Murder would explain leaving the tent, an orderly march to the tree line, and remaining there instead of returning earlier. It could also explain the injuries.
However, murder theories suffer from four problems.
1. There is no evidence that anyone else was on that mountain that fateful night. It's speculation that there could have been others.
2. They were off course in the middle of nowhere. How would someone else know where they were?
3. It was a long way from anyone else. The closest Mansi village was 60 miles. The closest hiking group was 30 or more miles, and so on.
4. Their supplies were left alone. Mansi, hikers, escaped prisoners and the like would most likely take their money, alcohol, skis and anything else valuable or useful. It is the middle of winter in Siberia, not a Walmart parking lot. As for special forces, why not just disappear all the evidence instead of risking an investigation?
That the tent contents were undisturbed is evidence against outside human involvement.
These are all important questions and it is good that we address them one by one.
1. Here we have several factors. It is a sad fact that the first people who came to the site, first assumed that the nine students were still alive and only had problems. Therefore the tent and the immediate area around the tent was not thought of as a crime scene. For this reason, evidence has likely been destroyed. The important factor here is that the Dyatlov group evidently died on the evening of February 1, but several weeks passed before a search was made. The tent was only found on February 26, that is almost a month after. Thus tracks made by the attackers would have disappeared in that time, especially since the attackers would likely have used skis. Most ski tracks made by the narrow sports skies used by the trekkers were erased, and tracks from wider mountain skies used by both local people and trained special forces would most likely be completely erased because wide mountain skies does not sink so deeply into the snow.
An absence of tracks from the attacking group is therefore not evidence that there was not an attack.
The conclusion that the Dyatlov pass incident was a crime can nevertheless be drawn with reason. The fact that they had gone far away from the tent in the cold and without proper clothing or gloves, is proof that some mortal danger forced them out of the tent. Careful consideration of the forensic evidence from the bodies and their injuries shows that their injuries can only have been caused by an attack by other humans.
2. When the Dyatlov group set out, they had made no secret of the fact that they planned to go to the Otorten peak. Thus their intent was known. There are two possibilities if they were indeed murdered - which every piece of evidence indicates they were.
- Possibility A: The Dyatlov group was killed as a result of a decision which was made already when they declared that they wanted to go to an area where they would observe something they were not supposed to see or know about.
- Possibility B: The decision to kill the Dyatlov group was made when they had entered an area where someone did not want them to be.
Until someone speaks out, or some irrefutable evidence is found, it cannot be determined whether possibility A) or B) corresponds to the fact. But the Dyatlov group had announced where they wanted to go. This means that if there was some activity or some places in the area at or around Kholat Syakhl which the nine hikers were not allowed to witness or visit the arrival of the Dyatlov group was known by those who might have wanted to prevent the presence of other people at all cost.
3. It is seriously mistaken that the camp was 60 kilometers from everyone else. It has been proven that the Mansi were in the area. In addition, they were active very close to the camp: http://dyatlovpass.com/controversy
"A Mansi chum (definition) was observed North-East from where Dyatlov group pitched their tent on the night of January 30. A trail leading to the chum was passing 200 feet from where they camped."
So it is misinformation to say that there were no other people in the area. The Mansi were present in the very area where the nine trekkers chose to camp.
Svetlana Oss in her book "Don't go there" also refers to this chom or choom. A member of the first rescue team testifies to the Mansi presence in the immediate area. On page 169 Svetlana Oss refers the testimony:
"One of the rescue team, then a cadet Khamsa Sinyukaev, recalls about tribal people coming out of the woods into the open near the slope as helicopters flew by. These were not those to take part in the rescue operation but others, who Khamsa called "the Khanty" or "the Mansi." According to Sinyukaev, they would quickly come on their reindeer to trade golden sand and valuable furs for food, vodka and bullets from the pilots. Therefore, the tribal people were in the area and it didn't take them long to show up at any moment."
Does this prove that the Mansi were responsible? No, by no means. It only proves that the Mansi were in the area.
It is very important that to remember that we must never accuse anyone of having committed murder without incontrovertible proof. It is a good principle that one must be considered innocent until proven guilty, and it has not been proven who were responsible for the death of the nine hikers at Kholat Syakhl. The Russian forensic expert Natalia Sakharova, who has worked for 25 years with crime investigation, is convinced that the Dyatlov pass tragedy was murder and that the murderers were professionals.
- To state who the killers were, is speculative until backed up with very precise evidence of the identity of the attackers.
- To state that the nine students were indeed murdered, is completely reasonable given the evidence we have.
4. The supplies of the Dyatlov group were left alone. This is fully understandable, and it shows that the attackers were not interested in robbery. The fact that nothing was taken from the tent, means that the reason for the attack had to to with the Dyatlov group's presence in the area and nothing else: The nine young and innocent students were killed because they had entered an area where they were not supposed to be, either because someone were afraid that they might observe something which they were not allowed to know about or because they had entered an area where outsiders were forbidden to go. Both are possible, but we cannot know the motive behind the decision to kill the Dyatlov group. However, we can still judge the evidence - which strongly suggests that this was not an accident.
Lastly, it is reasonable to ask why the nine were not simply shot or just "disappeared." It is tempting to conclude that a cold decision to kill them would mean a quick, efficient kill. But forensic history tells us that things are not so simple. Criminal history, both the history of ordinary crime and state killings, tells us that "accidents," "suicides," "heart attacks" and other seemingly normal or accidental deaths are regularly used by determined killers who want to conceal the fact of murder and make a homicide appear to be a perfectly normal death. The Dyatlov pass incident may more than likely have been such a case. To steal the belongings of the nine hikers would reveal that it was murder, as would wounds from knives or bullets.
It is reasonable to assume that those who attacked the nine hikers forced them out of the tent because they judged that their victims would soon perish in the cold winter night.
Then there are the cuts in their tent. Much has been made of the cuts in the tent, but it is not documented who made the cuts. Moreover, all the knives belonging to the nine students were found in the tents - and these knives were all in their sheaths. The first investigators concluded that the students cut their way out from the tent, but there is absolutely nothing that proves that it happened that way.
When the young and durable students did not die quickly from the cold, the attackers decided that more forceful action was needed to accomplish their mission. Thus they went to physical attack, while they were careful not to leave knife or bullet wounds. The last four who were found had the most severe injuries: Kolevatov, Zolotaryov, Dubinina and Thibeaux-Brignolle were much better dressed than the others. For this reason, they might have survived for days and the attackers could not risk that - they wanted to ensure that all were dead and that they could not leave any messages about what happened. So these last four were killed with greater force, and the autopsy reports also confirm that these suffered the worst injuries. The first five who were found were much less well dressed, and so less force was necessary to dispatch them since the cold completed the mission. Igor Dyatlov had marks on both ankles, with visible abrasions, with hemorrhage into the underlying tissue. This suggests that the leader of the group had been tied, and these marks are one of many injuries that strengthen the conclusion of murder.
What we do not know, is who were responsible for the deaths of nine young people at Kholat Syakhl or what their precise motive was. But we do the relatives and friends of the deceased a major disservice if we deny the obvious reality that it was a cold-blooded murder resulting from a resourceful and determined attack.