Authorities confirmed Thursday that authorities confirmed that the human remains found in the Yucca Valley desert earlier this month belong to Lauren “El” Cho, a 30-year-old New Jersey woman who disappeared this summer after leaving her rental property near Joshua Tree National Park.
Authorities have not yet determined the cause of death and toxicology results are pending, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department coroner said.
Sheriff officials said that additional information will not be released until toxicology results are known.
Cho was last seen on June 28 leaving a rented property in the Morongo Valley. According to the sheriff’s office, her disappearance led to extensive searches in the area, including searches for dogs on the ground and aircraft in the sky.
Two weeks ago, human remains were found in “the rugged open desert of the Yucca Valley,” the sheriff’s department said.
Cho reportedly lived with friend and ex-boyfriend, Cody Orrell, on their friend’s Airbnb property, where Cho worked as a private chef, according to a website maintained by her friends.
On a Facebook page run by the Cho family, she is described as “a talented musician, an incredible baker, a fun and loyal friend, an oddly intuitive gift giver, and probably the coolest sister you can hope for.”
Cho’s case can be compared to Gabby Petito, who disappeared during the summer while on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. It was confirmed that the remains found in Wyoming in September belong to Petito. Her boyfriend, Brian Landry, was wanted in connection with her death when his remains were discovered earlier this month in a Florida nature reserve.
The Petito case has fueled speculation that missing people of color are not receiving the same attention as their white counterparts.
Times staff columnist Haley Smith contributed to this report.