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What happened to Vance Rodriguez: Who called him mostly harmless?

A man found dead in a tent with no ID was finally identified as Vance Rodriguez, a tech professional from New York.

In 2018, a yellow tent was discovered at Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida by hikers. Inside the tent, a deceased man with no identification was found. For the next two years, the man's true identity remained a mystery. This perplexing case is the focus of the 2024 Max true crime documentary, "They Called Him Mostly Harmless."

Despite the lack of identification, the man's appearance was recognized by some. Kelly Fairbanks, a woman who had encountered the man near the Appalachian Trail, saw a composite sketch of him and came forward to share her experience. She described him as having a kind aura, a beautiful smile, and unique eyes. Fairbanks had taken photos of the man and recalled that when asked his name, he responded with "Mostly Harmless."

The investigation revealed that the man, also known as "Denim," had no identification in the tent but possessed hiking gear, a substantial amount of money, and notebooks filled with computer code. Despite being between 35 and 50 years old, he weighed only 83 pounds and showed no signs of foul play. Tips and leads pointed to the man being on the trail for about a year, possibly originating from New York with connections to Louisiana.

After over two years of mystery, a breakthrough in the case came when an old college roommate identified the man as Vance Rodriguez. Forensic DNA genealogy confirmed this identification. Rodriguez was a New York tech professional from Louisiana who chose to disappear on the Appalachian Trail. His exact cause of death was never determined, but he was found to be critically underweight.

The story of "Mostly Harmless" is a compelling and tragic one, shedding light on the complexities of human existence and the mysteries that can surround a person's life and death.

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