Joshua Vernon Maddux

Joshua Maddux was born on the 9th of March 1990, and he lived in Woodland Park, in the Pike National Forest, in Teller County, Colorado. His parents were divorced, and Joshua lived with his dad, Mike, and two sisters, Ruth and Kate.

On the 1st of June 2006, Joshua’s older brother, Zachary, sadly died from suicide. Zachary was 18 years old at the time of his death and died after suffering from severe depression. Zachary’s death was really hard on Joshua, as he thought really highly of his older brother.

On the 8th of May 2008, Joshua left his home after telling his sister Kate that he was going on a walk. Joshua loved being outdoors and around nature, and he often went on walks, so this was completely normal for Joshua and no one thought any more of it.

However, when Joshua didn’t come home that evening, his family started to get worried. By the next morning, Joshua still hadn’t come home and he did not make any contact with his family. Joshua’s family started to call his friends, to see if he was staying with them or if they had heard from Joshua, but no one had.

On May the 13th, Joshua was reported missing.

The police, friends and family all searched for Joshua for months. They searched the neighbourhood and the forests where Joshua liked to go walking, but they found no sign that Joshua had ever been there. The police had no reason to suspect that Joshua had been a victim of foul play, so he remained listed as a missing person.

Joshua’s sister, Kate, wrote this about his disappearance: “Since Josh was 18, it has been reasonable to assume he may have decided to leave town to start a new life. As one of his two older sisters, I have always chosen to believe that this was the case. I have expected Josh to return home to my father’s house at any time with a wife and small children so they can meet their grandparents and two aunts. Josh has always been known for his musical and literary talent, so maybe we would find him playing music with a band on tour, or catch him writing successful novels under a pen name so that he could keep his preferred lifestyle of solitude in the woods.

Joshua and Kate. Credit: The Denver Post

In 2015, a builder from Colorado Springs, 80-year-old Chuck Murphy, was demolishing his old wood cabin. His cabin was on Meadowlark Lane, which was surrounded by tall pine trees. The cabin had not been used for just over a decade, and Chuck decided to demolish the cabin to make way for property development. The demolishing began in August 2015.

On August the 7th, Chuck came to the cabin and he noticed a horrible stench from inside the cabin. Chuck also said that he had been having a lot of problems with animals coming to the cabin.

When the demolition started, workers began to dismantle the chimney. Inside the interior of the chimney, Chuck discovered the body of a young man, who was in the fetal position with his legs above his head.

The Cabin where Joshua was found (before demolition). Credit: The Strange Outdoors
Another image of the Cabin where Joshua was found. Credit: The Strange Outdoors

The police were immediately called, and they arrived with the County Coroner.

Using dental records, the County Coroner was able to identify the young man as being Joshua Maddox.

Joshua’s family was devastated by the news. His sister, Kate, said this: “The situation doesn’t make any sense at all. We were really expecting him to be anywhere else in the world and he was actually very close.”

The cabin was actually located just two blocks away from Joshua’s family home. The searches that took place for Joshua overlooked the cabin, and as there had been no sign of life there was no reason to search the cabin or the chimney. Even the owner of the cabin, Chuck, said that he rarely visited the cabin but when he did there was nothing unusual or noteworthy.

The Teller County Coroner, Al Born, conducted an autopsy on Joshua’s body. He found no evidence of drugs in Joshua’s body, and furthermore, there were no broken bones, no stab or knife marks, and no bullet holes. How Joshua died is a matter of speculation, but Al did say that it was not instant death.

Al says that Joshua didn’t starve to death as that takes weeks, but he could have died from either dehydration or hypothermia.

On the 28th of September 2015, Al made a ruling that Joshua died due to an “accidental death”, and said that Joshua had climbed into the chimney and become stuck. He stated that because of the position that Joshua was found in, Joshua had climbed into the chimney voluntarily in order to gain access to the cabin and that the most likely cause of death was hypothermia due to the cold temperatures.

