Lauren Cho Search: Why it could take weeks to identify the remains

The authorities have found human remains looking for Lauren Cho in California’s Yucca Valley, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said on Sunday. But it may still be some time before Cho’s family knows for sure if it’s her. Police say the identification process could extend until the end of October. “The scientific process of identifying remains can be a long process and depends on many factors,” a spokesperson for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said. Rolling stone. “That being said, it could take a few days or several weeks.”

The timeliness of bodily identifications depends on various factors, according to Victor Weedn, chief medical examiner for Maryland. A driver’s license or confirmation from a parent can be among the quickest ways. Other times, such as in cases of massive disaster losses, scientific methods may be required, such as the use of fingerprints, dental records, or DNA testing. “It could be so many different factors,” Weedn explains of the potential multi-week identification process. “They might wait to try to get in touch with relatives… There may be significant decomposition or fragmentation…. They might also try to lower expectations. I guess what this suggests is that it was not an easy identification.

Cho, a conductor, singer and artist, was last seen on June 28 in a rental apartment building in part of the California desert between San Bernardino and Joshua Tree National Park. According to police, her friends said she got “angry and probably wandered away from the complex, leaving her belongings behind.” A person police described as Cho’s ex-boyfriend reported her missing about three hours after she went missing and, according to authorities, “said she was in mental distress.” He said she left without food, water or her phone.

Cho’s case attracted increased attention when media fervor over Gabby Petito’s disappearance and search sparked a discussion of “missing white woman syndrome” and the similar lack of public support and support. emergency in cases of disappearance of Blacks and Aboriginals and other people of color. . Petito was found murdered in September near a Wyoming campground after she went missing on a cross-country trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie – who has since disappeared from her parents’ home in Florida and is a person of interest in his homicide. Petitos’ remains were found on Sunday, September 19 and identified two days later. When asked if urgency plays a role in how quickly a body identifies, Weedn said yes. “Oh, it probably is. I think it would be unrealistic to say that this is not the case, ”he said. “But I’m sure it depends on the jurisdiction and everything that’s going on, and it’s not necessarily about the person. As a community, we may be generally underfunded, some more than others. You know, there’s a lot of quirk in the way these things go.

Another case that drew attention following Petito’s search was that of Jelani Day, a black graduate student who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in August and whose body was identified on September 23, nearly three weeks after authorities removed it from the Illinois River. September 4. While several people on social media wondered why it had taken so long, Hallie Bezner, an attorney for Day’s mother, said it was mainly because the body was so badly decomposed. At first they tried to match the remains to Day’s dental records, but the records they had were too out of date. “They weren’t able to make the game so they had to do DNA testing, and it always takes a long time,” Bezner said. “I understand they had to send a bone to the lab and they had to dry the bone and extract the DNA from the marrow.” At the same time, Bezner believes police should have acted faster after Day’s car was found abandoned on August 26, two days after her mother reported her missing. “Why did it take 11 days to go and search the river?” Bezner asks. “What condition might the body have been like if we had found it eight days before?” Could we have found out what had happened and not put the family in the dark for weeks? No cause of death has been revealed. Authorities continue to investigate.

Meanwhile, Cho’s family and friends continue to await the results of the Sheriff’s Department’s findings in Yucca Valley. In the weeks following her disappearance, authorities searched the surrounding mountains on foot and by plane, while friends and volunteers independently searched for her. “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. journalists. “We went to San Diego because she said the week before she disappeared that she just wanted to go to the beach.”

Authorities also executed a search warrant on July 31 at a property in Yucca Valley where Cho was last seen. Police noted she was staying at a property called The Whole, which records indicate is owned by filmmaker, Italian prince and ex-husband of Olivia Wilde Tao Ruspoli. Cho would have worked there as a private chef. Ruspoli operates several Airbnbs in the area, according to the vacation rental website, including several in Bombay Beach, which is home to an artist community on the shores of the Salton Sea. He did not respond to a request for comment.

The Salton Sea is a strange landmark, formed by human error in the early 1900s, when a breach in a Colorado River irrigation canal diverted water into a deep basin. Bombay Beach was a major resort town in the mid-20th century, but as it became overwhelmed and polluted by runoff from farmland, wildlife died in droves and the thriving city experienced a mass exodus. Today, the population is only a few hundred people, but it nurtures a reputation as an enclave of unusual artists. Anthony Bourdain visited a bar there to No reservations in 2008 and 2015, Ruspoli co-founded a festival of art, music and philosophy known as the Bombay Beach Biennale. The event website promises to transform “abandoned housing, vacant lots and decaying coastline into a unique canvas for creative expression.”

It was in this desert artist mecca that Cho and her friend and former romantic interest first lived when they arrived in California from New Jersey in December 2020, according to an interview with Cho’s travel companion, Cody Orrell, in the local newspaper. the desert star. The couple had traveled the country in a converted tour bus to pursue their dreams. Orrell and another friend told the newspaper that Cho had become known for her cooking. She aspired to run a food truck from a converted school bus and began hosting dinner parties for other artists in town to test her recipes. This earned him an invitation to work as a private chef at Ruspoli Airbnb in the Yucca Valley. Then one afternoon she left.

“There was a 10 minute window there and it evaporated,” Orrell told the Hi-Desert Star of his last time. The sheriff’s department found the unidentified remains on Saturday during an “additional search and rescue operation as part of the ongoing search. [Cho]. “

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