‘Coy­otes’ play into mys­tery of miss­ing man

But mother, Ta­maqua po­lice dif­fer on what his last words meant as they hope to find clue.

The Morning Call (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Frank Warner

Just be­fore Jesse Far­ber went miss­ing three years ago near Ta­maqua, po­lice say, he made a fran­tic phone call to his girl­friend and told her that coy­otes had chased him up a tree.

The 29-year-old’s re­port of coy­otes still shapes the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his dis­ap­pear­ance, and a new search of the Schuylkill County coal hills may soon help clar­ify his cryp­tic words.

Po­lice say they hope the planned large-scale ex­am­i­na­tion of the moun­tain chasms and cliffs 4 or 5 miles west of

Ta­maqua will be­gin to un­ravel the Jesse Far­ber mys­tery. The hunt by the Wolf­Pack Search and Re­cov­ery Team of Ore­field, and other searchers, may hap­pen in De­cem­ber or Jan­uary.

Po­lice say Far­ber’s fate prob­a­bly in­volves coy­otes — the wild an­i­mals, whether real or imag­ined. How­ever, the Ta­maqua man’s mother be­lieves he fell into the hands of Coy­otes, a real or imag­ined lo­cal drug gang.

Nei­ther po­lice nor Far­ber’s mother, Norma Fritz of West Ch­ester, have much hope he’s alive.

Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors say it’s pos­si­ble that Far­ber imag­ined he saw coy­otes in a drug-in­duced hal­lu­ci­na­tion Aug. 11, 2015, be­fore he ran and fell into one of hun­dreds of deep coal pits on the moun­tain.

“Our the­ory is that he was un­der the in­flu­ence, think­ing coy­otes were chas­ing him, and he comes down from the tree, and he runs west, and he runs by all these strip­ping holes,” Ta­maqua po­lice Chief Henry Woods said.

But Fritz said po­lice may be look­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion. She said po­lice should closely ex­am­ine an­other the­ory: that her son was killed by a gang called the Coy­otes.

“There’s been talk about a lit­tle drug gang, and lots of ru­mors that they killed him, that it wasn’t an­i­mals chas­ing him, it was a gang, the Coy­otes,” she said. “There’s ru­mors that he was shot and put through a wood chip­per. That’s the most hor­ren­dous ru­mor.”

Woods said po­lice have heard the gang ru­mors, but they’ve found noth­ing to back them up. He said the most im­por­tant items in ev­i­dence — Far­ber’s sweat­pants and a bag con­tain­ing per­sonal items — in­di­cate that Far­ber re­ally did climb a tree near the mines the night he van­ished. Far­ber’s grand­par­ents, who went out to look.

“While they were stand­ing there, the grand­mother saw the bag tied up in the tree,” Woods said. “It was a lit­tle higher up the tree from where the sweat­pants were.

“They got the bag down and they were able to iden­tify it,” he said. “There was a pin in the bag, and it was a pin that the grand­fa­ther gave to Jesse.”

Find­ing the tree was sig­nif­i­cant, Woods said, be­cause it helped po­lice re­con­struct Far­ber’s move­ments of Aug. 11, 2015.

A man re­ported that at 7:20 that night he saw Far­ber walk­ing out of Ta­maqua, head­ing south on the Scurves on Hunter Street that lead to a trail that goes west into the coal fields, Woods said. Far­ber phoned his girl­friend, Rachel Car­roll, at 9:09 that night, the chief said.

The hour and 49 min­utes be­tween the Hunter Street sight­ing and Far­ber’s phone call is about the length of time it takes to walk from Hunter Street to the coal field tree, Woods said.

“This kind of jibes with what he said to the girl­friend the night he dis­ap­peared,” he said.

If Far­ber pan­icked and ran mo­ments later, he added, he prob­a­bly plunged down a deep hole in the dark.

“The holes are all around the path,” Woods said. “There’s no way you could run through there with­out fall­ing into one of those holes, fall­ing maybe 15 to 20 feet. In other spots, you could fall a con­sid­er­able dis­tance, hit a ledge and fall even farther. We re­cently found one hole that’s at least 140 feet deep.”

The chief noted that im­me­di­ately af­ter Far­ber was re­ported miss­ing, emer­gency work­ers went to the moun­tain just west of Ta­maqua High School be­cause that’s where he told his girl­friend he was. A cell­phone ping also in­di­cated that Far­ber’s call came from west of Ta­maqua, Woods said. But the search found no one.

“They went up be­hind the high school, yelling for him, and they didn’t hear any­thing,” Woods said. “Ac­tu­ally, they were nowhere close to where the bag was found in the tree. It was miles away.”

The tree was near the bor­der of Walker and Schuylkill town­ships.

PHOTO COUR­TESY FAR­BER FAM­ILY

Jesse Far­ber of Ta­maqua dis­ap­peared Aug. 11, 2015, af­ter a call to his girl­friend to say he'd been chased up a tree by coy­otes.

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