However, a few people were not in agreement with Al’s ruling. One person in particular who believed it wasn’t true was the owner of the cabin himself, Chuck Murphy.

Chuck said that the chimney had been fitted with a thick wire mesh that was hung from steel hooks to keep animals and debris from falling in the chimney. Al said that the wire mesh could have corroded away as it was not in any of the crime scene photos, but Chuck said that during the demolition the wire mesh could have simply been collected and taken for scrap, which is why it wasn’t in any of the photos.

Another thing that put doubt on the original ruling was that a large wooden breakfast bar had been torn from a wall in the kitchen and dragged over to block the chimney from the inside. Why would Joshua have blocked the chimney from the inside if he was planning on climbing down from the chimney into the cabin? And if Joshua didn’t move the breakfast bar, then who did? And why?

Three days after Al’s ruling of accidental death, Joshua’s case was reopened. Not only did the wire mesh grate and the breakfast bar cause serious doubts, but the position in which Joshua was found also didn’t make sense.

Joshua was found in the fetal position, with his legs above his head and disjointed from his torso. To get into this position, Joshua would have had to go into the chimney head first – which is unusual. To add to this, Al himself said that he thought it would have taken at least two people to get Joshua into this position.

Joshua’s body was also found wearing only a thin thermal shirt. The clothes that Joshua had actually been wearing when he left his father’s house were found folded up neatly next to the fireplace. Al commented: “This one really taxed our brains. We found his clothing just outside the firebox. He only had on a thermal t-shirt. We don’t know why he took his clothes off, took his socks and shoes off, and why he went outside, climbed on the roof and went down the chimney. It was not linear thinking.”

Al’s revised conclusion on Joshua’s death is an accidental death, murder, or undetermined causes. “We’ve come up with the most plausible explanation and it will remain an accident. He did come down the chimney, that’s our conclusion.” Al Born said.

But Chuck Murphy still wasn’t convinced. “There’s no way that guy crawled inside the chimney with that steel webbing. He didn’t come down the chimney.” Murphy has also said how he thinks it’s ridiculous to think that Joshua stripped down to just a thermal t-shirt, climbed up on the roof and then down the chimney, knowing that he would most likely get stuck.

Joshua Maddux. Credit: The Daily Mail

The police did receive several tips suggesting who might have killed Joshua.

One suspect was a man who, at the time, was serving time in a Texas jail. The man had a long history of violent crime and had spent time in prisons in Seattle and Portland. The tip-off told police that this man had been seen with Joshua. However, this man has never been publicly named by the police and Al Born, the Coroner, doubts that this man would have been able to put Joshua in the chimney by himself.

In 2015, a post on Reddit (which someone copied and re-uploaded here) gave a name to the man who was mentioned above: Andrew Richard Newman.

The post on Reddit comes from a person who used to be friends with Joshua before he went missing. The Redditor says that he went to high school with Andrew, and he used to be skinny and dorky looking and used to play guitar in a band. His friend Joshua starts hanging out with Andrew, who he realises now looks a lot scarier and had already committed two murders, though was never charged with either of them due to lack of evidence/police framing someone else.

The poster and several of his friends went to the police after Joshua went missing, and said that he was friends with Andrew and was last seen with him. But despite their persistence, the police barely returned the group’s phone calls. He also said that despite rumours going around of Andrew saying he “put Joshua in a hole”, and Andrew’s violent history, the police never even bothered to question him over Joshua’s death.

The poster claims that Andrew has been in and out of mental institutions around the country and is still a violent offender.

As of 2022, there have been no new updates in Joshua’s case. Andrew has never been charged, or even questioned, in regards to Joshua’s case.

Will we ever find out the truth about Joshua’s death?

Joshua Maddox. Credit: The Denver Post

Tags:

Unsolved, Mystery, Deceased, Strange, True Crime, Missing Person, Murder, Homicide

Published by

Kelly

I write my own blog about missing people and unsolved cases across the world, hoping one day to bring them justice.

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