Bodies found at Joshua Tree National Park after nearly three months
Investigators said on Friday, October 20 that a young couple, whose bodies were discovered in a remote area of Joshua Tree National Park earlier this week, died in a murder-suicide.
The bodies were of 22-year-old Filipino-American hiker Joseph Orbeso and his Vietnamese-American girlfriend Rachel Nguyen, 20, and were found on Sunday, October 15 in the northern vicinity of the Maze Loop trail area of the park, from where their car was left. The pair reportedly went missing nearly three months ago.
The two bodies were recovered on Monday, October 16 and in the following days, the respective families identified them as Orbeso and Nguyen, who were both from Orange County.
On Friday, a release the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Morongo Basin station said that the autopsy found “injuries consistent with a gunshot wound were located on both Nguyen and Orbeso.”
It added, “Based on evidence located at the scene, detectives believe Orbeso shot Nguyen, then shot himself.”
Orbeso’s actions remain under investigation as the motive is unknown, as of this writing.
The pair were last seen on July 27 and were thought to be missing after they failed to checkout out of their Airbnb in which they left their belongings. The owner of the Airbnb called the police after the two had not come back which then led to an extensive search.
Before the bodies were identified by the San Bernardino Sheriff Coroner’s office to which they were sent, Orbeso’s father, Gilbert, was among the ones who found the bodies along with the Joshua Tree Search and Rescue (JOSAR) team.
“It’s been a journey,” said Gilbert Orbeso to the Desert Sun earlier this week. “I’m glad we have a conclusion to this journey. We’re just in a different recovery process now.”
Joseph Orbeso was said to be found embracing Rachel Nguyen to which Gilbert Orbeso described his son as a “caring, thoughtful” who was “clearly taking care of her.”
Nguyen’s uncle Son Nguyen forwarded a statement to News Channel 3 that read: “We’re humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love and support from the public. We cannot thank enough the folks from San Bernardino Sheriffs, Joshua Tree Search and Rescue, volunteers, and all agencies involved in the search efforts. We also thank all of our family and friends for their prayers. We thank God for bringing peace and closure for our family.” (Rae Ann Varona / AJPress)