Details of Disappearance Kostenko walked fourteen miles to the Purches Creek Valley on the western side of Hatcher Pass in Alaska in August 2018. He planned to stay at a twelve-by-twenty-foot dry cabin for the next several months and seek the meaning of life.
The cabin was already stocked with canned goods. Kostenko went there with only a backpack, an iPhone, an external power bank with a solar recharger, and five pounds of oatmeal with him. He wasn't even carrying a rifle or bear spray, which are considered necessary in rural Alaska.
After his arrival, Kostenko kept in touch with the outside world by sending text messages on his phone. In September, some hunters stopped at the cabin and left some fresh food. He was last seen by a friend in the area in late October. Then the text messages stopped.
By November 3, Kostenko's friends were worried about him and two of them who were pilots flew out to the area to check on him and assist him if necessary. They flew low enough to see Kostenko standing outside the cabin, and dropped two buckets of food for him. This is the last sighting of him.
When his friends flew out to the cabin on December 23, they didn't see Kostenko but noted the porch of the cabin was clean and there was snow on the smokestack, indicating no one had lit a fire recently. They dropped some more buckets of supplies. On December 26, worried about him, one of his friends chartered a helicopter and went back to the cabin, and found it deserted and sealed shut, with a sheet of metal nailed over the door.
Kostenko's friend forced his way inside and found the cabin in perfect order, but deserted. Nothing appeared to be missing. There were no notes, except for a phrase in Russian written on a piece of wood reading "frankincense aroma — do not burn." Kostenko's friend searched the area outside and found one of the supply buckets he'd dropped three days earlier.
It appeared as if Kostenko had made a planned departure from the cabin and never returned. An extensive search of the valley turned up no sign of him. The last time his cellular phone pinged was on December 3. If he had tried to make the fourteen-mile hike to the road in the winter weather, he could easily have run into trouble; he said he'd been fasting, and he didn't have winter clothing.
Kostenko was born in Zelenokumsk, a town in the North Caucasus area of southern Russia, and raised as one of thirteen children in a conservative Christian family. He and his family moved to the U.S. in 1999, when he was 22, and settled in Walla Walla, Washington. Kostenko became extremely interested in spirituality, and lived an isolated existence on a family friend's property. He was not interested in money, but supported himself doing jobs as a mechanic.
His family believes he perished after a mishap in the wilderness.
- Alaska State Troopers
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 23, 2019; casefile added.