The strange death of Joshua Maddux: The boy found dead in a chimney

For seven long years, the search continued to find Joshua Maddux, but failed. Until a terrifying discovery of a mummified body was found inside a cabin chimney two blocks away from the Maddux’s family home.
Joshua Maddux

On the 8th of May, 2008, Joshua Maddux (then 18 years old) left his residence to go for a long, leisurely stroll. Being the nature lover and free spirit that he was, having long walks was nothing out of the ordinary for him. It was only after he didn’t return that things took an unexpected turn.

Joshua Maddux,
Joshua Maddux, at the age of 18 © Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Disappearance of Joshua Maddux

Joshua Vernon Maddux was born on March 9, 1990, in Woodland Park, Colorado. He has a creative intellect and a free spirit. He enjoyed listening to music and writing in his spare time. Joshua was a good student in school, and he appeared to be well-liked and well-known by his classmates. His parents were divorced, and he lived with his father, Mike, and two sisters, Kate and Ruth. In 2006, depression took the life of his brother, Zachary, when he was just 18.

Joshua Maddux
Joshua Maddux with his sister Ruth Maddux

After failing to return home for many days, his father filed a missing person report on the 13th of May, 2008. Mike said “I got up one morning, and Josh was there, then he just never came home. The next day he still didn’t come home. I called his friends, nobody had seen him. Nobody knows where he is.”

The search for Joshua Maddux

Even with days, weeks, and months to dedicate to the search, the whereabouts of the missing person remained unknown. The initial assumption of police was that he had either run away from home or harmed himself because his brother Zachary had killed himself two years prior, but his friends and family insisted this was not the case.

Joshua Maddux
Joshua Maddux with his guitar in a picnic © family photo

Joshua Maddux was regarded as a bright and joyful young man who was well-liked by his classmates and peers, making it improbable that he would have fled or done anything to harm himself. His past revealed that he had no signs of mental illness, had no known enemies, and had never been accused of drug usage. In the case of his disappearance, there was absolutely no reason to infer that he had made a conscious decision to do so.

For seven long years, the search continued to find but failed. Until a terrifying discovery of a mummified body was found inside a cabin chimney two blocks away from the Maddux’s family home.

The cabin in the woods

Joshua Maddux
‘The Thunderhead Branch’, Chuck Murphy’s Cabin where Josh Maddux’s corpse was discovered in August 2015 © Daily Mail

In the 1950s, Chuck Murphy bought a cabin in that area. It had previously been known as the Thunderhead Branch, an infamous drinking and dining place owned by “Big Bert” Bergstrom. Murphy’s brother had lived in the cabin until 2005. After that, it deteriorated into a decrepit storage facility that Murphy rarely visited.

On August 6, 2015, Murphy began demolishing the cabin for property development. While an excavator tore down the chimney, a grisly discovery was made and he was forced to stop. There in the dank darkness was a mummified human body, bent over in a fetal position and stuffed into the chimney with its legs above the head.

He immediately called the assistance of the police and upon their arrival, the police officers and the county coroner who were accompanied by forensic experts used dental records to identify the corpse, and the results would shock everyone.

Joshua Maddux: the boy in the chimney

It was found that the body stuffed into that chimney was none other than the missing Joshua Maddux. Autopsy results reveal that Joshua had no drugs in his system and the body did not have any broken bones, nor did he suffer from any gunshot or knife wounds.

Assumptions of Joshua Maddux’s death

The coroner, Al Born, stated that Joshua’s death was not sudden and that he most likely died of hypothermia or dehydration. His death was declared accidental by Born.

It was Born’s hypothesis that Joshua Maddux, who was 6-feet tall and weighed 150 pounds, had attempted to descend the chimney. If this was the case, and Joshua became stranded, he would have been too far away for anybody to hear his cries for help.

Murphy, on the other hand, adamantly denies that his death was the result of an accident. According to him, someone stuffed Joshua inside the chimney. If this is the case, it would have taken at least two persons to arrange Joshua in the manner in which he was discovered. Nevertheless, Joshua would have had to enter the chimney head first.

Accidental death?

Most people believe foul play is implicated for some basic reasons. To avoid difficulties with animals and debris, Murphy had put steel rebar on the chimney. Born contradicted this, alleging that no rebar was found at the crime scene. The cabin, on the other hand, was a construction zone when the body was discovered. The rebar had previously been dismantled and removed.

A massive wooden breakfast bar had been removed from a kitchen wall and set in front of the fireplace.

Joshua had been wearing nothing more than a thermal shirt when he was discovered. The rest of his clothes, including his socks and shoes, were inside the cabin, neatly folded next to the fireplace.

Would Joshua have gone in there on his own, stripped off his clothes, shoes, and socks, and then crawled up that chimney, and if so, how did the breakfast bar get there? It didn’t make any sense. Despite all of these inconsistencies, the stated cause of death remained “accidental death.”

The suspect!

Joshua Maddux, Andrew Richard Newman
Mugshot of Andrew Richard Newman © Colorado police department

In later years, it would come to light that a guy by the name of Andrew Richard Newman had been one of the last persons to see Joshua alive, and not only that, but a witness alleged that Andrew had even boasted about killing him.

Andrew Richard Newman had a significant criminal past, which included attacking a police officer, disorderly drunkenness, grand theft, and battery. He’d already been caught for stabbing a disabled man to death, and it turned out that he admitted to murdering a woman and placing her in a barrel in Taos, New Mexico, However, police had already arrested someone for the woman’s murder and decided to charge them instead of Andrew.

Joshua’s friends tried to have Andrew investigated by the police at the time, but their concerns were rejected. Authorities informed them that Joshua was still alive and well. Despite this, Andrew is said to have boasted about having “put Josh in a hole.”

Kate Maddux has organized this fundraiser to cover costs of a memorial service, as well as to donate to charities that work to find missing people.

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