Lauren Cho: Human remains found near missing New Jersey woman's last known location
Human remains have been found in the high desert near the last known whereabouts of missing New Jersey woman Lauren Cho, Southern California authorities searching for the woman have said. However, no connection has been officially made to 30-year-old Cho, called Lauren "El" Cho by her friends and family. Cho was reportedly last seen in the area around Hoopa Road and Ben Mar Trail in between Morongo Valley and Yucca Valley on June 28. Sheriff's officials have said that the remains' identification by the San Bernardino County coroner could take several weeks.
"The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department conducted an additional search and rescue operation in the ongoing search for Lauren Cho," it said in a statement. "During the search, unidentified human remains were located in the rugged terrain of the open desert of Yucca Valley." The location where the remains were discovered roughly matches the area where Cho was last seen alive. The location includes a property that had been searched in July this year. Cho's case bears quite a few similarities to the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito, the Long Island native whose case has caught the world's attention.
According to the Morongo Basin Sheriff's public appeal to find Cho on June 30, at the time of her disappearance, Cho was wearing a yellow tee-shirt and jean shorts in the area of Hoopa x Benmar, Morongo Valley, and was on foot. Since then, Cho's family and friends have issued pleas for help in finding her, with police looking into whether she might have hitchhiked or caught a ride with someone in the area. Approximately a month after Cho disappeared, authorities conducted an aerial search of the area near her short-term rental. Some days after the aerial search, the property where Cho had been staying was also searched by deputies.
Cho's friend, Orell, who was also the last person to see her, claimed that she wanted to "taste freedom", as she joined him on his tour bus as he made his way out west. Cho was staying at a friend's place with Orell and was in the process of renovating an old school bus into a food truck when she went missing. She was last seen at approximately 3 pm.
According to sheriff's reports, Orell reported to the authorities that Cho went missing at 5:13 pm that day. "There was a 10-minute window there and she evaporated ... I searched all in the hills and no tracks, anywhere, " he said. No traces of Cho have been found in or around the valley she was last seen in so far. Search and rescue teams including drones, helicopters, dogs, and people on foot have been actively searching the surrounding areas for any sign of Cho.