Search crews have found human remains in the Yucca Valley desert near where a 30-year-old New Jersey woman went missing this summer, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials say the remains were discovered on October 10 while a search was being conducted for Lauren Cho, who was reported missing on June 28. The remains were located “in the rugged terrain of the open desert of Yucca Valley,” officials said via a Facebook post. It could take several weeks before an identity and cause of death are determined.
Cho’s sister, who was not identified, told CNN, “The family is just holding our collective breaths. We so badly desire answers, but already feel the heartbreak of what the answer could be.”
Cho was last seen on June 28 when she walked away form the residence she was staying at with friends and her former partner in the 8600 block of Benmar Trail in Yucca Valley. Her friends reportedly said she was “upset and presumably walked away form the resort, leaving her personal belongings.” About three hours after she disappeared, her ex-boyfriend reported her missing.
Detectives conducted an aerial search of the terrain near the residence on July 24 and a search of the Yucca Valley residence where she’d been staying on July 31, but found nothing, officials said.
Cho is described as being 5-foot-3 with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a yellow T-shirt and jean shorts.
On a Facebook page, Cho’s family members describe her as being a “talented musician, an incredible baker, a hilarious and loyal friend, a strangely intuitive gift giver, and probably the coolest sister one could hope for.”
Cho’s friend and former partner, Cody Orell, told Hi-Desert Star that she “evaporated” from the residence where they had been staying. “I searched all in the hills and no tracks, anywhere,” he said.
Cho’s case has been compared to that of 22-year-old Gabby Petito who was reported missing in September during a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who returned home without her. Some critics have argued that Cho’s case is an example of how people of color don’t receive the same attention as their white counterparts, the Los Angeles Times reports. But Cho’s family says the cases differ.
“We realize that on the surface, the public information for both cases share some similarities,” they wrote on Facebook. “We understand the frustration many of you have expressed about how and why certain cases receive national coverage.”
They added, “Ultimately, these two cases are NOT the same and the differences run deeper than what meets the public eye. We are wholly appreciative of the love that continues to be shown to El. We empathize deeply with Gabby’s family and hope that both our cases bring forth positive resolution.”
Human remains, which were determined to belong to Petitio, were found in Wyoming in September.
Anyone with information regarding Cho’s case is urged to contact Detective Shaunna Ables at the Morongo Basin Station at (760)366-4175. Those who wish to be anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at wetip.com.
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