Largo family questions safety of treasure hunt, seeks answers

Eric Ashby (Family photo)
Eric Ashby (Family photo)

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area native may be the latest victim of a controversial treasure hunt.

Eric Ashby vanished in Colorado as he and others tried to find a chest worth $2 million.

The treasure was hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains in 2010 by New Mexico antiques dealer, Forrest Fenn. The only clue to its whereabouts is a poem.

Eric Ashby and three friends drew up a contract and set out to find it.

“There’s just so many holes into the story, I just don’t know what to believe,” said a teary Lisa Albritton, Ashby’s sister.

She and other family members even traveled to the Arkansas River, where Ashby was last seen, seeking answers.

“This has nothing to do with this treasure, for me personally. I just want answers for my brother. I need to know what happened that day. I need justice for my brother,” said Albritton.

RELATED: Facebook group “Find Eric Ashby”

Ashby’s family questions why others on the treasure hunt failed to call for help after Ashby went under.

“Why does it take friends a week and a half, or even a week, or even a day to contact police?” asked Ashby’s cousin, Shane Modugno.

Law enforcement recovered a body in the area. DNA testing is underway to confirm the victim’s identity.

Alrbritton thinks the treasure hunt is too dangerous.

“I don’t care if it’s real or not at this point. Either [way], I just think he needs to pull the treasure. End it. My brother will be the fifth person, if that’s the case,” she said.

RELATED: GoFundMe, Eric’s Celebration of Life

Albritton suspects foul play, including the possibility Ashby found the treasure and others with him went back on their word to split it up.

“We just want to have the truth for Eric. Ya know, it’s not really, I could care less about Forrest Fenn or his treasure,” said Modugno.

Eric Ashby (Family photo)

Ashby’s family is not confident in law enforcement.

“I pray to God that I find him alive,” said Albritton.

The man who supposedly hid the treasure is expressing his sorrow for Ashby’s disappearance.

He reminds everybody that he was 80 when he hid it and did not enter rapids to do so.

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