false trails | 

Woman lied about seeing missing Irish hiker Cian McLaughlin to 'keep search going'

His mother, Grainne, is back in the Wyoming mountains searching for her son one year since his disappearance after it emerged that Heather Mycoskie (40) gave false information about a sighting of the hiker.
Missing Irish hiker Cian McLaughlin

Missing Irish hiker Cian McLaughlin

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A woman who had been married to the founder of the famous Toms Shoes brand has admitted lying that she had seen missing Irish hiker Cian McLaughlin on the day he disappeared.

Cian, originally from Dublin, was last seen in Grand Teton National Park on June 8, 2021.

Friends and family have been left devastated by his disappearance and searches have been ongoing since last year.

His mother, Grainne, is back in the Wyoming mountains searching for her son one year since his disappearance after it emerged that Heather Mycoskie (40) gave false information about a sighting of the hiker.

She reported last June that she had seen McLaughlin on the day he disappeared and that he was headed toward Taggart Lake where he planned to jump off his favourite rock in the water.

While the information proved false, other people told investigators that Mycoskie, who was previously married to Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, had fabricated the sighting to ensure that search efforts continued.

“I did, in fact, lie,” Mycoskie told Fox News Digital. “I submitted a false statement, but it was all based on information that I had received.”

Mycoskie has now been banned from visiting the park for five years and must pay $17,600 under a deferred-prosecution agreement.

Such agreements allow defendants to avoid prosecution if they meet certain requirements.

Mycoskie said she sent the false tip because she feared authorities were scaling down their search effort.

She believed if she claimed she had seen McLaughlin in a location where he was known to have hiked, it would reinvigorate the search.

But the false report meant officials spent more than 500 fruitless hours searching, conducting investigations and completing reports.

All other sightings put McLaughlin on trails heading toward a different area of the park, according to a statement issued by park rangers.

“I'm extremely sorry, and I would love to apologise, but I lied,” Mycoskie told Fox News. “I hope that his family can understand that I wasn't trying to hurt the search or mislead anybody.”

Mycoskie, a long-time activist and former model, said she had learned that McLaughlin liked to hike near Taggart Lake from a bartender while eating lunch at the Bistro Restaurant in Jackson where McLaughlin worked.

“She, to me, was very believable and seemed like a very valuable source,” Mycoskie said.

“She said that her belief was that he entered the park and most likely went to Taggart Lake, because that was one of his favourite spots that he would go, and jump off a rock and go swimming.

“She said she shared that information with officials, but they weren't taking it seriously, and they were following other tips and looking in a different area.

“I said I saw him walking in the direction of Taggart Lake, and it sounded like, to me, that he was going to Taggart Lake,” she said. “And that's what I did, and that was also my big mistake, probably the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life — I lied, and I made a false statement that I saw him.”

McLaughlin had dual Irish-US citizenship and in 2019 moved to Jackson Hole, where he worked as a bartender and snowboard instructor, his mother Gráinne said.

While Cian spent most of his life in Ireland, his father was from Montana and he lived there for several years as a young child.

He maintained a “close connection with the States and the mountains in particular,” his mother said.

"Cian was very outgoing, friendly and sociable kind of guy, he was here in Wyoming for two years where he was a snowboard instructor in the winter and worked in the local bars in the summer,” his mother Grainne McLaughlin said on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

“He was drawn to Wyoming for the mountains, he loved the outdoors.

“From everybody’s point of view, we know he went missing on the mountains, that something tragic happened.”

Mycoskie, formerly of Jackson, recently moved to Costa Rica. She was previously married to Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, who sold his Jackson home in November.


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