American missing for 8 days found dead in Siberian mountains

Body of the missing American, Colin Madsen, was discovered eight days after he went missing.
Body of the missing American Colin Madsen was discovered eight days after he went missing. Photo: Courtesy of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs

American college student Colin Madsen, who mysteriously disappeared two hours before he and friends were to climb the 7,913-foot Peak of Love in Siberia, was found dead in the snow eight days after going missing, The Siberian Times, ABC News and the Daily Mail reported Monday.

The body of Madsen, 25, was discovered about a mile from the tourist resort guesthouse in Arshan village at the foot of the Sayan Mountains in the Buryatia region of eastern Siberia.

Madsen inexplicably left the guesthouse on March 27 at around 5 a.m. wearing a T-shirt and pants but no jacket, despite freezing temperatures. Madsen, a native of Jefferson City, Missouri, who was studying linguistics at a university in Irkutsk, was on vacation with a fellow American and two Russians.

When the friends woke up that morning, they discovered Madsen missing with all his equipment still laid out.

From ABC News:

A number of Madsen's friends have told ABC News that it was uncharacteristic of him to leave without warning in the middle of the night or without appropriate clothing. The friends traveling with him have told police Madsen had been behaving normally before he disappeared and that he was excited for the day's hike. Police have said the group had not quarreled in the day before Madsen left.

Madsen's body had no visible signs of injuries and there was no indication that he had been robbed since his wallet and ID documents remained untouched on his body.

Though investigators did not comment on the cause of death, which is being investigated, the Daily Mail reported "the main version examined by Russian investigators is that he died from cold during a night-time walk."

A report from local Arigus TV suggested some members of the group used drugs the day before Madsen disappeared. ABC News and other outlets reported that police are testing Madsen's body for traces of narcotics and other substances.

Madsen's mother, Dana, had traveled to eastern Siberia to join in the massive search for her son, and had offered a $1,500 reward for information about his whereabouts. The Siberian Times reported that his traveling companions had earlier been questioned using polygraph.

"We extend our deepest condolences to his loved ones," a statement by the U.S. State Department said, according to NBC News. "The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is providing consular assistance. Out of respect for Mr. Madsen's family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.‎"