Details of Disappearance
Hibbard was last seen on May 28, 1976. He was a geologist from Mead, Colorado and worked for Berge Exploration, a company in Adams County, Colorado. He had worked there for two years and was considered a reliable employee.
A week before his disappearance, Hibbard had gotten a telephone call from someone who said they also worked for Berge Exploration, and that they needed him to bring his specialized van to a location in the Gillette, Wyoming area. The van was used to "log" or locate deposits of uranium, coal, oil shale and other minerals. Hibbard believed the call was a hoax and asked his boss about it, and his boss confirmed that no one in the company in the Gillette area needed the van.
On the day he disappeared, he was apparently performing a routine geological exploration trip in Gillette. His geological truck, which contained $30,000 in radioactive material, disappeared with him.
Hibbard's boss believed he might have been kidnapped and forced to work as a "logging operative" for an illegal geological exploration company; he stated Hibbard's specialized knowledge and sophisticated equipment would have been valuable to such a group. The radioactive element in the truck could have been dangerous to an inexperienced person, but it was safe as long as it remained inside its lead shield.
In July, police located almost $10,000 worth of Hibbard's geological equipment in the possession of an Upton, Wyoming resident, Joseph O. Dowdy. He was caught after he tried to sell the equipment to his employer, a company that logged and drilled for oil, gas and water wells. The equipment had been carried in Hibbard's truck, which was still missing at that point.
Dowdy was arrested and charged with grand larceny. He was questioned in Hibbard's disappearance, but didn't provide any firm leads as to his whereabouts. In January 1977, he pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to one to three years in prison.
In August 1976, while Dowdy's larceny case was still pending, Hibbard's truck was found abandoned three miles northwest of Upton, Wyoming. An anonymous man called police with its location.
The truck was parked in a timbered area near a number of water pits. There was a great deal of human blood inside the cab; it was on the door, on the floormats and soaked into the seat. DNA testing wasn't available in 1976. The FBI typed the blood, but Hibbard's blood type is unknown.
Foul play is suspected in Hibbard's case, but it remains unsolved. He was engaged to be married at the time of his disappearance.