Joshua Tree Hikers Died By Murder-Suicide, Police Say

The couple who went missing in southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park in July died in what appeared to be a murder-suicide, police say.

Their bodies were found last week after they went missing on July 28. Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso were staying at a hotel but were reported missing when they didn’t return.

Police say the two had gunshot wounds and from the evidence, they believe Mr. Orbeso shot Ms. Nguyen then shot himself. The couple were found under a tree and had used their clothing to protect themselves from the extreme temperature in the area. Police say the couple had been rationing their food but had no water.

They were reported missing after they didn’t return to the hotel. Rangers later found their car near a trailhead. Their bodies were found under a tree in a remote canyon.


Authorities began a search for the couple but they were found two and a half months after they went missing. The rescue operation included hundreds of rescue workers and dogs. A $10,000 reward was also offered for information.

The rescue operation continued for a while, with the bodies found last week. The bodies were airlifted to a coroner’s office but authorities are still investigating as the two had gunshot wounds.

Mr. Orbeso’s father was helping with the rescue operation and was with the workers who found them. He said he felt a sense of relief and added that he believed he was going to find them.

Detectives have launched an investigation as they want to know what happened and why they both had gunshot wounds. Police believe he shot her before committing suicide. The two were found in a remote canyon and their clothing was placed in a way to protect them from the sun.

The couple was reported missing by the hotel owner after they failed to check out of their room, according to authorities. The hotel owner told authorities that the couple had probably gone hiking at Joshua Tree National Park. Rescue teams spent more than 2,000 hours looking for the couple.

The Joshua Tree National Park covers a land area of over 790,000 acres. The extreme temperatures during the summer make it the least popular season for the national park.