunter who it was that had invited this fellow list member there in the first place, and he sheepishly admitted that of course he had done so. I told him that I didn't want to hear about all of his troubles with other people but that incident, if true, was no different than what transpired in Georgia - that he and he alone is responsible for the consequences of his own actions. He asked one more time if I had anything to do with his arrest and courtroom outcome in Georgia, I said no, we shook hands, and that seemed to be the end of it.

I left the mountain last Friday to spend the weekend with my daughter, and Robert stayed on the hunt. Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, I got a call from Robert to say that Bob and Moni had just recovered the first stone from the fall - a remarkable feat, given the vast amount of relatively good hunting ground that six of us had covered that week. Then late Saturday, Robert met the miners who witnessed the fireball, spent considerable time that evening showing them specifically what to look for (since we then knew, after having previously suspected an iron for several reasons), etc. He also heard them tell of having been approached by this hunter from the southwest days prior, that he said he would pay them "X-thousand f---ing dollars if they could find a piece of that f---ing meteorite," and that he had rubbed them the wrong way enough that they became very uncomfortable with him - and therefore made up the story about the witnesses going back home to Colorado.

Sunday around lunchtime in Atlanta, I got a call from Robert. He was so excited he could hardly say what he'd called to tell me. That morning he got a knock on his door from one of the miners who had witnessed the fall. The miner proudly displayed the 954-gram stone he'd found that night (with a flashlight, no less) based on the description Robert had given him just a few hours before. They'd had breakfast together, agreed on a price, and Robert had bought the stone. At Robert's encouragement, I decided to fly back out that night and put in another couple of days on the ground with him.

The next day, Monday, the hunter from the southwest drove up to Robert on his ATV to ask if he had bought the stone (an odd question for someone who claimed to have a deal on the stone to ask). Robert was surprised he'd already heard about it but confirmed that he had acquired the meteorite. The other hunter said nothing whatsoever about having had any agreement to buy the stone but went on to say he knew where the stone was found and asked Robert if he also knew. Robert said he did but didn't elaborate. The other hunter insisted that Robert share what he knew to see if they had the same information - certainly not information that Robert necessarily had any obligation to share with a competitive hunter. Robert replied, "I have seen the impact pit and know exactly where it fell. If you want me to say anything, tell me what you have heard first."

The other hunter didn't like this but eventually pointed to a ridge as the location he'd been given by the finder - and noted that he had traded a handgun to the finder in exchange for the location, written up a bill of sale with its serial number, etc. Given previous experience with this other hunter, Robert was reluctant to tell him that the stone was actually found on the opposite side of the valley - but he did so anyway. The other hunter immediately became furious, repeatedly saying "that mother f----- lied to me!" He would soon drive off on his ATV, load it up on the trailer on the back of his red pickup truck, and leave the mountain. I don't know what the laws in Nevada are with respect to the sale or trade of a firearm to a felon, but it was nonetheless a bit surprising to learn of this transaction involving a written bill of sale of a gun to a complete stranger.

While Robert and the other hunter were discussing all of this, a member of the mining team stopped by to tell them that meteorite hunters needed to stay off of their square-mile claim while drilling operations were underway, for insurance reasons. He pointed to Robert and said, "You're Robert, right?" Robert said yes, and the member of the mining team said he had heard Robert was a very nice guy. Then he went on to say that he heard from some of the miners that another meteorite hunter in a red vehicle was an "---hole," but neither Robert or the other hunter offered any speculation as to who that might have been. Both Robert and this other hunter agreed to stay off the claim as requested.

After another unsuccessful day of hunting the mountain, Robert and I sat down for dinner in a local restaurant. The hunter from the southwest must have seen us walk in from another dining room in the restaurant and soon came over to enthusiastically share some news with us. He boasted that he had left the mountain earlier to get his gun back from the miner he'd exchanged it with, that he had called a friend in law enforcement in another Nevada city who knew the head of the local sheriff's department, and that it turned out the miner was a felony child molester - and had been arrested for possession of a firearm and failure to report his felon status locally and had bail set at $250,000. As it turned out, the miner apparently does have a felony on his record for an incident that occurred in high school where he was caught at school in a compromising position with a schoolmate, who was reportedly the mayor's daughter. He was arrested, and his bail was posted at $25,000.

The hunter left our table, and Robert was immediately in shock that this hunter had taken the steps he said he had over "just a $350 gun," as the hunter put it to him on the mountain. Robert was particularly stunned since the hunter was acting on information that only Robert had given him, as nothing more than a reluctant courtesy, in private.

