A strange request for help.

  • I'm a journalist who works at the Philadelphia Inquirer and also does freelance work for National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, etc.

    I am working on a story about a hiker who died in a tent in Florida in July of 2018. It's a very strange story. When police released a sketch, many people recognized it and sent in pictures. He has not been identified, however. He had no wallet, no phone, no ID on him. He used the alias Ben Bilemy and the trail name Mostly Harmless. He told people he worked in IT in Brooklyn,

    The reason I'm contacting you is because I recently received notebooks police in Florida found on him which appear to be filled with numbers and computer code possibly Java. They released the notebooks to me via a FOIA request. He also appeared to be designing a game and the language he uses is very similar what I found searching around on Screeps and Overmind (I don't know much about gaming or code, forgive me). He mentioned room planners, room managers, creeps, spawns, miners, exits, haulers, towers, warriors etc. He mentioned two worlds, including an Algae Pond and Roach Motel. He also mentioned the "nanites guild." I have no idea what any of it is.

    I have attached three photos I snipped from the notebook PDF. If you can look them and give me your thoughts, I would really appreciate it. Perhaps you could set me on the right path. If you want to see the whole notebook, that would be even better. I can be reached at jasonnark77@gmail.com

    this is not a scam. I've been obsessed with the case for a year. you can google my name-Jason Nark--to find my bio and google Ben Bilemy Mostly harmlee hiker--if you'd like to ! know more about the case. Thanks Jason Nark. 0_1585153007892_MH_nOTE1.JPG 0_1585153014566_MH_Note2.JPG 0_1585153020511_MH_Note3.JPG


  • So I checked the information given and it seems to be legit.
    This is definitely screeps talk, so yes your suspicion that "ben2" maybe the person in question is possible, his activity stopped around 3 years ago.

    https://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198004426967/friends/ this is his steam friendslist maybe they know more.
    Just keep it polite.

    But instead of obsessing over someone who is dead, either out of paranoia or the unbelievable tiny chance that he actually had "dangerous knowledge", can't be healthy.
    So try to actually play screeps for a change πŸ˜‰

    Rant incoming:
    Man this is ridicules, USA and their non-existent ID-Card.
    Here in the EU and many other countries they are mandatory and a good thing.
    (It is also mandatory to show it to the police ← to be clear nobody else can force you, they need to call them if they want your ID)
    You have no proper way of identification, this is really embarrassing for a country of this size.
    You even deport your own countrymen as "illegal immigrants" because of that, its such a shame πŸ˜‘

  • Thanks, I don't think he was dangerous. Also, I think the vast majority of American do carry ID on them. That's why it's so unusual.

  • Hi @JNark Best of luck on your investigations, it would be great to bring some closure to his family instead of leaving him as a nameless John Doe. Not sure what @MrFaul is ranting about dangerous knowledge, please don't take him as representative of the community here.

    However, I have to inform you that the "Ben2" that MrFaul is talking about is very unlikely your victim, as his steam profile shows he unlocked a number of badges in the last year. https://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198004426967/badges/ This makes it very likely that that user has had activity recently (the last one unlocked, "power player", was 3 days ago and I think it represents owning 100+ games).

    The notes are most certainly screeps related though. Let me know if there is anything else we can do to help. I should call out that these are the new forums here. IIRC there was some old screeps forums that had content prior to 2017 that could potentially have information, but I'm unsure as to what happened to them.

  • Everyone can check out the notebook and let me know what they think. Again, I’m looking for anything that might help identify him. I uploaded to Dropbox.

    here is the link. Thanks.

  • Someone relayed this info to me:

    Pages 1-10 and 19-33 of the notebook are all about Screeps. He's planning out the code he wants to write: what creeps roles he's going to have, what his rooms are going to do at different levels. I've got a notebook exactly like this myself from when I first started playing. This is all very normal stuff for anyone playing Screeps. He's even planning to automate the layout of his rooms, which is pretty advanced (maybe only 5-10% of Screeps players have code to do this). He definitely knows how to program and is pretty good at it. All his notes about his plans in the game are very coherent and lucid--nothing at all unusual that I see.

  • Hey, I scanned through the notes, and see some variable names, like "energy_cost_total" and "energy_surplus_per_tick". I tried searching these in github (publicly available code), but didn't come up with anything. Maybe the game developers have a mechanism to search through all of the player code on the site?

    Other observation: On the 3rd sheet of page 2, "ben" has an RCL8 room layout drawn up, with a V of 6 towers on the top (3 on the left and 3 on the right) with spawns, terminal, and storage right behind. He then has all the extensions down below, with a lane of road going North/South starting under the storage and dividing the extensions. There are a few road diagonals cutting through the extensions as well. Are there any room history snapshots from that time? (3+ years ago) This also may be a question for the game devs. That room layout is very specific and unless it is copied it's likely to be unique, assuming he used it.

  • Following up on this, it's reasonably likely the code is stored in github (owned by Microsoft) privately if not publicly, in which case I would ask them to search for the class names on page 19: HaulerManager, RoadManager, TripPlanner, WallManager, LabManager, BuildManager, Diplomacy, RoomLayoutStaticManager, RoomReservedManager ...