Finders, Keepers

Finders, Keepers

Rilee Whinery, Reporter

Long-lost gold. Conned treasure hunters. Corrupt FBI agents. When three men find their selves on the verge of discovering war-era gold, they believe the FBI swooped in and took it all for themselves. Sounds like America in a nutshell, doesn’t it?

Since adolescence, Dennis Parada, head of treasure hunting organization, Finders Keepers, has been infatuated with the tales of long-lost Confederate Gold. Legend has it, in 1863 during the Civil War, Union soldiers transporting gold across mountains found themselves astray in the depths of the wilderness. Three of the lost soldiers left in search of help, with only one returning accompanied by a search party. Despite the search, the soldiers were never found. Many years later were there only human remains with descriptions similar to those of the missing soldiers found, and only a small portion of the gold with them. Dennis Parada and his son, Kem, made it their life mission as treasure hunters to locate and unearth the remaining Confederate Gold.

In 2018, the Paradas’ dreams of finding the gold were beginning to become a reality. After years of searching, the dynamic father-son duo discovered a potential location of the treasure in a “turtle-shaped cave” in small town Dents Run, Pennsylvania. While the cave was going to be difficult to reach without assistance, the Paradas were certain that the estimated $100 million in gold was worth the fight.

As the Paradas were trying to gain contact with the FBI, attempting to shed light on this long-awaited unveiling, word broke out about the treasure. Former Wall Street Journal reporter turned treasure-hunting enthusiast, Warren Getler, stumbled across Dennis Parada’s discovery and was eager to jump on board. As fate had it, Getler had been searching for the Knights of the Golden Circle, a Confederate organization, of which had a very likely association with the lost Confederate Gold. This connection would later lead the Paradas and Getler to work together as a team in order to unearth this American treasure.

After failed attempts to contact the FBI, the Paradas turned to Getler for help, and after just a few days was he able to convince the Feds to hold meetings, planning the exhumation of the Confederate Gold. During one of the reluctant meetings, the FBI had tried to claim full ownership of whatever gold was to be found during the dig, stating that it was government property. Although, in the beginning the FBI had been uninterested in what Dennis Parada had to say, only up until Warren Getler mentioned the amount of gold at stake. This claim did not roll over well with Parada, and thus the FBI was forced to at least pay the Paradas and Getler a “finder’s fee”.

Soon after the meeting was held, the trio of treasure hunters along with the FBI headed down to the turtle-shaped cave where the alleged gold was and began to set up camp. The enthusiastic group of diggers used metal detectors to determine precisely where the gold would be, estimating where all they would have to dig. During the metal detection phase, what Dennis Parada had estimated to be one to two tons of gold had turned into over nine tons. This made the FBI excited, and so began the exhumation phase.

On March 13, the treasure hunting adventure had quickly soured into an American tragedy. The dig had begun early in the morning, with no press allowed to witness the unveiling – including the trio of treasure hunters. Though they found it to be unfair, they still waited for the gold to be unearthed. After hours upon hours of waiting, the trio set foot to the dig site, just to be stopped by an FBI agent. The treasure hunters were told that the site was “crowded up on the hill”, and that they “should wait down here for now”. An excruciating six hours later was the trio chaperoned to the dig site to be welcomed by an empty hole. It was late in the afternoon, so the team decided to pack up shop and end for the day. The next morning would be a continuation of the dig, the treasure hunters were told.

The next morning, the three treasure enthusiasts headed back up to the dig site, just to be stopped yet again by an agent. The reasoning for being stopped this time was blamed on a “water delay”, and another six hours later were the hunters allowed to the site. The three friends were hit with déjà vu as they faced yet another gold-less hole. Their chaperoning FBI agent asked, “Look in the hole. What do you see?”, and Dennis responding with, “Nothing”. Although the hole was noticeably larger than the day before, there was still no gold to be found.

To bribe the three treasure hunters away, the FBI handed them various copper rods that were used for prior gold readings, and thus ending their contact. Although, the FBI didn’t wish the trio goodbyes without telling them to never speak of this again, and to take a nice trip somewhere. These comments further added to the suspicion the Paradas and Getler had against the theft of their long-lost gold.

Though the FBI denies any allegations regarding the theft of the gold, neighbors in the Dents Run community claimed to have witnessed lights and construction-type trucks in the middle of the night making loud commotion, then leaving the premises with other vehicles, which are believed to have been FBI agents fleeing the scene. Although the treasure hunting trio have yet to bring this theft to justice, they have been gaining more traction in the awareness of this crime, which they believe will lead to the truth of what really happened to the lost Confederate Gold.