Lauren Cho disappeared in June and search for answers intensifies

The trip across the country came at the right time, friends say, as the pandemic was carrying her. The change of scenery was tantalizing and the thirty-something was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work as a pastry chef. Her Instagram page is filled with her baked creations.

Cho, whom friends call “El,” was staying at an Airbnb house in the Yucca Valley, about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and about 12 miles from Joshua Tree National Park, when she disappeared in late June.

She has not been seen or heard since.

National attention to other missing persons cases has renewed interest in the mystery surrounding his disappearance and the search has intensified.

Family and friends want answers. A spokesperson for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department told CNN he had carried out several searches in the past three months. Yet despite the renewed interest in his case, they did not get any new substantive leads. Here is what we know.


The Sheriff’s Department said Cho’s ex-boyfriend reported her missing about three hours after she went missing on June 28.

She was staying in the Yucca Valley house with friends, including her ex-boyfriend. Friends said she was “upset and likely walked away from the complex, leaving behind her belongings,” according to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.

Cho is described as being 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She was wearing a yellow T-shirt and denim shorts when she left the house.

As the Sheriff’s Department and volunteers scoured the area, Cho’s friends did too.

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

Investigators say the ex-boyfriend “indicated she was suffering from mental distress.”

Although the family told CNN they had no official statement, they created a Facebook page to post updates on the survey and raise awareness. The page also asks the public to refrain from speculating about the case and Cho’s sanity at the time of her disappearance.
In recent weeks, law enforcement has come under scrutiny for the many resources used to search for Gabby Petito and her fiance Brian Laundrie. Cho was among several other people who went missing this summer. But Cho’s family released a statement in mid-September citing that the cases are different.

“We realize that on the surface, the public information for the two cases shares some similarities. We understand the frustration many of you have expressed about how and why some cases receive national coverage.

In the end, these two cases are NOT the same and the differences are deeper than what the public sees. “

Who is she?

Cho’s sister told CNN that Cho was “a dynamic firecracker from a ‘creative’ and ‘funny’ person.”

“She’s super caring, very loving and just a really loyal and good friend,” her friend Len Gherardi said.

Before moving to California, Cho worked at Gherardi’s tattoo studio in Flemington, New Jersey.

“The plan was that I was going to teach her how to drill so that she could be my apprentice,” Gherardi said.

It’s been three months since no one heard from Cho, and the family just wants to know where he is. They continue to post on the Facebook page at least once a week.
“El, that’s a lot… a talented musician, an incredible baker, a hilarious and loyal friend, a weirdly intuitive gift giver, and probably the coolest sister you could hope for. is where El really shines: as an aunt, ”the family said in a Facebook post last month.

CNN’s Stephanie Becker contributed to this report.

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