Recent News Articles

Can You Find the Name and Family of a Nameless Hiker the Internet Can’t Identify?

3 Nov 2020 9:30 AM | Anonymous

The man on the hiking trail went by “Mostly Harmless." He was friendly and said he worked in tech. After he died in his tent, no one could figure out who he was.

In April, 2017, a man started hiking in a state park just north of New York City. He then headed south on the Appalachian Trail and then continued on a series of hiking trails in Florida. He seemed pleasant, talked with many people he met along the trails, but apparently never told anyone his true name or even his origins. He became known as “Mostly Harmless,” a reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

He said he didn't have a cell phone or any other high-tech device even though he told some people he had worked in the tech industry and he wanted to detox from digital life. He didn't carry credit cards but always seemed to have a lot of cash in his pocket.

On July 23, 2018, two hikers in Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve found “Mostly Harmless” dead in his tent. Investigators were unable to understand how or why he died. There were no indications of foul play, an autopsy was unable to determine his cause of death. He had more than $3,500 cash in the tent. He had food nearby, but he was very slender, weighing just 83 pounds on a 5'8" frame. He had no tattoos or other unusual markings. His fingerprints didn’t match those of anyone else on file. His DNA didn’t match any in the Department of Justice’s missing person database or in CODIS, the national DNA database run by the FBI.

The case of identifying the mysterious man soon spread like wildfire on the internet. Even GEDMatch, a database of DNA samples that people have submitted voluntarily, was consulted but there was no close relative found of “Mostly Harmless.”

This sounds to me like a good challenge for genealogists. We are all experienced searchers looking for unknown people. Usually, we search for our unknown ancestors but the same skills often can be used to find other unknown individuals as well.


You can read much more about “Mostly Harmless” in an article by Nicholas Thompson published in the Wired web site at as well as in hundreds of other websites.

Can you determine who “Mostly Harmless” really was?

Blog posts

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software