Embraced In Death: Bodies Of Missing California Hikers Found In Grisly ‘Murder-Suicide’ Investigation

Random couple shown from the rear on hiking trail

In a bitter and sweet moment, the bodies of two missing California hikers were found on Friday. The couple had seemingly vanished for months.

Huffington Post wrote that the mortal remains of Joseph Orbeso, 22, and Rachel Nguyen, 20, were located near the Maze Loop Trail in the desert of Joshua Tree National Park. Police believe the incident was a murder-suicide — Orbeso allegedly shot his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself — based on evidence collected at the scene.

The missing California hikers checked into a local Airbnb in July. They were there as part of Rachel Nguyen’s birthday celebration. The lodge called police when the couple failed to check out as scheduled and after attempts to make contact with them failed.

Police found the couple’s abandoned car in the park and set out on a massive search for the couple. Altogether, over 2,000 volunteer hours were logged in the search efforts of Joseph Orbeso and Rachel Nguyen. California officials traversed the rugged canyon by horseback and foot. They also used specially-trained canines and airplanes to assist in the search and rescue efforts, to no avail; it soon turned into a recovery effort.

Police are labeling the deaths of the missing California hikers as a “murder and suicide,” but others say murder is a distorted characterization of Orbeso and Nguyen’s deaths. Evidence found at the scene shows that the hikers tried desperately to sustain life despite not having viable nourishment. The sheriff’s department released a statement surrounding the death of the pair.

Investigators say the couple was found dead underneath the canopy of a tree and were locked in an embrace. Apparently, they used articles of clothing to shield their bodies from the harsh exposure. Orbeso’s gun was recovered near the lifeless bodies.

“It appears they had been rationing their food and had no water.”

Gilberto Orbeso, the dead man’s father, spoke to the media about his son and appeared to dismiss malice as part of any motive in the deaths of the California hikers. The elder Orbeso was part of a search party that eventually found the remains of the missing hikers after the official search from a cadre of volunteers had terminated efforts.

Mr. Orbeso scoured the mountainside and trails, eventually arriving on a scene of personal effects, supposedly belonging to his son and girlfriend. The scattered items led him to the couple’s death scene. The grieving father suggested the killing of his son’s companion was out of mercy and hopelessness during their ordeal in temperatures that soared above 100 degrees.

“I want Joseph to be remembered as a kind, caring and thoughtful person. The way he was found beside Rachel, holding her as they were seeking shade under the brush, says everything you need to know about him as a man and as a human being. I am proud to be his father and his kindness will live on in me and those who knew him best.”

The father said he has found a sense of peace that the bodies of the missing California hikers were located and recovered. His fear was that his son or his remains would remain missing or unrecoverable, respectively.

“I feel that we have closure. That was our main goal… to find them. I hope they can rest in peace now.”

[Featured Image by Stock Rocket/Shutterstock]