Searchers in Southern California have found a body in the Yucca Valley desert, two months after Lauren Cho disappeared in the area.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced Sunday that the human remains were found in rugged terrain in the open desert on Saturday. Now the coroner’s office is working to identify the remains and determine a cause of death.
Cho, a 30-year-old New Jersey resident who is known by the name “El,” has been missing since June 28 at approximately 5:10 p.m., “when she reportedly walked away from the residence where she was staying in the 8600 block of Benmar Trail” in Yucca Valley, according to the sheriff’s department.
The Specialized Investigations Division was brought in to assist with the Morongo Basin Station in the search for Cho. It includes the Homicide Detail, Crimes Against Children Detail and the Polygraph Detail, which investigate major crimes including homicides and suspicious deaths.
On July 24, the Sheriff’s Department conducted aerial searches of the remote mountain terrain near Benmar Trail using fixed-wing aircraft. On July 31, detectives with the Morongo Basin Station and Search and Rescue members executed a search warrant in the 8600 block of Benmar Trail, and seven dogs searched the last location where Cho was seen and the surrounding area for evidence.
Her case is one of many involving people of color that don’t get much public attention. Complaints about a phenomenon known as “missing white woman syndrome” soared during the search for Gabby Petito, a white 22-year-old whose body was found in Wyoming after she vanished during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend that she chronicled on social media.
The sheriff’s office said the identification process could take several weeks and that no further information will be released until those results are confirmed.
Previous reporting by Desert Sun reporter Erin Rode is included in this report.