Deputies Investigate if Woman ‘Staged’ 12-Day Disappearance in Zion National Park

by Jennifer Shea

Park rangers found Californian Holly Courtier twelve days after she disappeared in Utah’s Zion National Park. Now, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether her disappearance was a fraud. 

Missing in Zion National Park

The sheriff’s office is asking members of the public to send in “any credible information” about Courtier’s disappearance, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Tips should go to [email protected]

Courtier, 38, went missing on Oct. 6. She vanished until Oct. 18, when rangers followed up a tip from a park visitor and found her. She told family members she had hit her head on a tree. Courtier said she was too weak and dehydrated to call out for help.

Courtier’s daughter said Courtier had lost her job as a nanny due to the pandemic. In response, Courtier went on a cross-country road trip. It’s safe to say it hasn’t gone as planned.

Meanwhile, Courtier’s family set up a GoFundMe page. It raised almost $12,000 before Courtier’s sister cut donations off.  

An Ongoing Investigation

“Numerous tips have been received indicating the incident was possibly conceived and carried out as part of a plan to fraudulently generate money to a GoFundMe account for Courtier’s recovery,” police told the Salt Lake Tribune. They added that they have “no evidence to support the theory that the incident was committed intentionally as an effort to achieve financial gain.”

Courtier claims to have survived for nearly two weeks alone in the rugged terrain of Zion. But a local sheriff’s sergeant has questioned Courtier’s account. He told ABC4 News that Courtier was well enough to leave the park without an ambulance, despite hitting her head. He also noted that the river Courtier supposedly followed was full of cyanobacteria from a toxic algae bloom. If Courtier had tried the water, she would have become seriously ill.

So the Washington County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation is ongoing.

“We fully support the findings of the National Park Service investigation and believe their investigation into the incident was thorough and well executed,” the sheriff’s office told the Salt Lake Tribune.

However, the Park Service can’t investigate violations of Utah law. The sheriff’s office insists it has an “obligation” to investigate Courtier’s case.