Human remains found in California during search for NJ woman

Human remains have been discovered in a California desert during the search for a missing New Jersey woman who disappeared after walking away from her Airbnb, authorities said.

The unidentified remains were found Saturday in rugged terrain in the open desert of Southern California’s Yucca Valley, where investigators were looking for clues in the search for Lauren “El” Cho, 30, who was was last seen leaving a rental home on June 28.

The remains were taken to the coroner’s office for identification and the process can take up to several weeks, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.

“No further information will be released until the identity of the deceased has been confirmed,” sheriff’s officials said in a statement Sunday.

Cho, who recently moved from New Jersey to the West Coast, was last seen wearing denim shorts and a yellow top as she walked away from the Benmar Trail Airbnb where she was staying with friends and an ex -boyfriend, Reported interior edition.

Cho, a graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, was last seen on a secluded hiking trail after leaving her belongings behind following an argument, Inside Edition reported earlier this month -this.

A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department told the outlet that Cho’s ex reported her missing about three hours later while saying she was suffering from mental distress. Cho’s former boyfriend, later identified as Cory Orell, was fully cooperating with investigators, Inside Edition reported.

Lauren “El” Cho was a high school music teacher in New Jersey.
Lauren “El” Cho’s former boyfriend fully cooperated with police in the search for the missing woman.

Cho’s sister posted on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the New Jersey native last month that “anyone knows what happened” to the talented musician and baking enthusiast who loved her family, especially her niece.

“Keep remembering her name and that she has not yet been found – and we need her home,” read the heartbreaking September 20 post. “Someone knows something.”

A former boss at Cho’s in New Jersey declined to comment when contacted by The Post early Monday, saying his family had asked for confidentiality until investigators release more information about Saturday’s discovery. .

The last known person who saw Cho was Orell, the Hi-Desert Star reported in July. She was looking for a new life out west and crossed the country on the Orell tour bus after meeting mutual friends on Memorial Day, the newspaper reported.

The couple had completed their trip to Bombay Beach in December, and Cho was in the process of converting an old school bus into a food truck, Orell said. The former New Jersey high school music teacher apparently walked away as Orell boarded the tour bus, he told the Hi-Desert Star.

Lauren “El” Cho of New Jersey was last seen walking away from an Airbnb on June 28, 2021.
Lauren “El” Cho “vanished”, with no clues on her whereabouts, according to her ex-boyfriend Cory Orell, who last saw her.

“There was a 10-minute window there and it evaporated,” Orell told the outlet. “I searched the hills for everything and no leads, nowhere.”

Orell said in July that he believed Cho had gotten into a vehicle with someone after traveling to California in search of a “different life,” the newspaper reported.

“She wanted to leave the East Coast and taste freedom,” Orell said. “She quit her job and moved on the bus with me.”

The Facebook page dedicated to Cho’s search said multiple sources confirmed she was “not under the influence” at the time of her disappearance while dismissing speculation about her mental health as groundless.

“Let’s talk about character defamation for a quick second,” read an Oct. 7 post. “The family ignored the rude attempts directed at us. The accusations are baseless and therefore easily refuted.

Some critics have pointed to Cho’s case as part of a racist double standard for people of color compared to resource cases used in cases of missing white women like 22-year-old Gabby Petito, whose disappearance in the west in late August as she traveled the country with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie sparked a media frenzy and a nationwide manhunt.

Petito’s death has been ruled a homicide, while FBI agents continue to search for Laundrie.

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