The FBI of the NPS
December 30, 2018 6:42 PM   Subscribe

The 33 special agents assigned to the Investigative Services Branch handle the most complex crimes committed on NPS land. When a day hike in Rocky Mountain National Park ended in a grisly death, ISB veteran Beth Shott hit the trail, where she began unraveling a harrowing case.
posted by Chrysostom (20 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
The 33 special agents assigned to the Investigative Services Branch handle the most complex crimes committed on NPS land.

Impossible to read this without hearing the Law & Order *dun dun*.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:45 PM on December 30, 2018 [28 favorites]

"When she became extremely stressed while working on a Teddy Grahams commercial, she decided it was time to make some drastic changes to her life."

That is an amazing sentence. This is also good: "The ISB sent the bear’s remains to the park’s wildlife lab in Oregon, hoping to discover clues about who’d poached it. The lab called back a few weeks later: The poacher you’re looking for is a mountain lion."
posted by feckless at 7:09 PM on December 30, 2018 [30 favorites]

And all the "X-Files" involve Bigfoot, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:20 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

The last sentence is really good too.
posted by M-x shell at 9:28 PM on December 30, 2018

Interesting article, thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:07 PM on December 30, 2018

The rest of this series is some great reading, although a lot of it is predictably very grim.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:11 PM on December 30, 2018 [10 favorites]

posted by bq at 11:30 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just about the perfect pack animal. Can carry a shit ton, and if you get attacked by anything coyote/bear/wolf they'll attack the crap out of it back. No one wants to fuck with a llama.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:35 PM on December 30, 2018 [14 favorites]

Don't throw water bottles.
posted by k8t at 12:14 AM on December 31, 2018 [8 favorites]

Whenever I hear FBI and NPS together, I think of Bijan Ghaisar who was killed by the Park Police in 2017. The actual FBI have supposedly been investigating ever since. Maybe they should get an ISB agent to investigate it instead.
posted by mattamatic at 4:02 AM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

While frontcountry criminals usually have the courtesy to break the law indoors, the ISB’s crime scenes may be at the bottom of a steep cliff or in the middle of a rushing river.

Huh. While "backcountry" feels like a totally normal part of my lexicon (though I'd probably have hyphenated it, as autocorrect thinks I should*), it never occurred to me that there might be a complementary term for places that are not backcountry.

*Autocorrect also thinks I should hyphenate "autocorrect," though, so what does it know.
posted by solotoro at 6:30 AM on December 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

I always stock my e-Reader with Outside articles when I'm traveling. They're really good.
posted by crush at 7:32 AM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Harold built a small fire and began texting family friends, according to The Black Widower, a 2017 book about the incident

Pro tip for aspiring true-crime writers: by all means acknowledge your sources, but try not to give away the identity of the murderer in the first 150 words of your article.
posted by verstegan at 7:55 AM on December 31, 2018 [9 favorites]

You probably know this, but Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon mystery series is set in Naional Parks. Anna is an NPS LEO, not ISB, but the mysteries are interesting. I thought of Anna when I originally read this article. I agree with crush--lots of interesting stuff in Outside. Like this
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 10:25 AM on December 31, 2018 [5 favorites]

Outside has been doing a lot of good reporting in recent years, and has made a conscious effort to be more inclusive in their stories and features as well. It's one reason I resubscribed last year after many years of only looking at the website. We do need to support the idea that women and people of color, and people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people, exist in the outdoors, and are athletes with just as much determination and grit as anyone else.

(That said, I could live with travel stories that focus less on the ridiculously expensive. Knowing that for $500/night I could sleep in an eco-lodge in Costa Rica doesn't do much for me...)
posted by suelac at 10:40 AM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Impossible to read this without hearing the Law & Order *dun dun*.

With as popular as North Woods Law was on Animal Planet (judging by the number of imitators that popped up on the same channel, anyway), I'm surprised there hasn't already been some fictional Law & Order: Backwoods or CSI: ISB spin-off already.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:04 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would obsessively watch a Nevada Barr-inspired tv show.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:24 PM on December 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

The rest of this series is some great reading

I just read What Happened to Eastern Airlines Flight 980? in that series. Some people including a reporter from Outside climb (in 2016) to recover an airliner which crashed in 1985 above La Paz, and apparently find the cockpit voice recorder and a spool of video tape amongst much debris coming out of a glacier. The article ends there, before jurisdiction over the CVR has been agreed between Bolivia (who can't read it, but have the rights to conduct the investigation) and the US FAA, who they took the tape back to.

Wikipedia clarifies what happened:
On 7 February 2017, the NTSB released a statement that what had been found was not the cockpit flight recorder, but instead the rack that had fixed it on to the plane, and a promising spool turned out to be ¾-inch U-Matic video tape that "when reviewed was found to contain an 18-minute recording of the Trial by Treehouse episode of the television series I Spy, dubbed in Spanish".
posted by ambrosen at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

hi mefi! It is me, the author :))) I always get a little extra thrill when I see something I wrote featured on here. thanks, as always, for reading. (And thanks for alerting me to the story of Bijan Ghaisar, which was not on my radar. I learn so much from this website!)
posted by attentionplease at 11:44 AM on January 2, 2019 [14 favorites]

The ISB is on Instagram @specialagent_nps. From @unethicaloutdoors:
Last week we spoke with a @nationalparkservice Social Media Specialist about ISB’s move to IG, and if you can tag and DM them to report posts displaying illegal activity. The answer: Yes. Yup. Do it. They aren’t too worried about you spamming their inbox (yet); however, use good judgement or message us first. They went on to say:

“[@specialagent_nps is] fine being involved with questions or being tagged to check out an incident by the public. They also welcome people to submit a ‘tip’ when necessary. Visitors should always know that they can contact a park directly, especially if they're on the ground or see something happening in real time. They can always reach out to the main accounts as well. It would be good for them to know that, even if they might not receive a response back, we do monitor comments and messages closely and will usually forward them on to an appropriate contact or office for response.”
posted by peeedro at 7:00 PM on January 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

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