I walked to the other room to ask this other hunter why, given the meteorite community's vast, previous experience with locals becoming sensitive over meteorite falls, he did what he said he did - not only potentially making locals hypersensitive to meteorite hunters in the community, but also fully compromising Robert. He said he had a deal with the miner to buy the stone and that the gun was thrown in "to sweeten the deal." I asked why he had given the miner the gun if he didn't have the stone, but he had no answer. I then told him, in front of one of his hunting friends who was at the table, that Robert clearly said he'd heard earlier that day on the mountain, directly from this hunter, that the gun was given in exchange for the location of the stone's recovery and eyewitness account - that he said nothing whatsoever to Robert about it having been part of an agreement to buy the stone. He appeared to be very uncomfortable with my sharing this different version of his story in front of another person and asked me to take the conversation outside, but I saw no need to do that as it was almost over. He then said that the gun was a "piece of s---," no big deal, and that he had "dozens" more like it. I asked, "In that event, why did you pull a card with friends in law enforcement and go after it like you did?" He said, "Dave, he pissed me off." There was also some discussion about the 200-gram stone this hunter mentioned on his website, but Robert and I have heard nothing else of such a stone's existence.

Lastly, I told him that I was very aware of the tight window between the stone's recovery and sale and that there was no time for him to have had a legitimate agreement to buy the stone (even though I conceded that he may well have been lied to after the fact). He was again uncomfortable that I offered a conflicting version of his story in front of someone else, and with hindsight perhaps he found that "aggressive" in some way - although I was never anything more than direct and blunt and never made any physical threats to him whatsoever, as he has stated. He said that none of this was my business, and rightly so. I just reiterated that it was disappointing he would do something that might shine a negative light on meteorite hunters with the local community (he said he knew nothing of the miner's felony record when he went to get his gun back, so the idea that this was some sort of community service didn't seem to hold water), that I was shocked he would compromise Robert in the way that he did, and that I no longer wanted to speak with or see him whatsoever. I asked that we drop it and left his table.

He followed me to the middle of that dining room, where a local deputy and police officer were dining. He was apparently upset about the information I had shared in front of his friend, called me a "f------ liar" and a "f------ a--hole" and went on to say that everything I had just said was "bull----." I again made no physical threat (or any threat at all) to him but did make it clear that I'd like for him to let the conversation go and stop with the name calling. I again expressed that I didn't want to speak with or see him and left to the other dining room to sit back down with Robert.

Seconds after I sat down with Robert, this hunter followed me into the room to our table to try and continue the conversation. I immediately asked this hunter to leave, and his following me to our table evidently prompted the intervention of the deputy and police officer, as they followed him into the room to observe. The hunter refused to leave and kept trying to extend the conversation, and at that point the deputy, police officer, and another officer who was evidently right outside the front door when this transpired, intervened out of what appeared to be simply reasonable precaution. The hunter tried to make his case with the law enforcement officers and was promptly told to sit down at another table and stop talking. They asked for both of our IDs, asked what the disagreement was about (we explained it was about the gun transaction and subsequent happenings), asked if there was a history of disagreement between us (I acknowledged that there was, explained the Georgia matter, and while it obviously wasn't relevant at the time the officer understood that it was indeed the answer to his question), and asked if there was going to be any further trouble. The hunter told them that I had threatened to "come after him on the mountain," which I never did, and the officers seemed to have no trouble accepting that. The officers listened to our responses and simply told us that if either caused any trouble for the other on the mountain that either of us could make a citizen's arrest, notify them, etc. We both agreed with that, and in spite of what unnecessarily became a slightly embarrassing situation, I was quite glad for it.

Both this southwestern hunter and I have had a role in this, and for my part I regret having spoken with him at all - and surely aim not to do so ever again. I should have known better from direct, personal experience. And during a brief conversation in Coloma earlier this year between Robert, myself and two of this hunter's partners from several previous expeditions, they brought up his name and said they couldn't work with him anymore because he "is dishonest" and "can't be trusted," and in light of those words from close partners it comes as no surprise that this hunter's story has changed so many times already. I have no ill will for him and wish him only the best, and I'm sure he will eventually recover material at Battle Mountain because he is a tenacious meteorite hunter.

Apologies again for all of the above, but there are certain allegations that cannot be left unaddressed. I'd have sent this sooner, but business in Colorado had me tied up until this weekend...

All the best,

< Return to previous page

< Previous Page

<< Back to top