Body of GJ man found with gunshot wound

MATTHEW THOMAS BUSKER: Business owner, student reported missing June 17

The body of a Grand Junction man reported missing June 17 was found Sunday afternoon in a San Miguel County mine shaft.

Matthew Thomas Busker, 33, was found 200 feet inside a mine shaft in the Black Bear Basin east of Telluride, according to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department, and the cause of death seems to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

About noon Sunday, a Montrose-area man called the Sheriff’s Department to report finding a body in the shaft. The man said he’d traveled to the area after seeing a website ( created to aid in the search for Busker, officials reported. The San Miguel County sheriff and coroner responded to the scene, as did San Miguel County deputies and a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer, and they positively identified the body as that of Busker.

A county road crew found Busker’s green, 1977 International Scout at 11:48 a.m. Tuesday on Black Bear Pass Road in San Miguel County, about two miles from where his body was found, according to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department. That location is at about 12,000 feet. According to, a site maintained by Busker’s brother-in-law, the keys were in the ignition, as well as some camping gear, Busker’s iPad and his iPhone, which was plugged into the car.

Multiple law enforcement agencies searched for him in the two days following his Scout being found, a search that sometimes required climbing equipment because the terrain is so rough, but were unable to turn up any evidence. Authorities suspended their search Friday until new leads were discovered.

Tammy Bendetti, Busker’s friend and next-door neighbor, said Busker’s parents, sister and brother-in-law came to town early last week and participated in search efforts. She said her husband and Busker’s family members searched over the weekend in the rugged, high-altitude terrain near where his vehicle was found.

The detailed website offered maps and the latest information on search areas, which centered around Trico Peak. Friends and volunteers printed fliers, put a call out for search dogs, donated money and searched the area in and around Black Bear Basin. Busker was believed to have eaten at The Pub in Ouray before driving to Black Bear Basin, and friends and volunteers asked for information from people who’d been at the restaurant Saturday.

Busker was enthusiastic about the outdoors and martial arts. He was co-owner of Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio in Grand Junction and enrolled as an engineering student at Colorado Mesa University. He had a dog that he usually took with him on outdoors adventures, according to friends, but he left the dog behind this time. He was expected at a social gathering the evening of June 15, and when he didn’t show up then or the next day, his friends reported him missing June 17, Bendetti said.


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