Southern California

Missing Couple Found Dead in Embrace in Joshua Tree

Efforts resumed Monday in Joshua Tree National Park to recover the embracing remains of two people believed to be a Southland couple who went missing after departing on a hike in July.

The remains were found Sunday by a search team that included Gilbert Orbeso, the father of one of the missing hikers. Rachel Nguyen, 21, of Westminster, and 21-year-old Joseph Orbeso, of Lakewood, were last seen July 27.

They were reported missing the next day after they did not check out of their Airbnb rental.

"We hope that they can rest in peace now," Gilbert Orbeso told local TV station KESQ Sunday afternoon after helping to discover the remains in a remote area of the park near Maze Loop. "I believed that I was going to find them. I didn't know when. But I had my answer today."

Sheriff's officials tried to recover the remains Sunday but due to darkness, the effort was suspended until Monday morning. Once recovered, the remains will be sent to the San Bernardino County coroner's office to be positively identified.

Orbeso, who has kept up the search effort since the pair disappeared, told the station he and the search team were scaling boulders about two miles from Maze Loop when they spotted the couple's clothing, some water bottles and food wrappers.

The crew followed the trail and saw the remains of two people -- the bodies embracing each other. Orbeso said he had a "sense of relief that we have found them after going a long time on these hikes."

"I feel that we have closure," he said. "And we know we found them. That was our main goal was to find them."

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