Authorities in California say the human skeleton recovered from beneath California’s second-highest peak is possibly that of Giichi Matsumura, a Japanese American. Matsumura left for a trip from the infamous internment camp at Manzanar towards the end of World War II and got caught in a freak snowstorm, reports the LA Times. His body was discovered weeks later by a hiker who laid him to rest at the spot, covering him with boulders. The camp’s newspaper, the Manzanar Free Press, reported the story Sept. 8, 1945, on the front page. Matsumura left behind a wife, a daughter, three sons, a brother and his father, all living in the camp.
The story became rumor, a legend, and faded over time. Until a skeleton was discovered last month, 74 years later, by hikers in the area. Although not officially confirmed, the Inyo County sheriff’s office told the Associated Press it is investigating the possibility that a skeleton is Matsumura’s.
Matsumura was among about 10,000 Japanese Americans who ended up in Manzanar. During WWII, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were considered a risk to national security and herded into prison camps in remote locations.
The body was discovered Oct. 7 near a lake in the remote rock-filled bowl between the peaks of Mount Tyndall and Williamson.
The grisly discovery was made by climbers last week who saw what appeared to be a bone beneath boulders. Closer inspection firstly revealed a skull, and when they overturned some rocks they found the entire skeleton with just leather shoes and a belt.
“The average person who was hiking to Williamson wouldn’t have gone the route we went because we were a little bit lost, a little bit off course,” one of the hikers told The Associated Press. “So it made sense that nobody would have stumbled across the body.”