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Jay Miscovich, Treasure Hunter Behind Controversial Emerald Find, Commits Suicide

Back in March, we unrolled the story of how a seemingly no-name guy from small-town Pennsylvania turned up in Key West with a 150-pounds of emeralds found on the bottom of the sea floor.

Almost immediately people in the treasure hunting world began questioning Jay Miscovich's 2010 find. Three years after the discovery, following endless court battles, no one has really pinned down whether Miscovich's story was an incredible turn of events, an elaborate fraud, or some weird blend of both. Nothing about the case was clear-cut, from the actual value of the emeralds, to the source of a mysterious treasure map, to the influence of deep-pocketed Wall Street investors who initial bought a piece of the action.

On Tuesday, Miscovich took his own life near his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His attorney John Siracusa, initially told New Times about the 54-year-old's death.

This morning, the local Latrobe newspaper confirmed the suicide. Miscovich shot himself in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun in the backyard of an unoccupied Ligonier Township home.

The location wasn't random. The property had once belonged to Miscovich when he was a successful real estate investor in the early 2000s. Following a series of bad business deals and the subsequent market crash, he lost the house, along with basically everything else.

That turn of luck is what made him take a crack at full-time treasure salvage, a last chance hail mary. But anyone who later spent time with Miscovich heard him talk about his house - his "mansion," as he lovingly called it. The property obviously meant much more to him than four walls and a roof.

Miscovich left behind no note, according to authorities. What he did leave, however, was a continuing legal tussle with treasure hunting's first family, the Fishers. After initially making a series of legal claims on the emerald find, the family (descendents of world-famous Mel) is now trying to force a claim of fraud on Miscovich, alleging the treasure hunter had cooked up his whole story. Miscovich maintained he was telling the truth up until his death. For some time the FBI had been looking into the case. The gems, however, are reportedly locked away in a Pittsburgh-area bank.

According to one of Miscovich's close friends, the pressure from three years of constant courtroom battles had begun to wear him down in recent weeks.

"I told everyone I could tell that Jay was acting uncharacteristically weird," she told New Times. "I told everybody."

Stay tuned to New Times in the coming days for more new information. Also, anyone with further information, feel free to get in touch at kyle.swenson@browardpalmbeach.com.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @kyletalking.

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