2 bodies found inside Joshua Tree National Park

Two bodies were discovered Sunday inside Joshua Tree National Park. The grim discovery comes nearly three months after a couple went missing, prompting a massive search in the park, but the bodies have yet to be identified.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The bodies of two dead people were found inside Joshua Tree National Park on Sunday, authorities said.

The grim discovery comes nearly three months after rescuers began combing the park in search of a couple who were reported missing when they failed to check out of their Airbnb accommodations on July 28.

For the record:

9:05 a.m. Oct. 16, 2017An earlier version of this article said the bodies were discovered by a park ranger. They were found by hikers, according to Joshua Tree National Park.

The park issued a brief news release saying that hikers found the bodies in a remote region of the park.


A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman said her agency’s dispatch center was notified about the find around 1:50 p.m.

Deputies from the Morongo Basin Station were at the location late Sunday, said department spokeswoman Jodi Miller. She said no other information, including any possible identity of the remains, was available.

Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 21, entered the park about 6:45 a.m. July 27. Their vehicle was found near the Maze Loop trail, in the northwest area of the park, where authorities believed the couple went for a hike.

A ping from Orbeso’s cellphone was recorded about 4 p.m. that day from within the park.

Nguyen, of Westminster, and Orbeso, of Lakewood, have not been seen or heard from since.

For days and weeks, hundreds of people — including friends, family and law enforcement — scoured the park’s rugged terrain as well as surrounding communities for the missing couple.

The intense search later wound down, with crews focusing on certain areas. The couple’s families have offered a $10,000 reward for information that leads to their safe return.

Former staff writer Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.


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9:05 a.m. Oct. 16: This story was updated with information from the park to say the bodies were discovered by hikers.

This article was originally published at 7:45 p.m. Oct. 15.