Stepsister of Colorado Family Who Died Trying to Live ‘Off the Grid’ Says Sisters Were Not Survivalists

Vance Family
Trevala Jara

Trevala Jara, Rebecca and Christine Vance's grieving stepsister spoke to Inside Edition Digital and said her siblings were not survivalists.

Members of a Colorado family died while attempting to live "off the grid" in the Rocky Mountains, investigators say.

The remains of three family members, Christine, 42, and Rebecca Vance, 41, and the latter's 14-year-old son, were found in a remote campsite earlier this month, BBC News reported.

A coroner ruled that they probably died from starvation or exposure during the cold winter, BBC News said.

The badly decomposed remains of one of the family members were found by a hiker on July 9 at a remote camping area in Gunnison County, The Gazette reported.

The hiker then notified authorities and Gunnison County deputies later found the other two bodies in similarly advanced states of decomposition, The Gazette reported.

It appears that the group began camping last summer and died over the winter, according to reports.

Trevala Jara, Rebecca and Christine’s grieving stepsister, spoke to Inside Edition Digital and said her siblings were not survivalists.

“I have been raised with my sisters since I was 8. I'm 39 now, so they might as well have been my biological sisters,” Jara says. “They were never survivalists. We went camping quite a few times when we were younger, but that was the last time they ever camped was when we were younger. They were not prepared. They weren't. Pretty much what they did was they looked on YouTube and the internet to see how to survive off the grid on the land.”

Jara says that she warned her sisters repeatedly not to venture on their own into the unknown because the Colorado Mountains are “very unforgiving.”

Like many in the world, the COVID pandemic and lockdown took a toll on the family, and it was especially hard for Rebecca, Jara says.

“Becky, mostly, was fearful of the way our world was becoming, especially after COVID. That pretty much broke the camel's back. After COVID, I mean, everybody felt it. The atmosphere changed, the economy changed, even the way we did politics changed. Everything freaking just changed from zero to 80, and that, I think is what broke the camel's back with Becky, because she, growing up, she was always introvert, stick to herself type of person,” Jara says. “It wasn't exactly that she was not trusting or she thought everybody was bad or anything. She didn't want influences on her and her son from the world. And she thought that it would be better to go out by herself. I mean, she didn't want any contact with anybody.”

Rebecca had then convinced Christine to join her in the off-the-grid adventure, Jara says. She added that her sisters “kind of, sort of” invited her to tag along but would tell her, “’We would invite you, but you have your own family and we understand. But if we do contact you and you change your mind, you can meet up with us,’” Jara recalls.

In 2021, the sisters began hatching their plan to become one with nature and get away from the world they knew, according to Jara.

With no idea where her sisters were going, Jara says “They just told me they're going off the grid. They told me that they actually might move out of state. So I had not the slightest idea they were in Gunnison at all. I had no contact. They did not contact me this whole year at all.”

Jara says she and her husband tried to stop Christine and Rebecca by offering their mountain property with an RV which is located in a remote part of Colorado and gets no cellphone service or WiFi allowing them to be off the grid but also allowing the rest of the family to at least know they were safe and where they were.  Jara says that Christine told her that she wished Rebecca took the offer because Christine was keen on staying on the property.

The distraught sister also says that she tried to convince Rebecca to leave her son in her care or at least with the care of his father’s mother, with whom Jara says he was very close with. Sadly, Christine refused all invitations for her son’s care and Jara says her sister had a “fear the world would be a bad influence” on the teenager.

“She would never leave my nephew. He was her everything, absolute everything. And there is no way that she would leave him with anybody,” Jara says.

Jara explained that the teen’s father is not on his birth certificate and legally could not challenge what Rebecca wanted to do, however, the young man and his father were involved in each other’s lives. Jara says the teen’s dad is “distraught” over the news of what happened to his boy.

In August 2022, they set forth on their plan and it has been an anxiety-fueled year since.
“This whole year was pretty worrisome and scary and all that because I didn't know if they were okay or not. And not only that, a couple months ago in March, I had this gut-wrenching feeling that something happened. I knew something happened, and it was to the point to where I almost went up to the mountains and, ‘Okay, maybe they did stay in the state and maybe I could find them up in the mountains.’ But of course we didn't do it because the mountains are huge. Where the hell do I start?” Jara says. “I did not go look for them, but I did have a huge feeling and July 11th it was confirmed.”

When the coroner called on July 11 to confirm what happened to Christine, Rebecca and her son, Jara says not only was she devastated but speaking about it hasn’t been as cathartic as she hoped but it has left her “emotionally drained.”

The Vances were found about three-to-four hours away from where they lived, Jara says.

Jara says while she and the rest of the family are mourning the loss of the Vances, she wants their story to serve as a warning to others who want to live off the grid.

“I want to get their story out there as well as if I can teach people about going off the grid and at least the basics of what they need to do, because this is what happens when you are not prepared, and especially in Colorado Mountains,” she says.

There will be no funeral for the Vances as the attention around what happened is far too much, but Jara says that the family is mourning privately.

“I want people to know that they were not crazy, that they had good heads on their shoulders. They did. That their whole reason why they were doing this is they really thought it would protect their family, and that fear is one of the most hardest emotions to control. And that's what took over. My sister was just [in] fear. And she wasn't saying anything about any conspiracy theory stuff or anything like that. It was just fear that the world would have a bad influence on her son, her and Christine, and of course, me too, and my family,” Jara says.

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