Here’s what we know about an NJ woman who went missing in a California desert

With the discovery of a body in a southern California desert two months after New Jersey native Lauren Cho went missing, her family are now waiting to see if the remains are theirs.

Here’s what we know about Cho and her disappearance.

Cho’s roots in New Jersey

A source close to Cho confirmed that she grew up in Hunterdon County and graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School in 2009.

She then attended Westminster Choir College and was employed as a music teacher for a short time thereafter. She also worked in a piercing and tattoo company in Flemington.

Cho, known to her friends as El, had quit her teaching job and moved to California after a road trip across the country with her then-boyfriend Cody Orell in late 2020, according to a report from The Guardian.


When she went missing on June 28, she was staying with a friend, where she worked as a private chef for an Airbnb, the Guardian reported.

Cho walked out of her home in the Yucca Valley near Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs on foot and was wearing a yellow t-shirt and denim shorts at the time, investigators said.

Orell, who was also staying at the property, “said she was suffering from mental distress,” according to the Guardian report.

The Hi-star of the desert reported that she left behind her cell phone, personal effects and a pet parakeet.

“There was a 10-minute window there and it evaporated,” Orell told the publication in July.

He added that he and friends searched the desert and hills before calling local police that afternoon.

The research

On Saturday, July 31 at 6 a.m., detectives assigned to Morongo Basin Station and search and rescue operatives executed a search warrant at the 8600 block of Benmar Trail in the Yucca Valley, according to one. release from the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department, which is leading the search for Cho.

During the search warrant service, seven police dogs searched the last known location where Cho was seen and the surrounding unincorporated areas for evidence, the department said.

On July 24, the department’s fixed-wing aircraft conducted an aerial search of the remote mountainous terrain near the scene, authorities said.

Cho’s friend, Jeff Frost, told CNN that he and other friends have helped research in every way possible.

“We drove thousands of miles and tirelessly went to gas stations and stuck flyers in the low desert, the high desert,” Frost said. “We went to San Diego because she said the week before she disappeared that she just wanted to go to the beach.”


On Saturday, the Sheriff’s Department conducted another search in the Yucca Valley desert and found unidentified human remains in an area of ​​rugged terrain.

The remains have been transported to the San Bernardino County Coroner’s Division, which will work to identify the remains and determine the cause of death, the department said.

The remains have not yet been identified. Authorities said the identification process could take several weeks.

On hearing the news, Cho’s sister told CNN, “The family only holds our collective breath. We crave answers so much, but we already feel the sorrow of what the answer might be. “

This article contains material from The Associated Press.

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Chris Sheldon can be reached at [email protected].

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