Gene and Sandy Ralston are a married couple in their 70s, who also happen to be among North America’s leading experts at searching for the dead. By Doug Horner


When Gene and Sandy Ralston returned to their truck after a day on the Beardsley reservoir in northern California in March 2002, they discovered several handwritten notes taped to the doors and windscreen: “Call Lieutenant Lunney as soon as you get back to town. It’s urgent.”


The Ralstons, a married couple from rural Idaho, had been scientists until the late 1980s, when they began helping out on local search and rescue missions. By the winter of 2002, they had volunteered on more than a dozen searches for victims of drowning across the US, and had developed an uncanny ability to find bodies. They had just helped Lt Lunney’s sheriff’s department locate the remains of a man who had drowned in the reservoir three-and-a-half years earlier, after falling off his boat while fishing. Divers had brought him back to the surface that afternoon.

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