TAOS – On the evening of Wednesday, June 14, New Mexico State Police officers were contacted by Mitzi Wallace of Clifton, Colo., who wanted to report her husband was missing. She stated her husband, Paris Shane Wallace, 52, had gone hiking in the Espanola/Taos area. Her last contact with him was around 11:30 a.m. the day prior, June 13. She stated she expected him to be home June 14.
Mitzi Wallace stated that her husband had checked into The Roadway Inn in Espanola. She had called the hotel asking if they could check his room to see if there was any sign of him. Hotel personnel checked his room where they found all of his personal belongings still in the room. Hotel personnel also informed her that her husband and his vehicle were not there. She stated that her husband had planned the trip to search for “Fenn’s treasure” and she believed he had adequate food and clothing.
Mitzi Wallace provided New Mexico State Police with coordinates from her husbande’s cell phone from her last contact with him. From those coordinates, officers determined the location to be in the vicinity of Taos County Road 110 near N.M. 68.
State Police officers coordinated with New Mexico Game and Fish officers and searched throughout the night and following day for any signs of Mr. Wallace or his vehicle. Officers searched the forest roads and county roads and popular hiking trails but found no sign of the vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe.
Also that evening, New Mexico State Police officers went to the Roadway Inn in Espanola and obtained permission to enter the room Wallace had occupied in search of any sign of him. Officers located a laptop and were able to obtain additional GPS coordinates of possible locations where he may have been. The coordinates obtained from his laptop lead to the same general area officers were searching. The terrain in the area in which officers were searching is rugged with steep inclines, rocky ledges and dense vegetation.
Thursday, June 15, officers continued searching for any sign of his vehicle. Around 3 p.m., a call came to dispatch stating a silver Tahoe had been spotted parked on a dirt road off of SR 570 around mile marker six, near the Taos Junction Bridge. Officers went to that location and were able to confirm the vehicle was Wallace’s. The Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator was contacted and a SAR mission initiated.
Officers then traveled to the nearest hiking trail by Wallace’s vehicle and proceeded down to the edge of the Rio Grande River. Along the river, officers observed two red ropes tied together and also tied against a large rock. Officers obtained permission to open Wallace’s vehicle and observed inside the vehicle was a receipt for two ropes and other items. The items had been purchased at 3:16 p.m. June 13. This receipt led officers to believe the ropes likely had belonged to and were used by Wallace. Shortly thereafter, SAR members arrived and began searching along the river and the immediate area until dark, at which time the mission was suspended until the following morning.
June 16, the SAR mission continued at dawn. The mission continued for two days until June 18, when, around 1 p.m., two rafters located a body in the Rio Grande River. The body was located approximately two miles south of Pilar, near N.M. 68 around mile marker 27, approximately seven miles from where Wallace was last believed to have been. Officers believe the recovered body to be Mr. Paris Wallace. The body was taken to the Office of the Medical Investigator where positive identification is still pending.
During the course of the Search and Rescue mission, the New Mexico State Police utilized extensive resources including NMSP air support, the NMSP Dive Team, numerous officers, canine teams, and numerous volunteer SAR personnel.