Ronald Cravens was born in Burkittsville and lived there his entire life. He became sheriff of the town in 1981.
The Search for the Film Students Edit
Cravens led the search for Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams in 1994 after the three filmmakers went missing in the Black Hills Forest. The only piece of evidence found in the 10-day search was Leonard's car. No clues were found in the car and no witnesses were able to provide clues to the location of the film students.
In October 1995, students at the University of Maryland’s anthropology department discovered a duffle bag containing film cans, DAT tapes, video cassettes, a Hi8 camera, Heather’s journal and a CP-16 film camera buried under the foundation of a 100-year-old cabin. Cravens examined the evidence and announced that the footage was the property of Heather Donahue and her crew.
Select pieces of footage were shown to the families in December 1995, which provided no conclusive evidence to what happened to them. The families questioned the thoroughness of the analysis and demanded another look. In February 1996, more footage was shown, which law enforcement officials deemed to have been faked. Outraged, Angie Donahue went public with her criticism, causing Cravens to restrict all access to the evidence. Two lawsuits failed to lift the restriction.
In March 1996, the Sheriff’s department announced that the evidence was inconclusive and the case was once again declared inactive and unsolved. The footage was released to the families in October 1997.
In early 1999, Sheriff Cravens was interviewed for the documentary Curse of the Blair Witch.